Low Carb Diets: A Brief History

“Conventional scientific opinion says that eating too many calories without doing enough exercise to burn them off again causes weight gain. But this prevailing energy balance model faces a fresh challenge from the carbohydrate-insulin model (CIM) following the publication of a new article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The CIM argues that it is the quality of the food a person eats — rather than the quantity — that determines whether a person will gain weight and eventually develop obesity. Consuming large quantities of processed and starchy carbohydrates in particular sustains a cascade of hormonal and metabolic changes that result in the storage of excess energy as fat.

Crucially, the CIM says that the urge to eat too many calories is a result of accumulating excess fat in the body, not its cause. This directly opposes the energy balance model.

So which model is correct? The answer has huge implications for the diets of billions of people, as well as the prospects of overcoming the obesity pandemic.

This week, Medical News Today spoke with several experts from both camps about the merits and shortcomings of each model. There is one thing that both models agree on: the sugars and refined grains that make up 42% of the calories in the U.S. diet should be drastically reduced.

To learn more about both models and the debate that rages around them, jump to “Obesity and weight loss: Why overall calorie intake may not be so important.”


Tim Snaith
Newsletter Editor, Medical News Today

What Does “Fattening” Mean?

Sally Feltner MS, PhDDiet and Health, The American Plate November 15, 2019 1 Minute

Spaghetti, Noodles, Tomatoes, Pasta

A term used for decades to describe foods that would make one gain weight was the expression of  “fattening”.

Moderate avoidance (though not totally responsible) of these foods became the conventional wisdom to help avoid weight gain and became a dieter’s mantra.  In fact, food history indicates that body-weight was relatively stable until about the late 1990’s in the United States. At that time, dietary advice had shifted to low-fat diets with the added disadvantage of food companies at the time replacing fat in their food products with more carbohydrate-containing foods.

Keep in mind- basic biochemistry tells us that all carbohydrates (except for dietary fiber) are eventually converted to glucose in the body to be used for energy.  We are further reminded that some carbs are referred to as “starchy” (bad) and others as “non starchy” (good ).

The following article further elucidates the term of what are now commonly referred to as “white foods” and refers to their state of processing – refined or unrefined and how they may participate in our current obesity epidemic.

CLICK HERE.

How’s Your Immune System?

Nutrition and Your Immune System 

The ability of the immune system to fight disease declines with age. As it does, the incidence of infections, cancers, and autoimmune diseases increase and the effectiveness of immunizations decline. In turn, the presence of infections and chronic disease contributes to malnutrition.

Nutrient deficiencies are common in older adults, including deficiencies of zinc, iron, beta-carotene, folic acid and vitamins B6, B12, C, D, and E. Supplements of some of these individual nutrients have been shown to increase certain aspects of the immune response, but have not been shown to reduce mortality from infections. High doses of some nutrients, including zinc, copper, and iron, depressed immune function, so supplement should not contain more than 100% of the daily value. There is little evidence that “megadoses” (over the Daily Value) of any vitamin or mineral is necessary for optimum health.

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Sugar and the Immune System?

Is our health declining? “The statistics are alarming. In 1960, one person in 100 had diabetes; today its one in eight. Experts are now predicting that by 2050, one person in three will suffer with the condition if the trend continues. Even worse, 70 percent of people who get diabetes will also develop heart disease.”

“Three generations of Americans have been raised on what is referred to as the “Standard American Diet” based on high-calorie, nutrient deficient, overly processed foods with the blame primarily on salt, fat, and sugar found in fast foods.”Sadly, we are now witnessing the long-term effects of those eating patterns and runaway rates of chronic illness.”

Source: Judith Finlayson. You Are What Your Grandparents Ate, 2019, page 58.

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Three Decades of Food Milestones: 1990- 2021

Three decades of Food Milestones 1990 – 2020

Food timelines are invaluable for taking a brief look at what has happened and how it has influenced our eating behaviors.

1990 Food labels mean something: the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act passes, requiring standardized nutrition labels on most food packages. The food industry is not happy; they particularly protest adding “Added Sugars” and win their case this time.

1992 King Arthur introduces white whole wheat flour, enabling bakers to make their whole grain baking healthier.  The United States Department of Agriculture releases the Food Guide  Pyramid, visually confirming nationwide carbohydrate domination with 6-11 servings of carbohydrates a day.  Carbs are not separated into refined vs. complex.

Snackwells low fat cookies are introduced and fly off shelves. Later, the “Snackwells affect becomes shorthand for all that is wrong with the low fat, high carb diet fad. People mistakenly assume you can eat all the refined carbs you want. 

