Only about 10 percent of diabetics are type 1, also called childhood onset (or juvenile) diabetes because it typically begins in childhood. Type 1 diabetes refers to a disease in which the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed by the immune system, usually early in life. When the body’s immune system mistakenly targets our own cells instead of a foreign substance, it is called an autoimmune reaction. The causation is complicated and comes about partially as a result of an antibody reaction against a viral protein that mistakenly attacks the beta cells in the pancreas.
In this form, the body produces almost no insulin. It is characterized by a sudden onset and occurs more frequently in populations descended from northern European countries compared to those from southern European countries, the Middle East, or Asia. Type 1 is also called insulin-dependent diabetes because people who develop this type need to have daily injections of insulin.
Approximately 80 percent of our at-rest energy is used by the brain. Under normal situations, the brain can only function on glucose; however, when there is insufficient insulin, the brain and other tissues are unable to utilize the glucose in the bloodstream. When the body is unable to utilize glucose stores normally, free fatty acids will rise in the bloodstream. The body can make ketones from these fats, and then the brain and heart can use the ketones as an emergency fuel, when unable to get sufficient glucose. Glucose and ketones build up in the blood and can have devastating consequences. For example, type 1 diabetics are more prone to developing ketoacidosis, which can be life threatening if left untreated, leading to coma and death. Ketones are moderately elevated in blood and urine during fasting or significant carbohydrate restriction, but they can get to dangerously high levels in decompensated or untreated type 1 diabetes. Ketosis (high ketones in the blood) and ketoacidosis can occur in type 2 diabetics in some circumstances as well. It is the combination of the high glucose level in the blood along with the high level of ketones that can lead to dangerous acidosis and dehydration.
Type 1 diabetes is not caused by weight gain or obesity, and people with type 1 diabetes will always require insulin to prevent serious issues with high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and other lifethreatening conditions. Even so, a superior nutritional diet is essential for health and longevity of a type 1 diabetic, and even though excess body fat is dangerous for everyone, it is more dangerous for the type 1 diabetic.
I am often asked, “Is your program appropriate for type 1 diabetics? Will insulin be required forever, no matter what?” The answer to both questions is yes. Unlike a type 2 diabetic, if you are a type 1 diabetic, you can never stop taking insulin entirely. However, after adopting this high-nutrient dietary approach, you will need much less insulin, in most cases about half as much as before, following the typical ADA approach. The need for less insulin is not the only major reason for type 1 diabetics to follow this diet style. The vital reason is that it can save a type 1 from serious health complications later in life.
I have helped several patients with type 1 diabetes completely recover from their condition by flooding their body with micronutrients, fortifying their immune system, and resting the pancreas. This opportunity, however, is only available when the disease is just starting, usually in an adolescent or young adult. This is the exception, not the rule. Unfortunately, most type 1 diabetics have to live with the disease for the rest of their lives.
But here’s the important news: With conventional care, the long-term outlook for a type 1 diabetic is dismal. More than one-third of all type 1 diabetics die before the age of fifty. This does not have to be the case. Type 1 diabetics need not feel doomed to a life of medical disasters and an early death sentence. Type 1 diabetics can lead a normal life and have a better-than-average life expectancy. It is true that type 1 diabetics are more sensitive to the damaging effects of the SAD diet, but if they eat a vegetable-based diet with plenty of beans, nuts, and seeds, they are no longer at risk for heart disease.
Scientific studies reveal that death due to early-onset heart disease in type 1 diabetics is linked to insulin resistance. That means weight gain, poor dietary choices, and therefore the need for excessive amounts of insulin is dangerous for type 1 diabetics. But when type 1 diabetics follow my nutritional advice, they require substantially less insulin and take it in physiologic dosages—the amount of insulin will not be excessive and will not hurt them.
Type 1 diabetics can have healthy, normal, and long lives. The typical health tragedies that befall type 1 diabetics are the result of the combustible combination of American food and excessive insulin use, a fire fueled by physicians and dieticians whose nutritional advice unfortunately remains in the dark ages.
