Type I diabetic reaches age 90!

A couple of weeks ago I was flipping through the pages of my local newspaper when I ran across an article by The Associated Press titled, “Oldest US diabetic ‘lifer’ reaches age 90.”Happy Birthday balloon

It caught my attention.

Back in 1926, a five-year-old boy by the name of Bob Krause was diagnosed with type I diabetes, (aka juvenile diabetes), shortly after the commercial production of insulin.  Before that time children died of the nasty disease, including his brother. 

As most of you may know, type I diabetes is different from type II diabetes. It’s a chronic illness in which the body no longer produces insulin, and life expectancy is shortened due to serious health complications that can develop as a result. However, Mr. Krause was determined to successfully beat it, and he’s now the oldest American known to live 85 years beyond the time of diagnosis. 


I spoke with Mr. Krause over the phone to congratulate him and to discover his success tips, and guess what his number one tip has been?  In fact, he calls it his “life’s motto”: he eats to live instead of living to eat!   [And he'd never heard of a book with that title!]  He always treats his body like a car and only eats enough food to fuel activities, and that’s it. For him, that equates to just two modest meals a day . . . not for pleasure; or emotional, social, or recreational reasons; and his fuel doesn’t consist of processed foods and lots of animal protein either. 

Mr. Krause was determined from early on that he wanted to live the best life possible. And he did.  He became a professor and established a career in teaching mechanical engineering at the University of Washington; plus, he and his wife raised a wonderful family together.

I was blown away by his positive attitude and wisdom of living with type I diabetes. He genuinely considers himself a blessed man to have had diabetes at such a young age as it caused him to do what he was supposed to do. 

Before hanging up the phone, he told me that if all people would live as if they had diabetes, everyone would be a lot healthier. He said it’s each person’s decision to live or die, and that if we each do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll live a long and healthy life.

Congratulations Bob Krause – you are an inspirational hero! 

By the way, he can’t understand why so many people have been making such a big fuss over him as he just did what he was supposed to do, to live! 

Image credit:  flickr by Genista 

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Comments (18) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Mef - June 27, 2011 12:48 PM

Were you able to get any idea of what he typically ate on a daily basis, and what kind of exercise (if any) did he do? Thanks for this post! This is incredibly inspiring and motivating.

mike crosby - June 27, 2011 1:01 PM

Emily, that was really inspirational. Isn't it interesting how your first thought was to give this man a call and talk to him? I wonder if the American Diabetes Association or the American Heart Association think it might be worth their time to talk to him also.

I saw Dr Fuhrman's show on PBS. I think he was wonderful, even though I felt it was produced in an infomercial format. I was waiting any moment for him to break out a kitchen appliance and start selling it for $19.95.

Anyway, even though he had pictures of you and others who regained their lives by eating a healthy diet, I thought it would have been more convincing if he actually introduced you folks at the end of the show. Maybe even open it up for questions.

Also, I'm a fervent reader of Dr Fuhrman's blog. I just wish there was more actual ideas how I can put Dr Fuhrman's teachings into actual practice. In other words, give me a tip now and then on how to prepare just one dish.

I find I just try to keep it as simple as possible and eat the same meal repeatedly. Last night I brought my own salad to a restaurant. I now realize, that is how I choose to eat, and if a restaurant wants to cater to my wife, I'm going to bring my salad to eat, I've given up on thinking restaurants will try to serve what I want. I don't even mind playing for a plate charge.

One more thing Emily. There's a movie out called Forks Over Knives, and it is brilliant. It's playing only in a few theatres around major cities, but I can't give it a higher recommendation.

Emily Boller - June 27, 2011 1:07 PM

I don't have the exact specifics, but his meals included fruit and nuts for breakfast, and a salad and a small piece of lean meat for his second meal. We did not discuss his exercise habits.

mike crosby - June 27, 2011 1:15 PM

Boy, would it be interesting if he could write a post for Disease Proof?

