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.


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The Paleo Diet TeamThe Paleo Diet, the world’s healthiest diet, is based upon the fundamental concept that the optimal diet is the one to which we are genetically adapted. The therapeutic effect of The Paleo Diet is supported by both randomized controlled human trials and real-life success stories.

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“19” Comments

  1. My daughter has been a type 1 diabetic for 10 year(she is 15). We are thinking of doing paleo, for weight loss and health. She has gained 10 punds over the past year, that she cannot loose. She is athletic, exericses 1-2 hours a day, is on the hgh school dance team. She eats no glutean, dairy or sugar. Despite that she cannot loose that extra 10 pounds, which is killing her confidence. She was tested for cusnings, celiac, GH deficiency, thyroid, they are all normal. Insulin makes it hard to loose weight. She is not on much Novalog, now, because she does not eat a lot of carbs. I would appreciate any thoughts, because her health care proiders seem to be perplexed.

  2. Finding this article was very useful as my 17 year old son was diagnosed August 24th after losing 15 lbs from Jan-Aug, and went to the Doctors for flu like symptoms. Once diagnosed, he realized that carbs were the enemy and if he kept his carbs down below 15g he did not have to take any insulin since he was to take 1 unit of insulin to every 15g of carbs. Well it didn’t take long and he is managing a diet that almost rarely goes about 15 grams per meal. Better yet, he has had his bolus reduced and now his ratio of insulin to 1-20g. Even better his A1C level went from a 10.2 down to a 6.8 within 2 months of diagnosis and him changing his diet. He rarely eats any grains,potatoes, rice or bread. He thought originally he had a gluten intolerance before the diagnosis, but I believe that was the signal we missed when he was having stomach problems and that probably triggered the Type I. Now he has gained 11 lbs back which is good, can eat more foods that he ever did before, and his grades have improved significantly- he even made high honor roll for the first time in years! True he may be in a “honeymoon” phase but I still firmly believe the change in eating has improved how he manages his diabetes and insulin dependence. Does it take a change of lifestyle? Absolutely! Is it worth it if you know you will live longer and be less dependent on insulin? Absolutely! Knowledge is the key and the more this community shares their successes, the better we will be at understanding and helping our loved ones with T1D.!

  3. There are many stories on many different websites where people like Michelle and Joanne talk about the initial benefits of paleo / LC in the initial phases of t1d, and the miracle they are enjoying, but rarely do they follow up to tell you that inevitably, like their doctors suggest their pancreas fails and they fall out of remission, and require more insulin. Michelle for example is one of only a few to update her blog to say that she is no longer in remission and that she left the Paleo way of eating. I would be curious to know about the female case study you spoke of above and whether or not she is still enjoying remission also?

    I may sound like I am being pessimistic, but read on, I assure you I am being more realistic, and regardless, I am a paleo BELIEVER. My son is 12 years old, and he was diagnosed with T1D only 3 short months ago, but he is currently enjoying a strong remission. He does get small amounts of Levimir (6units) to help rest his pancreas, and I give him a half unit of quick acting insulin here and there to help process larger carb meals (ie sweet potatoes etc). He plays rep ice hockey here in Canada, so he does need a bit more CHO than the average sedentary child and yes I own the paleo diet for athletes – it was one of the first books I bought upon his diagnosis. His blood sugar however plummets during hockey games, so we have had to give him sports drinks etc to keep him from extreme hypoglycemia, and while we are not always successful, we are learning constantly.

    When I went to Michelle’s blog posted in someone’s response above I was saddened to see that she dropped the paleo diet because of its ‘restrictive nature’. I have followed the paleo diet off and on for years. I have always believed, just not always had the strength to incentive to stay committed. I bought your first book many years ago, and so much resonated with me. IWithout getting into too much detail, my family has First Nations ancestory, and I have shown signs of insulin resistance from a very young age. Not too mention polycistic ovaries, and possible gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes has always been on my radar, so I have always restricted excess cho from my families diets. When I follow a true paleo diet, weight falls off, and mental clarity is unparalleled.

    Michelle per above may have fallen out of t1d remission, but the paleo diet is still an important part of her long term health. Maintaining insulin sensitivity is so important for T1 diabetics. Without it, their body cannot properly handle the insulin they are injecting, and that is when the long term complications result. In the end, nothing is more important than diet and exercise to maintaining a diabetics health. Furthermore, it is my strong opinion and experience that there is no better diet to help recover and maintain insulin sensitivity than the paleo diet.

    Best wishes to all who are on this journey with us!

    • I am trying to help a friend of a friend…I believe she has a 8 yr old daughter with type 1 diabetes and the pancreas doesnt function anymore. I am really trying to help her out. Is there a way I can have this friend get in touch with you for some advice on what has helped you with your child? There are not too many things that actually help on the internet. Thank you so much.

  4. Joanne I am in the same situation. My 8 year old daughter was diagnosed a week ago. Please let me know how to begin this paleo diet without harming her since she is on insulin. I refuse to accept that injections are the only way. I would greatly appreciate your help. Kim

    • You can contact me through my husbands website at, and I will email you to let you know how we went from 30+ units of insulin per day to 6. Within a month or so. While we could take our son off insulin, we prefer to give him a little, and shoot for tight BG control. Do not delay the change in diet: with a new diagnosis time is of the essence, and the honeymoon period regardless of duration is worth extending as long as possible :). Best wishes

  5. Hi Joanne, we are in the same situation with our 8 year old daughter. We are one week past the type 1 diagnosis. I am struggling with this diagnosis and would love to try this with my daughter. Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance Kim

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  8. I would love to hear an update on this story!!!
    I am familiar with the idea of a “honeymoon” period, when a recently diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic can coast along without insulin… I’m curious if that played a part in this situation and perhaps in the situation of Michelle, referenced in earlier comments.
    Thanks for any info!

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  11. 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.

    • Actually, to clarify, the ‘honeymoon phase’ that T1 diabetics often enter (about 2/3 of the time) is often referred to as remission or partial remission by the medical community. There is no question that low carb diet and exercise can help prolong this phase. Our son is is in a similar place in his journey, but like you suggest, we still give him a small amount of basal insulin, as this is also seen to prolong the remission phase.

      • I should also add that there is evidence to suggest that the casein protein in dairy and wheat etc. can be immune triggers and have been linked to T1D, so we avoid both completely.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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: 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.See: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,Pedro

  15. 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.Congratulations!!!Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

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