Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Food Pharmacy - Some New Facts About Carbs

It's been a while since I did a Friday Food Pharmacy post!

Today's post is comprised of two recent news articles on carbs; one reporting that a low-carb diet is better for losing weight and lowering cholesterol; the second reports on how some carbs turn into fat very rapidly.

Personally, I eat according to my Metabolic Type, and so eat a moderate amount of meat, several handfuls of nuts every day, and have two veggies at every meal. The only grains I eat are a couple of crackers with cheese at dinner, and once in a while a slice of organic flax seed bread. I feel great, have lots of energy, almost never want a snack between meals, and am losing weight - the weight I put on when eating according to the Food Pyramid! I now know that grains are poison for me, and so I avoid them. Low-carb is definitely the way to go for me.

The only way you will know what is best for you is to read The Metabolic Typing Diet: Customize Your Diet to Your Own Unique Body Chemistry fill out the questionaire, and follow the program!

Meanwhile, here are today's stories on carbohydrates:

Study: Low-carb diet best for weight, cholesterol

By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer 2 hours, 24 minutes ago July 16, 2008

ATLANTA - The Atkins diet may have proved itself after all: A low-carb diet and a Mediterranean-style regimen helped people lose more weight than a traditional low-fat diet in one of the longest and largest studies to compare the dueling weight-loss techniques.

A bigger surprise: The low-carb diet improved cholesterol more than the other two. Some critics had predicted the opposite.

"It is a vindication," said Abby Bloch of the Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Foundation, a philanthropy group that honors the Atkins' diet's creator and was the study's main funder.

However, all three approaches — the low-carb diet, a low-fat diet and a so-called Mediterranean diet — achieved weight loss and improved cholesterol.

The study is remarkable not only because it lasted two years, much longer than most, but also because of the huge proportion of people who stuck with the diets — 85 percent.

Researchers approached the Atkins Foundation with the idea for the study. But the foundation played no role in the study's design or reporting of the results, said the lead author, Iris Shai of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Other experts said the study — being published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine — was highly credible.

"This is a very good group of researchers," said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

The research was done in a controlled environment — an isolated nuclear research facility in Israel. The 322 participants got their main meal of the day, lunch, at a central cafeteria.

"The workers can't easily just go out to lunch at a nearby Subway or McDonald's," said Dr. Meir Stampfer, the study's senior author and a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

In the cafeteria, the appropriate foods for each diet were identified with colored dots, using red for low-fat, green for Mediterranean and blue for low-carb.

As for breakfast and dinner, the dieters were counseled on how to stick to their eating plans and were asked to fill out questionnaires on what they ate, Stampfer said.

The low-fat diet — no more than 30 percent of calories from fat — restricted calories and cholesterol and focused on low-fat grains, vegetables and fruits as options. The Mediterranean diet had similar calorie, fat and cholesterol restrictions, emphasizing poultry, fish, olive oil and nuts.

The low-carb diet set limits for carbohydrates, but none for calories or fat. It urged dieters to choose vegetarian sources of fat and protein.

"So not a lot of butter and eggs and cream," said Madelyn Fernstrom, a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center weight management expert who reviewed the study but was not involved in it.

Most of the participants were men; all men and women in the study got roughly equal amounts of exercise, the study's authors said.

Average weight loss for those in the low-carb group was 10.3 pounds after two years. Those in the Mediterranean diet lost 10 pounds, and those on the low-fat regimen dropped 6.5.

More surprising were the measures of cholesterol. Critics have long acknowledged that an Atkins-style diet could help people lose weight but feared that over the long term, it may drive up cholesterol because it allows more fat.

But the low-carb approach seemed to trigger the most improvement in several cholesterol measures, including the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, the "good" cholesterol. For example, someone with total cholesterol of 200 and an HDL of 50 would have a ratio of 4 to 1. The optimum ratio is 3.5 to 1, according to the American Heart Association.

Doctors see that ratio as a sign of a patient's risk for hardening of the arteries. "You want that low," Stampfer said.

The ratio declined by 20 percent in people on the low-carb diet, compared to 16 percent in those on the Mediterranean and 12 percent in low-fat dieters.

The study is not the first to offer a favorable comparison of an Atkins-like diet. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year found overweight women on the Atkins plan had slightly better blood pressure and cholesterol readings than those on the low-carb Zone diet, the low-fat Ornish diet and a low-fat diet that followed U.S. government guidelines.

The heart association has long recommended low-fat diets to reduce heart risks, but some of its leaders have noted the Mediterranean diet has also proven safe and effective.

The heart association recommends a low-fat diet even more restrictive than the one in the study, said Dr. Robert Eckel, the association's past president who is a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado-Denver.

It does not recommend the Atkins diet. However, a low-carb approach is consistent with heart association guidelines so long as there are limitations on the kinds of saturated fats often consumed by people on the Atkins diet, Eckel said.

The new study's results favored the Atkins-like approach less when subgroups such as diabetics and women were examined.

Among the 36 diabetics, only those on the Mediterranean diet lowered blood sugar levels. Among the 45 women, those on the Mediterranean diet lost the most weight.

