Before we dive into the nitty gritty of this carnivore lifestyle, let’s take a look at the study that originally inspired me.
What is Paleomedicina?
Paleomedicina is a group of doctors and scientists, based out of Hungary, who are studying intestinal permeability. Their theory is that certain food components are irritating to the gut lining, weakening it, and thereby permitting unwanted intruders in the body. These provoke the body’s autoimmune response, leading to many of the chronic illnesses we see today, including type 1 diabetes (T1D), rheumatoid arthritis, Chron’s disease, epilepsy, etc.
For 42,000 Ft ($149 US) per day, patients can stay in their facilities to receive meals and care. This cost includes both room and board. They also do Skype consultations. I haven’t yet done this myself, although I would like to soon. The first costs 27,000 Ft ($95 US), and subsequent consultations cost 15,000 Ft ($53 US).
Their treatment focuses on what’s called the paleolithic ketogenic (PK) diet. In short, it’s composed of animal foods that are higher in fat than protein, ideally in a ratio of 2:1 but even as high as 3:1 (e.g., for treatment of epilepsy). Grocery store 73/27 ground beef is an example of a common food that is close to this ideal PK ratio; a 4 oz serving contains 30 g fat and 17 g protein.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus Successfully Managed with the Paleolithic Ketogenic Diet
In October 2014, Csaba Tóth and Zsófia Clemens of Paleomedicina published a groundbreaking case study on PK control in T1D. A newly diagnosed 19-year-old male was put on the PK diet. Shortly thereafter, his blood glucose (BG) levels normalized, and he was able to discontinue the use of exogenous (injected) insulin.
This is nothing short of a medical/scientific miracle. Typically, a newly diagnosed T1D’s ability to produce insulin goes down, not up! Most will enjoy a period during which control of BG is made easier by the small amount of insulin that the pancreas is still making. This is called the honeymoon phase. Over time, control becomes harder as the body’s attack on the pancreas kills off the remaining beta cells (which produce insulin), until nothing is left and the person is fully insulin-dependent for life.
C-peptide on 18th day of PK diet and two months later.
The Paleomedicina study subject showed a dramatic increase in C-peptide levels over a two-month span. C-peptide is a measurable byproduct of the pancreas’s ability to produce insulin. Definition of “normal range” can vary, but it’s around 1 to 3. Here we see that the subject went from below normal (typical for a newly diagnosed T1D) back into normal range.
I think this is an appropriate use case for the mind blown emoji…
What This Means for Me
Unfortunately, I didn’t get started on the PK diet as quickly as the Paleomedicina study subject did. The blood test that led to my diagnosis was on October 25, 2018. My BG was 398 mg/dL (normal is about 80–90), and my A1c (a three-month BG average measured in red blood cells) was 9.6 (normal is around 4.5). I was informed of the test results on October 31, 2018 — Halloween, which means I was eating candy from a bowl I was about to hand out to eager children in my neighborhood! 😬
I wasn’t tested to confirm type 1 until mid-December, and I began taking rapid-acting mealtime insulin (Admelog) on January 1, 2019. I was immediately unsatisfied with results, and so on January 6, I began eating a very low-carb diet (essentially keto) and found results that I liked much more. On January 28, my A1c was 5.6 and my C-peptide was 0.3. That’s a great reduction in A1c, and any T1D would be delighted. I began a light basal regimen (Basaglar, 1 to 4 units per day, usually split morning and bedtime) on January 30, and I continued as such through February and March.
I discovered the Paleomedicina study in early March, read a bit more about eating zero-carb/carnivore, and decided on April 1 to have a go at it. A few days after that, I decided to roll the dice and try stopping insulin altogether! To my amazement, my BG stayed more or less within normal range. On April 29, my A1c was 5.2 and my C-peptide was 0.8. That’s more than double (nearly triple) what it was in January. Pretty incredible, if you ask me. Granted, that is after only a few weeks eating like this, and much of that time was spent struggling and figuring out exactly how to go about this.
May was not my best month. I did a fair bit of traveling, and although my family is both supportive and helpful, some compromises had to be made. As a result, my BG levels steadily rose throughout the entire month. There were some days when I had to take ½ unit insulin to bring down a rogue 120–140 mg/dL. Still, in the entire month, I injected about as much insulin as I did in one day back in February/March!
BG levels increased steadily throughout May.
Today is June 9. I’ve been back home for a little over a week, getting everything back under control, and I have only had to inject insulin once: the day after getting home. My BG numbers have stabilized back in the range where I want them, even showing a slight downward trend. I’m very excited to see this!
BG levels are decreasing in June.
I do wish that I would have found the PK diet and gotten started sooner. Any amount of time is absolutely critical in the beginning of a T1D diagnosis. However, I think it’s clear that there are some pretty profound things happening. Because I don’t have a ton of data points (only two C-peptide measurements), it’s tough to say right now exactly how successful this little experiment is. It is, however, safe to say that the increase in C-peptide between January and April is remarkable. The fact that I have (for the most part) ceased using exogenous (injected) insulin is also pretty incredible.
Now that we’ve gone over the study that I’m referencing (as well as taken a quick look at how it’s affecting me), we can begin digging deeper into what it means to live this way. It’s certainly not always easy, but it is rewarding. It’s my hope that, in the coming months, the numbers I gather and the results from lab testing will bear out the same conclusions found by Paleomedicina.
I’m constantly tweaking this or trying that, so it will be an ongoing journey that I am excited to share with you. I’ll try to be as transparent as possible, and I’ll provide as much of my data as I can. It’s my hope that any newly diagnosed T1D who finds this can gather up the available information, consult with his/her own medical care team, and decide whether or not to try this radical but promising approach. Early intervention is crucial.
Thanks for reading. I’m Drew, the type 1 diabetic carnivore, and I’ll see you next time.