Life without insulin? Is it possible?

By BLC Latest Reply 2017-09-14 22:34:37 -0500
Started 2010-02-28 12:36:56 -0600

I am a type 1 diabetic. If I only ate low carb foods that do not raise my sugar could I stop taking insulin? Tomatoes, peppers, carrots, green beans, lettuce, cabbage and other foods do not raise my sugar so if I stayed on a diest of these foods and other foods that contain little or no carbs could I live without insulin?

48 replies

DiabeticMomMrsD 2017-09-14 22:28:44 -0500 Report

My son was diagnosed on May 30th,
DKA lost 27 pounds in three weeks.
Now he has been off insulin for three weeks and he has blood sugars that is perfect and his c-peptide is 5.0 (perfect and optimal). So it is possible to doing this great the honeymoon or is he an living example of being without insulin.
We are Paleo and workout 1 hr a day Monday thru Friday with three days killing it. He has about 60-100
carbs a day. Just good carbs vegetables, bananas, apples.

Sweetvet 2017-07-28 22:16:40 -0500 Report

I'm a type 1 and have been for over 43 years with no complications. I'm asking myself the same question as you, so I'm about to test myself with the following:

Continue injecting lower amounts of my long acting insulin (NPH) twice a day, but lowering it gradually.

Continue lifting weights and combining distance running and high intensity workouts. I've been doing this for 40+ years and I'm convinced that the "doses" of adrenaline and endorphins have a beneficial effect.

Test my bgls 12-18 times a day (I use the Libre glucose monitor which makes this frequency very easy). Inject small top-ups of fast acting Humalog, if needed.

Eat a diet of lean meat, fruit and vegetables, avoiding high carb intake.

Has anyone tried this already, as a means to avoid hypos?

Type1Lou 2017-03-24 12:00:03 -0500 Report

This is a 7-year old post but, I maintain that life without insulin is not possible. Non-diabetics produce their own insulin which keeps the amount of glucose in their bodies stable. It is a hormone essential for life. Diabetics either no longer produce insulin or produce very little (Type 1) or like Type 2's, they still produce insulin, but less than they need and/or develop insulin resistance which prevents their bodies from effectively using the insulin they still produce. For Type 1's, either insulin must be injected/pumped/inhaled unless they've undergone a procedure like a pancreatic transplant which will regenerate their body's ability to produce its own insulin. The answer is more varied for Type 2's. Some may be able to control their diabetes by changing dietary and exercise habits and/or losing weight; other can manage their diabetes by making these lifestyle changes but still require either oral meds or insulin. There are some hopeful studies about early treatment of Type 1's still producing some insulin where the total destruction of the insulin-producing Beta Cells may be avoided.

dtmiles 2017-03-23 14:31:57 -0500 Report

Well my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 and she is in a small group of T1D that do still produce insulin. Although it is widely accepted that T1D stop producing their own insulin and therefore are dependent on insulin, a study showed that a small group still produce it long after being diagnosed. Production can last up to 4 decades. This finding is thought to help doctors stop misdiagnosing T1D as T2D. However, if the doctor put you on insulin then you more than likely now need it and the study does not prove it ever goes back to producing (meaning the body) by itself.

T1Raw 2017-07-11 15:54:17 -0500 Report

HI there, i am also part of the group, diagnosed at age 29 january 2017, started a raw juice feast feb 2. diagnosed with a1c 15.7, june a1c 5.7 Endo says honey moon stage. I like to disagree and feel i am healing myself with diet/lifestyle changes. My question is can you refer me to the findings you speak of. Lots of people don't believe in reversal of us T1's. But i do and i know there is another option than insulin for life treatment. I appreciate any help you can provide.

BJW34 2017-07-14 14:12:42 -0500 Report

No. Your Endo is 100% correct. There is no other option. Do not attempt to out-smart the disease.