"I think these data suggest that men may be much more responsive to a diet in which there are clear limits on what foods can be consumed," such as an Atkins-like diet, said Dr. William Dietz, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It suggests that because women have had more experience dieting or losing weight, they're more capable of implementing a more complicated diet," said Dietz, who heads CDC's nutrition unit.


On the Net:

New England Journal:


Some Carbs Turn to Fat Fast in Your Body

According to new research, people on low-carb diets lose weight in part because they get less fructose, a type of sugar that can be made into body fat quickly.

The study shows that the type of carbs someone eats can be as important as the amount. Although fructose is naturally found in high levels in fruit, it is also added to many processed foods, especially in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.

For the study, six healthy people performed three different tests involving drinking various mixes of glucose and fructose. Researchers found that fructose turned into body fat much more quickly, and that having it for breakfast changed how the body handled fats at lunch.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It’s great to find this study is bringing some attention to the dangers of fructose. So often it’s mistakenly labeled as a “healthy” form of sugar, when in reality too much fructose will pack on the pounds faster than a buffet of French fries and Krispy Cremes.

If you need to lose weight, fructose is one type of sugar you’ll want to avoid, particularly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Actually, even if you don’t need to lose weight, you should still avoid excess fructose if you want to stay healthy.

Eating + Fructose = Fat

Part of what makes HFCS such an unhealthy product is that it is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar.

"Our study shows for the first time the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose," said Dr. Elizabeth Parks, associate professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center and lead author of the study in Science Daily.

“Once you start the process of fat synthesis from fructose, it's hard to slow it down," she said. “ … The bottom line of this study is that fructose very quickly gets made into fat in the body."

How does this happen?

Well, most fats are formed in your liver, and when sugar enters your liver, it decides whether to store it, burn it or turn it into fat. Fructose, however, bypasses this process and turns full speed ahead into fat.

"It's basically sneaking into the rock concert through the fence," Dr. Parks told Science Daily. "It's a less-controlled movement of fructose through these pathways that causes it to contribute to greater triglyceride [i.e. fat] synthesis.”

Ironically, the very products that most people rely on to lose weight -- low-fat diet foods -- are often those that contain the most fructose! Even “natural” diet foods often contain fructose as a sweetener.

Fat is Not the Only Downside to Fructose

Aside from the weight gain, eating too much fructose is linked to increases in triglyceride levels. In one study, eating fructose raised triglyceride levels by 32 percent in men!

Triglycerides, the chemical form of fat found in foods and in your body, are not something you want in excess amounts. Intense research over the past 40 years has confirmed that elevated blood levels of triglycerides, known as hypertriglyceridemia, puts you at an increased risk of heart disease.

Meanwhile, one of the most thorough scientific analyses published to date on this topic found that fructose consumption leads to “decreased signaling to the central nervous system from 2 hormones (leptin and insulin).”

Leptin is responsible for controlling your appetite and fat storage, as well as telling your liver what to do with its stored glucose. When your body can no longer “hear” leptin’s signals, weight gain, diabetes and a host of related conditions may occur.

“The long-term consumption of diets high in … fructose is likely to lead to increased energy intake, weight gain, and obesity,” the analysis concluded. “The potential for weight gain from increased fructose consumption may only represent one aspect of its metabolic consequences.”

Are You Eating More Fructose Than You Realize?

Since the 1970s the consumption of HFCS in the United States has skyrocketed. The largest contributor is easily soda (The number one source of calories in America!), for which HFCS is the primary sweetener. But HFCS is not only in sugary drinks. It’s in the vast majority of processed foods, even those you wouldn’t think of as sweet, such as ketchup, soup, salad dressing, bread and crackers.

So even if you don’t drink soda, if you eat processed foods you’re likely consuming fructose -- and a lot of it.

Beware of HFCS Propaganda

To further complicate matters, the Corn Refiners Association recently launched a major advertising and PR campaign designed to rehabilitate HFCS’ reputation. The group is spending $20 million to $30 million on the campaign, including running full-page ads in more than a dozen major newspapers, claiming that the product is no worse for you than sugar.

This, of course, is not true.

The Corn Growers Association wants you to believe that HFCS has the "same natural sweeteners as table sugar and honey." But don’t fall for it. HFCS is highly processed and does not exist anywhere in nature.

The Safest Sweeteners Around?

Ideally I recommend that you avoid sugar, in all forms. This is especially important for people who are overweight or have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

But if you’re looking for the occasional sweet treat, I recommend, in this order:

1. The herb stevia (this is the best and safest sweetener, although illegal to use according to the FDA)
2. Raw, organic honey
3. Organic cane sugar

I recommend avoiding all other types of sugar, including fructose, HFCS, and any type of artificial sweeteners. The easiest way to do this is to stop drinking soda and stop eating processed foods.

Small amounts of whole fruit, which do contain fructose, are not a problem. If you’re healthy, you can enjoy fruit in moderation according to your nutritional type.


You can find your Nutritional Type by filling out the quesionaire in the book

You'll love what it does for your holistic health and wellness!!