Category Archives: LOW FAT DIET

The BigFatFix, a crowd funded film that explores the proper nutritional approach to diabetes epidemic

This new film created by a GP in UK, funded by small contributions, describes how elimination of added sugar and implementation of carbohydrate restriction can cure diabetes and result in weight loss. The film also covers how the low-fat craze, based on bad science (ignoring the full data) began with Ancel Keyes and evolved into arguably the worst public health disaster experienced by the modern world.

Cure diabetes by fasting or eating less sugar and starch? No drugs involved.

Jason Fung is a brilliant Canadian physician who has treated obesity and diabetes with a fasting protocol. Intermittent fasting produces physiologic changes similar to a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (LCKD). Both approaches have been successfully used to treat diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Learn why most medications that are used to treat diabetes do not address the underlying root cause by watching this video.

After watching that video consider the following discussion by Dr. Tim Noakes who cured his own “pre-diabetes” with a LCKD. Dr. Noakes was criticized by his less open-minded colleagues for employing a beneficial lifestyle change that allows most diabetics to reduce or eliminate their medications. Dr. Noakes had followed the “prudent diet” recommended by the USDA and AHA for decades. Despite following that “prudent diet” and exercising regularly by running long distances he had developed “pre-diabetes” (insulin resistance which often leads to type II diabetes). Then he stumbled upon an iconoclastic approach,

So he read more about it and decided to try it. The results were stunning to this physician who became an ardent proponent of carbohydrate restriction.

Now if you have not heard enough, listen to Eric C. Westman, MD, MHS who treats patients and teaches medical students and residents at the Duke University Lifestyle Medicine Clinic.

A paleo diet in combination with carbohydrate restriction is arguably the most beneficial nutritional approach to diabetes, pre-diabetes and obesity. The data that supports this statement grows on a daily basis.

You can read about why a LCKD should be the default diet for diabetes here.

Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base – Nutrition

Eat clean, live clean.

 

BOB

Low Carb Beats Low Fat Again, Annals of Internal Medicine article

Once again, a randomized trial demonstrates that a carbohydrate restricted approach is superior to a low fat diet with regards to weight loss, inflammation, body composition and cardiovascular risk factors. This study was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the official journal for the American College of Physicians.

Men and women aged 22 to 75 years with a body mass index of 30 to 45 kg/m2 (obesity defined as BMI > 30, morbid obesity defined as BMI >35) were recruited from the general public by using mailing lists, fliers, work site and community screenings, and television advertisements.

Neither diet included a specific calorie or energy goal. Participants in each group were asked to refrain from changing their physical activity levels during the intervention

Here is the summary cut and pasted from the abstract.

Objective: To examine the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet compared with a low-fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors.

Design: A randomized, parallel-group trial. (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00609271)

Setting: A large academic medical center.

Participants: 148 men and women without clinical cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Intervention: A low-carbohydrate (<40 g/d) or low-fat (<30% of daily energy intake from total fat [<7% saturated fat]) diet. Both groups received dietary counseling at regular intervals throughout the trial.

Measurements: Data on weight, cardiovascular risk factors, and dietary composition were collected at 0, 3, 6, and 12 months.

Results: Sixty participants (82%) in the low-fat group and 59 (79%) in the low-carbohydrate group completed the intervention. At 12 months, participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had greater decreases in weight (mean difference in change, −3.5 kg [95% CI, −5.6 to −1.4 kg]; P = 0.002), fat mass (mean difference in change, −1.5% [CI, −2.6% to −0.4%]; P = 0.011), ratio of total–high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (mean difference in change, −0.44 [CI, −0.71 to −0.16]; P = 0.002), and triglyceride level (mean difference in change, −0.16 mmol/L [−14.1 mg/dL] [CI, −0.31 to −0.01 mmol/L {−27.4 to −0.8 mg/dL}]; P = 0.038) and greater increases in HDL cholesterol level (mean difference in change, 0.18 mmol/L [7.0 mg/dL] [CI, 0.08 to 0.28 mmol/L {3.0 to 11.0 mg/dL}]; P < 0.001) than those on the low-fat diet.

Limitation: Lack of clinical cardiovascular disease end points.

Conclusion: The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet.

Primary Funding Source: National Institutes of Health.