Stacy - June 27, 2011 1:36 PM

Mike - I got the impression that there was a question and answer section to Dr. Fuhrman's PBS show that was included with the DVDs. I saw Forks Over Knives and I thought it was brilliant as well.

This diabetic eating story is much different than what I heard from one of my daughter's teachers who said she can only stabilize her blood sugar with an Abba Zabba!!! I wonder if she's ever considered real food?

BioEthics - June 27, 2011 1:49 PM

This strengthens the message of the simple logic of nature. Ayn Rand said, "Nature, to be commanded, must first be obeyed." Congrats to Mike for bringing his own chow. I ate out last night at a chain place, Veg and shrimp, had them hold the pasta, and came up with let us say a very uncomfortable spell this morning. Learned my lesson. On the plus side, a Bread restaurant (chain) currently has a wonderful salad, called Poppy Seed Chicken, loads of romaine, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, pecans, and only a small bit of chicken. I had the dressing on the side and used little of it. Most refreshing. Watching the PBS show a couple of weeks ago, I immediately instituted GOMBS, and quickly found my stomach and gut seemed relaxed. I experienced isolated spells of noticeable well-being, most welcome. I am down about 7.5 lbs, and tomorrow will be two weeks. That mnemonic made all the difference, it focused me on a salad that was interesting and absolutely nourishing. A sense of relaxation has replaced the urgency I felt to relieve toxic hunger. I feel as light in spirit as a carefree child in this respect. Thanks to Dr. Fuhrman!

Laura - June 27, 2011 2:13 PM

Remarkable! This reinforces what Dr. Fuhrman has been teaching. Now, I'd love to see Dr. Fuhrman's opinion of the new research that lifestyle has minimal effects on breast cancer risk.


Emily Boller - June 27, 2011 6:45 PM

What impressed me the most about Mr. Krause was that he never had a 'victim of disease' mentality; he was always the victor & overcomer by choosing to be in control of his health destiny.

KathyG - June 27, 2011 9:20 PM

Have you ever checked out drfuhrman.com? There is an abundance of tips and recipes on both the discussion boards and in the Recipe Guide.

Dustin Rudolph - June 27, 2011 10:32 PM

Wow! What a great inspiration Bob is. If a type 1 diabetic can live to 90 and live well then just think about what type 2's could do if they followed in his footsteps. We wouldn't have a diabetes epidemic that's for sure.

Thanks for sharing this story Emily.

carfree - June 28, 2011 2:00 PM

the study linked above in the comments regarding cancer was a study of changes made by 65 year old women. If you lead an unhealthful life for 64 years you've already set yourself up for cancer. Changing your habits at that point, while helpful, won't be nearly as effective as living healthfully for the majority of your life. Therefore, the study is pretty meaningless.

mrfreddy - June 30, 2011 10:57 AM

by golly, that man is on a low carb diet!

sheila - July 1, 2011 10:54 AM

Love this article! It hit home when he said, everyone should live like they have diabetes. If it was a matter of quality of life or in some cases life or death we would act differently. The truth is...It IS a matter of quality of life & life or death. If we keep throwing junk in our bodies it's just a matter of which one & when.
I'm not saying live in fear of disease. That in itself can promote disease. I'm saying give your body the best tools to support your health. Growing old happens weather we like it or not. How we grow old is up to us!
Mike, I have a few how to recipes on our website Happinessseries.com. We're adding more soon. The Kale or Mango/Spinach Smoothies are what I have before we go out to dinner. That way I know I have my organic greens & then eating a cook veggie or lean protein doesn't feel so bad!

Lola - July 12, 2011 1:56 AM

"As most of you may know, type I diabetes is different from type II diabetes. It’s a chronic illness in which the body no longer produces insulin"

I would like to point out that type II diabetes is ALSO a chronic progressive disease. It cannot be cured with diet changes or medication or surgery, it can only be managed. Type II diabetes gets worse over time, no matter how healthy you live. If it runs in your family, you WILL get it no matter what you do. I was 21, thin and healthy when I developed type II, (became sick out of the blue) and now I must carefully plan out every meal and take medication religiously. (ALL my grandparents and parents had it...they are also thin)

This guy's secrete isn't really a secrete.

