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From West Palm Beach, Florida, USA:

Is it possible in the hypothetical sense for a person with Type 1 diabetes to go on a carbohydrate free diet, similar to the Atkins all protein diet, and thereby eliminate the need for insulin as a key to make the cells receptive to glucose? Making the body use fats for energy?


One can hardly subsist on a no carbohydrate diet for several reasons. First of all, it is so unlike the typical American diet, it would be very difficult to follow. Secondly, the breakdown of fats forms ketones, which are poisons and can eventually kill a person. A diet high in protein will be most likely need to be high in fat and that contributes to heart disease and cancer, so we can not recommend it. Overall, therefore, not a good idea.


Additional Comments from Linda Mackowiak, diabetes nurse specialist:

Insulin's role in the body is more complex than just to let glucose into the cells. The amount of insulin available determines if you will "build up" or "break down" stored energy. Without an adequate insulin level you will form ketones and produce glucose. Insulin and glucagon form a delicate metabolic balance.

Before insulin was available in the early 1920's, the "treatment" was a diet that was very close to starvation, with just a very little food to keep you alive. This diet only worked for a short time during which the person's available insulin was dwindling.

The bottom line is that with type 1 diabetes, insulin has to be replaced for life. Certainly your diet does affect your control, but won't take the place of insulin.


Original posting 24 Feb 1999
Additional comment added 27 Feb 1999
Posted to Meal Planning, Food and Diet


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