1993 Chipotle Mexican Grill is founded in Denver, marking the beginning of the “fast casual restaurant” category. The TV Food Network (now the Food Network) premieres, elevating chefs like Bobby Flay to celeb status.

1994 the Food and Drug administration approves the first genetically modified food, the long shelf -lived Flavr Savr tomato, followed a year later by GMO canola, corn, soy beans and squash, marking the anti GMO movement. It was met with considerable safety concerns., especially in European countries.  

1996 The FDA approves Olestra, a fat – free fat substitute with the unfortunate side effect of inducing “anal leakage”. Lays Wow potato chips made with olestra even sport a warning label. After its demise in food processing, olestra found new life as an industrial lubricant.

1998 Sucralose, made from sugar but is noncaloric, is introduced but the obesity rate is not impressed by its contribution to sugar-free foods.

2002 low carb guru Robert Atkins, MD, releases Doctor Atkins New Diet Revolution,” establishing further the popularity of the low carb diet he promoted 30 years with his first book. This “diet” began to slowly replace the ill-advised low fat diet for “hardcore” dieters.

In other news, organic labels finally have more attention. The USDA national organic programs, Certified Organic Labeling, rules, some 12 years in the making, go into effect.

2004 Facebook arrives and enabling you to share what you had for breakfast with 1000 of your closest friends. Photos of foods (homeccoked, however, appear in many posts.

2006 in April, Michael Pollan releases the Omnivore’s Dilemma, making terms like food system, high fructose corn syrup and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) household words.

2007 The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was a United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) research initiative to improve understanding of the microbial flora involved in human health and disease. Prebiotic and probiotics became familiar terms and the yogurt industry blossomed. Source: Wikipedia

2008 Chobani launches and the cult of Greek yogurt begins. Now we no longer have to strain regular yogurt through a coffee filter to make it.

2009 The White House kitchen garden is planted in March and an interest in vegetables and sustainable eating skyrockets. Gluten free foods become a thing with $1.56 billion dollars in US sales, and projections of continuing breakneck growth.

2010 Welcome, instant pot! Now we can cook slow, fast or steam vegetables, make rice, etc, etc.  

2011 in June, the USDA replaces the Pyramid guide with My Plate, where vegetables and fruits fill half the dish and nudge grains to a smaller portion. First lady Michelle Obama announces it. Instagram arrives.

2013 Blue apron and other meal kit delivery services kickoff, making home cooking as easy as opening a box.

Jay-Z announces he’s doing a 22 day vegan challenge. Veganism officially becomes cool.

2016 Restaurant delivery services go mainstream: 50% of Americans report using apps like Grubhub and DoorDash to purchase meals from casual dining outlets, with 26% ordering at least once weekly.

2017 The Regenerative Organic Alliance releases its Regenerative Organ Certification Program, which incorporates soil health, animal welfare, and social justice in its eligibility criteria.

2018 Plant based milk sales have exploded, growing 61% in the last five years. The dairy industry is disturbed.

2019 the eat Lancet Commission releases its food in the Anthropocene report in January, linking our red meat and sugar heavy diets to climate change, and recommending we slash our consumption and eat more plant- based foods.

And now ,  Googling “nutrition” today gets over 1 billion hits but alas, 72% of Americans are overweight or obese based on Body Mass Indexes. Obesity becomes a risk factor for infectious disease, primarily COVID-19.

2020 Covid – 19 sweeps the world. Many Americans line up for miles at food distribution sites. Restaurants offer take out and deliveries, and small businesses teeter. Yet perseverance is everywhere, chefs, nonprofits, entire communities find ways to offer hope, and nourishing food. Restaurants rebound and talk dominates with who should wear masks; should schools open; are vaccines effective, should vaccinated people only have privileges?

This takes us to the present – 2021. The food culture will probably be changed forever.

Is Sugar Addictive?

“A new trend has people freezing honey and it’s leaving some experts concerned. Eating too much of the sweet stuff can cause diarrhea, stomach pain and other complications, dieticians and doctors told multiple news outlets less this week here’s what to know about the trend and whether it’s safe. In the past few weeks, the social media platform, Tick Tock has been flooded with videos that show people filling plastic bottles with honey and putting them in the freezer. Some users then squeeze out the golden, now solidified substance and sink their teeth right in. And people can’t get enough of the short clips. As of Wednesday, tons of millions of people had viewed content with the hashtags #frozen honey and #frozen honey challenge.

