Thursday, February 4, 2010

Success Story - The Paleo Diet and Type 1 Diabetes

Dear Readers,

The following post is a testimonial from a mother who's child was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes last year, and who has seen a significant improvement in her condition after adopting the Paleo Diet.

We encourage all our readers to share their success stories using the Paleo Diet with us.

I have a most remarkable story! On September 10, 2009, I took my six year old daughter to the pediatrician for what I thought was a urinary tract infection. She had been very thirsty and going to the bathroom excessively. Little did I know that these were symptoms of hyperglycemia! Her BG was tested a 542 in the doctor's office, and she spent 2 days in the hospital. During that time she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Her A1c was 10.8. Her IA-2 Ab was strongly positive, with borderline positive insulin Ab, but she had negative GAD-65 and ICA. This is consistent with Type 1 Diabetes. They sent us home to begin a regimen of insulin injections; one basal in the evening, and one before each meal. We did what any parent would do which is: what the doctors told us.

However, after a week or so, we realized we were counting carbohydrates in things like pop tarts. It seems absurd. We decided that all of us needed to clean up our diets. Since we worked out in a Crossfit gym, the diet that came to mind was the Paleo Diet.

What happened next is amazing! My daughter's insulin needs PLUMMETED. Over the next week we made numerous calls to the Endocrinologist to adjust her dosages downward. After about two weeks, she was completely off of insulin! That was roughly October 1st, 2009. She has continued with BG testing, endocrinologist visits, and the Paleo Diet, and as of this day (January 31, 2010) she has close to normal BG and requires no insulin. At her last Doctor visit (late December) her A1c was 6.6. We believe this will be in the 5's at her next visit in March. My challenge is to make a believer out of the Endocrinologist. He believes she is in "remission" and that it will surely wear off. But as more time goes by, I can see his curiosity beginning to awaken. He said that there are some cases of remission lasting this long, but if she makes it to a year, he will have to write a paper.

I’m going to hold him to it.



  1. Posted on behalf of Dr. Cordain:

    Dear Joanne,

    This is a remarkable story and thank you very much for sharing it with us. As you are probably aware, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed by the body's own immune system, and as per conventional thinking, once a person has developed type 1 diabetes it doesn't go away and the diabetic patient has to rely upon insulin injections for the rest of their lives. Further complications from type 1 diabetes significantly alter the quality and quantity of life. Let's hope and pray that your daughter remains in remission.

    We have reason to believe that she will. I know of at least one additional recent case of type 1 diabetes that was brought into remission by adoption of a Paleo Diet. The subject was a young woman (~early 20s) who was diagnosed by her endocrinologist with type 1 diabetes. Similar to your story, she was also a member of a CrossFit gym in California and adopted the Paleo Diet in regard to her health and fitness, but with no intent of causing remission of her autoimmune disease. Lo and behold, her experience was similar to your daughter's and that after a few months, she required no insulin and has been in complete remission for almost 2 years. She has started her own blog with her experiences. I will have one of my colleagues at my website email you with her blog address. Perhaps the two of you can correspond.

    On a technical note we believe that if type 1 diabetics can be diagnosed early on in the course of their disease, the disease can be halted with a Paleo-like diet. Accordingly, the immune system hasn't had sufficient time to completely destroy pancreatic function and if sufficient beta cells still exist (say 20-30% or so) the remaining intact pancreas can restore its function, such that insulin injections are no longer required. I have outlined the immunological mechanisms involved in a presentation I gave in Europe last May at a number of Universities. I haven't had time to write up these mechanisms in a scientific paper, but would be willing to share this information with your endocrinologist. I would also be willing to write up a case study with your endocrinologist involving your daughter and the young woman I had previously mentioned. I believe this information should be published in a medical journal perhaps as a letter involving these 2 case studies. We believe that certain elements in wheat, grains, dairy and legumes represent the environmental trigger for type 1 diabetes in genetically susceptible subjects.

    Once again I will forward your story to my colleagues at the Paleo Diet website who can give you the web address of the young woman whose experience was similar to your daughters.


    Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

  2. Posted on behalf of Pedro:

    Dear Joanne,

    Indeed this is great news.

