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Robby Barbaro Takes On Diabetes 

When I first met Robby Barbaro I was impressed. Here was a young guy who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but instead of just surrendering to that, he made the effort to switch to a low-fat raw vegan diet, decrease his insulin use through good food choices, and start living a healthy life.

Watching him measure all his food, I realized just how different his chosen path was from one followed by the average type 1 diabetic.

What’s more impressive is that he’s doing it without a clear idea of where that path will lead him. Type 2 diabetics bring the disease on themselves through diet and lifestyle choices and can usually reverse it with a low-fat diet, as studies have demonstrated many times. Type 1 diabetes, however, is a different creature.

Some researchers point to a possible connection with animal milk consumption or other reasons, but there's no definitive anwer for why type 1 diabetes occurs. Although there appear to be rare cases of people reversing type 1 diabetes through dietary changes, and Robby was inspired by those, there has never been a method proven to be regularly successful.

Content with getting healthier, an improved carb-to-insulin ratio, and generally feeling great, Robby has set out to inspire type 2 diabetics to get rid of their disease forever, even if he still has to deal with his own. His nonprofit organization, Robby Barbaro, Inc., seeks to educate diabetics about their options.

I decided that Robby would be a great addition to the raw food success stories on this site, and I’m pleased he agreed to an interview.

For those looking for more information on a low-fat raw vegan diet (which involves lots of fruit, lots of vegetables, and not much overt fat), and some of the other concepts discussed in this interview, please see the bottom of the interview for relevant links.

Robby Barbaro: Stats

Robby Barbaro At Desk

Date of Birth: March 26, 1988
Occupation: Marketing Associate for Monica Beach Media
Education: University of Florida, Gainesville— Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Parks & Tourism
Specialization: Event Management
Minor: Business Administration
Home: Santa Monica, California
Favorite Fruits: Mangos, Cherimoyas, Figs

Robby Barbaro: Growing Up Diabetic

Andrew Perlot:
Tell us a bit about growing up with type 1 diabetes. How did it affect you and your worldview?

Robby Barbaro: I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 13. It has been a blessing in disguise. I buy into the belief that absolutely nothing happens by accident and there is no such thing as victimhood. I think my experience with type 1 diabetes is teaching me lessons that I need to learn. If I was not having this experience, I am not sure I would have gone down the path of applying healthy habits to all areas of my life. My experience as a type 1 diabetic has given me a sense of purpose for my life, and I do my best to live that purpose moment by moment, day by day. Type 1 diabetes is a great challenge and the opportunity to overcome it is an undertaking that I welcome.

Andrew Perlot: When and why did you start waking up to the possibility that a low-fat raw vegan diet based around fruits and vegetables might be better for managing type 1 than the usual American Diabetes Association suggestions of restricting calories and using lots of insulin and/or medication?

Robby Barbaro: As I mentioned, my diagnosis was at age 13. I followed the standard American diet without ever thinking twice about what I ate; nothing was off limits.

Over the following years I began experimenting with a number of ideas. By age 14, I was a huge supporter of supplements, because I was sold on the idea that our soil is depleted and I needed high-quality pharmaceutical-grade supplements to be healthy. I had a shake containing special powders every morning. By age 15, I started seeing an electrodermal screening test (EDST) professional, who told me to avoid certain foods. I no longer believe the EDST machine is effective, but at the time I followed his list of NO foods and YES foods religiously.

At about this time I stumbled upon Kevin Trudeau’s book Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. A paragraph in that book said something about people healing from type 1 diabetes. That was the first time I had ever even heard such a thing, and it started me down a path where the more I learned about how poorly we treat our bodies, the more I believed my body could heal itself.

At age 17 I became a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I came to believe that raw milk and grass-fed meat were healthy. By this time I had become more aware of other topics such as the benefits of organic and local food and the dangers of GMOs, pasteurization, MSG, soy products, heavy metals, food additives, preservatives, and the like.

Robby Barbaro: Discovering Veganism

Robby Barbaro PapayaRobby Barbaro: By the time I was 18 I had stumbled upon an online discussion forum where the contributors were espousing the benefits of a typical (high-fat) raw vegan diet. I chimed in with my Weston A. Price beliefs,
and they kindly suggested that I watch the movie Earthlings.

I watched it on Google Video and I was genuinely
ill for the next few days; the movie had a profound impact on my soul. My level of ignorance shocked me, and I told myself “these people on the forum know stuff that I don’t know. I am going to follow through on their
suggestions and see what I learn.”

After reading numerous books on raw food diets, I was sort of confused by the conflicting information, but the trailer for the film Raw for 30 Days made me eager to do exactly what (raw author) Gabriel Cousens was teaching. I was especially inspired by type 1 diabetic Kirt Tyson, one of the six subjects of the film.

