Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
18 Mar

The Rise of Lazarus

Does a Primal lifestyle help with type 1 diabetes? Today it is my pleasure to share with you the sixteen year journey of Dr. Lazarus.

If you have your own Primal Blueprint success story and you’d like to share it with me and the MDA community please feel free to contact me here. Have a wonderful Friday, everyone, and thanks for reading!


My name is Ryan Lazarus and I have an incredible story. Sixteen years ago, at the age of eighteen, I crushed two of my organs in a serious sports accident. I had emergency surgery to remove my spleen and 60% of my pancreas. After a prolonged stay in the hospital, my athletic 160 pound frame was transformed into a feeble 120 pound skeleton who struggled just to get out of bed. After I was released, I participated in 3 months of intensive physical rehabilitation to regain my weight and treat the 8 inch incision scar in my abdomen. My life had been transformed in the blink of an eye.

I returned to my medical doctor and surgeon for advice on how to regain my health. I was quite optimistic for proper guidance regarding my diet and lifestyle due to my rare circumstances. I was told that everything should be fine so just keep eating what you’ve been eating. They also mentioned I might get sick a bit more so make sure I’m vaccinated regularly. So, having faith in the expertise of these medical professionals – I did just that.

I lived like the majority of Americans following the conventional wisdom of being healthy. I was eating the standard American diet rich in grains and processed refined carbohydrates. I avoided the “unhealthy fats” and minimized my meat consumption to protect my heart. I made sure I was getting my intense cardio in 4-5 times per week to train my heart and maintain my figure. I became an impressive “sugar burning machine” and appeared to be in decent shape.

Unfortunately, I was wreaking havoc on my insides and was slowly eating away at the 40% remainder of my pancreas. All the refined grains and hidden sugars – the ones recommended as the “Staff of Life” of the American diet – eventually caused my downfall. I became a Type I (insulin dependent) diabetic and was required to begin injecting insulin to maintain my blood sugar levels. My psyche had hit an all-time low as I was transformed from a vibrant young boy to an unhealthy, insulin injecting, pill popping young man who struggled with finding energy for my everyday tasks. Nearly every day I suffered with high and low blood sugar, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, GI distress, abdominal discomfort, GERD, jittery symptoms and heart palpitations.

I had hit rock bottom when I finally decided to take my health into my own hands. Over the past 10 years I have been on a journey to improve my health without all the drugs and injections. I spent countless hours reading and researching ways to restore my health naturally. My passion and hunger for the truth of achieving optimal health was relentless. I received my degree in kinesiology and furthered my training as a Chiropractic Doctor specializing in Nutrition. I was introduced to The Primal Blueprint by a friend and picked it up that evening. I could not put it down and completed the book the next day. It was an accurate, well-designed summary of the facts and myths regarding the history of man and his well being.

The Primal principals outlined in your book made a “life-changing” impact on my health. I cut all the grains and the sugar. I now consume countless amounts of healthy fats and quality protein. I move slowly with frequent, moderate sustained efforts and lift heavy things. My current exercise emphasizes functional movements like Grok once used. I now live a lifestyle that will enhance my genetic destiny and will remove the burden off my remaining pancreas.

Having experienced this dramatic change, I proposed the idea to my Doctor’s to eliminate all meds and injections to assess my pancreas’ ability to function under these Primal conditions. I received heavy skepticism from my medical doctors claiming it was unrealistic and that type of lifestyle is nearly impossible to maintain.

My Doctors were wrong. This lifestyle modification was immediate and dramatic. I am hopping out of bed well rested and excited for the day. I can work and play for 16 hours straight without any physical or mental fatigue. My workouts are highly productive and do not struggle to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. My suppressed immune system is stronger than ever and I have altered my body composition and currently stand proud with 6% body fat. I’m healthy, vibrant and best of all… controlling my diabetes naturally which has previously hindered my life.

After persistent persuasion, I finally convinced the Doctors to allow me to apply the Primal fundamentals with the objective of removing all dependence of insulin injections and medications. After 6 months, the results were nothing short of spectacular. At 9 months, they were so significant that an observational case study was conducted under the supervision of my Endocrinologist and under the observation of a pancreas surgeon. Without going into too much detail, the results were as follows. My fasting glucose dropped from 152 mg/dL to 80 mg/dL and my HbA1c from 6.9% to 6.1%! For the non-diabetics reading this, this is evidence of healing a pancreas using the Primal fundamentals.