Another concern is that about 1/3 of people live with fructose intolerance which means their intestines have trouble absorbing fructose. In those cases, ingesting too much honey can cause diarrhea and discomfort.  As the honey thickens, it can also be brutal on your mouth, creating a risk for breaking teeth or causing decay.

 Another thing parents should consider is that children under one years of age should never eat honey due to the rare threat of Botulism.”

After reading this article from the local morning paper, my first inclination was that it resembles an image of drug addiction, only this time it’s pure sugar.

Watch for a future post on whether sugar (sucrose or fructose) is considered “addictive.” by addictive standards, i.e., what is addiction? Very interesting.

Source: Simone Jasper. The Charlotte Observer and Asheville Citizen Times, Tuesday, August 10, 2021.

Where’s the Pork?

” I am not a vegan, but I tend to be aware of the importance of how and what we eat in terms of sustainability, a respect for animal welfare and the impact of food on our environment.” FROM ABOUT THIS BLOG : FOOD, FACTS AND FADS.

Now is the time to “practice what we preach”. It will be interesting to see what happens in California. I am on the side of the animals (pigs, chickens, and veal calves).

CLICK HERE.

UNPROCESSED FOOD?

“Unprocessed or minimally processed foods are whole foods in which the vitamins and nutrients are still intact. The food is in its natural (or nearly natural) state. These foods may be minimally altered by removal of inedible parts, drying, crushing, roasting, boiling, freezing, or pasteurization, to make them suitable to store and safe to consume. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods would include carrots, apples, raw chicken, melon, and raw, unsalted nuts.”

Kathryn D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN

Harvard Health Publishing, 2020

We talk a lot about the bad stuff (processed foods) and not about the good stuff – unprocessed food. Good definition above. These are beginning to be hard to find in the supermarkets. The following article reports on a doctor’s experience of what it is like to eat Ultraprocessed foods for one month.

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What Healthy Eating Means Now

After years of research on the subject, the consensus appears to be that there is no single diet that’s right for all of us. However, we have learned that we have a better idea of what healthy eating looks like.

The key is your overall eating pattern, not so much how many grams of carbohydrate, fat or protein you eat, or whether it is animal or plant protein. The choices are many: vegetarian?, vegan?, low fat?, low carb? Or perhaps flexetarian ( a little of both?)

The general healthiest pattern is emerging that consists mostly of nutrient dense whole foods that come from nature and includes few, if any highly processed foods. A closer look at this pattern recommends lots of vegetables and avoid sugar and refined grains.

When assessed for weight control, studies show that when individuals are divided into two major groups either low fat or low carbohydrate ,both groups lost weight – an average of 12 pounds, though some lost as much as 50 pounds. The participants also ate healthier and greatly improved their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes: body fat, waist size, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels all of which can contribute to heart disease and diabetes.

A most important recent finding is that eating healthy can make a difference in how well your immune system functions, so important now as it is greatly needed to fight COVID-19. 70 percent of our immune system resides in the gut; therefore we must become more aware of providing nutrients that feed these gut bacteria. Packaged foods create inflammation and hamper immunity. These include not only sweetened drinks, but breakfast cereals, refined bread and pasta. Look more toward whole grains. “A poor-quality diet loaded with sugar, saturated fat, salt, and chemicals is second to only to smoking in terms of its negative effects on health and lifespan,” says, Dr. Steven Heymsfield, professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who was part of the development of the 2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines.

The best diet is the one that you choose after looking at the evidence that provides healthy benefits. Dr. Heymsfield says: “You could even try a diet for several weeks while keeping track of how it affects your weight, level of hunger and fullness, your mood, blood pressure and level of energy. Then try another for a few weeks and compare the results.”

Source: Nutrition: Your Healthiest Diet, Special Health Edition. 2021

Big Food?

“Robert Goldstein, a hedge fund manager in New York, was getting huge cravings for sweets when he came across a tropical plant called Gymnema sylvestre that works a little like methadone for heroin addicts.” What does that have to do with “big food”? Too much, I’m afraid.

CLICK HERE.

UNHEALTHY PROCESSED FOOD AND SNACKS CAN LEAD TO OBESITY

Cancer, Diet and Lifestyle: What We Know

Cancer, Diet and Lifestyle

Cancer develops by complex processes that are not yet fully understood. It is thought that the risk of development begins when the DNA is damaged possibly by reactive oxygen molecules, toxins, viruses and other reactive substances within cells. This is called the initiation phase. Most of the time, DNA is successfully repaired. When that does not occur, the next phase called promotion occurs where cells with damaged DNA divide into localized areas of the body. This process can occur from 10 to 30 years (“lag time.”). If there is still no repair, the next phase called progression can result with uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells (metastasis) to other parts of the body (lung, liver, breast, bone, prostate, e.g.}.

