February 16, 2016 2:50 am
Updated: February 16, 2016 5:10 am

Lifestyle changes could reverse Type 2 diabetes risk: doctors

WATCH: Millions of Canadians either have type 2 diabetes or are pre-diabetic, and many don't even know it. But as Linda Aylesworth explains, a dramatic lifestyle change could reverse the diagnosis.

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It’s one of the fastest-growing threats to our health. Six million Canadians either have Type 2 diabetes or are pre-diabetic.

A sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits can contribute to developing Type 2 diabetes.

Randell Yee was diagnosed with the disease more than a decade ago.

After being diagnosed, Yee was prescribed medication.

“I just took the medication and I just lived life the way it was,” he said.

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At his heaviest, Yee weighed 375 pounds. Still, he doesn’t recall any suggestions that losing weight might help with his diabetes so he simply accepted his diagnosis and took the pills.

When Yee learned that losing weight could reduce his risk of potentially life-threatening complications he made some changes.

“The path I took was to cut out all carbs — rice, bread, pasta and refined sugar,” he said.

Obesity expert Dr. Ali Zentner says it’s not uncommon to see “patients who are in medically supervised weight management programs where they’re halting their diabetes progression and even reversing it and effectively curing their diabetes.”

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Seven months and 75 pounds after Yee’s supervised diet began his blood sugar levels dropped from 7.1 to 6.3 to 5.9, a healthy non-diabetic reading.

“It felt really wonderful,” Yee said. “All these goals were reachable and obtained. To be off of that drug, I feel wonderful.”

“I would argue that diet and exercise as a medication isn’t pushed enough but it’s also a really hard pill to swallow for many,” said Zentner.

Yee admits it was hard but that it has all been worth it.

“I don’t get tired chasing my grandson around,” he said. “It’s great.”

– With files from Linda Aylesworth

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