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Primal and Type 1 diabetes

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  • Primal and Type 1 diabetes

    Hi all,

    I asked this of Mark in an e-mail years ago and promptly got off track with a huge stressor in our lives that rather derailed my budding efforts at going primal. As stress tends to do, we wound up physically worse off than before, and it's time to get back on the horse.

    Since I'm married and we both cook, major dietary changes need to happen both at once or not at all. One of the reasons the primal thing unhappened the first time is my spouse had an extremely valid complaint about the effects- he is a type 1 diabetic and when exercising and eating by the blueprint as I understood it, he became much more prone to precipitous blood sugar crashes, especially at night during the longest stretch between meals. Getting up at three a.m. every other night at so to either eat some refined carbohydrates or face the emergency glucagon kit (which is not fun, or cheap) was obviously not working. He's very, very conscientous- his view is that aiming for an Hb1AC of 7 as type 1s are supposed to is aiming low, and goes for a number falling in the nondiabetic range- and more often than not at the six-month blood checks he has succeeded at this. It's not his attention and control that are the problem.

    As we ease further into this, the sugar crashes are starting to come back right alongside the fat loss and disappearance of too-high sugars. He's started eating more grains again in sheer self-defense and I can't really blame him for that since I don't know how to "fix" it.

    I see some type 2s around, but has anybody made primal work with type 1? When things are going well he needs little or none at all of the short-time-range acting insulin (humalog) and not very much of the long-range stuff (lantus). But, the crashes. Any suggestions?

  • #2

    My girlfriend also has Type 1, and we've had many discussions about whether a primal-type diet/lifestyle can work for someone like her. It just seems very complicated, if it's possible at all. Has anyone else had any experience trying to make it work?

    Check out my blog here.


    • #3

      What was hubby doing pre-primal that let his blood sugar level cruise through the night? I would think that primal or anything that like it with low glycemic load would benefit a Type 1.

      I do not have diabetes, but my GF back when was a Type 1 R.N., so I did learn a lot. I was with her when the industry switched from pig and cow insulin to the test tube synthetic type. Boy, did she go through hell trying to dial that in after years of stable control.


      • #4

        He was a meat-and-potatoes man- so dinner would be a big dose of protein, fat, and starch all together. Slow digesting, and enough to stave him over till morning.

        I've noticed that when we both do cheat on a major scale as opposed to a small one- like brown butter berry pie last Fourth- where I go into the typical "sugar meets a mostly fat metabolism" crash, he's more or less fine... and then I start to recover from it around the same time HIS sugar plummets into the basement.

        I'm just not sure what the exact metabolic mechanics are here that we can monkey with- and how to do it without making things worse instead of better.


        • #5

          My friend has type 1. The best book written for it is

          "Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars" This man was diagnosed at an early age with type1 and all the recommended diets never helped him feel good. he experimented with diet and decreasing carb consumption and was able to achieve great blood sugar levels, but all his doctors told him he was wrong. He then put himself through medical school and became one of the worlds leading diabetologists. Specifically, knowing that non-diabetics will very rarely have blood glucose excursions that are outside 80 to 100mg/dl, Bernstein's targets are 85mg/dl for

          non-insulin dependent diabetics and 90 mg/dl for insulin dependent diabetics. To achieve this target, Bernstein recommends a LOW CARB

          diet combined with insulin-sensitizing and mimetics agents and/or insulin.


          • #6

            Agree on Bernstein, his book is a Must Read for the theory alone.

            As to transitioning to a low carb diet while on insulin, this is a good starter


            Katharine is a UK GP with a Type 1 son



            should help you get a handle on his insulin ratios

            You could also ask questions here


            a relatively new site with at least one competent low carbing Type 1


            • #7

              Damned wiped out at the moment and not feeling wordy but THANK YOU for those links- will be doing much reading.


              • #8

                I have type 1. What I can say is this: the most difficult thing with finding an ideal diet as a diabetic is the transition. Everything is suddenly a bitch, when you throw away everything you're used to.

                But it's my firm belief that a diet mostly devoid of sugar and processed carbs is the best way to achieve a low a1c (my last one was 5.2). The less carbs you eat, the less insulin you have to take, the slower your spikes, the slower your crashes.

                So my point is this. Eating low carb doesn't cause blood sugar crashes; precisely the opposite. More carbs means more spike, which means faster and lower crash. I'm not sure how your husband tests his basal and bolus insulin rates and does his corrections, but he'll definitely need to adjust his system if he wants to go low carb. He'll need to lower his basal if he's bolusing less and he'll need to be fastidious about checking after meals and doing corrections. (basal is slow acting/all day long insulin, bolus is fast acting/take at every meal time.) But if he does go low carb, I think he'll have more success.

                Dr Bernstein's book is great, if your husband wants to read it. is the best place for diabetics online, it's a very helpful community and a great place to bounce questions.

                And one more thing. I don't mean to pry or judge, but it sounds like he might to develop a good system for testing his basal rates. Eat a meal and take your bolus as normal.. Wait 4-5 hours (at this point your body will be done digesting and the bolus will no longer be in effect), and then test blood sugar. Wait one hour, and test blood sugar again. If it goes up or down, the basal insulin rate is off.