According to Robert H, Lustig, MD, in his new book, Metabolical: The Lure and Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine, epigenetics plays a strong role in gene expression. “Epigenetics refers to changes in the areas around our genes that can cause them to be turned on or off. Think of it this way: epigenetics is the on-off switch attached to the dimmer in your living room chandelier. The gene is the lightbulb, the epigene is the light switch. If the light bulb is defunct or the switch is frozen in the “off” position, the dimmer function is useless.” This may partly explain whether a disease or its risk is turned on or off. (SJF)

The eight leading environmental factors (other than genetic) related to cancer development are:

Obesity

Low vegetable and fruit intake

Physical inactivity

Smoking

Excess alcohol intake

Unsafe sex

Air pollution

Hepatitis B or C viral infection

DIET MODIFICATIONS

Consume a nutrient dense, whole-foods diet that predominantly includes plant foods. As Michael Pollan puts it, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Plant foods are rich in nutrients and phytochemicals that work synergistically to prevent many chronic diseases, primarily heart disease and cancer. Evidence exists that up to 45% of colon cancer cases could be avoided through diet and lifestyle changes alone.

Limit your consumption of high-calorie dense foods, primarily in the form of ultra-processed foods that are major contributors to weight gain leading to type 2 diabetes, or insulin resistance.

Cancers of the liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon, rectum, breast, and bladder are at higher risks for developing in obesity. Being overweight also raises the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and gallbladder, liver, cervical, ovarian, and aggressive prostate cancers.

Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight. . The increased risk of disease appears to be due to a higher prevalence of metabolic disorders in many obese people. Approximately 70% of obese persons have two or more metabolic abnormalities such as:

Hypertension

Elevated triglycerides, glucose and/or insulin

Low HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”)

High C-reactive protein (a key marker of inflammation)

It may be helpful to be able to calculate your own weight status by using the Body Mass Index (BMI)You simply divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared X 703.

For example: BMI =140 pounds divided by 64 inches squared (4096) X 703 = 24.0. A healthy BMI is 20 – 24. Being underweight is considered a BMI of less than 19.0.

Limit your consumption of red meat (including beef, pork and lamb).  There are several reasons:

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies red meat as a “probably carcinogen”.  You don’t need to give up meat; however, an intake of up to 18 ounces a week can be safely consumed without too much concern. BTW, 4 oz. is about the size of a deck of cards.

Another factor that raises cancer risk is the overcooking of red meat that produces charred areas of the meat – goodbye grill marks?). These create carcinogenic hetero cyclic amines (HCAs) that have been linked to pancreatic and colon cancers.

Another carcinogenic compound comes from burning the fat from meat when grilling that produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), linked to stomach cancer.

Hint: Both compounds can be lessened by using a marinade on the meat.

Highly processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, and lunch meats are known for their nitrite and nitrate content used as preservatives.  Smoking meats can lead to the formation of N-nitroso compounds which are considered carcinogenic.

Avoid deep-fried foods. When cooked in this manner, foods are exposed to a chemical called acrylamide that increases the risk of prostate cancer.

There are other lifestyle factors that can influence epigenetically the risk of any chronic disease. Alcohol intake, for example is important due to the carcinogenic effects of alcohol itself. 

“Chronic inflammation, which is strongly associated with being overweight, can increase the risk of developing cancer.  Excess belly fat produces hormones that can raise levels of insulin, estrogen and leptin, all of which have been linked to cancer development.” (Finlayson, 2019). 

The interconnected factors that trigger chronic diseases are vast and subject to manipulation by the body as well as our microbial environment. It would be wise to attempt to take the best care of your body as you possibly can and begin at an early age.  Aging as you know itself becomes a central factor in the development of any chronic disease. In 1980, Dr. James Fries, Professor of Medicine, Stanford University introduced the compression of morbidity theory. This theory states that “most illness was chronic and occurred in later life and postulated that the lifetime burden of illness could be reduced if the onset of chronic illness could be postponed and if this postponement could be greater than increases in life expectancy.”). That theory tells it all. (Unknown source). SJF

Source: Judith Finlayson. You Are What Your Grandparents Ate: What You Need to Know About Nutrition, Experience, Epigenetics & the Origins of Chronic Disease, 2019

Judith E. Brown, Nutrition Now, 7th Edition, 2013