Miss T.
Miss T. 2015-06-13 20:58:58 -0500 Report

No it isn't possible and the fact that your doctor didn't explain why to you is troubling. Your liver stores glucose. Type I diabetics are no different in that respect from anyone else. Your liver releases that glucose as you need it - trouble for us is that we do not produce the insulin to keep it balanced. It's a razor's edge. Glucogenesis occurs continuously - that's why there has to be what's called a basal rate - the rate that matches what your liver releases. You need what some people call boluses to take care of the carbohydrate that you eat. Protein and fat are a different metabolic process - for diabetics it's carbohydrates that count. Even iceberg lettuce has some carbs and if you're producing no insulin that needs to be covered by an outside source of insulin. Carrots are actually relatively sweet - beans are even higher in carbohydrates.. No - you'll die without insulin. It may be quick or it may be a long and messy death but you can't survive without it and without enough of it your health is undermined. So why the hell it costs $395 a vial when the cost of producing it is under $20 is a mystery. You need to read Dr. Richard Bernstein's books. THe oldest is called "The Diabetic Solution". He saved my health and made it possible for me to have a healthy child at the age or 45. He has been for all of us a miracle. He changed much of the approach to treatment although not enough people in the medical profession pay enough attention to him. BUt I can tell you that if you're Type I you NEED to read his books. You sound relatively self-disciplined - you'd benefit.

Justice 2010-03-25 12:18:51 -0500 Report

I am a person who believes in miracles because they happen to people everyday. So I do pray that doing my lifetime that they actually find a cure for diabetes. I would speak with my dietician/doctor about a low carb diet and see what they say depending on how you body breaks food down you might or might not be be able to cut back on some inuslin based on your daily food intake and exercise. Be encouraged!

RiNow 2010-03-25 10:39:04 -0500 Report

If you are a Type I diabetic, no; it is not possible.
I tried it, and I passed out, and it took me 48 hrs. to recover.
I am uninsured, and I was experimenting with rationing insulin in order not to bleed out of my savings. I was reducing, then trying no eating and no insulin on and off days.
Well, I had forgotten to take into account that your body will burn fat anyway, which raises blood glucose levels, and by the time I started to feel it, I injected insulin, but it was too late. I was in my apt., I didn't seek help, I was able to recover after going in and out of consciousness for almost two days.
My diabetes hasn't been under control in years, I am entering my 40s (I have had this since I was 17), worked my whole life without a vacation since I was 14 (yes, no kidding), and without getting political, lose my health insurance, great, huh.
I am 20 lbs. underweight, my hair (no one in my family has this either) is almost all gray and falling out, and I spend my life dealing with this, and in this economy, going from one job to another, in different cities of the country to another, which is not cheap.
Take your insulin, don't lose your health like I did.

MAYS 2010-03-25 11:02:36 -0500 Report

Thank you for pointing this out !
This is the point that I made earlier on, posting on this subject and was criticized for being to blunt, as a type 1 it is impossible to do, our bodies need insulin whether it's our own or not, created by our bodies or injected, without it we would die, to try and prove a self induced theory that you can survive without it is a suicidal experiment doomed from the start at the point of conception in one's mind !

I wish you the best because you have experienced a great deal and being honest and truthful may hurt some feelings, but if heeded by others will spare many the pain and suffering experienced by the few.


Dennis1947 2010-03-19 22:10:32 -0500 Report

well in addition to the others?
1. Just try it..
2. Test your Bg's every hour
and see how it goes..
just have your Fast acting Insulin at the ready to take a Correction bolus
and know ho wmany Unit's of Long Lasting you need on a per hour basis and how many hours left inthe day thru the next Dose you normally take and take that as well, if things don't work out..

Odds are It won't work.. if your a true T1..and not in a honeymoon phase..

Desert Rat
Desert Rat 2010-03-16 09:41:26 -0500 Report

I have a qusetion please,,i am newly diagnosed type 2,,with insulin,,i will be going on the road with my job doing construction in the heat,,what is the best foods to eat every 2 hours while working to keep my strength up??

