Friday, February 01, 2008
LA Times Article/Q&A:
Science journalist Gary Taubes thinks we've got it all wrong about fat and carbohydrates. In his new book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control and Disease," Taubes argues that a diet rich in carbohydrates -- not excess calories or a sedentary lifestyle -- makes people fat and unhealthy. The book expands on his controversial, 2002 cover story for the New York Times Magazine in which he argued that a diet high in fat and low in carbs, similar to the Atkins diet, was more effective at controlling weight and preventing disease.
What do you want readers to take away from the book?
I want them to see how little real evidence there is to blame heart disease on dietary fat and cholesterol. I want them to see the evidence for blaming it on sugar, white flour and easily digestible starches like potatoes and rice. I want them to understand that it's not crackpot to say that these diseases could be caused by carbohydrates; it's a legitimate conclusion from the existing evidence. I want readers to understand that obesity is not about the quantity of calories we consume -- it's about the quality. Then I want them to give the book to their doctors.
If carbs make you fat, how do they do that? What's the mechanism?
You secrete insulin in response to carbohydrates -- and insulin drives fat accumulation. It's that simple. What's more, you actually need carbohydrates to store fat in fat tissue. And to get fat out of the fat tissue, you need to lower insulin levels. Other hormones like adrenaline and growth hormone also work to get fat out of the fat tissue, but they won't do it successfully when insulin levels are high -- insulin will override that.
And carbs also make you sick?
There's more than a century of evidence showing that when you add sugar, flour and white rice to any traditional diet, you will get obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and half a dozen other so-called diseases of civilization. It doesn't matter whether the traditional diet was high in fat and protein, like the Inuit diet, or an agrarian diet. Add these easily digestible carbs, and you get these diseases.
What's the evidence that carbs could cause cancer or Alzheimer's, as you contend in your book?
Primarily, that the risk for these diseases increases if you are diabetic or obese. As I argue in the book, this suggests that high blood sugar and insulin can be causative factors. With Alzheimer's, one symptom is the accumulation of a protein called amyloid. That protein is cleared from the brain by a protein called IDE, which happens to stand for "insulin degrading enzyme." Its primary job is to degrade insulin. Raise insulin levels and there's not enough IDE left to get rid of amyloid. This isn't controversial. It's just that Alzheimer's researchers rarely consider why there might be too much insulin to begin with -- i.e., because of carbohydrate-rich diets.
How could carbs cause cancer?
For starters, cancer cells require an enormous amount of fuel to proliferate. And so cancer cells evolve to be incredibly sensitive to insulin. Raise insulin levels, and tumor cells get the fuel they need to divide and multiply. If insulin binds to receptors on the surface of these cancer cells, they can suck in more blood sugar. So the more blood insulin is available, the more blood sugar gets into these cells. Also, insulin increases the availability of a growth factor that's been shown to cause tumor cells to go from benign to malignant and then metastasize.
What is the evidence that the low-carb Atkins diet is healthy?
First, all you're doing is not eating foods that none of us ate up until a few hundred or thousand years ago. The clinical trials show that people lose more weight on the Atkins diet than on low-fat diets or low-calorie diets, and their cholesterol profiles improve. HDL, the "good" cholesterol, goes up. Triglycerides, which are risk factors for heart disease, go down. Blood pressure goes down. All of these should reduce the risk of heart disease.
So is there no evidence that the mainstream low-fat diet is healthy?
Well, the mainstream medical community believes low-fat diets are healthy, at least low-saturated-fat diets are healthy, based almost entirely on the idea that statin drugs reduce the incidence of heart disease in high-risk patients and also lower LDL "bad" cholesterol. By their logic, a diet that lowers LDL cholesterol should also be a healthy diet. That's their fundamental piece of evidence.
Does that convince you?
I think it's insane. A statin is a drug -- we don't know what else it's doing. And what a drug does and what a diet does are entirely different things. Moreover, there's actually evidence that the benefit of statins comes from mimicking the effect of a low-carbohydrate diet, not a low-fat diet.
Could part of the reason for the obesity epidemic be the official recommendation to eat a low-fat diet?
To some extent. Diet is a trade-off. If you tell people to eat less fat, they're going to replace the fat with carbohydrates. The amount of protein we all eat stays relatively stable. So low-fat diets, by definition, are high-carb diets, and high-carb diets are fattening.
