Tag Archives: low carb

Can You Eat Low-Carb at Fast-Food Restaurants?

Most emphatically, yes! But you have to be careful and able to withstand temptation. Laura Dolson tells you how over at About.com. For example:

Occasionally, you’ll see salads with other protein, but chicken is the mainstay of fast-food meal salads. Tips: 1. Skip the croutons, tortilla strips, and similar additions. 2. Be very careful about sugars in the dressing. 3) For best nutrition, look for salads with a mixture of greens, and a variety of vegetables. 4) Make sure the chicken is grilled, not “crispy fried”, or other chicken with breading.

 On the Advanced Mediterranean Diet, you have the option of:

  1. Traditional portion- and calorie-controlled eating, or
  2. Low-carb eating with the worlds’ first Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet

You Must Consider Low-Carb Eating to Suppress Your GERD

Dr. Michael Eades has a new post on gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and it’s treatment with carbohydrate-restricted eating versus drugs. A quote: 

Most people who have GERD, have it for the long term. It’s not something that comes and goes. So these folks go on GERD therapy for the long term, and the most prescribed medications for long-term GERD treatment are PPIs, which, you now know, keep stomach acid neutralized for the long term, and, as you might imagine, creates a host of problems.

The scientific literature has shown long-term PPI therapy to be related to the following conditions:

  • Anemia
  • Pneumonia
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Impaired calcium absorption
  • Impaired magnesium absorption
  • Increased rate fractures, especially hip, wrist and spine
  • Osteopenia [thin brittle bones]
  • Rebound effect of extra-heavy gastric acid secretion
  • Heart attacks

Read the rest if you or someone you love has GERD.

Here’s a scientific report supporting Dr. Eades’ clinical experience. Carbs were reduced to 20 grams a day.

Does Diet Affect Age-Related Memory Loss and Dementia Risk?

dementia, memory loss, Mediterranean diet, low-carb diet, glycemic index, dementia memory loss

Don’t wait to take action until it’s too late

High blood insulin levels and insulin resistance promote age-related degeneration of the brain, leading to memory loss and dementia according to Robert Krikorian, Ph.D.  He’s a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center.  He has an article in a recent issue of Current Psychiatry – Online.

Proper insulin signaling in the brain is important for healthy functioning of our brains’ memory centers.  This signaling breaks down in the setting of insulin resistance and the associated high insulin levels.  Dr. Krikorian makes much of the fact that high insulin levels and insulin resistance are closely tied to obesity.  He writes that:

Waist circumference of ≥100 cm (39 inches) is a sensitive, specific, and independent predictor of hyperinsulinemia for men and women and a stronger predictor than body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and other measures of body fat.

Take-Home Points

Dr. Krikorian thinks that dietary approaches to the prevention of dementia are effective yet underutilized.  He mentions reduction of insulin levels by restricting calories or a ketogenic diet: they’ve been linked with improved memory in middle-aged and older adults.

Dr. K suggests the following measures to prevent dementia and memory loss:

  • eliminate high-glycemic foods like processed carbohydrates and sweets
  • replace high-glycemic foods with fruits and vegetables (the higher polyphenol intake may help by itself)
  • certain polyphenols, such as those found in berries, may be particularly helpful in improving brain metabolic function
  • keep your waist size under 39 inches, or aim for that if you’re overweight

I must mention that many, perhaps most, dementia experts are not as confident  as Dr. Krikorian that these dietary changes are effective.  I think they are, to a degree.

The Mediterranean diet is high in fruits and vegetables and relatively low-glycemic.  It’s usually mentioned by experts as the diet that may prevent dementia and slow its progression.

Read the full article.

I’ve written before about how blood sugars in the upper normal range are linked to brain degeneration.  Dr. Krikorian’s recommendations would tend to keep blood sugar levels in the lower end of the normal range.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Speaking of dementia and ketogenic, have you ever heard of the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet?  (Free condensed version here.)

Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet Beats Low-Fat For Recent-Onset Type 2 Diabetes

A low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet dramatically reduced the need for diabetic drug therapy, compared to a low-fat American Heart Association diet. The Italian researchers also report that the Mediterranean dieters also lost more weight over the first two years of the study.

