Controlling Type 1 Diabetes with the Paleo diet

Someone sent me this article about a new type 1 guy controlling his BG with a Paleo diet alone, no insulin. Do you think this is for real or is he just on his honeymoon? Has anyone else here tried this diet? The diet seems to be basically no grains, no dairy, and no legumes.

This guy is full of sh*t. Either he is lying to us, or he is lying to himself. Crossfit is just intense exercise ~1000 cal/hr.

Paleo is just a low-carb diet (except he seems to think its fine to eat bananas, so not sure how low-carb he really is). Bernstein’s diet is also no grain, no diary, no legumes (plus no fruit, no nuts, and restricted vegetables to make up a total of 30g carb per day).

A T1 makes no insulin, and everyone needs insulin to survive. If he is in his honeymoon, then he is being incredibly irresponsible to suggest otherwise.

There’s nothing magic here.

Unfortunately, every two weeks it seems someone is coming out with some new thing they say cures Type 1. If…when… there is a cure, you will hear the music and the shouts in the streets from far away! A low carb diet can help you control blood sugar, that is well proven, but like Jag says, we need insulin to live, type 1’s produce very little or none. End of story. People have varying degrees and lengths of honeymoons, and LADAs have the longest, but in the end the very definition of type 1 is needing insulin from the outside because we don’t produce it on the inside.

I agree with Jag and Zoe on this. I’ve been a TYpe 1 since 10 and for years had to take insulin no matter what diet I tried.

Exactly. And back in the ‘olden days’ people with type one diabetes typically died and the cause wasn’t known. It wasn’t that type one diabetes wasn’t around then, it was that it was not really understood. I love it when people are like “back when we ate nothing but dinosaur love and unicorn fluff nobody had type one diabetes”. No, those with type one just died off fairly quickly and went undiagnosed.

Though, I haven’t been able to find dinosaur love or unicorn fluff in the stores. Maybe if I could just get my hands on some I could magically fix my pancreas. :-p

Seriously though, if you eat and exercise like that you can cut down your insulin needs. But…the key word is cut. When I exercise I can go in at 150 and walk out at 65 after 15 minutes of hard running. If I eat nothing but salad and lean meat (no sauce, no anything) then I don’t have to take much insulin. Not because my pancreas has started to work again but because exercise can lower your blood sugar and the afore mentioned foods don’t have a lot of carbohydrates in them – meaning you’ve reduced the amount of insulin you’re taking. You’re still not producing on your own. If I did those two things but also had a cold I would see an increase in insulin need. Why? (All together now!) Because I’m still not producing insulin on my own. :slight_smile:

Agree with the others. It’s a crock.

Jag, Dr. Bernstein’s diet does not prohibit dairy products.

Wow, it’s really cool that he can tell when his pancreas is producing insulin and when it’s not. Where can I get a pancreas like that?


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Just keep searching around. Must be a flashing gif to link to amazon, barnes & noble, or some other such place his “internist” recommends. I absolutely love the before and after photos. Before and after using the flash?! WTF?! The guy is ripped, full of muscle and fluid and color, where are the ashy cheeks, the gaunt/dehydrated frame?

Jeez louise…

Cheers all, Mike

Hi Jag31,

Almost. The PaleoDiet isn’t low carb per se, but it certainly is reduced carb. The idea is to return to the types of foods our ancestral hunters and gatherers ate: wild, lean animals, seasonally available fruits, and vegetables. The PaleoDiet allows a lot more carbs than does Bernstein, with the difference being the fruit. Paleo says you can have it, Bernstein says no.

And as for that guy not needing any insulin anymore…good luck with that! I hope his will is in order…

Cheers, Mike

The ONLY treatment for Type 1 Diabetes is to replace the hormone(s) which the body can no longer produce on its own and then (ideally!) to consume a wide variety of foods which (1) provide the macro and micro nutrients and fiber required by a healthy body and (2) are low in certain fats, refined carbohydrates and sodium which are less healthy for the body. The “diabetic” diet should, in essence, be the same thing as a healthy diet consumed by the non-diabetic. We do our best with our insulin analogs and delivery mechanisms to replicate normal physiology in consuming such a diet. The “paleo” diet is problematic for any modern human, not just the diabetic, and it certainly does not make the diabetic more healthy nor does it allow the diabetic to opt out of insulin replacement. Further, insulin actually has other actions in the body aside from its role in glucose metabolism and must be replaced.

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Everyone has different ideas about diet, Laura. Many of us have found that if we eat like a non-diabetic (high carbs) we are not able to control our blood sugar. YMMV.