Does the time of the obesity epidemic coincide with public recommendations to eat carbs?
The evidence shows it began sometime between 1976 and 1986. In 1977, a congressional committee officially advised the entire nation to eat less fat and more carbohydrates, and then it sort of ballooned from there. That 1977 report was written by one well-meaning congressional staffer with no science and nutrition background, based on effectively two days of testimony and maybe three months of amateurish research. The apex of the movement was in 1984, when the National Institutes of Health held what they called a consensus conference and recommended that everyone over the age of 2 should eat low-fat, high-carb diets.
And the science wasn't there to back that up?
It's never been demonstrated that people who eat these "healthy" low-fat diets live longer, which is, after all, what we all hope to do. The latest example was the Women's Health Initiative trial -- published two years ago -- of 49,000 women. It cost upward of half a billion dollars, and it simply failed to confirm the idea that if you eat less fat or more fruits and vegetables or more fiber or less meat you will live longer.
The traditional view also holds that with exercise you can lose weight. Do you exercise?
Yes, I've always been a jock. But one thing that used to be obvious and has lately been forgotten is that exercise makes you hungry. Remember the concept of "working up an appetite." You go for a walk, for a hike, play 18 holes, you work up an appetite. The point is, if you expend more calories, you'll consume more calories. Your body doesn't want to give up the fat in fat tissue, and so it tries to replenish it. You work out; you get hungry. When I interviewed people who study exercise and weight, they would tell me, "We don't understand why when people exercise, they don't lose weight," and I'd say, "They get hungry." And it's like they'd never thought about it -- that the possibility never crossed their mind.
What's the evidence?
Well, there's no evidence that people or animals lose weight when exercising -- unless their diets are also restricted. Some animals -- hamsters and gerbils, for instance -- get fatter if they exercise. One recent study of 13,000 runners concluded that even those people who ran 40 miles a week, say 8 miles five times a week (that's a lot of running) gained weight year in year out.
If exercise doesn't make you lean, then too little exercise doesn't make you fat?
Simply put, yes. One of the things that's been known for decades is that the poor tend to be fatter than the rich. The poorer you are, the fatter you're likely to be. And the poorer you are, the more likely your job will require manual labor. Ditch diggers and housekeepers expend more energy than bond traders and fashion consultants. So how can you blame obesity on sedentary behavior? And how can you blame obesity on genetics alone, when you see this disparity in obesity rates across income brackets? Something is making these people fat, and it's not that they expend less energy than the wealthy.
And you have been on a low-carb, high-fat diet for five years?
I just don't eat the kind of easily digestible carbohydrates that were known for 150 years to make us fat and that biology tells us should make us fat. I don't eat bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and desserts anymore. I eat as much as I like of everything else and I remain lean.
How much weight did you lose when you first went on this low-carb diet?
There was one point when I was down about 25 pounds and my wife complained that I looked emaciated. Then I probably floated back up 15 pounds. I am about 12 pounds lower now than I was when I started the diet.
Thanksgiving is coming up -- are you going to be eating the turkey or the stuffing?
I'll have some stuffing because I like it, but I'll probably avoid the pumpkin pie.
Friday, February 01, 2008
I've been waiting to write about Gary Taubes' book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (US version. In AU and NZ, it's "The Diet Deception" I think) so I could collect my thoughts - I get overwhelmed with the weight of the evidence I've seen and even lived through myself. I see it everywhere and it boggles my mind. Here's one nugget:
When I first moved to OK, I met and got to know my neighbor by taking walks together around the neighborhood. She met me at my worst - right before my celiac diagnosis. She's my witness to my transformation. She watched me gain weight - even split my pants once bending over to pick up the newspaper! A little embarrassing to say the least. We laugh now, but my subsequent weight gain after instituting a gf diet needed to STOP! That's how I found SP!
We are like Laurel and Hardy on the road, too! (And we call their family "The Flanders" and we're "The Simpsons" - LOL). She's the tallest, thinnest person I have ever known, and I'm the shortest and fattest in the neighborhood. Opposites attract? LOL. Well, I just got lucky to have her in my life. She's a beautiful Christian woman who is a very kind and pure of heart. I mention her for a couple reasons related to gluten. When her father died (can't remember actual cause right now), but he had macular degeneration and was blind. He was a lifetime baker who worked very early morning hours baking bread for store delivery (*visions of flour in the air and baker's asthma are floating in my head*). (Her sister had colon cancer found during an unrelated colonscopy procedure, and has IBS).
