Diabetes Type I: Home Remedies and Holistic Treatment

Low Carb-Diet
Posted by Lee-anne (Australia) on 06/26/2023

Low Carb-Diet for Type 1 diabetes

Hi all, my daughter was diagnosed with T1d when she was 13 (on her birthday - Happy Birthday!!) This is 20+ years ago, when the internet was young. We spent the obligatory week in the Children's hospital where we received the medical system 'indoctrination.' I particularly remember the session with the nutritionist - a sweet, 20-something lass who sat us down at a table with a whole pile of packets (of junk food) sprawled out in front of us. She 'taught' us how to read the 'nutritional information' on the back of this 'food' and how to 'manage' our daughter's T1D by giving her X number of 'exchanges' (read grams of carbs) at each meal time (breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper) and then balance it with insulin. Being a good mother, we went home and put the whole family on this 'medically approved T1D management system.' Surely it would be good for us all. I did cut out most of the junk food that above mentioned nutritionist suggested and replaced muesli bars, chips and juices with less processed foods. Surely it would all work...... Within 3 months, my husband and I (both normally slender and healthy - fit, flexible, energetic) had turned into the Telly Tubbies (apologies if you don't know who they are...Google!) We had put on ENORMOUS amounts of weight and felt sick, sad and unhealthy. Photos from the time show us with puffy faces, dark circles under our eyes, sallow skin (and we were now in summertime) and bursting out of our clothes. Our daughter however, had regained much of the weight she had lost prior to diagnosis, but she too had the same 'awful' appearance as we did (just not as fat)

Now going back to the nutritionist, I should mention that I nearly put her off her programming when I asked her this, "you have just told me that our daughter is unable to metabolise carbohydrates anymore/ever again....and yet you have also just told us to feed her all these exchanges (read carbs) at every meal? How does that work?" Her eyes glazed over a little, she looked over our heads and out the window momentarily and then launched straight back into her 'exchanges/insulin' talk, without addressing my question. I figured she was the 'expert' and let it go.

Our daughter had her 3 month checkup back at the hospital and I got a lovely pat on the head from the endo we saw as daughter's A1c (average of blood sugar over 3 months) was down to 8.5 (Australian measurement system) and she had put back on some weight. Hurrah - I'm in line for mother of the year award! To give some context, normal blood sugar for a non diabetic (using said Australian blood sugar measurement system) ranges between 4.7 to a max of 5.3. The 4.7 is PERFECT, and up to 5.3 is an increasing degree of 'not quite so perfect.' However, the endo, while thrilled with our magical blood sugar lowering abilities, warned me sternly that we wouldn't be able to let her A1c drop below 7.5 because that would indicate that she was having too many hypos. Report card for that visit 8/10.

So while I was somewhat happy about our daughter's 'improved' health, I was less than thrilled about the deterioration in mine and husband's health. As I mentioned above, the internet was young and still a bit of a wild frontier but I was determined to find 1) a cure 2) a better management plan and 3) the answer to why she had become T1d in the first place. And so I spent my spare time scouring the internet. In a short time I stumbled upon Dr Richard Bernstein (watch out there are two docs by this name out there) My Doctor Richard K Bernstein is himself a T1D. I can't tell you his story any better than he can, so go here http://www.diabetes-book.com/ and scroll down. He also has a Youtube channel and still posts regularly there (he is nearly 90 years old and still practices, treating and teaching both Type 1's and Type 2s) In short, he advocates a low carbohydrate diet for both types - the 6,12,12 diet - that's 6 grams of carb for breakfast, 12 for lunch and 12 for dinner. Yes, he has a book (several) for sale and yes he makes money from his practice (we all have to live!) but the thing you should take the most note of is that he was diagnosed at 12 years of age, he is still alive and in better health than he was until he took up the low carb lifestyle. To say I was intrigued is an understatement. I devoured the book (not literally), we leapt into the lifestyle and voila, husband and I soon lost all the weight and the daughter found managing her blood sugar so much simpler - no massive swings, no hypos, far less insulin usage and she looked much healthier. We were on a winner!!

Just when we thought we had all the answers, we had the 6 month checkup back at the hospital. This visit didn't go quite as swimmingly as the prior checkup. I got a severe dressing down, not just by the endo we saw previously, but also by the Head of the Endocrinology department because daughter's A1c was down under 6! I was thrilled, they were not. I tried explaining about the Good Doctor Bernstein and his history and experience, but they apparently knew much better than he did. In short I was told that she needed to increase her carbs back up to ensure that she wouldn't have any hypos (er, she wasn't having hypos on the low carb) which they most assuredly told me she must be having to have her A1c so DANGEROUSLY low. Report card for this visit 3/10.

So what to do? Go back to the SAD (Standard Australian/American Diet) with lots of carbs or continue with the low carb adventure? We chose the latter. We did go back to the hospital a couple more times, with even more dressing downs, while her A1c stabilised at just above 5. In the end, I politely declined any further appointments and just visited a GP in the city (who I had found was a 'supporter' of low carb for T1's - he just wouldn't mention it in his doctoring circles)

So skip to the present. Daughter is now mid 30s, tall, slender, remarkably healthy with 2 gorgeous children of her own. She rebelled a bit on the diet while in her teenage years, but hated how she felt and looked as a result and so went back to the low carb. She doesn't quite do 6-12-12, but she is very tuned into her body and how much/little insulin she needs to keep her blood sugar stable. She uses a continuous blood sugar monitor (which she started using during pregnancy 1) which also has been a Godsend.

So while I didn't find the cure in my internet searches, I did find the management plan. Did I find the reason why she became T1d....that's another story!

So please, read the book, try the lifestyle.best wishes Lee-anne