Robby Barbaro holds a coconut outside
Digest First Person Issue 23 Transformations

Robby Barbaro Managing Type 1 Diabetes on a Fruit-Based Diet

On January 26, 2002, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. At that time I was following the standard American diet and ate whatever I wanted. I was a competitive tennis player all throughout my childhood, so I was getting plenty of physical activity. I’m a “Type A” kind of person, so I took the diagnosis very seriously and managed my blood sugars quite well.

After the diagnosis, I became interested in healthy living. First, I started taking the supplements my Dad was selling, and I won a $1,000 scholarship for writing an essay about how proud I was to be a young kid taking supplements to improve my health. Around age 14, I got into electrodermal screening, and that modality led me to eliminate all junk food. I had special breads, avoided things like MSG, additives, pesticides, etc.

One evening, I was at Barnes & Noble to get a book for a high school class. Kevin Trudeau’s book Natural Cures called to me, and I picked it up. In the book, there was a sentence that implied Type 1 diabetes could be reversed. That sentence changed my life, and I became a man on a mission. No joke, that instilled a spark in me that was quite profound. I kept with the electrodermal testing and added nasty-tasting herbal teas to my regimen and just kept on focusing and believing I could reverse Type 1 diabetes.

Robby Barbaro photographed with Ally Ertel
Robby Barbaro photographed with his girlfriend, Ally Ertel.

Around the age of 17, I started following the Weston A. Price Foundation and adopted its diet in addition to Chinese herbal tea. I was into raw milk, chicken broth, grass-fed beef, etc. In summer 2006, I started college at the University of Florida and learned how to cook and prepare my own meals. I didn’t join the meal plan like all my peers and would bring my own food to social events.

In September 2006, I was browsing an upscale green living website, and there was a thread about diet on the website’s forum. I was explaining how raw milk was so important, and another person kindly suggested I checkout the movie Earthlings. I watched that film and was in shock about my level of ignorance. I was just starting school at a good college and could not believe how such information was hidden from me and not in my consciousness. I emailed Sally Fallon Morell [president of the Weston A. Price Foundation] and told her how Earthlings affected me and wanted to hear her take on this film. Her response was essentially that people need to do whatever it takes to be healthy. Something didn’t sit right with me, so I went back to the forum and was now open-minded about their nutrition and health suggestions.

This led me to the raw food movement, where I was exposed to Dr. Gabriel Cousens. Dr. Cousens had a track record with diabetes, and the film Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days was very inspiring for me. I started to follow his teachings. I did his Phase 1 program for one month. The primary source of calories on that diet is fat. I was taking the least amount of insulin I had ever taken but was not feeling good. I was quite lethargic during the day and experienced blackouts several times while on campus. This was quite scary for me.

Robby Barbaro travels with fruits in a box
Robby travels with fruit to ensure he stays on track with his low-fat raw food diet. On this trip, the banana box was full of Florida mangos, bananas and mamey sapote, and it “fits like a glove in the overhead compartment,” he said.

As I continued to learn more about the raw food movement, I came across Frederic Patenaude and Victoria Boutenko. I started adding more fruit to my diet, and my overall intake of insulin was up from Dr. Cousens’ program, but my insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio was very good, and I was feeling great!

The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Doug GrahamThis was all before The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Doug Graham was released. I found Dr. Graham on a podcast by Steve Prussack and pre-ordered his book. I read the book as soon as it arrived in November 2006. I started consulting with Dr. Graham in early December. We e-mailed each other every single day for 90 days straight. I started with one week of eating nothing but bananas. Then bananas and celery or lettuce for Week 2. Then I started adding monomeals of new fruits over the next few weeks, and I haven’t looked back since.

From December 2006 to today (July 2014), I have eaten nothing but fruits and vegetables with a very moderate amount of nuts and seeds. From 2006 to February 2013, the only overtly fatty food I ate was durian. My blood-sugar management has been great. In seven-plus years on a fruit-based diet, my A1C results have never been higher than 6.2 and mostly hang around 5.9. My most recent A1C test came in at 6.0. My average insulin intake is ~44 total units per day. I recorded every single blood-sugar reading, insulin injection and morsel of food that went into my body for 365 consecutive days. View that data and the accompanying food images.

Robby Barbaro photographed with Evan Rock
Robby and Evan Rock share durian.

Health Conditions That Vanished in Robby Barbaro After Leading a Fruit-Based Diet

Allergies

As I child, I would get a sinus infection at least once a year and took Claritin-D year round and also used Nasonex nasal spray regularly. Once I started cleaning up my diet, I have not had a single sinus infection.

Plantar Fasciitis

Planters fasciitis is a painful feeling in one’s feet. Some big-name athletes like Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls and Mario Williams of the Buffalo Bills have been affected by this condition. I certainly didn’t expect a clean diet to heal this, but it did!

Acne

As I teenager, I had terrible acne. I had plenty of visits to my dermatologist, which led to a variety of medications, microdermabrasion and intense pulsed light laser treatments. I took the following medications to fight acne as a teenager: Minocycline, Tazorac, BenzaClin, Bactrim, Differen Gel and Adoxa.

Since none of this was completely effective, I was eventually put on the strongest drug available at the time, Accutane. There were a lot of side effects associated with this drug, but the scariest is its association with suicide in many teenagers. I’m happy to report that wasn’t a problem for me, but Accutane definitely caused severe dry and chapped lips. Since cleaning up my diet, my skin has improved dramatically! No drugs, no laser or microdermabrasion treatments—and my skin is great!

Athlete’s Foot

I used to have bad athlete’s foot on both of my feet. It was quite uncomfortable and was treated with laser treatments as well as pharmaceutical creams. This has never been a problem for me on a fruit-based diet.

Robby Barbaro shows a salad

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About the author

Robby Barbaro

Robby Barbaro

Robby Barbaro has managed Type 1 diabetes on a low-fat raw food diet. He has overcome acne, allergies, athlete's foot and plantar fasciitis on this diet.

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