The Primal Blueprint was the most powerful book for me because it summarized perfectly the comprehensive approach to health and wellness. It resonated with all the research I had done over the years and was written with a clear and entertaining elegance. I now recommend The Primal Blueprint to all my patients, family and friends and have generated great interest in “going Primal” in the Napa Valley. I currently speak to the Napa community regarding my dramatic results and promote the Primal philosophy. I encourage everybody to embrace Mark Sisson’s Primal movement and implement it as a lifestyle – a lifestyle that facilitates vitality, optimal health and disease prevention.

-Dr. Ryan Lazarus

(Dr. Lazarus getting his mud bath on.)

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. So impressed! I’m so motivated by this story. It’s amazing that turned such a tough situation into such an amazing one. That mud bath picture is nothing less than inspiring. Keep it up and keep spreading the Primal word! Smiling right now. I posted a link to this story on my (running/food/fitness/primal) blog along with some words echoing my incredulity at your feat, which you can check here:

    Best wishes,
    Zack Gober

    Zack wrote on March 18th, 2011
  2. Superb testimony Dr Lazarus!

    Morrigan wrote on March 18th, 2011
  3. Diabetics…Type 1, 1.5, 2, and 3…and anyone who cares about their health. Read Suzy Cohen’s Diabetes without Drugs. It explains this epidemic well, and gives great suggestions for living a healthier lifestyle. Stay away from processed foods!

    Paula wrote on March 18th, 2011
  4. What a beautiful and inspiring story! I read this and can’t help but think that there must be something really powerful to this paleo diet … to the way people all over the world are healing themselves from illnesses and diseases with diet alone.

    Thank you, thank you for this … it inspires me to keep going and to maintain the same determined attitude!


    Juliana wrote on March 18th, 2011
  5. Just read through some of the comments. That was quite the debate. I suppose I don’t see why it matters so much. The point is that he HEALED himself through diet, and with such odds stacked up against him.

    Science seems to think it knows everything, but the human body & spirit are truly magical and powerful … and Ryan is proof of that.

    Let’s be grateful for stories like this.

    Juliana wrote on March 18th, 2011
  6. “The Rise of a Friend”…….To all who doubt, whether you are opinion is partial to Diabetes Type 1 or 2, MD or Chiropractor, right or wrong, this or that, the fact of the matter is, don’t confuse your own point of view with what and how Dr. Lazarus is trying to offer here. This is a true testimony that I have witnessed first hand….not so much recently, but seeing where Dr. Lazarus began in this journey when I first met him……..being called in the middle of the night because he was hunched over on the street in front of his dorm room because he had to be rushed to the hospital, due to an extreme pancreatitis attack……and where he is now…….a very healthy, thriving man, an established father, husband, Doctor, business person and individual that made the decision at that point in his life, to take charge of his situation and live and not to die. I must say Dr. Ryan, when Joy and I saw this post earlier today, it made me especially, quite proud and I think its incredible and worthy that you are willing to offer your experience and information to all. Since our entire family has been “Primal” (a year now), Joy’s blood sugar and anxiety are complete under control and the kids are thriving, especially the younger, showing huge gains from her diagnosed special needs. Its not coincidence. As you responded to me when we saw that we both “like” Mark’s Daily Apple on Facebook………and I quote Dr. Lazarus, “Mark Sisson is right on point!” ……..and that, he is!

    We love you Ryan. LB

    Chad wrote on March 18th, 2011
  7. Here’s my story and that really is all I intend it to be.

    I’ve had adult onset Type 1 Diabetes for 28 years (I’m 58). I’ve enjoyed Primal Living for the past month.

    I have experienced all sorts of mental and physical benefits – I’m 15 pounds lighter – and my blood sugar control is remarkable.

    I’ve reduced my basal insulin dose by 20% (I use a pump) and eating a Primal meal I don’t have to cover the carbs with any additional insulin. Once or twice a week I need to cover an elevated blood sugar but I can always trace it to a high GI fruit.

    For example: I had No-atmeal with blueberries 1 1/2 hours ago and my current blood sugar is 115 mg/dl. previously, at 40 carbs this would have required 4 units of insulin or raised my blood sugar to 200 mg/dl.

    I just had my quarterly blood work done so I can’t give you A1c numbers (average blood sugar)but my daily testing (7-9 times a day) has averaged 105 mg/dl over the last 7 days; 107 mg/dl over the last 14 days; 102 over the last 30 days. 100 mg/dl is considered normal. And for those of you who test, I always test post meals.