By adopting this high-nutrient approach, type 1 diabetics lower their insulin needs and no longer have swings of highs and lows. Glucose levels and lipids stay under control with minimal insulin. Requiring less insulin while still having excellent glucose readings is the goal. The simple truth is that the reason why type 1 diabetes leads to heart attacks and other life-shortening ailments is the excess insulin required by a low-nutrient diet, not the diabetes itself.
It is not type 1 diabetes that causes such negative health consequences. Rather, it is the combination of the diabetes and the typical nutritional “advice” given to patients—advice that requires them to take large nonphysiological amounts of insulin to maintain favorable glucose readings. Insulin itself promotes the development of atherosclerotic plaque, the foundation of heart disease and heart attacks. Insulin increases appetite and promotes fat storage and weight gain, thus furthering insulin resistance. This is particularly exacerbated by the high glycemic and excessive caloric load in conventional diets.
I have been on your plan for two years and am really happy with the results. I am at my ideal weight with about 10 percent body fat. A couple of years ago I was 190 pounds with high cholesterol. My insulin was at 30u Lantus and Humalog on a sliding scale but often like 6u per meal. Following your advice I dropped the weight to 170, my cholesterol is awesome now, and blood pressure and lipid profiles are great! Now my Lantus is 10u and I am on Novolog, two or three units per meal.
When I was diagnosed in my teens, my doctor said there were two ways to look at the diagnosis:
- as the end of my health forever or
- an opportunity to gain an understanding of my body and how it works and become healthier than ever
I tried to take the latter road, and now, at age thirty-four, I think I am finally realizing that potential. Your writings were the suit of armor I needed in the fight all these years. Thanks again for everything.
Several studies illustrate the dangers of giving insulin to the adult diabetic. In one such study, when diabetic patients were given insulin, compared to those given metformin (Glucophage), the risk of death from heart attacks tripled. The negative effects of insulin are related to both the systemic metabolic abnormalities from excessive insulin and the direct pro-atherogenic effects of insulin on the endothelial lining of blood vessels that promotes atherosclerosis. The more insulin that is needed, the more dangerous plaque is promoted, especially when the amount of circulating insulin is high.
Extra insulin and high blood sugar levels also raise cholesterol, promote fat deposition, and damage the body. With this in mind, it should be clear that while the SAD, which has spread to all industrialized nations, is dangerous for everyone, it is particularly deadly for diabetics. Diabetes is not a death sentence, but we can’t keep following conventional medicine and dieticians’ advice or the excessive insulin and overuse of other medications they call for.
The negatives of overprescribing insulin are not limited to weight gain and heart disease. The connection between diabetes and cancer is thought to be due at least in part to insulin therapy. A new review that analyzed data from several studies found that diabetic patients are 30 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer, 20 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, and 82 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. I am certain that by using insulin in small physiological amounts in type 1 diabetics, whose insulin needs would be low on my nutritarian diet, the metabolic negatives and the increased risk of cancer from insulin would not be noted. These negatives are the result of the excessive use of insulin necessitated by the SAD and the standard diabetic diet.
When type 1 diabetics follow the Eat to Live approach, it is possible to prevent many of the complications that can accompany the disease. As discussed, a normal life and life span are well within reach. Type 1 diabetics will still require insulin, but for almost all patients, the insulin dosages required will be greatly reduced, and they will require only the amount of insulin that a person’s pancreas would secrete if eating healthfully and nondiabetic, so no damage will ensue because they are not requiring abnormally high amounts of insulin.
Specifically, if type 1 diabetes is well managed, there will be many benefits:
- No highs or lows in blood sugar
- Less insulin use—most typically, dose is cut by half
- Normal, stable body weight
- Normal life span, without diabetic complications
The key formula to remember here is that favorable glucose levels + excellent nutrition = a healthy and long life. If you or someone you love has type 1 diabetes, please read this book. I promise that it can save lives; I have seen it happen.