As you know, last week I began a modified diet prescribed by nutritionist in order to reverse my insulin resistance and improve my health. I was told that I would have to reduce my normal carb intake of around 50% to 20% and increase my fats similarly (from 20% to 50%). Not thinking much about the science behind why this would work, I began the meal plan and didn’t focus too much on it. After posting about the changes I was making, I received a comment from a blogger asking how it could possibly be healthy to consume such a large portion of fat–and it made me really question things. All our lives we have been told that a low fat diet rich in grains, fruits & veggies was the way to go. I mean it makes sense right? The more fatty things we consume–the more our arteries clog, our cholesterol sky rockets and the heavier we get. But maybe it’s not so simple. Maybe everything we’ve been taught–from the FDA food pyramid guidelines to our health classes–is slowly making us sicker. For a while now, research has been suggesting that this plan might be the leading reason behind the ever-increasing rates of diabetes, heart disease and many other life-threatening conditions. After many hours of searching reliable sources on the web and briefing though this book, I have compiled 6 reasons that stood out most to be regarding why going LCHF may be the one prescription we need for a long life absent of the leading killers in the country.
1. Our genetics are wired for it: Consider where we’ve come from and our ancestral heritage. For approximately 3 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago, humans lived off of diets similar to the LCHF. Looking into what comprised the meals of the Hunter Gatherers, meat, eggs, plentiful vegetation, nuts and small amounts of fruits/ starchy root vegetables seem consistent. These people very rarely tasted sweet–other than a few berries or a lick of honey if they could even manage to obtain it. Grains were not consumed because they weren’t edible without the cooking and processing we do today. It wasn’t until the agricultural revolution occurred and grains such as wheat and corn became a thriving industry. These grains provided food that was cheap and abundant. As the industry developed further, processed sugars and sweeteners made the carbs more palatable and addicting–turning into all the the goods we know today. So much money could be made though agriculture farming–it was plentiful and in demand–much cheaper than meat and produce. But science proves that our genetics are still very similar to what they were when we were Hunter Gatherers–10,000 years is not enough time for gene mutations to occur to allow us to be able to handle these grains. Just look around you–how many times a day do you hear about food intolerances, allergies, digestive troubles/diseases and so on. It is all too common–suggesting that we simply aren’t meant to consume the amount of carbs and added sugars that we do now. Furthermore, studies performed by anthropologists express that there was no such thing as heart disease or diabetes in our ancestral history beginning over 10,000 years ago–what does that tell us?
2. The American trend to follow a low fat diet made us sicker than we’ve ever been: In 1970, a physiologist named Ancel Keys published a study of seven different countries linking their increased fat consumption to a greater prevalence of heart disease, stroke and cholesterol problems. This study greatly influenced the American dietary recommendations for decades following. While everyone was getting on the low-fat band-wagon, research found Keys’ study to be very poor in evidence. As time went on, rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease soared–tripling, even quadrupling every few years. So what’s the culprit behind the skyrocketing rates? Carbs. If one can’t get their energy from carbs, the only other way to get it is from fat (while protein is a major essential nutrient too, it does not have the ability to be used for energy). So less fat=more carbs in order to get fuel. More carbs=USA it’s sickest and heaviest ever.
3. Carbs and the resulting insulin response cause our bodies to store & hold onto fat: Carbohydrates (starches, sugar, etc.) are broken down into glucose and sent into the blood stream. Insulin (the fat-storing hormone) is then secreted so that fat and muscle cells can absorb the sugar for storage. The more carbs consumed, the more sugar there is in the blood and the more insulin that must be secreted from the pancreas to control it. As insulin levels increase, the storing of nutrients in fat cells also increase and the body becomes resistant to giving up the fat (it gets increasingly hard to loose).This excess fat is especially evident around the mid-section. Moreover, when the body is repeatedly exposed to large quantities of insulin, the cells become more resistant to it, called insulin resistance. As a result, more of the hormone must be secreted in order to have the same response–this can ultimately lead to burnout, when the cells no longer respond to insulin, also known as Type II Diabetes. More insulin means increased fat storage. Because the carbs are quickly absorbed into the fat cells, in a few hours the blood will be void of fuel as blood sugar decreases and the body will be hungry again for more food–creating a vicious cycle. When less carbs are consumed, there is a reduced blood sugar response and decrease in insulin secretion. Less insulin secretion means the body can readily release the fat stores and likewise won’t store it as easily to begin with.