Let’s go through those results again: At 12 months, participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had

  1.  greater decreases in weight. This has been demonstrated in multiple previously published studies.
  2.  greater decreases in  fat mass. This is an important distinction, the low carb group lost more fat, not muscle.
  3.  greater decreases in the ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This ratio is a measure of cardiovascular risk (risk for heart attack and stroke). It improved more on low carb than on low fat diets.
  4.  greater decreases in triglyceride level. Triglyceride level is also an important cardiovascular risk factor. It went down significantly more as compared to the low fat diet.
  5.  greater increases in HDL cholesterol level. This result is considered to be protective against heart attack and stroke.
  6. greater decreases in CRP level than those in the low-fat group. CRP (C-reactive protein) is a blood test for inflammation and is also a cardiovascular risk factor.
  7. significant decreases in estimated 10-year risk for coronary heart disease as measured by the Framingham risk analysis at 6 and 12 months, whereas those in the low-fat group did not. Say again, the low fat group did not decrease their Framingham risk analysis but the low carb group did.

All of these differences were “statistically significant”, meaning they were unlikely caused by accident.
And what about side-effects?

The number of participants who had symptoms, including constipation, fatigue, thirst, polyuria, diarrhea, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting, appetite changes, or headache, did not differ significantly between the low-carbohydrate and low-fat groups, except significantly more participants on the low-fat diet reported headaches at 3 months

The authors concluded:

Our study found that a low-carbohydrate diet induced greater weight loss and reductions in cardiovascular risk factors at 12 months than a low-fat diet among black and white obese adults who did not have diabetes, CVD, or kidney disease at baseline. Compared with a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet resulted in greater improvements in body composition, HDL cholesterol level, ratio of total–HDL cholesterol, triglyceride level, CRP level, and estimated 10-year CHD risk. Because CVD is the most common cause of death in the United States and obesity is a particularly prevalent risk factor, our study has important clinical and public health implications

Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: A Randomized Trial, A. Bazzano, MD, PhD, MPH et. al., Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(5):309-318. doi:10.7326/M14-0180

Get rid of the sugar-added foods, processed and refined flour foods and vegetable oils. Send a message to corporate America that crap-in-a bag and crap-in-a-box is no longer in demand. Eat only grass-fed meat, wild seafood, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and tree nuts. Enjoy better health and better food.

 

Bob Hansen MD.

Carbohydrate Restriction for Diabetes I and II

A great review article challenging the current low fat dogma has been published. This should be required reading for all physicians. It brings clarity, data, and perspective to the discussion.

Here is the abstract:

Abstract

“The inability of current recommendations to control the epidemic of diabetes, the specific failure of the prevailing low-fat diets to improve obesity, cardiovascular risk or general health and the persistent reports of some serious side effects of commonly prescribed diabetic medications, in combination with the continued success of low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome without significant side effects, point to the need for a reappraisal of dietary guidelines.”

Here are the opening paragraphs.

“The benefits of carbohydrate restriction in diabetes are immediate and well-documented. Concerns about the efficacy and safety are long-term and conjectural rather than data-driven. Dietary carbohydrate restriction reliably reduces high blood glucose, does not require weight loss (although is still best for weight loss) and leads to the reduction or elimination of medication and has never shown side effects comparable to those seen in many drugs.

Here we present 12 points of evidence supporting the use of low-carbohydrate diets as the first approach to treating type 2 diabetes and as the most effective adjunct to pharmacology in type 1. They represent the best-documented, least controversial results. The insistence on long-term random-controlled trials as the only kind of data that will be accepted is without precedent in science. The seriousness of diabetes requires that we evaluate all of the evidence that is available. The 12 points are sufficiently compelling that we feel that the burden of proof rests with those who are opposed.

“At the end of our clinic day, we go home thinking, ‘The clinical improvements are so large and obvious, why don’t other doctors understand?’ Carbohydrate restriction is easily grasped by patients: because carbohydrates in the diet raise the blood glucose, and as diabetes is defined by high blood glucose, it makes sense to lower the carbohydrate in the diet. By reducing the carbohydrate in the diet, we have been able to taper patients off as much as 150 units of insulin per day in eight days, with marked improvement in glycemic control – even normalization of glycemic parameters.”

— Eric Westman, MD, MHS [1].

Here is the link to the whole article.

Dietary Carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management. Critical review and evidence base

Peace and good health.

Bob Hansen MD

Amputations, Gangrene and Carbohydrates

As an anesthesiologist I have spent more than 60,000 hours in the operating room and cared for over 30,000 patients. I often observe the end-results of bad dietary advice. I am referring to the liberal carbohydrate allowance that the American Diabetes Association and other agencies offer diabetics.

