Hello everyone! This is my first blog. I am a 34 year guy from Pittsburgh with Type 1 diabetes. I wanted to use this first blog to provide a summary of my background and what my purpose is for blogging. I anticipate doing a monthly blog around the 15th of every month. This blog runs a little long, but I thought it was necessary to try and tell my story with the first post.
My Blog Mission Statement
Create public awareness among Type 1 diabetics (“T1Ds”) that it is absolutely possible to manage their disease naturally without the use of any medication for an extended period of time while still maintaining a healthy quality of life.
Nearly two years ago in January of 2014, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I had a fasting blood sugar of 300 and an A1c of 8.4. As a reference, a non-diabetic has a fasting blood sugar below 100 and an A1c below 6.0.
My father is a Type 1 diabetic and was diagnosed in his late 20’s with the disease, so it certainly runs in the family. I had always gotten an A1c test (standard test in diabetic world) semi-annually since I was 22 because of my family history with the disease.
Over the years, my readings were hovering around the 6.0 mark, which some doctors would call this pre-diabetes. However, my doctor wasn’t pushing the panic button so I wasn’t overly concerned.
The Initial Shock
When I was diagnosed, it was difficult news to grasp. It’s depressing when a doctor tells you that you now have a chronic disease for the rest of your life and you will undoubtedly have to start taking multiple insulin injections on daily basis just to survive. On the bright side, there are much worse diseases to get. Also, I was very fortunate I didn’t live during the early 1900s before insulin was introduced. Back then Type 1 diabetes was essentially a death sentence. It was a total life changer though. Imagine what it’s like one day to wake up and now have to worry about everything you put into your body, especially when I was completely uneducated about the glycemic index at the time.
During my first couple months following diagnosis, I had many doctor appointments. Ultimately, each and every doctor gave me a doom’s day scenario telling me as a TID, I’ll have a short “Honeymoon” period (6 to 15 months) where my pancreas will still work, but this eventually fades over time and I’ll then have to start on insulin injections.
No doctor told me of any type of possibility to live medication free for an extended period of time.
In fact, the initial doctors I went to literally tried to put me on medication immediately…totally ridiculous.
Every time a doctor, or anyone for that matter, told me insulin was in my near future, it just fueled my desire to stay off meds and prove them wrong. Just the thought of having to give myself 4/5/6 shots a day made me cringe. Not to mention having to prick my finger 4/5/6 times a day to test my blood sugar. Sound pretty annoying, right? Also, you now have to worry about low blood sugar if you inject too much insulin in your body (risk of diabetic comas – bad stuff!).
Meeting The Nutritionist
Following those doctor visits, my brother-in-law recommended a nutritionist that helps with diabetic diets. In fact, my brother-in-law told me that this nutritionist had worked with T1Ds that have been off medication for years. I’m talking 10+ years and no meds. This was the glimmer of hope I was looking for!
I was diagnosed in early January 2014, and I started doing sessions with this nutritionist later that month. It was probably a 2-3 month process with the nutritionist, but following his diet had dramatically reduced my fasting blood sugars. His sessions did give me hope that somehow/someway, there were other T1Ds out there managing this disease 100% through diet and exercise, and I was focused on figuring out the tricks.
As for the initial diet (Jan 2014-Oct 2014). I pretty much cut out all sugars/sweets, breads, soda, etc. I was still eating what I would call an “animal based” diet, but I cut out the carb heavy things like bread, cereal, pasta and things of that sort. I was able to bring back down my blood sugars and achieve A1c readings of that of a non-diabetic person. I became more comfortable with my body and diet, and I began only testing my blood sugars once per day first thing in the morning (fasting blood sugar). As long as these readings were within a certain range (90-115), I didn’t even think about medication. My endocrinologist told me that when my fasting blood sugar gets above 140 for 3 straight days, then I need to start using insulin, so I began using this as my basis. Things were going great from February 2014 through September 2014, but I noticed my blood sugars were gradually creeping up. My fasting blood sugars started getting around 120 to 140 with some consistency and I started to think insulin was in my near future.
In October 2014, I started doing some heavy research to try and find some alternatives. I started reading sites about how a mostly raw vegan diet has “cured” T1Ds in certain cases. I’m a guy from Pittsburgh that has been eating dairy, chicken, beef, fish my entire life. I don’t think I even knew what a vegan was at the time when I initially started reading about this. I’m going to elaborate further in later blogs on my resources and food choices, but I ended up adopting a raw vegan diet for 2 weeks in early November 2014.
The results were astonishing. Over the course of these two weeks, my average fasting blood sugar dropped to 99. As a reference, my average fasting blood sugar the 30 days prior to me starting the raw vegan diet was 117.
Benefits From Proper Diet
Over the next 2-3 months, I did a tremendous amount of research on the positive benefits that a raw vegan diet can have not only on diabetics (Type 1 and 2), but on all people. I am now writing this in December 2015, and I’ve been completely off medication for nearly 2 full years (9 months longer than any doctor gave me a chance for).
My blood sugars aren’t perfect, but they are within a range I’m comfortable with. My average fasting blood sugar over the past 30 days has been 107, and my last three A1c tests have been at 5.6 (non-diabetic readings). I now eat a plant-based diet, with ~85% of what I eat being low glycemic vegetables, nuts and seeds (mostly uncooked), and I try to minimize consumption of all animal products (chicken, beef, fish, dairy).
I can say with confidence that it’s almost like I don’t even have the disease to a certain extent.
I anticipate writing a blog once a month to continue telling my story. I want to be a resource for other T1Ds out there so you too can try to stay off medication and combat this disease naturally. I only wish I could have found a resource like this early in my diagnosis to give me more hope and guidance. I won’t lie though, you have to be extremely disciplined and motivated with your diet/exercise routine to stay off meds as a T1D…there’s not much wiggle room.
If I can help just one person from this blog, then it’s worth it for me. Stayed tuned for my next post in January 2016, and please spread the word if you know other T1Ds out there that could benefit from this post. Also, please contact me with any questions/comments you have. After all, this is the reason I’m doing this!
Thanks – Matt