Investigators suggest that the benefit of the Mediterranean-style diet is due to greater weight loss, olive oil (monunsaturated fats increase insulin sensitivity), and increased adiponectin levels.

The American Diabetes Association recommends both low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets for overweight diabetics. The investigators wondered which of the two might be better, as judged by the need to institute drug therapy in newly diagnosed people with diabetes.

Methodology

Newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics who had never been treated with diabetes drugs were recruited into the study, which was done in Naples, Italy. At the outset, the 215 study participants were 30 to 75 years of age, had body mass index over 25 (average 29.5), had average hemoglobin A1c levels of 7.73, and average glucose levels of 170 mg/dl.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of two diets:

  1. Low-carb Mediterranean diet (“MED diet”, hereafter): rich in vegetables and whole grains, low in red meat (replaced with poultry and fish), no more than 50% of calories from complex carbohydrates, no less than 30% of calories from fat (main source of added fat was 30 to 50 g of olive oil daily). [No mention of fruits. BTW, the traditional Mediterranean diet derives 50-60% of energy from carbohydrates.]
  2. Low-fat diet based on American Heart Association guidelines: rich in whole grains, restricted additional fats/sweets/high-fat snacks, no more than 30% of calories from fat, no more than 10% of calories from saturated fats.

Both diet groups were instructed to limit daily energy intake to 1500 (women) or 1800 (men) calories.

All participants were advised to increase physical activity, mainly walking for at least 30 minutes a day.

Drug therapy was initiated when hemoglobin A1c levels persisted above 7% despite diet and exercise.

The study lasted four years.

Results

By the end of 18 months, twice as many low-fat dieters required diabetes drug therapy compared to the MED dieters—24% versus 12%.

By the end of four years, seven of every 10 low-fat dieters were on drug therapy compared to four of every 10 MED dieters.

The MED dieters lost 2 kg (4.4 lb) more weight by the end of one year, compared to the low-fat group. The groups were no different in net weight loss when measured at four years: down 3–4 kg (7–9 lb).

Compared to the low-fat group, the MED diet cohort achieved significantly lower levels of fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c throughout the four years.

The MED diet group saw greater increases in insulin sensitivity, i.e., they had less insulin resistance.

The MED group had significantly greater increases in HDL cholesterol and decreases in trigylcerides throughout the study. Total cholesterol decreased more in the MED dieters, but after the first two years the difference from the low-fat group was not significantly different.

Comments

The MED diet here includes “no more than 50% of calories from complex carbohydrates.” The authors don’t define complex carbs. Simple carbohydrates are monosaccharides and disaccharides. Complex carbs are oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Another definition of complex carbs is “fruits, vegetables, and whole grains,” which I think is definition of complex carbs applicable to this study.

The editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine conclude that:

A low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean-style diet seems to be preferable to a low-fat diet for glycemic control in patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes.

I’m sure the American Diabetes Association will take heed of this study when they next revise their diet guidelines. If I were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I wouldn’t wait until then.

This study dovetails nicely with others that show prevention of type 2 diabetes with the Mediterranean diet, reversal of metabolic syndrome—a risk factor for diabetes—with the Mediterranean diet (supplemented with nuts), and prevention of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes in people who have had a heart attack.

Studies like these support my Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.

For general information on Mediterranean eating, visit Oldways.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Esposito, Katherine, et al. Effects of a Mediterranean-style diet on the need for antihyperglycemic drug therapy in patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Annals of Internal Medicine, 151 (2009): 306-314.

Is a Low-Carb Diet Safe for Obese Adolescents?

I answered this question last year at the Diabetic Mediterranean Diet Blog, based on research from the Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado.

It’s an important question. Childhood obesity in the U.S. tripled from the early 1980s to 2000, ending with a 17% obesity rate. Overweight and obesity together describe 32% of U.S. children. Some experts believe this generation of kids will be the first in U.S. history to suffer a decline in life expectancy, related to obesity.

Steve Parker, M.D.