Desert Rat
Desert Rat 2010-03-16 09:39:11 -0500 Report

I have a qusetion please,,i am newly diagnosed type 2,,with insulin,,i will be going on the road with my job doing construction in the heat,,what is the best foods to eat every 2 hours while working to keep my strength up??

Kirla 2010-03-16 16:00:33 -0500 Report

Desert Rat

I use walnuts, peanuts, almonds and sunflower seeds. You can put them in little plastic bags or small containers. I buy them salt free.

Shawn_o 2010-03-29 09:29:02 -0500 Report

I agree with Kirla. Nuts are the way to go because they are a slower acting carb. When I was still doing construction, I also kept a snickers bar nearby. I found that if I crashed, the snickers was the fastest snack to get me back up and running.

officervanessa 2010-03-02 17:18:33 -0600 Report

nope. i was a strict vegan for well over a year… nothing at all but fresh fruit and fresh veggies. no grains, no dairy, no meats. nothing but water to drink. i still had to take insulin, and i was literally taking in no carbs at all. when my sugar did go low, which wasnt very often- i would have a slice of bread (which is the only time i would even have grain…). i have since quit that whole diet- wasnt happy because i basically couldnt eat ANYTHING… but anyway, to answer your question, as a type one, we dont make any insulin at all. even if you were to not eat anything at all, your body would still need insulin to keep your bg level. i say, just be happy and eat real food.. keep taking the insulin. you will be miserable only eating those few things for the rest of your life anyway.

Melissa Dawn
Melissa Dawn 2010-03-05 17:53:31 -0600 Report

While I agree that you do need insulin no matter what you eat if you are a Type 1, a diet of veggies and fruit isn't necessarily low carb. Fruit is primarily sugar — simple carbs, but still carbs. Veggies can have some carbs in them as well, though its usually less. Its important to be aware of that when carb counting and planning your insulin dosages.

officervanessa 2010-03-07 00:24:43 -0600 Report

yeah, it depends on what fruits and veggies you eat. the usual rule is, if its "green" its pretty much a free food. i ate pretty much nothing but brussel sprouts and spinach (yeah… yum.. haha)… corn and carrots made my sugar spike… and melon fruits and apples didnt do anything to my sugar- but berries made it go wild… so, usually i stuck to the fruits and veggies that didnt do anything to my sugar because the carb intake was barely anything.. sorry guys that i didnt clarify that before :(

veggie1962 2010-03-01 09:39:27 -0600 Report

It's not likely but I'm not willing to say impossible (everyone is different). I was misdiagnosed as Type 2 initially and after a year on oral meds (which never controlled my blood sugar wonderfully), my levels went up to 300. No matter how low carb I ate or how little I ate, my sugars were never much lower than 180. Went on insulin and sugars went down to around 100. The best I can do at the moment is if I eat mostly raw foods, I can tell I need less insulin, but I still need it.

Crashnot 2010-03-01 10:57:24 -0600 Report

So are you considered type 1 now? Sugar levels of 300 are very low for a type 1 who truly produces no insulin. Impossible in fact!

veggie1962 2010-03-04 08:49:38 -0600 Report

Yes, when I saw the endocrinologist, he ran the GAD antibody test on me, the classic one for determining immune mediated beta cell destruction (hallmark of type 1) and my result was 3x the normal and he told me I was really a type 1. My sugar has never gone above 350 or so and I take 14 units of Levemir and about 6 units of NovoLog a day and eat about 150 carbs a day. The doctors have no other explanation for how I can manage (my A1C goes between 5.5 and 6.4) with so little insulin except that I must still be in the honeymoon phase. But I will be marking my 6th year "anniversary" this coming October. I am careful to eat a pretty low glycemic, high fiber diet so I know that helps and I have been doing this bodywork/energy medicine therapy called "Bodytalk" and I know it helps stabilize my blood sugar. All I know is that I'm very grateful to not be "completely" dependent on exogenous insulin. I know it makes my life easier.

kdroberts 2010-03-04 09:07:18 -0600 Report

"All I know is that I'm very grateful to not be "completely" dependent on exogenous insulin. I know it makes my life easier."