Today was a particularly poignant day as I cared for two diabetics who required amputations for complications of diabetes type II. These complications could have likely been avoided if our supermarkets were not stocked with high carb nutritionally deplete “food” AND if the ADA, physicians and nutritionists counseled diabetics to significantly reduce their carbohydrate intake. Instead, the low fat narrative has so predominated our culture, that we have taken our eyes off of the major dietary threats during the past 40 years, excessive carbohydrates and especially refined carbohydrates.

The leading cause of amputations in modern society are the complications of diabetes including peripheral arterial disease (atherosclerosis in the arteries to our limbs) and peripheral neuropathy (loss of sensation in the feet and hands). The combination of these two, or just one alone can lead to non-healing wounds and ulcers in the feet, then chronic infections and ultimately gangrene. Futile efforts to restore circulation to the legs with vascular bypass surgeries or arterial stents usually just briefly delay the inevitable series of amputations that start in the toes and progress up the leg, step by step until only a stump is left above the level once occupied by the knee.

Gangrene is an ugly thing. During the Civil War the major cause was trauma. Today the major cause is diabetes and indirectly, excess carbohydrate consumption.

The visual experience of gangrene results in a visceral reaction, even after more than 30 years of observation. The knowledge that most of these complications could be avoided by simply eating whole fresh foods instead of crap in a bag or crap in a box is frustrating. The human suffering and economic costs (lost wages, disability, medical expenses) are staggering. Diabetes type II is largely a disease of lifestyle. The lifestyle elements involved include poor dietary habits, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, and stress. All of these contribute and all are modifiable and avoidable.

Type II diabetes is arguably reversible early in the disease process. As it progresses a patient reaches an irreversible point of no return where the pancreas has been exhausted and the insulin producing cells are no longer efficient and effective. Equally important,  the cells in the rest of the body do not respond in a normal fashion to what little insulin is produced. But even at this stage carbohydrate restriction can mitigate complications if only healthy fresh whole-foods are consumed and modest exercise is practiced on a daily basis.

Other complications of diabetes including blindness, painful neuropathy, kidney failure requiring dialysis, heart attack and stroke all are arguably avoidable with a whole foods paleolithic carbohydrate restricted diet and modest amounts of regular exercise.

What a pity, what a shame, what a waste.

Below are some links and research articles to back up my statements.

Peace, health, and harmony.

BOB

1. Type 2 Diabetes

2. American Diabetes Association Embraces Low-Carbohydrate Diets. Can You Believe It? | Richard David Feinman

3. Nutrition Science on Pinterest

4. Low-Carb for You: Low-Carb versus Low-Fat

And Many More:

Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, McKeown-Eyssen G, Josse RG, Silverberg J, Booth GL, Vidgen E, Josse AR, Nguyen TH, Corrigan S et al: Effect of a low-glycemic index or a high-cereal fiber diet on type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. JAMA 2008, 300(23):2742-2753.

Westman EC, Yancy WS, Mavropoulos JC, Marquart M, McDuffie JR: The Effect of a Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Versus a Low-Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2008, 5(36).

Gannon MC, Hoover H, Nuttall FQ: Further decrease in glycated hemoglobin following ingestion of a LoBAG30 diet for 10 weeks compared to 5 weeks in people with untreated type 2 diabetes. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2010, 7:64.

Gannon MC, Nuttall FQ: Control of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes without weight loss by modification of diet composition. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2006, 3:16.

Gannon MC, Nuttall FQ: Effect of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet on blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes 2004, 53(9):2375-2382.

Forsythe CE, Phinney SD, Feinman RD, Volk BM, Freidenreich D, Quann E, Ballard K, Puglisi MJ, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ et al: Limited effect of dietary saturated fat on plasma saturated fat in the context of a low carbohydrate diet. Lipids 2010, 45(10):947-962.

Jakobsen MU, Overvad K, Dyerberg J, Schroll M, Heitmann BL: Dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: possible effect modification by gender and age. Am J Epidemiol 2004, 160(2):141-149.

Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM: Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2010, 91(3):502-509.

Int J Cardiol. 2006 Jun 16;110(2):212-6. Epub 2005 Nov 16. Effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet program compared to a low-fat diet on fasting lipoprotein subclasses. Westman EC, Yancy WS Jr, Olsen MK, Dudley T, Guyton JR.

Mol Cell Biochem. 2007 Aug;302(1-2):249-56. Epub 2007 Apr 20.Beneficial effects of ketogenic diet in obese diabetic subjects. Dashti HM, Mathew TC, Khadada M, Al-Mousawi M, Talib H, Asfar SK, Behbahani AI, Al-Zaid NS.

 

 

Not all calories are the same.

