In one year, my life with type 1 diabetes changed in ways I never thought possible.
After 12 months of eating a plant-based diet, my insulin needs decreased by 50%. As a 24 year old with Type 1 diabetes, I injected on average 60 units of insulin per day. Now at 25, I dial up 30 units per day. While defying conventional wisdom, I achieved these results while doubling my carbohydrate intake – effectively increasing carbohydrate consumption from 100 to 200 grams per day.
For those not familiar with Type 1 diabetes, let me clarify. People with Type 1 diabetes make no insulin. Every carbohydrate I eat is compensated for with insulin. We with diabetes do not know why our pancreas went on permanent vacation, but it did. I can exercise, eat right, and meditate until the proverbial cows come home, and I will still be using insulin.
How then, can we explain that I am eating more carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes) but taking less insulin? Clinical research is beginning to demonstrate that adopting a plant-based, vegan diet without animal protein and fat will improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes. (See here) If one is injecting less insulin, this results in less lipid, or fat, production in the body. That’s a motivating factor.
This opportunity for true disease transformation was never brought to my attention by my physicians or dieticians. My assumption was that I should always eat as low-carb as possible. Then, as many a vegan journey begins, I watched Forks Over Knives. I was plant-strong for one week and gave it up. I wasn’t ready or truly motivated yet.
All the while, the vegan dream never vanished. In a divine intervention of sorts, I stumbled across the Rich Roll Podcast. This was my gospel. In the car, at the gym, on the bike, or on a run, I listed to his conversations with his wife Julie, Dr. Michael Gregor, Michael Arnstein, and John Joseph. Now I got the why, and the how, to execute a vegan life. On April 8th, 2013, I jumped off the cliff and never looked back.
It being a little over a year later, the impact of the plant-based choice is humbling. I feel more love. I feel more connection. I feel more vitality. I feel the peace. I now have a garden. I ran two marathons. I gave up coffee… and subsequently let it creep back into my life. I got accepted into medical school. I plan to pursue preventative medicine.
Experiencing the pairing of physiological and spiritual transformation has been wonderful. A plant-based diet might have been the catalyst. Perhaps that catalyst for someone else is running, meditating, cooking, or carpentry. Everyone is different. I do know that it feels good to find the path, especially one where you’re taking less insulin.
Have questions about the plant-based diabetes approach? Reach out below! Have your doubts? Reach out below!