It does and it doesn't. The problem is that the insulin producing cells of your pancreas are slowly being shut down which means that the production of insulin is not consistent and will eventually end. I went through much the same thing as you have, still am I guess, and I was grateful for essentially having type 1 with training wheels. However the down side was that with identical meals and virtually the same starting blood glucose at the same time of day with the virtually the same activity level I could never be confident that the same amount of insulin would work the same way. For instance during the week my routine is virtually identical every day and my breakfast is always the same at the same time. With the same amount of insulin, which was 3 units so not a huge amount, one day I would end up in the low 50's, the next I would be perfect and the day after I would be close to 200. Obviously it wasn't always consecutive days, I would have good numbers for a few days, then a low, then a couple of days of good, then a couple of high and so on. The longer it's gone on the more stable it's getting but I still get some randomness.

I've been diagnosed 3 years, I only got an official type diagnosis 6 weeks ago. I've only tested over 300 once in those 3 years and that was basically because I was dumb and decided to do something I really shouldn't have. I'm sure that over the coming years when I have 0 natural insulin production my insulin need will go up a little and I may well spike high like a type 1 can. However, even with the downside, I'm hopeful, grateful and lucky because I've had 3 years to figure things out rather than being thrown right into the fire like most type 1's are.

veggie1962 2010-03-04 09:28:43 -0600 Report

I understand what you are saying about still having some pancreatic function. I do agree that it makes balancing a little trickier at times. I cannot say what will happen for me in the future but I'm not willing to say that it is inevitable that I will eventually have no insulin production and be fully insulin dependent. I know that the Bodytalk is helping and my therapist (she is an RN) told me yesterday that she sees several other type 1s and has observed that newer diagnosed patients who do this treatment have needed substantially less insulin than the typical type 1. I'm honestly not trying to be in denial or anything like that. I'm just trying to be open to the possiblity that this will continue and not see it as an inevitable outcome.

veggie1962 2010-03-04 09:37:29 -0600 Report

I should have clarified that those newer diagnosed patients have been diagnosed typically as adults and have had diabetes for 3-4 years. One is a child who had already been getting treatment before diabetes diagnosis and has been diabetic for about 3 years.

MAYS 2010-03-04 09:40:02 -0600 Report

There is so much truth in that, if your pancreas goes is going thru the process of decreasing insulin production slowly there is so much that you have to do as well as monitoring your glucose level.
This condition, although rare, is frightening as well as life threatening.
Ketone and protein lose via urination have to be monitored very closely at home, the easiest and earliest signs of trouble are headaches, dizzy spells and frequent urination, sometimes cloudy and\or with bubbles.
No pain, but at times scary !

Amy Tenderich
Amy Tenderich 2010-02-28 17:35:35 -0600 Report

I agree with others here, BLC. You could drastically reduce the amount of insulin you need by eating low-carb, but if your pancreas makes no natural insulin, you WILL need to take some to stay alive and healthy.

Note that even "low-carb" foods like cheese & meats do contain some natural carbs -- so your sugar will still spike some. Also, you need that "background drip" of insulin (known as basal insulin) to keep your BG levels steady throughout the day and night, regardless of what you eat.

All the best to you,

BLC 2010-02-28 18:25:02 -0600 Report

Thanks so much I am understanding the whole process better now. Wishful thinking… I am so terrified of lows and I keep thinking if I didn't have to take insulin I wouldn't have to worry about lows. Thanks again for your reply.