Kirt made lifestyle changes so soon after being diagnosed with diabetes that he hadn’t even received his initial bloodwork back before leaving to film the movie at Gabriel Cousens Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center. While at the facility he became free of all medications, and when he returned home to visit his doctor the blood work showed that his c-peptide level was indicative of an official type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

So, by fact, Kirt Tyson reversed type 1 diabetes and to the best of my knowledge is free of all medication to this day. I was fortunate enough to get in touch with Kirt via phone. He was incredibly generous and offered to support me in any way that I needed. So, I followed Gabriel Cousens phase 1 program to a “T” for 28 days. During that time, my combined daily insulin intake (long- and short-acting) was as low as six units per day. (I currently take ~44 units a day.) I was very enthusiastic and believed I was on my way to reversing type 1 diabetes.

Robby Barbaro: Facing Failure

Unfortunately, I could not sustain the phase 1 diet as taught by Gabriel Cousens. I had lost a lot of weight, felt chronically low on energy, and was having blackouts during the day.

Looking back I think I made it through the 28 days on adrenaline and excitement that I was going to change the world and show people how to reverse type 1 diabetes. Kirt was the example of how it could be done if you make lifestyle changes quickly after being diagnosed, and I was going to be the example of how it could be done after years of living with the condition.

I went back to the EDST practitioner, who gave me information completely contradictory to what I had been learning. I found myself very lost and confused. After the appointment I went to the food court at my university and ate everything in sight: pizza, cereal, pastries, cookies, … I told myself I’m just going to give up and be a normal college student. I was deeply disappointed that I had not found a sustainable solution for reversing type 1 diabetes.

My hard work of strict adherence to the Gabriel Cousens program left me in a place where I genuinely could not move forward. It wasn’t a matter of just sticking with it longer, I couldn’t physically continue without doing damage to my health.

The idea of giving up lasted for a few days. I felt so awful the day after my binge at the food court that I told myself I have to keep on trying to figure this out.

Robby Barbaro: A Plan That Works

Robby Barbaro MealMy quest eventually led me to Dr. Doug Graham, a few days before I was about to commit to a weekly chelation program. I heard Dr. Graham on a radio interview, and everything he said was very logical. So, I ordered his book and eagerly awaited its arrival.

I read The 80/10/10 Diet straight through and then contacted Dr. Graham. We did a consultation for 90 days straight. I sent him an email each morning, and he sent me one back every afternoon. We got to know each other very well, and he taught me how to live a healthy lifestyle, such that my diet became an afterthought. I started the first week by eating just bananas; the second week was bananas and celery or romaine lettuce.

I slowly added one fruit at a time (Dr. Graham’s diet is centered on sweet fruit) and have not looked back.

Robby Barbaro: A Successful Type 1 Diabetes Diet

Andrew Perlot: Traditionally, type 1 diabetes is seen as a disease that cannot be healed, only managed. Do you think it’s within the range of possibility that your body will heal on your raw food regimen, at least to some degree, allowing you to produce more insulin or use the insulin it has with more efficiency?

Robby Barbaro: Yes, I do believe it is possible for type 1 diabetics to become free of medication, no matter how long they have been taking insulin. At this time, that is a belief, not a fact. To the best of my knowledge, there is no program that consistently reverses type 1 diabetes. There are exceptions, but nobody is claiming to have a program that works predictably.

I am doing my best to be the example and show what is possible. Roger Banister showed us that a 4-minute mile is possible, when the most intelligent people of his time said it was not.

As I said earlier, type 1 diabetes has been a blessing for me. It has encouraged me to go down a path of increased self-awareness. This path is about a lot more than diet. It is not practical for me to explain my entire worldview in this interview, but essentially, we humans are waking up to the fact that we are energy.

The field of energy psychology and the work of Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. are providing a lot of hope for people with diseases that are currently classified as irreversible. I do believe that damaged beta cells, or even scar tissue cells, can be healed and restored to their optimal state of functionality. I hope that my efforts will lead to real-life results, so others can achieve a medication-free life.

Robby Barbaro: The Raw Diet vs SAD

Andrew Perlot: What practical advantages does a low-fat raw vegan diet bring to life with type 1 diabetes that someone eating a standard American diet or ADA diet would lack? How is a low-fat raw diet better than low-fat cooked vegan diets?

Robby Barbaro Sweatshirt

Robby Barbaro:

First, a low fat raw vegan diet (LFRV) vs. the standard American diet (SAD): For objectivity and simplicity, let’s define LFRV diet as the 80/10/10 diet, meaning that “low fat” is defined as having 10% or fewer calories coming from fat over the course of a year. At least 80 percent of calories should come from
carbohydrates, and no more than 10 percent from protein.