As I recall he prohibits milk and yogurt. Cream and cheese are OK. Is that right?

Of course! That’s why I said ‘ideally’ and ‘should be.’ We can only mimic normal physiology so well, so we each have to tweak diet individually to optimize glycemic control for ourselves. Myself included! Additionally, non-diabetics consuming a ‘healthy’ diet are not necessarily eating “high carb.” Most would consider a ‘healthy’ i.e. varied/proportional diet, to be moderate in carbohydate. Oh my but what I wouldn’t give for a handful of skittles sometimes…

you’re right that a healthy diet is a healthy diet for anyone, but i think that a lot of people would argue that paleo-style dieting is good for everyone. i personally think paleo is too extreme, but the underlying logic–increasing consumption of whole, unprocessed, anti-inflammatory foods and reducing consumption of grains and starchy carbohydrates–makes a lot of sense. i could not do a bernstein-type diet but there’s no reason that a reduced-carb diet that is high in protein and healthy, unsaturated fats is bad for you. bun-less bacon cheeseburgers are not the staples of a healthy diet, but neither are pasta, potatoes, bread, bananas, etc.

and no one is going to argue that this is a substitute for insulin therapy, so i don’t see a need to belabor that point.

Yes because of the higher carbs in milk & some yogurt.

Paleo is extreme, but that’s not the only problem. My concern with diet trends, and this is just generally speaking, is that some people who adopt the practices do so on a “as I see fit” basis. For example, I cannot even count the number my patients who have been pleased as punch to report that they know they consume a healthy diet because they are “vegetarian.” Upon exploration I learn they rarely if ever consume an actual vegetable! The diets consist of little or no red meat, yes, but a tremendous amount of refined carbohydrates like, well, potato chips. So can a vegetarian, or a vegan, lifestyle be healthy? YES! But is the non-vegetable eating “vegetarian” nourishing their body properly? I would say no, not likely. Likewise an unplanned, or unvaried, “paleo”-style diet is a disconcerting thought.

Also, “starchy” foods get such a bad rap amongst us diabetics because they’re hard for us to handle. I just hate for the valuable energy and nutrient contributions that wisely chosen starches can make to a body to be undermined. Oh that poor, poor banana! (Which, btw, I for one totally cannot eat!!)

The problem is that for me, there is NO ‘wisely chosen starch’. All starches spike me. Without exception. Doesn’t matter if it is low or high GI, refined or whole grain. I know I am not alone in this. Therefore any putative energy or nutrient contribution is cancelled out by the simple fact that I and many other PWD cannot metabolize starch period.

Lila I had that SAME problem, but it was while I was pregnant. I swear if I so much as glanced at a photo of a picture of a slice of toast my BG went up to 400. I am so grateful it went away postpartum! (I love toast.) If you even miss them, I truly hope you discover some combo of foods/meds that help you eat them!!!

I don’t think there is any vital nutritional role for starches. I have yet to see one convincingly pointed to.

I agree, Lila. I think it is very individual, and many people do well that might be considered “extreme” by ADA standards. I for one consider the Food Pyramid extreme and don’t think it is healthy for anyone, let alone a diabetic. We are all different. I am a vegetarian…and yes, that includes vegetables…lol. But I also thought I ate “healthy” before diagnosis: vegetarian, limited eggs and fat, all fresh unprocessed foods. But for a diabetic I ate an impossible number of carbs because my diet was based around pasta, rice and breads as well as vegetables. (I’ve never heard of a “vegetarian” who doesn’t eat vegetables, that word is used loosely these days!).

For me, I eat under 100 carbs a day. I chose to not go lower as I can stay vegetarian and have the range of creative foods my foodie soul desires. But I admire Bernstein followers, which I guess would be considered “extreme”. I can eat potatoes but absolutely can’t tolerate rice or any kind of cereal. I agree we need a variety of nutrients, but the Pyramid is outdated and not healthy. Again, we are all different. I think the only problem with diet “trends” is if one can’t stick to them and then ping-pongs between discipline and “being bad”. I for one hate all this “good and bad” “allowed and forbidden” crap, but I think that thinking has other sources and I won’t go there. But I usually find when people say “starches have a bad rap” or “sugar has a bad rap”. It is usually a prelude to the "I can eat everything I want and bolus for it and I see several flaws in that thinking: 1) you gain weight, 2) you develop IR, 3) it is near impossible to bolus correctly for huge amounts of carbs and it is easy to miscalculate and go too high or too low.