Sue Turner
Sue Turner 2010-02-28 17:13:25 -0600 Report

Hi Bridget,

About the only way that I know of for a type 1 to come off insulin would be, if for some miraculous reason, their pancreas started producing insulin again…I have heard of cases where that has happened, but it only lasted for a short period of time…I know that I could go without eating foods with no carbs, or very lows carbs, or not eat anything at all, and my BS gradually goes up, and I have to give my self an adjustment on my pump…I am Type 1, and when I was first diagnosed, I was in full blown ketoacidosis my BS was so high, and I came very close to death…So, please discuss this with your doctor… Do you think that your pancreas has starting producing insulin again? Please take care of yourself… It is all so very confusing! The body is a strange machine, and one I don't think we will ever understand, even the doctors can't figure it out…LOL… Hugs, Sue

BLC 2010-02-28 18:23:17 -0600 Report

Thanks for your reply Sue. I guess I was thinking, "carbs are what raises my sugar so if I eliminate most of them maybe I won't need insulin…" Wishful thinking I guess thanks again and Hugs back.

Sue Turner
Sue Turner 2010-02-28 19:32:49 -0600 Report

I'm right there with you…I wish, I wish, I wish…Maybe soon there will be a cure, and we want have to worry about it anymore!~ Lots of love to you, I understand how you feel…

Crashnot 2010-02-28 16:34:34 -0600 Report

Stay on your insulin.

When you eat the low carbs, which you're best off with anyway, the sugars in them are metabolised very slowly. And these ARE turned into sugar, but that sugar is generally managed by your long-acting or basal insulin dose.

If I eat a salad for lunch, I don't take an injection/bolus for it. BUT, if I was to forget my basal/long-acting insulin, my sugars would be through the roof in short order.

In addtion, your liver actually produces sugar on it's own. Even if you did not eat for a week, your body would still be producing sugar as it breaks your fat down into the sugar it needs to keep things running.

So, in a lot of words, you cannot live without your insulin.

MAYS 2010-02-28 17:22:17 -0600 Report

A very good point made about the liver.
Most people don't realise that this is the reason why they go to bed with one set of numbers and awaken with a higher set in the morning, the liver releases glucose into the blood stream while you were resting.
Thanks for making that point about the liver !

BLC 2010-02-28 18:20:33 -0600 Report

That makes a lot of sense. I hadn't thought of it in that respect. Thanks so much for your reply.

MAYS 2010-02-28 16:15:49 -0600 Report

Straight to the point :

As a type 1 diabetic you must take insulin.
You do not have the flexibility that a type 2 has because their body does produce insulin, as a type 1 yours doesn't.
Where will you get usable insulin from if you do not take injections as a type 1 diabetic ?
Your body will began the process of burning fat and muscle tissue for energy setting you up for DKA.

There is no diet or plan that can wean you off of insulin as a type 1 diabetic, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

MAYS 2010-02-28 14:40:55 -0600 Report

I don't attack anyone, i will do more to help someone rather than hurt, do not take my responding comment as an attack, being a type 1 diabetic tells me that you take your life serious, take my word that DKA is not something that you ever want to see or experience.
Diabetes is a death sentence, a ticking time bomb that must be monitored at all times, the life of a diabetic itself is a lifelong experiment, please don't take it personal.

" Mays "

Kirla 2010-02-28 14:38:28 -0600 Report


I don't see anything wrong with eating low carb. About 20% of my diet is from carbs. I'm doing fine. Even had to cut back on what I eat because I was starting to gain weight. I recommend eating all the vegetables you mentioned. I believe eating lots of low carb vegetables help lower insulin resistance. I read somewhere that even type 1’s can get insulin resistance.

Have you had the test to see how much if any insulin you do produce? Some type 1 people produce a very small amount and some produce none. At least that’s what I believe by what I have been reading.

If you go low carb, most people recommend you follow one written by a doctor. I follow Atkins for life. I skipped the first 3 stages and went right to the maintenance stage 4. You can read it all on there website. They even sent me a carb book and overview of the diet along with several sample snack bars. All free.

At the very least you will be able to cut back on the amount of insulin you do use by cutting out a lot of the starchy high carb foods. You can always run this by your doctor. If he doesn’t like it and you still want to try it, get a new doctor that is welling to experiment a little.

This is the site for Atkins. I recommend you read as much as possible. Just sign up and read. That what I did when first diagnosed. Read read read and read some more.

