Kristóf Orosz was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 20 and swiftly put onto insulin injections and a diet of 250g daily carbohydrates.
But upon discovering the work of Hungarian physician Dr Csaba Tóth and his team’s research, Kristóf adopted a paleolithic ketogenic diet in 2014. He then went three years without needing insulin injections and his blood glucose levels remained within a normal range.
Kristóf eventually went back onto insulin injections after he relaxed his following of the diet. He spoke to Diabetes.co.uk when he was off insulin about how easy it was to adopt the paleo keto diet, why he feels “attacked” by his doctors, and whether he thinks his results make him an anomaly.
A paleo keto diet should not be adopted without medical supervision, and these findings have yet to be replicated in even small-scale studies.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
A. “My name is Kristóf Orosz. I’m aged 24 and from a small town near Debrece, Hungary.”
Q. What dietary information were you given when you were first diagnosed?
A. “I was put on a very strict diet of 250 grams carbohydrates, six meals a day. The diet even detailed when I could eat. It was important to keep my blood sugar levels stable so my doctors recommended less fruits, more starchy carbs like rice and potatoes. I was injecting insulin four times a day when I was recommended to go on a low-carbohydrate diet.”
Q. What medication were you taking when you were first diagnosed?
A. “I was given Humulin at first, a short-acting insulin, three times a day. I also received a long-acting insulin for nights. I can’t remember the exact units, but they were pretty big doses.”
Q. How did you first find out about the Paleo Keto diet?
A. “My mother found Dr Tóth’s book, Paleolithic Medicine, which she then bought. After reading it, we decided to try it, so we made an appointment with Dr Tóth and the Paleomedicina group.”
Q. How long have you been on the Paleo Keto diet?
A. “Since March 2014.”
Q. What’s your biggest motivation for using the paleo keto diet?
A. “To avoid diabetes complications. You can live a full life with type 1 diabetes using this diet, there are no big restrictions. I’m living my life like I used to before I was diagnosed.”
Day-to-day life on the paleo keto diet
Q. What does an average day look like in terms of the food you are eating?
A. “Thankfully my days are very varied. I do a lot of physical work. It’s important that my fat intake and fat-to-protein ratio are well-controlled so that I have energy. I mostly eat eggs, bacon and sausages for breakfast. For lunch I often eat a bowl of broth, and for dinner I’ll eat stew and eggs.”
Q. Is the Paleo Keto diet restrictive?
A. “Not at all. I’ve always liked eating healthy meals and I know that animal products, except for milk, don’t have any disadvantages. I don’t think it’s restrictive, it’s very comfortable for me.”
Q. How does your diet impact being active and doing sports?
A. “It’s influenced it in a very good way, I have much more energy than my friends and sport partners who are eating carbohydrates, and my overall fitness is better.”
Q. What medication do you take now?
A. “I don’t take any medication now. I eat pork liver and bone marrow to supplement my diet with vitamins.”
Q. Do you still test your blood?
A. “I do, but not regularly. Usually twice a day: in the morning and before bed. Sometimes two hours after eating I test too, similarly to when I was using insulin. Fortunately my results are significantly better. I am no longer afraid of my blood glucose levels fluctuating.”
Paleo keto diet challenges
Q. Was the paleo keto diet hard to get used to?
A. “Initially it was difficult because I wasn’t used to eating so much fat and protein. But it’s gotten much easier.”
Q. What’s the hardest part about following the paleo keto diet?
A. “At first the hardest part was to believe it and understand it. The diet tells you to do the opposite of what regular western medicine tells you to do. However, after seeing the results it’s not hard at all.”
Q. Is the paleo keto hard to follow when socialising – being with friends and family?
A. “Not really, but initially I did find carbohydrates and sweets appealing! I eat like I do every day even when I’m invited to a friend’s house. My friends know about my diet and they prepare food accordingly.”
Reaction from healthcare professionals
Q. What have other healthcare professionals said about your dietary choices?
A. “I feel attacked by my doctors. They don’t see the positive effects. They’re hopeful and interested but they don’t agree with it. They are, however, curious to see what will happen.”
Q. What do they say about your progress?
A. “I still go to consultations regularly like I used to, not just to Dr. Tóth, but to my GP, internist and ophthalmologist. My internist is not happy about my high levels of cholesterol and the high protein intake. They are trying to convince me to use insulin again, but I don’t want to because I am feeling much better overall than before.”
Reaction to the paleo keto diet
Q. What tips would you recommend for following the paleo keto diet?
A. “Well, the most important thing is to believe in it. Eat more fat and less protein and keep the right ratio. Also, regular consultation and cooperation with the doctors is important.”
Q. What would you say to other people with type 1 diabetes who’re interested in the diet?
A. “They should try it and compare the differences. Also, people who are in the honeymoon period just after diagnosis should try it. They will still have some functioning beta cells, so they should try this diet immediately because after some time beta cells won’t regenerate.”
Q. Do you think you’re a miracle; an anomaly? Or do you think other people can do this as well?
A. “I don’t think I’m different. I think anyone can do this with motivation. I was experiencing some negative symptoms with insulin like distension and worsening vision; not feeling well, changing moods. If someone is motivated, this diet is easy to follow.”
“I am also glad that I don’t take medications and I don’t eat food with preservatives. I don’t think I’m special, I have motivation, I know why I am doing the diet. Anyone can do it if they’re motivated. I recommend it.”