The old school teaching about obesity went like this. Consume more calories than you burn and you gain weight. Consume less calories than you burn and you lose weight. Obesity is just a problem of self control. All calories are the same.

This way of thinking has been dis proven but still pervades many discussions.

Ample evidence supports the following facts that should be considered in choosing foods and mitigating the obesity epidemic.

  • High glycemic high carbohydrate foods and beverages such as bread, pasta, potatoes, crackers, chips, granola bars, breakfast cereal, soda, energy drinks produce a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, stimulate hunger, enhance further carbohydrate cravings, and drive people to overeat. Thus, what kind of food you eat affects how much you eat. (1,2)
  • High carbohydrate diets  result in decreased calorie burning (decreased metabolic rate) compared to high fat high protein diets. Thus, a diet with carbohydrate restriction not only limits hunger (improves satiety) but also results in burning more calories for the same level of activity and at rest. I have previously discussed weight loss studies that consistently demonstrate that carbohydrate restriction results in spontaneous reduction in caloric consumption. At the same time this approach results in burning more calories while you watch TV or go for a walk. (3)
  • The human body does not absorb all of the calories present in food. A higher % of the calories present in highly processed refined foods (which represent 70% of the American diet) are absorbed compared to whole unprocessed foods such as tree nuts. (4)
  • Whole foods, especially non-starchy vegetables, provide much more satiety producing fiber (non-starchy vegetables have five to seven times as much fiber compared to whole grain bread on a per calorie basis)
  • Food choices produce different effects on the gut flora. A diet consisting of whole hunter-gatherer type foods (grass fed meat, free range poultry and eggs, wild seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts) enhance and support the development of “good bacteria” in the gut. As discussed before , the gut flora have a major impact on the risk of obesity and other diseases.
  • High carbohydrate diets produce higher insulin levels.  Insulin results in conversion of carbohydrate into fat and storage of fat. Insulin inhibits the burning of fat. Carbohydrate restriction results in burning fat for energy.
  • The process of protein digestion consumes more calories compared to the digestion of carbohydrate. Protein has a higher  thermogenic effect compared to carbohydrate.

THE BOTTOM LINE: not all calories are the same. The quality of the food we consume affects our metabolic rate, our absorption of calories, how quickly we feel full and therefore how many calories we consume, and the mix of good bacteria and bad bacteria that live in our GI tract.

Good health, peace and tranquility to all

BOB

1. Fed Up Asks, Are All Calories Equal? – NYTimes.com

2. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term wei… [N Engl J Med. 2011] – PubMed – NCBI

3. Effects of Dietary Composition During Weight Loss Maintenance: A Controlled Feeding Study

4. Impact of Peanuts and Tree Nuts on Body Weight and Healthy Weight Loss in Adults

The Ornish Low Fat Vegetarian Diet, does it work?

Dr. Dean Ornish has done wonderful research in the area of cardiovascular disease and lifestyle intervention. His study on comprehensive lifestyle intervention (1) is often quoted to support a low fat vegetarian diet as treatment for cardiovascular disease. But his “Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease” included several components that would be expected to improve health and decrease cardiovascular risk independent of a vegetarian diet as will be discussed below.

Let’s review what this study did.

48 patients with diagnosed moderate to severe coronary artery disease were randomized to one of two treatment groups, an “intensive lifestyle change” (ILC) group or a “usual-care” (UC) control group. 28 patients were allocated randomly to the ILC group and 20 were allocated to the UC group. Out of 48 patients starting the study only 35 completed the study,   20 out of 28 in the ILC group completed the study and 15 out of 20 in the UC group completed the study.

The intensive lifestyle change group followed this program:

  • 10% fat whole foods vegetarian diet
  • daily aerobic exercise
  • stress management training (training in and daily performance of meditation and/or yoga)
  • smoke cessation (they quit smoking)
  • group psychosocial support (3 hour group therapy sessions)

At the start of the study only one patient in the ILC group was smoking and she quit. We do not know how many smokers were in the UC group or how many quit. (I consider that a deficiency of this study. Because smoking is such a significant determinant of cardiovascular outcome, details of smoking at start and end of the study for both groups should have been reported)

At the end of five years the intensive lifestyle change group demonstrated an average 3.1% absolute reduction in the coronary artery blockage as measured by coronary arteriograms (or to put it another way, the diameter of the blocked coronary arteries increased by 3.1%). The usual care group (receiving cholesterol lowering statin drugs) showed an average 2.3% absolute increase in the coronary artery blockage (2.3% reduction in diameter). These are not huge changes or differences but they were measurable and statistically significant.

