An Inspiring Tale About The Benefits Of The Paleo Diet In A Case Of Type I Diabetes

Hi folks! Thanks for stopping by!

FitOldDog's dog Willbe loves to play with a stick

Willbe loves to play with a stick! I don’t know why. He just does.

If you’re a dog, a stick can provide a great deal of pleasure, whereas for the diabetic a stick (injection) can be life saving, but maybe diet modification should also receive a little more attention.

Diabetes is a complex condition due to the widespread and critical roles played by the hormone, insulin, in human (and non-human) Biology. After describing my recent forays into the Paleo Diet over lunch the other day with a friend, whose daughter has type I diabetes, we started to wonder whether Paleo thinking might help Type 1 and/or Type II diabetics.

Picture of FitOldDog's Sparky, who died of autoimmune diabetes.

He can’t see the steps, he’s blind and has to feel his way down. Sparky died many years ago, but he had a love a life until the end. He died of a combination of autoimmune disease (eosinophilic polymyositis) and type I diabetes, which came on late in life. Great dog. Still miss his zest for life!

First type II diabetes, which is essentially self-induced and could be largely prevented by life-style changes, especially diet and exercise. Enough said – do it or lose it!

Then the more tricky one, type I diabetes, which can be due to a genetic issue or a response to autoimmune disease (your immune system attacking your body, mistaking self for non-self) that may strike anyone at any time in life – no one is completely safe from autoimmune disease, I’m sorry to say. A friend of mine in his 40s is now struggling with autoimmune-induced type I diabetes (failure of the pancreatic beta-cells to produce insulin due to their being attacked and destroyed by the immune system).

In spite of their considerable differences in nature, type I being a problem of insulin production, whilst type II is due to disturbance of insulin response systems, it would appear that dietary restriction of carbohydrates, as recommended in The Primal Blueprint, might be just the ticket. So I searched on this question at Mark’s Daily Apple, and lo and behold there was an inspiring story by a gentleman named Shawn, entitled, “Type 1 Diabetes No Match for Primal Lifestyle! I couldn’t resist quoting Shawn’s story here – I hope Shawn doesn’t mind:

Shawn who wrote an article on the benefits of a Paleo diet for his type I diabetes

Quote from the article by Shawn, “Needless to say, my blood sugar control was not good. I would go up to 250 right after meals, but since I dropped down to normal again after a few hours my doctor was fine with it. Being all too aware of the side effects of uncontrolled blood sugar, I decided to educate myself and become my own “nutritionist/doctor.”

“I have tons of energy, especially compared to some of my type 2 diabetic relatives who always feel run-down due to their poor diets. (I’m trying to convert them, but no luck as of yet). And of course, combined with the omnipod insulin pump that I am now on (which I would strongly recommend to all insulin-dependent diabetics) I find it quite easy to tightly control my blood sugars (i.e. less than 100 AT ALL TIMES with very few hypoglycemic episodes, i.e. low blood sugar). And possibly the best part, my family/friends/coworkers are noticing these changes and starting to question their own diets and lifestyle habits…it’s like a contagious disease (the good kind)!”

Shawn concludes his inspiring article with the following statement: “I look forward to a long and healthy life (in spite of the diabetes) as my Primal lifestyle continues to evolve, and hopefully I can get more people on board! Thanks for reading and I hope this can provide some motivation for the diabetics out there who may need a little extra motivation once in a while!”

Makes sense to me that diabetics, their doctors, nutritionists, and diabetes researchers, should follow up on this observation with some systematic research, which maybe they are.

I hope so!

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Hmmmm, please also check out a plant-strong diet, suggest looking at Engine2Diet, or Dr. Esselstyne, or Healthy Happy Librarian. Many people are reversing diabetes and heart disease.

  2. Hi Marsha, I agree that there are many dietary approaches to this one. My goal was simply to get people thinking. It is fascinating to me that people I know are happily inducing and suffering the effects of type II diabetes, whilst making no attempt to do anything about it in spite of my suggestions. The Paleo diet is actually pretty easy to follow, much easier than the vegetarian approach, which has it’s pros and cons, ethics notwithstanding (another rich bloggable topic). I could take this issue a little further with some research, and I will one day. I’ll follow up your suggestions, and then write a follow up post (unless you would like to?), including thoughts on Atkins, which my friend commented on in a follow up e-mail. I made no attempt to create a detailed analysis of the literature, I must admit. There is a huge metabolic response difference between a vegetarian diet rich in carbs and the Paleo diet. Notably, the latter creates a state of low insulin levels. Interesting topic! I’ve never eaten so many avocados, macadamia nuts and fresh salades in my life before, but they seem to agree with me. Thanks for your input, which is appreciated as always. I liked the “Hmmmm.” Made me jump. That’s a good thing. -kevin

  3. Question from a reader:

    “It sounds like the Paleo diet is the same as the Atkins diet that was so very popular a few years back. Is that true?”

    My response:

    They are, in fact, very different, though both would be expected to induce fairly low insulin levels.

    For a detailed comparison of Atkins versus Paleo diets take a look at this article:

    “The Paleo Diet vs The Atkins Diet – Which one is right for you?” published in ‘A Healthy Journey’ blog at

    The final statement by this writer, Anastasia Hendryanto, is key: “The bottom line is that there isn’t one diet that will work for everyone. Each of us is unique and has slightly different nutritional needs. Dig out your food journal and start taking notes. Who knows what you will discover about yourself?”

    This was really my goal, to get people thinking about themselves and their own health needs. Shawn didn’t just take the advice of his doctor and accept the high postprandial blood glucose levels. Instead, he worked to do something about it to good effect. I still think that we each have to be your own advocates, as best we can, when it comes to our medical and other life decisions, as exemplified by my recent ‘Valium story’ (see link at

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.