    The young lady who had a similar experience is named Michelle. Her blog is:

    We were so excited about her results, that we published a newsletter (Volume 5, Issue 35) about this subject in late August of last year (based on some of Dr. Cordain’s research team findings – remember that in this short article, we left out eggs, but if you go the blog and check Dr. Cordain’s detailed response to a reader on egg whites, you will see that there is good reason for your child to avoid them).

    I would also:

    1. Make sure your daughter’s levels of 25OHD are above 40 ng/ml.

    2. Increase Omega 3 intake (perhaps a liquid formula is easier), in order to decreased inflammation.

    3. I would possibly add Green tea (without the caffeine) to her diet.


    Kim MJ, Ryu GR, et al. Inhibitory effects of epicatechin on interleukin-1beta-induced inducible nitric oxide synthase expression in RINm5F cells and rat pancreatic islets by down-regulation of NF-kappaB activation. Biochem Pharmacol. 2004 Nov 1;68(9):1775–85).

    Song EK, Hur H, et al. Epigallocatechin gallate prevents autoimmune diabetes induced by multiple low doses of streptozotocin in mice. Arch Pharm Res. 2003 Jul;26(7):559–63.

    4. I would add berries (especially bilberries, as they have been shown to halt retinopathy in diabetic animals).

    All the best,

  3. great story, will research the diet, thanks....

  4. JoAnne, you make sure you hold him to it!! This information just has to make it into conventional wisdom. Too many people have been given the wrong info for too long now, it's time to reverse this and get people well.

  5. Hi, I am from Hungary and have type I diabetes for 4 years. I want to switch to the paleo diet and had not eaten bread and such, and diary (except cheese) for some days. I'm looking forward the results and will share my expirience.

  6. I wanted to give you an update on my daughter. She had her quarterly checkup with the Endo today. Her A1C was 5.7! We were hoping it would come in under 6, and are very relieved it is lower than that! She has been eating around 100 or 125 grams of carb a day mostly in form of fruit, and some vegetables and tree nuts. We have been ~95% faithful to the diet. She eats eggs every other morning for breakfast (I think this is more than you recommend), and occasionally she has a treat which is a diet soda or a 'gluten free' cookie made of rice flour, but I have found those are best eaten either right after a meal, or with some other fat or protien food, or else it spikes her blood sugar.

    We now have a solid 6 months of total remission under our belts!! I will give you an update in a couple more months, or when there is something new to report.

    Thank you for all of the support. It has made a big difference to my little girl.

  7. JoAnne,

    We're gratified that your daughter is seeing such positive results! Please keep us posted.

    Best wishes,

  8. It would truly be incredible if this was to be permanent, but I would put your hopes on the cautious side. I'm sure you are aware that all type 1 diabetics go through a honey moon stage where the pancreas is still functioning but declining. The best to hope for is that this can last for years. There seems to be some indication that combining a paleo/low carb diet with a small amount of insulin can prolong the activity of the beta cells as it prevents them from being over taxed trying produce 100% of the necessary insulin. Keep this in mind as you monitor progress.

    I am type 1, and I have maintained consistently low insulin levels (normally 3 units of lantus, currently down to 0 as I have been exercising regularly, and 3-8 units or so of apidra daily--12 grams of carbs per unit). I do this with exercise, quality foods and superfoods, and a low carb diet (especially in the morning), but damn do I feel better when I'm eating fruit and grains. That's just me; eating heavier food seems to wear me down after a time, and I often need to use both betaine HCl and digestive enzymes. My last a1c was 5.0%.

    All the best
    Masters student in Holistic Nutrition at Hawthorn University

  9. Before insulin was discovered, the lives of diabetics were extended with various diets, some of them similar to this.
    This girl is not cured. She isn't in remission. She's just a little girl on a low-carb diet.
    The mother says, "she has close to normal BG."

    Notice that her blood sugars are NOT normal. Her A1c is higher than my last one was, and I'm a type 1 diabetic.
    High blood sugar is just the most obvious and destructive symptom of diabetes. Other things are going on with the way insulin works in the body. Cells in her body are still struggling to get nutrition in.
    This girl should still be on a low amount of insulin. Without it, her parents don't know what is missing in her development. But she's missing an important hormone related to growth and maturation.
    I think it's silly for her endo to say she is "remission" or that it will be remarkable if she "makes it to a year."
    She's doing what people did to survive longer before insulin. Insulin works better.
    You need to check her insulin level, not her blood sugar level, to determine whether she is in "remission."
    But I'm no doctor.


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