    I still have 35 lbs. to loose to get to my goal of 10% body fat. But even if I didn’t, and baring any definitive proof, I’m Primal for the rest of my days.

    BTW – my MD is very happy with my blood sugar averages and interested in watching my progress.

    One final piece. I enjoy long distance bicycling (60 -120 miles per ride). I use a 4/1 carb to pro sports drink to hydrate and provide a steady intake of carbs. I also enjoy Primal snacks.

    Chuck wrote on March 19th, 2011
  8. I’ve read all of the comments, and while I can follow all of them, the truth is I am no expert, so my understanding is limited. And maybe that’s a good thing, because I think some of us are missing the point. I don’t think anyone was saying (or inferring for that matter) that Ryan has cured his Type 1 diabetes. There is nothing “wrong” with his being diabetic anyway (just like there’s nothing “wrong” about having Type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, AIDS, etc…) On behalf of the rest of the world, I apologize for those jerks out there who treat anyone with a disease/ailment/medical issue as lesser humans, that’s just horrible. However, I would propose that we not be so sensitive. I think what is being said in this story is that living the Primal lifestyle can help in our treatment of health issues. For example, if I told you that I’ve healed myself from menopause we all know that you could take my hormone levels and they of course, would not have changed (I would still be going through menopause). But it is possible that I could claim I am no longer experiencing menopausal symptoms due to following the Primal Blueprint. Isn’t that what Ryan is saying here? It reminds me of the argument about diet and autism (something I do know more about). For those who have been successful at treating autism with diet, it pleases them to tell the world about their success in an effort to help others. In turn, there are a lot of people who simply call it hogwash and are offended that something so serious could be treated with a special diet, as if it makes any difference how the person got better. What matters in this case is that some, if not most, of the symptoms of Ryan’s health issues are treated successfully with his lifestyle. So congratulations, Ryan and thank you Mark for all that you do.

    Sara wrote on March 19th, 2011
    • Well said Sara :)

      Kellie wrote on March 19th, 2011
    • Very well said, Sara!

      Elisabeth wrote on March 19th, 2011
  9. Mark, thank you for all your sacrifices and your successes. Without your book I would have never had the amazing Doctor I have today, Dr. Lazarus. I have (as well as family, friends and clients) been able to live a life without pain and a new found hope for a better quality of life. I struggled daily with a severe pain in my stomach every time I ate for 15 years. I went to some medical doctors for help and they made me believe I was the problem. Being told “you’re the problem” was not only physically but emotionally debilitating. I went to Doctor Lazarus because he was highly recomended by my sister. He convinced me to read your book and live the lifestyle. I implemented the lifestyle that Mark and Ryan suggested and I was immediately relieved of the daily stomach aches and I managed to lose a significant amount of “insulation” around my belly. Long story short, thank you Mark and thank you Ryan for giving me the life I always hoped to have.

    Travis Newton wrote on March 19th, 2011
  10. Ryan isn’t just a Chiropractor he’s a HEALER.

    Travis Newton wrote on March 19th, 2011
  11. How wonderful, after facing what you thought an uncertain future, that you sought, achieved, and exude vitality.

    Nan wrote on March 19th, 2011
  12. Wow, that is an amazing story!
    I have a friend who is a type 1 diabetic and competitive powerlifter. He does not eat carbs, for the most part, and therefore hardly ever needs to inject insulin.
    He is also strong as hell and lean as a race horse.

    Nathan wrote on March 19th, 2011
  13. This story was amazing and I am so glad I seemed to have stumbled across PB. I have been told that my pancreas is starting to develop ‘over-use’ issues and I was beginning to get very fearful of the possibility of becoming diabetic (like the rest of my family), but I take so much comfort in just knowing that this way of life does actually work for serious health issues. It’s the proof I needed before fully embarking on a journey I had no idea where it would lead me. At least now I have hope that things can definately not just get better, but improve 10 fold. Thank you so much for sharing your story, you are a true inspiration :)

    TARNI wrote on March 19th, 2011
  14. Super inspiring story!! I realize that I honestly don’t know that much about Diabetes, but just reading this story, for me, seals the deal that Primal Living can help maintain and balance any bodily malfunction one can possibly have. It just makes sense too. Great stuff!!