Since my diagnosis I tell her of what I learn every time we walk. I try to tell her that macular degeneration could be from gluten ingestion and lack of nutrients. She's not convinced I can sense it. Then I share that I saw a local news piece about preventing macular degeneration ... to curb the carbs! So, I go on a search.
The first link in a google search for macular degeneration was from allaboutvision.com - I wanted to see if they mentioned carbs. Nope, not this site. However, there is mention that it's hereditary (so are gluten problems), tends to those who are obese and sedentary (hmm, eating gluten carbs, sugar and tired?), prone to those who are over age 65 (undiagnosed gluten problems?), white and fair-eyed (oh, from Europe like so many celiacs?) First tx discussed: drugs, of course. Second, to add nutrients zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins C & E and omega-3s. They discourage omega 6's which they say are from vegetable oils (concealing that breads and carbs etc, are made with a lot of veggie oils/omega 6s).
Ironic? Just part of what I *see* in regards to gluten everyday. My neighbor's a smart cookie; but not versed about this subject, so I'm patient. Her husband's an ENT doctor, so I'm thinking there's an air of ... I dunno, that they'd know about it, right? I'm ever so subtle in sharing info ... and to make another story short, I have HIM thinking about his own diet and gluten :). I send articles about autoimmune hearing loss once in a while :). Same with his partner who lives across the street. More on them another time.
Okay - so now the topic at hand for today's thoughts: Heart disease and gluten. Today on The View, the spokesperson for The American Heart Association (and Campbell's), Toni Braxton, is a guest. She has pericarditis - diagnosed after her second son, Diezel, was born. Read about pericarditis here: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/ar
ticle/000182.htm . Hmm, could be viral in origin (like a trigger for celiac?) and is more prone to those with autoimmune problems (hello celiac, hypothyroidism, etc). I, too, have a heart thang going on. I had a history of bronchitis. She had childhood asthma (didn't know it could go away).
And if you didn't know, Diezel has autism. Hmmm. Are you seeing a connection for gluten problems here? I wonder if she's eating gluteny Campbell's food? Actually, she said as much by advertising their vegetable juice (low sodium/regular V-8 is gf!) and low-sodium soups. ( :( on most all their soups - they are gluteny).
There's too much to say about Gary Taubes' book. Simply put: this book is yet another (EXHAUSTIVE and well researched) display of how our culture has been duped by science and politics.
There's room for much discussion, yes? I esp appreciate what Dr. Weil says about our having a genetic tendency to weight gain and that carbs do us wrong (in the active blog link at the bottom). Oh. Also an interesting thing I noticed about Joy Behar - she kinda drives me crazy because everytime they have an author on about diets, she poo-poos them and says, "Oh how can you do that - take out all those foods?" - she did that with the author of the Martha's Vineyard Detox Diet and I cringed. She's always on a diet and couldn't live without her carbs she said. Well, nowadays she's mentioned in passing that she's low carb now ... my how we change! She's an Italian for heaven's sake - Italians have a high incidence for gluten problems!
Please read these blurbs and esp comments from readers.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Well, whatever it takes to get me thin - I'm in! LOL
I found this to be entertaining. Paul McKenna is big in the UK (why didn't my UK friends share him?) ... He was a DJ inspired by an interview with a hypnotist and his new career was born. He's now inspiring others including Tony Robbins, et al. You can check him out on Amazon as well as You Tube.
Also, he incorporates "Tapping" into his regime. This is a very valid technique suggested by holistic doctors and I learned about through Dr. Mercola's "No Grain Diet" book. It's based on teachings of Gary Craig: http://www.emofree.com/. Mr. McKenna credits Roger Callahan, who has a site: http://www.tftrx.com. (Note: The You Tube link doesn't always work - don't know why. So if it doesn't, just put Paul McKenna's name in the search field ... or I CAN MAKE YOU THIN)
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thank you to Dragonfly88 over in Whole Foods for sharing this link. THIS is what I'm talking about! :)
How many people do you know who got fat on veggies?
Friday, December 14, 2007
Just thought this might brighten someone's day. It did mine :).
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