4. A High Carb, Low Fat diet leads to cholesterol problems, inflammation, Heart Disease, Diabetes and many other conditions : One of the forms of cholesterol known to be harmful to us is called low density LDL. It is produced by an amino acid released from the liver in response to a large consumption of carbohydrates. The small, dense particles are sticky and get caught in our blood vessels causing blockages and damage. Inflammation occurs because the body views the particle as foreign and tries to attack and remove it. As the blood vessels continue to transport nutrients through their damaged walls, irritation continues small cuts in the vessel lining occur, recruiting numerous clotting factors to heal the damage. Increased clotting, blockages and vascular resistance caused my inflammation put you straight in the line of fire for a stroke or other cardiovascular event. And that’s just the beginning– I encourage you to read this book to discover why hyperinsulinemia (the result of increased insulin production from excessive carb intake) is also a factor behind cancer, infertility, osteoporosis, degenerative disease and many more conditions. What it comes down to is that our modern lifestyle, rich in carbohydrates, leads to systemic inflammation through a variety of processes. Inflammation is the common ground upon which diseases emerge.
5. The chemical make-up of grains suggest their not meant for human consumption: While I read about this in a variety of sources, I felt Mark best summed this up: ” In order to survive and spread their genes, a grain uses anti-nutrients to dissuade animals from eating them. While grains represent an easy, cheap source of carbohydrates (which most people simply don’t need), they also contain proteins and lectins and other nutritional factors that impair digestion, perforate the intestinal lining, increase inflammation and can exacerbate or induce auto-immune diseases. Since the purpose of life is to reproduce and that grain has to make it into the ground to germinate, grains don’t want to be eaten, and they use the anti-nutrients to dissuade consumption in lieu of the running, climbing, flying, crawling, biting and stinging that animals use to survive”. Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/top-8-most-common-reactions-to-your-grain-free-diet-and-how-to-respond/#ixzz2IfUKkbUE
6. A Reduced Carb, Increased Fat diet can provide all the energy we need–in a satisfying way: If one isn’t using carbs as their main energy source, it must come from fat as the body cannot utilize protein for these purposes. After an adaptation period of 2-3 weeks, the body grows accustomed to releasing fat + breaking it down into the blood for a slow, constant energy source. In addition to the carbs one does eat (from starchy veggies, fruits or a portion or so of grain) fuel is produced via the breakdown of fat in amounts more than adequate to support healthy brain and bodily functions. Without the effects of excess insulin that normally holds tightly onto fat, the body is free to fill its energy requirement. What’s more is that the energy is more stably and readably provided–in absence of the roller coaster ride of increasing and plummeting blood sugars that leave you feeling hungry, tired and ready for more carbs. Fat, protein and minimal carbs are nutrient dense and slow digesting–leading to true satiety and an intact leptin-ghrenlin pathway (the hormones that control true hunger and satisfaction–often interrupted by high carb intake). As I briefly explained above and as you’ll find online and in countless studies–an increased fat intake in conduction with a reduced carb intake does not lead to Heart Disease, cholesterol issues, blah blah blah–in fact, it does just the opposite. So don’t be afraid of fat! Be afraid of our modern day, carb-loading society–that’s the culprit! It’s time to make some serious changes!
What to make of all this—-
First off, I’d like to say that this isn’t even a fraction of the information out there supporting this topic. I simply cannot even begin to touch on all of the support behind this movement and encourage you to perform your own research and browse some of the resources posted below. Secondly, I feel it’s important to emphasize that I’m not going crazy and obsessing over the need for a strict LCHF diet. What happened was that I simply investigated the science behind my dietitian’s recommendations to drastically reduce my carbs and costume at least 50% fat daily in order to reverse PCOS/insulin resistance. I initially felt that her recommendation couldn’t possibly be healthy–but my research lead me to understand how much I really didn’t know about nutrition. My newfound understanding has made me excited about the power I have over my health–it’s as simple as what I put into my body. I couldn’t wait to share this understanding with whoever is interested.
That being said–I believe in the founding principle behind my blog–creating balance. I think a strict diet sucks the joy out of life and prevents you from experiencing things fully. I’m thrilled to be armed with the knowledge behind the changes I’m making and plan to implement them most of the time. I know what’s good for me–so I’ll eat more of that. I know what’s bad for me–so I’ll eat less of that. It’s pretty simple. In the majority of instances, I’ll consume a reduced carb(not low) and increased fat diet. I’m not completely cutting out grains/starches and I’m most certainly going to consume delicious fruits and a Saturday night g-free pizza or sundae here and there. Eating well 80% of the time is sure as heck better than I used to be–and not at the expense of living a miserable, joy-free life!
More to come on this topic in the future as I continue with my research (maybe more specific, I realize I threw a lot of random info in your face). In the mean time, I’d greatly appreciate and welcome any thoughts or opinions that you have on regarding this lifestyle 🙂 thank you!
Check out these sources I found helpful–