Pre-insulin times: Starve to live

I have just finished reading The Fight To Survive by Caroline Cox. It’s truly an amazing book. The book tells a story of Elizabeth Hughes, one of the first type 1 diabetics treated by insulin and it also briefly describes the discovery of insulin by Frederick Banting and his team.

Read my blog post at

I look forward to reading this book. Elizabeth Hughes died in 1981, living an amazing 58 years . Understanding the treatment of diabetes before insulin helps us understand the situation today. Elliott Joslin was the leading medical pioneer through this era and the starvation diet kept people alive. After the discovery of insulin, thousands were saved, but within a few decades it became clear that complications set in. Elliott Joslin advocated for patients to be strict with their diet all through his life (and he died in 1962). In conflict with his dominant views, the ADA (yes our dearly beloved ADA) was formed in 1940. At the time, the ADA argued against Joslin that patients should be able to live a “normal” life and eat whatever they want and not have to follow a restricted diet. I think everyone remembered the days when starvation was the only way to live.

Today, we still deal with that legacy. The ADA still clinging to the argument that diabetics should eat a high carb diet. Nobody remembers why this came about. Well that’s not true, I care and I know you do because you now know about Elizabeth Hughes. Thanks for blogging about this.