The most relevant advantage for the diabetic in this case is the control of blood sugar. In my experience, a consistent low-fat diet leads to very predictable blood sugars, whereas the SAD diet is higher in fat, which leads to less predictability and more volatile blood sugars.

The benefits go far beyond better diabetes control. I am not overexaggerating when I say my choice to follow an LFRV diet has positively affected every area of my life. Physically, I stopped having yearly sinus infections; I stopped taking Claritin D; I reversed clinically diagnosed plantar fasciitis;, I stopped using expensive orthotics;my skin cleared up (I had such bad acne that I took Acutane, and had numerous skin dermabrasion and laser treatments), ); and I feel very energetic on a daily basis.

Words cannot describe what this lifestyle has done for my spiritual, mental, and social health. People constantly tell me that I have a permanent smile on my face. I am eternally optimistic, my friends are incredibly inspiring and supportive, I have the energy to pursue spiritual goals … I just flat-out feel great!

Second, low-fat raw vegan vs. low-fat cooked vegan (LFCV): I don’t have any experience applying the LFCV diet to my life. Based on my studies of the work of T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., Neal Barnard, M.D., John McDougall, M.D., Matt Lederman, M.D., and others, I believe that an LFCV diet is a very healthy diet.

In terms of objective diabetes management, I theorize that an LFCV diet would likely yield similar results to those of an LFRV diet, assuming all other variables were the same.

To be more specific, I think that people can easily reverse type 2 diabetes on any low-fat diet based on whole unprocessed plant foods. With reference to reversing type 1 diabetes, I theorize that an LFRV diet offers spiritual and physical advantages that an LFCV diet does not have. I follow an LFRV diet because I feel great and don’t see how moving towards a diet that less resembles the way foods appear in nature could make me feel any better.

A Diabetic Questions Robby

Andrew Perlot: I decided to recruit a type 1 diabetic former colleague of mine, Jason Vallee, to ask Robby some questions from the diabetic perspective.

Although on top of his insulin needs, Jason is very much a SAD eater, guzzling plenty of Mountain Dew and eating chips and processed foods daily. He was diagnosed at age 4 and has served as a counselor at the Eliot P. Joslin Camp in Charlton, Mass., the #1 accredited diabetic camp in the world, where he gained a lot of experience working with diabetes.

He was curious about living on a low-fat raw diet, and wanted to know a few things.

Jason Vallee: What were your last few A1C readings was before you went raw, compared to afterward? (A1C essentially measures one’s “average” blood sugar over a three-month period.)

Robby Barbaro: The majority of my A1C's have been good, although there was a period where I had an A1C of 8.2.  Before choosing to follow the LFRV diet, my A1C's ranged from 5.5 to 8.2.  Since following the LFRV Diet I have not had an A1C aboive 6.2. My most recent A1C readings were both 5.9.

Jason Vallee: How, if at all, did you change your exercise habits and total carbohydrate intake when converting to a raw food diet? (In addition to insulin, diet and exercise have large impacts on diabetes management.)

Robby Barbaro: My exercise habits have decreased slightly since starting the low-fat raw vegan diet. I was a competitive tennis player from the ages of 10 to 18. In college I did not have any kind of formal, consistent training program, and now that I am out of college I still don’t have a formal training program like I did as a competitive tennis player.

Physical activity is critical for diabetes management, but in my case, my successful A1C numbers are not due to some kind of unique rigorous exercise program. My A1C numbers are a result of average physical activity, a consistent LFRV diet, as well as the proper insulin-to-carb ratios.

My total daily carb intake nowadays is ~720 grams a day. My average insulin intake is ~44 units. So, that averages out to 1 unit of insulin for every 16g of carbohydrates.

Robby Barbaro PersimmonsJason Vallee: If you’re physically active, how often do you eat and in what methods/amounts, particularly in regards to protein? For something like running, how do you avoid having your blood sugar drop from burning carbs too quickly?

Robby Barbaro: My website has 810 food consumption images, which contain photos and macronutrient breakdowns for each meal. For 365 consecutive days, I thoroughly documented everything I ate, as well as every blood sugar reading and insulin shot I took.

Please take a look at those images for the most objective answers I can possibly offer you here. In general, I eat 3 or 4 meals and a total of about 3,000 calories. I consume an average of 50g of protein a day.

I match my meals with my physical activity. For example, let’s say that I plan on working at the office from 9-5 and playing tennis at 7:00 PM. I will have a salad for my first meal of the day. I will have a fruit meal for lunch, a fruit snack before I play tennis, and a large fruit meal after I play tennis. I seek to eat 2-4% of my calories coming from tender greens each day, and I believe that lettuce, specifically romaine lettuce, is an important part of a healthy diet.