Another site I recommend is Join and look around. Even if you don’t have any weight to lose I think it’s a great site. They have a nutrient analyzer where you can enter what you eat and it gives you a breakdown of carbs fats protein and other nutrients. Best of all there free. So is Atkins. It also has a recipe analyzer. You can evaluate any recipe you want. There lots of exercise videos. And they have sparkteams.

I joined several myself. The also have several sparkteams for low carb living. There you will find lots of people eating low carb and loving it. They also have sparkteams for people living with diabetes. I belong to them also.

I recommend you explore what there is online and make your own decisions. Some of the advice here is real good and some of it is not. You have to find your way and live this the best you can. If you decide to go low carb that should be a decisions you make based on facts. I recommend you go to Atkins and sparkpeople and learn what has worked for other people and then decide what’s best for you.

That’s what I did and my A1C went from 14.1 to 5.9 in 4 months. I get a lot of remarks from uneducated people about me using soy and eating low carb and I don’t pay any attention to them. I know what’s best for me and I do it. Not only is my blood sugar very well controlled I no longer require any meds of any kind. My blood pressure is great and my cholesterol is also doing fine.

I say, go low carb. Just reduce your insulin so you don’t go low. There are books written on how to do it. I have seen people on Dlife talk about the books. I recommend you join there too. They have a type 1 discussion room where if you ask, I believe you will get an answer.

I posted my story on how I did it. Click here. Let me know what you think.

Good luck

BLC 2010-02-28 15:24:31 -0600 Report

Thank you so so much for all the time and information you put into your reply Kirla. I will certainly look into the information you gave me. You are so right about each diabetic person finding the right way for them. No two people are made the same. Thanks again for your help.

BLC 2010-02-28 20:35:47 -0600 Report

Also, Kirla Congratulations on your awesome A1c! That is my goal. Also thanks for all the information on your diet very interesting.

Kirla 2010-02-28 21:34:20 -0600 Report


My last 3 A1C's have all been below 6.0.

I started with 14.1. My last was 5.4.

My blood sugar this week has been great. If it keeps up, I may reach my goal of getting it down to 5.0.

Friday was my first year since being diagnosed. Feb 2009.


MAYS 2010-02-28 13:41:11 -0600 Report

Your experiment is simply put, not worth it, you are and will be risking your life ( DKA ) is no joking matter, if not diagnosed in time, coma and death are sure to follow.
Your choice, your life !

When diabetic ketoacidosis is severe, you may have difficulty breathing, your brain may swell (cerebral edema), and there is a risk of coma and even death.

BLC 2010-02-28 14:05:53 -0600 Report

This is not an experiment I was planning on trying, I was asking if it was possible that if your blood sugar never went up because of diet would it be possible to be able to do without insulin. I mean if my sugar was normal because of diet it would be dangerous to take insulin due to the possiblity of a low. Furthermore, it saddens me that I am not able to ask a question without someone being so hateful with me. That really hurt my feelings the way you answered my question Mays. From some of your posts I thought you were a really considerate person. I know my life is no joke. I can probably understand that more than anyone. I won't go into detail about that though.

MAYS 2010-02-28 14:28:59 -0600 Report

My comment was not meant to insult you.

I just want to stress that the possible results can be very harmful if not deadly, DKA can prove to be just that, you also run the risk of brain and organ damage from DKA, due to the poisoning of your blood.
" Mays "

MAYS 2010-02-28 13:34:26 -0600 Report


A Type 1 Diabetics pancreas either makes no insulin or very little insulin (too little to matter) although they are said to produce none at all due to the self destruction of the Beta Cells of the pancreas by one's own immune system for reasons unknown.
Since you need insulin in order for your cells to feed on the glucose, your body would resort to burning fat for fuel, causing DKA, eventually poisoning your blood and sending you into a coma, possibly killing you !

Harlen 2010-02-28 12:53:11 -0600 Report

I would think not T1 makes no insulin
But it may be that you can I would not ever try it with out a Doc to go thrue it with step by step day by day
Its your life and I wish you all the luck in the world
Best wishes