    Apolo Troy wrote on March 20th, 2011
  15. Keep kicking ass son! Your ancestors would be proud

    Johnny Palmer wrote on March 20th, 2011
  16. This is my first day on this web blog. I found this story uplifting and amazing. More often than not, the folks I know only follow Doctors advise.They become more and more ill. My own doctor admitted to me that he had two weeks of nutrition in college. He welcomes any research I have found. I am always emailing him articles. He supports my recent decision to eat a Paleo diet. I have in the last year cured myself of a 12 year old auto immune disease called RSD. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.I had to do research and work hard at over coming this.(I could not walk, was in constant extreme pain, and was in danger of losing my right leg)Because of this I was able to run a mile last fall, hike a volcano in Hawaii in December, and walk all over St Croix in March. No pain…not even a thought about it. conventional medicine said…”there is no cure” “we don’t know what causes this” “you will probably lose your right leg”
    I want to applaud you Ryan for your ability to take the bull by the horns and find your answers. Thank you for this encouraging post. You put yourself out there and showed us that we can all have a hand in making our lives better.The sky is the limit!
    Love to you.

    Lynn wrote on March 21st, 2011
  17. What an inspiration you are Ryan!!

    My chiropractor is awesome too, BTW. :)

    Kelly A wrote on March 21st, 2011
  18. I’d just like to say to all the Type 1 people going crazy… that the article never claimed to “CURE” or “GET RID” of diabetes.

    Mark used the word “help” and Ryan used the word “control.” Before you all go crazy next time over something you consider to be an assault on your person, why don’t you read the article a little more closely.

    Matthew wrote on March 22nd, 2011
    • Thanks, for that insightful response, and before you respond to this, We or I probably didn’t read it as an assault or insult, but the article did imply that through following the primal diet, you can reverse type 1, which you cannot, and if I were newly diagnosed, this article would provide a lot of false hope (unintentionally I understand, but it would) that and there is a large difference between type 1 and 2 to the people that are forever more attached to a device that provides them with the hormone that we are trying to reduce the creation of by following this very plan, so we are interested, and people who tell us not to freak out are the same people who generally say crap like ‘well, I don’t see why we pay taxed for your medical bills, if you didn’t eat all that crap you wouldn’t be diabetic’ – that’s probably why – because we don’t eat crap, and we can’t just cut carbs out, we try to reduce them, if my sugar drops, my choices are ‘eat candy or go to an ER – for some candy, intravenously’


      Everhardt Strauss wrote on April 28th, 2013
      • Ev,

        As the author, let me clarify. The article never claimed to reverse type I diabetes. I simply stated, that I healed my pancreas using a primal lifestyle. I am an insulin dependent diabetic due to the removal of the majority of my pancreas from trauma. I lack sufficient beta cells to produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels and glucose homeostasis.

        The intent of the article was to share my story and inform the reader that even IDDM patients can improve their health with a primal lifestyle. This includes avoidance of specific foods while emphasizing nutrient-dense foods, moving in a strategic manner to facilitate optimal mitochondrial function leading to improved metabolic flexibility. MDA provides numerous tips and strategies to achieve this and adopting a primal lifestyle will benefit a Type I diabetic.


        Ryan Lazarus wrote on April 28th, 2013
  19. Amazing comments. I needed to read again because I’m having a discussion with a T1 about bolus and carb intake, etc. She called me out on my less than stellar knowledge of T1 vs. T2 (which I have been for nearly a decade). However, before finding Primal I was in that transition period where my insulin output was normal again because I’d worn the beta cells out to that point, and as I understand it – if I’d continued to kill my beta cells through lifestyle, etc – I’d have eventually had no function and been deemed a Type 1. If you have no beta cells functioning, does it really matter that much how it happened? What’s the test that determines that? I do not know to what extent I have pancreatic function currently, so honestly, I don’t know where I stand on the ‘spectrum’ of Diabetes. What I do know is that Primal is amazing for my control. I can eat more carbs, keep my blood sugars at non-diabetic levels, by avoiding grains, beans, etc. My last A1C was 5.2, but it’s been quite a few months since I’ve retested. I would be very interested in knowing exactly what tests I could request that would tell me what % of function I retain, and if that changes for the bad or good, etc. Regardless of type, or spot on the spectrum one is with regards to Diabetes, can’t we all agree that Primal helps? :)

    Melissa Fritcher wrote on March 22nd, 2011
  20. Primal helps, indeed!!!

    Lester wrote on May 9th, 2011
  21. This article gives me so much hope. I’m 18 and have had T1 Diabetes since May of 2006 (when I was 15). Thank you so much

    AshPow wrote on August 7th, 2012
  22. Uber sexy! What an amazing story!

    Madelain Burgoyne wrote on March 22nd, 2013

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