I have not had any issues with low blood sugars while exercising. My ability to predict exactly what my blood sugar will do is based solely on the consistency of my low-fat diet. I simply alter my insulin-to-carb ratios based on my activity.

Jason Vallee: Describe the experience of going from cooked food to raw food. Was it problematic or hard? How did your body adjust? How does a diabetic effectively make the transition if they want to adjust to a raw foods diet?

Robby Barbaro: My physical transition was very smooth. I did not have any intense cleansing symptoms. My overall insulin-to-carb ratio changed from 1 unit for every 8g of carbs to 1 unit for every 16g of carbs. I had a lot of low blood sugars, but it didn’t take long to figure out the new ratios.

My emotional transition was smooth as well, but I don’t want to come across as saying it was a breeze. I am human just like everybody else. I am not some kind of enlightened individual whose conscious desires always become realities just as I planned.

Just like everybody else, I participate in emotional eating. The only difference is the degree. Like anyone, I can successfully suppress a certain feeling by overeating, eating late at night, eating fruit that isn’t fully ripe, or even by combining fruits poorly.

For example, there were plenty of late college nights where I felt anxious about a test and ate tomatoes and sweet peppers at midnight. When I did that, I did not feel good the next morning and was not proud of myself.

I use these experiences as growth opportunities. I tell myself that next time I will do a better job of getting in touch with my inner experience and see how I can get my emotional needs met in other ways. This is just one example. The point is that I’m human and I’m working on the same challenges as everyone else. The only difference is the degree, but they’re the same fundamental challenges.

To make a graceful physical and emotional transition, I highly recommend that people seek support and invest time, money, and energy in studying the Nonviolent Communication work of Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, a body of knowledge that has made me keenly aware of my inner processes.

Robby Barbaro: Measuring Food Intake And Spreading The Message

Robby Barbaro MangoesAndrew Perlot: It sounds like you manage your food intake with extreme care, measuring just about everything so you know what you’re taking in. Do you find this way of eating restrictive, or did you measure
your previous diets in the same way?

Robby Barbaro: I did measure my previous meals in the same way I measure my LFRV meals. I don’t find this way of eating restrictive, because I don’t follow it for any kind of dogmatic reasons. If I want to eat something else, I will. I like measuring out my meals because it leads to a more conscious day in just about every way.

Andrew Perlot: Tell us about your organization, Robby Barbaro, Inc. Why did you start it and what do you do with it? Why does it focus on type 2 diabetics?

Robby Barbaro: I made a short (3:20) video covering this exact topic. Please watch it here.

In general, the educational materials I create apply to all diabetics, but I focus on type 2 because it affects far more people, and an abundance of peer-reviewed scientific articles can back up my tagline: Type 2 diabetes is a choice. Make an educated decision.

Andrew Perlot: What are you passionate about? What gets you excited to be alive?

Robby Barbaro: I am passionate about being part of the solutions that will bring harmony to this planet. I am excited about the endless opportunities to contribute to life. Marshall Rosenberg helped me confirm that nothing in life feels better than contributing to the well-being of other people.

Andrew Perlot: Tell us about your future goals for yourself.

Robby Barbaro: The universe is dynamic. I am not sure exactly what the future will bring, but I know I will be ready to make adjustments as necessary. If everything goes according to plan, I will run multiple permaculture operations located all over the planet. These operations will not have my name on them, and they will stand the test of time.

CocaCola is the most recognizable brand in the world. They did not achieve this by mistake. I like learning from them and other successful brands. I envision a future where the world’s most recognizable brands are restoring the health of the planet, as opposed to destroying it. The permaculture brand that I envision will be one of many successful, financially bulletproof brands that will provide meaningful jobs, healthy food, sustainable fuel, beautiful spaces for people to heal, and much more.

In the meantime, I seek to achieve excellence in three areas:

  1. Loving my girlfriend Ally through presence and consistent actions, and allowing myself to receive love from her.
  2. Going above and beyond my commitments as a marketing associate for Monica Beach Media.
  3. Fulfilling the mission of my nonprofit organization:Robby Barbaro, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to educating type 2 diabetics and interested others about reversing the disease via healthy lifestyles choices. We offer this education first and foremost through Robby’s personal example, and secondarily by way of focused teachings, made available in multiple formats.

Andrew Perlot: Anything else that you’d like to add?

Robby Barbaro: I am grateful for the opportunity to do this interview. Please share this with others: Type 2 diabetes is choice. Make an educated decision.

Following Up:

Learn more about the healthy raw food diet that works so well for Robby Barbaro here.

Read how the high-fat diets most people are on elevate their blood sugar, playing a roll in causing type two diabetes and making life harder for type one diabetics.

Wonder why a vegan diet is superior to one with animal protein? Find out about meat here and dairy here.

Read more raw food success stories here.

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