As promised, I wanted to create a post about the common questions that I have received over the years from all walks of life. These questions have come from friends, family, other T1Ds, T2Ds, and parents of T1Ds.
Where do you get your protein?
Ha, this is always the best one. Many people think that eating a diet like mine will leave an individual protein deficient. In reality, my diet has a tremendous amount of protein in it, and it’s the healthier plant-based proteins. Vegetables like broccoli and spinach have very high protein levels comparable to that of many animal products. I’ve even heard stories of vegan body builders, no joke. There are also professional athletes and Olympians that have been vegan.
What are your c-peptide levels?
Honestly, I’m not sure what my current levels are. The first year post-diagnosis I was more worried about insulin levels, c-peptide levels, etc. However, over the past four years I really just focus on my fasting blood sugars and A1c levels. It’s obvious my body is still producing insulin, so I’m not overly worried about anything except my blood sugar levels.
How long do you think you can stay off of insulin?
Not sure, but I’d say decades at this point. I’ve heard of other T1Ds being off of medication for over a decade. I feel like my diet heals my body and even possibly regenerates a certain level of beta cells. Alternatively, my body may as well be continuing to lose beta cells each day, and at some point I may have none left. I do think T1D is just as much about inflammation as it is beta cell count. My diet significantly reduces inflammation in my body which allows it to function naturally with the disease.
How often do you exercise?
6 days per week. On Monday, I do a high intensity kettle bell workout, on Tuesday I run, on Wednesday I play racquetball, on Thursday I run, on Friday and Saturday I play racquetball. Sundays, I always take off to let my body rest. I’ve always enjoyed working out, so my routine didn’t really change much after I got T1D at age 31.
Are you still medication free?
Yes. I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2013 and I have never taken any insulin or medication. One caveat was that I did take metformin for a week right after I was diagnosed, but I absolutely hated it, so I stopped. This is very annoying to look back on that the doctor’s first option for me was medication. No mention of diet being a first line of defense. The doctors I initially dealt with were totally clueless in that respect.
Does your body still make insulin?
Yes. I definitely have a dysfunction with insulin production relative to non-diabetics, but, I still produce meaningful insulin which is evidenced by my sub 5.7 A1c levels.
Are you 100% vegan?
No. Honestly, I’d love to be 100% vegan, but it’s extremely difficult in modern society. I travel a fair amount with my job and do a lot of networking, so eating out typically happens multiple times per week. It’s just so hard to find good vegan options at most restaurants.
I will say that I hardly ever eat steak, chicken, fish or eggs. Occasionally I have dairy that is usually mixed in with salad dressings out at restaurants. I do believe dairy can cause T1D, so I always preach to avoid it. But, since I’m already T1D, I don’t stress if I have a little dairy. Overall, I’d say 90-95% of what I eat is vegan, with ~70% being raw vegan. If you want to do what I do, you have to be at least 70% raw vegan.
Could all type 1 diabetics be removed from insulin like you?
This is a tough one. If the question is can all T1Ds get their fasting blood sugars below 90 without medication, then my answer is No. From my research, only about 30% of T1Ds can do what I do.
Now if the question is can all T1Ds get their blood sugars to a manageable level without using medication, say a fasting blood sugar of 125 or lower, then I say most likely Yes. It all depends what you are willing to live with as regards to A1c and fasting blood sugar levels.
My average fasting blood sugar is around 110. This is not great, but I personally feel like it’s very far from the levels that I would need to take insulin. I’m sure this level of blood sugar is damaging my body, but I feel like my diet being so healthy counteracts that damage. This is pure personal belief, but it’s my maxim.
Do you have to watch the amount of fat you eat?
I don’t. I eat a ton of fat. My breakfast is a nut granola with large amounts of fiber and fat. As long as the fats are healthy / low glycemic, then you are fine. The carbs and animal products are the real dangers to diabetics. The heavy carbs spike your blood sugars while the animal products inflame your body, both a bad idea for diabetics, or anyone in general.
What are your A1c readings?
I have gotten my A1c test done quarterly for over five years. Outside of my initial A1c post-diagnosis of 8.4, my A1c has fluctuated between 5.3 and 5.7 each quarter.
Is diet or exercise more important to remaining off of insulin?
100% diet. Exercise is extremely important for all people, but even a triathlete will need insulin as a T1D if they are not eating correctly. I personally think if a T1D ate a very strict, mostly raw vegan low carb diet while barely exercising, you would still have a good shot at being able to stay off of medication.
Why don’t you just take insulin and enjoy more foods?
From a diet perspective, some people eat to live, while others live to eat. I am more on the eat to live side. I feel like my diet is healing my body and I feel great eating like this. I always say that even if my T1D was cured tomorrow, I don’t think my diet would change much.
From a moral perspective, I believe the pharmaceutical companies want me hooked on medication so they can profit off of me. The people at the top definitely know that diet can potentially cure/remove T1Ds from insulin and almost 100% cure any T2D, yet the mainstream medical doctors have yet to be trained in medical school on a diet’s profound impact on diabetes.
I want people to know that keeping people sick is what drug companies want. The drugs put band aides on health issues instead of addressing the root problem. Also, many major food companies manufacture total garbage for consumers to eat. I personally am very against a world in which the human race let’s these corporations ruin our health for profits. I want my kids to grow up in a healthier society than the one I grew up in. I feel like this is the right thing to do as a parent and member of society.
Can I get my T1D child off of insulin using your diet?
The short answer is yes, it can happen. I realize though being a child with this disease and being around the constant onslaught of junk food, birthday parties, and garbage school lunches make it extremely difficult. That said, I have read about parents that have followed a strict mostly raw vegan diet with their kids that has kept them off of insulin.
Even if you don’t totally remove your child from insulin, I promise you their blood sugars will be much lower and much less volatile the more uncooked vegetables, nuts, seeds that they eat. Lower / less volatile blood sugars = less stress = healthier child.