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February 7, 2023
Question from New York, USA:

This is a very dumb question, so if you don’t have time to answer, I understand completely. I was wondering how long someone with type one diabetes could survive without insulin with changes to diet/exercise. I am asking because I was wondering how long I would be able to survive in a zombie apocalypse (hence why the question is dumb). My guess would be that after insulin supplies run out, the best bet would be to omit carbohydrates from the diet and only eat things such as meat or olives since they don’t require insulin. Exercise can also lower glucose, so keeping active would probably help as well. Assuming glucose doesn’t start high as there was insulin initially, I feel like I could survive for at least as long as it would take starvation to kill me if I can’t find carb-free food.


From: Marissa Town, BSN, RN, CDCES

Honestly, this is not a stupid question, and it’s something that you are not alone in considering. There are some interesting examples that may be able to help you – first, the starvation diet from the pre-insulin days or devising a way to make your own insulin, such as was the case for Eva Saxl during World War II.

In any case, it really depends on your usual doses and how much you’re eating. An apocalypse scenario is something that will be more difficult for those of us who require insulin to survive. Hopefully, we won’t have to find out!