"the former college professor tests his blood up to a dozen times a day"

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-204_162-10007965-2.html#ixzz1Rs0lCTmC

If all diabetics tested more than once a day and carefully paid attention to their blood sugar levels, they too would live long, no mater what sort of food they ate. The problem is that testing strips are expensive, low fat protein is expensive, and only well off people can afford to see their doctor's regularly and buy good medications.

Diabetes is a terrible disease, no matter which type you have. You have to fight with your own body every day. Live with chronic vitamin deficiencies (as diabetics have limited diets that can't include high carb foods like carrots, potatoes, banana's or apples...)

Having diabetes, no matter the type, means having to be on a very strict schedule, you must do things at the same times everyday, or risk dangerous blood sugar changes. eating the right foods is only a small part. Excersize can drop blood sugar too quickly, infections raise blood sugar too much. If you happen to be a woman, your blood sugar levels will shift with your hormones...

This is guy is very inspiring, but as someone with money and education, he was already ahead of most diabetics in the United States. Most people do not have the time or money to carefully monitor their blood sugar, so they and their doctors try for a happy medium instead, and this is why it is so rare for people to live as long as this man has.

Joel Fuhrman, M.D. - July 12, 2011 3:25 PM


Type II diabetes is primarily a lifestyle disease can be completely reversed with excellent nutrition and exercise in most patients. As a physician I have seen many of my type II diabetic patients become non-diabetic. (You can read some of their stories here: http://www.drfuhrman.com/success/stories.aspx/diabetes) Even if diabetes is not completely reversed, blood glucose readings improve, medication can be reduced, and the risk of complications is significantly lower.

It is not tight blood sugar control with medication, (which can drive weight gain and push a failing pancreas to worsen) but consuming health-promoting food and getting sufficient exercise that are most important. Tight control over glucose levels with drugs does not equate to good health. Avoiding sugars, white flour, animal products, and processed foods and focusing the diet on high-nutrient non-starchy vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, and low-sugar fruits prevents spikes in blood glucose which reduces insulin demand and eventually can resolves insulin resistance in most type 2 diabeteics. This high-nutrient diet also reduces cardiovascular disease risk and addresses the concern about micronutrient deficiencies that you spoke of.

I suggest you try my dietary recommendations - follow the Six Week Plan on page 213 and the Advice for the Diabetic Patient on page 195-196 in my book Eat to Live (http://www.drfuhrman.com/shop/ETLBook.aspx). Consult your physician because you will probably need to reduce your medication. Follow the plan exactly, and let me know what happens.

Helen - December 14, 2011 12:43 PM

Dr. Fuhrman, I have begun doing GOMBS the very day I saw you on PBS. You somehow got to me. But I do have a question. Of the people whom you say have had their diabetes reversed, what happens if they do purposely or not purposely have something with processed carbs. Do they still spike or not? That's the only way to know if it's truly reversed or not. I have type 2 diabetes, and immediately brought my levels to an A1c below 7 and would not be considered diabetic anymore by many people. But the truth is that my blood sugar still spikes, no matter how careful I am. I believe in what you're doing, but I honestly would like to know more about what you consider to be a reversal of diabetes. Us diabetics would like to know. :-)

I understand where Lola is coming from. I recently heard someone say that someone else was cured from their diabetes by exercizing three hours a day. But who can really do that? Most of us have to actually work, and often long hours at that. And I question whether that's a cure or reversal or management, much as Lola has said.

Thanks so much!

Helen - December 14, 2011 12:44 PM

Dr. Furhman,

I should have also mentioned that I am not on meds or insulin to control my diabetes.


juvenile diabetes - June 24, 2013 11:22 AM

so how do you control your type 1 diabetes?

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