Twenty five total  “cardiac events” occurred in the 28 patients randomized to the intensive lifestyle change group over the five years and 45 cardiac events occurred in the 20 patients randomized to the “usual care” group (receiving cholesterol lowering statin drugs). But this was due to differences in the number of hospitalizations and angioplasties. There was no statistically significant difference in the number of deaths, heart attacks or coronary artery bypass surgeries.

By the end of the study 2 patients in the ILC group had died compared to 1 death in the usual care group but as mentioned above, this difference was not statistically significant.  We do not know how many deaths occurred in the 8 patients who dropped out of the treatment group or in the 5 patients who dropped out of the usual care group, nor do we know any of the other outcomes for the drop-out patients.

So there were no lives saved by the intensive lifestyle change program and no reduction in the number of heart attacks. In fact the ILC group had 2 deaths compared to 1 in the usual care group.

What does this all mean and why has the Ornish Diet attracted so much attention.?

First, I would suggest that the demonstrated benefits (reductions in the number of angioplasties and hospitalizations) are likely explained by the following parts of the lifestyle changes.

  1. stress reduction training and implementation (meditation and yoga)
  2. elimination of manufactured trans-fats from the diet
  3. elimination of unhealthy pro-inflammatory excess omega six fats (vegetable oils) from the diet
  4. elimination/reduction of processed carbohydrates and sugar.

Although the intensive lifestyle intervention included regular exercise the data show no significant difference in times per week or hours per week of exercise at the end of the study between the two groups.

The big difference was in stress management. The ILC group averaged practicing meditation and/or yoga 5 times per week (48 minutes per day) versus less that once per week (8 minutes per day) in the usual care group.

Stress reduction is a major issue in any disease and in particular in cardiovascular disease.

Several studies have demonstrated that the daily practice of meditation  improves immune function, increases telomerase activity, reduces inflammatory markers, and reduces circulating stress hormones (cortisol and epinephrine) independent of dietary changes.
Meditation has also been observed to improve “endothelial function”, the ability of the cells that line arteries to respond to changes in demand. (2,3,4,5,6,7)

Here is a press release from the American Heart Association 13 November 2012. (8)

“African Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from all causes compared with African Americans who attended a health education class over more than five years, according to new research published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Those practicing meditation also lowered their blood pressure and reported less stress and anger. And the more regularly patients meditated, the greater their survival, said researchers who conducted the study at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.”

I believe the major benefit of the interventional program was from the stress reduction and the elimination of three major dietary sources of trouble (trans-fats, excess omega 6 fats from processed-refined vegetable oils, and refined carbohydrates-sugar)

I have already discussed in other posts the problems associated with excess omega 6 fats and refined carbohydrates-sugar relative to cardiovascular risk. (9,10,11)

There is little controversy that elimination/reduction in trans-fats produces benefit. (12,13,14)

All three of these changes were essential to the whole foods approach of the intervention group.

I have also discussed the lack of data to support the contention that saturated fat from animal sources of protein contributes to cardiovascular disease. (15, 16))

I remain a strong proponent of a whole foods diet that includes a variety and abundance of organic vegetables and fruits, nuts, pastured grass-fed meat, fresh wild seafood, free-range organic poultry and eggs from that kind of poultry.  This diet represents the foods we have evolved to eat, free from added sugar, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides. This dietary approach also produces a healthy balance of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid as well as a significant improvement in the ratio of potassium to sodium.

Stress reduction should be an essential part of our lives and data on this aspect of health will be discussed in future posts. References for this discussion appear below.

Peace,

BOB Hansen MD

REFERENCES:

1. JAMA Network | JAMA | Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease

2. Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators.

3. Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres.

4. A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity.

5. Meditation Improves Endothelial Function in Metabolic Syndrome, American Psychosomatic Society (APS) 69th Annual Scientific Meeting: Abstract 1639. Presented March 10, 2011.

6. Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation.

7. Adrenocortical activity during meditation.

8. Meditation may reduce death, heart attack and stroke in heart patients | American Heart Association

9. Polyunsaturated fat, Saturated fat and the AHA

10, Lose weight, control blood sugar, reduce inflammation

11. Sugar, a serious addiction

12. The negative effects of hydrogenated trans fats and what to do about them.

13. Trans fats in America: a review of their use… [J Am Diet Assoc. 2010] – PubMed – NCBI

14. FDA to Ban Trans Fats in Foods – US News and World Report

15. saturated fat | Practical Evolutionary Health

16. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.