In November 2014, major media reported on ‘groundbreaking’ research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Headlines trumpeted that researchers had ‘discovered’ that a low-carbohydrate diet is effective for losing weight and improving heart health. Of course this so-called breakthrough is actually old news – since these findings have been circulating in popular culture since 1972. That was the year Dr. Robert Atkins first published his book Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution. The more recent publication of books about the ‘Paleolithic Diet’ (most notably by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.) have improved on Dr. Atkins’ original programme by taking the very long view of human diet patterns.
A brief review of this ‘breakthrough’ research: 60 adult research volunteers with no known diabetes or cardiovascular disease followed a low-fat diet, while another 59 followed a low-carb diet for 12 months. After those 12 months, compared to the low-fat group, the low-carb group had lost significantly more weight and fat. In addition, the low-carb dieters saw a significant improvement in their HDL cholesterol levels and their cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio, as well as their triglycerides.
LOSE pounds and GAIN heart health!
Could results like these be why Dr. Atkins sold over 100 million books? Was Dr. Atkins faithfully followed by so many because his diet actually worked? What a concept! Let’s quote the researchers: ‘The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.’
And yet, despite incredible results like these, Dr. Atkins and other low carb advocates have been the objects of much criticism for maintaining that a diet low in carbohydrates won’t only promote weight loss, but improve overall health. For the supposed reason why, let’s quote those researchers again: ‘Low-carbohydrate diets are popular for weight loss, but their cardiovascular effects have not been well studied…’
Of course if the cardiovascular effects of low-carb diets ‘have not been well studied’, it’s hard to not wonder what the criticism of low-carb diets has actually been based on. Clearly, it couldn’t be science since science requires actual research!
Drug pushers pan low-carb lifestyle
But of course there’s another reason for all the criticism: there’s far more money to be made by casting fat as the villain. When people believe fat’s the bad guy, it’s much easier to convince them that they should take more and more patent medicines to reach those always dropping cholesterol and triglyceride goals.
We can hope these or other researchers go further to ‘discover’ what many naturally-inclined doctors, nutritionists, and healthcare practitioners have known for decades: low-carb diets are the very best choice for those with a family history or personal tendency towards type 2 diabetes. This personal tendency manifests in younger individuals as low blood sugar symptoms, and in middle-aged and older people as metabolic syndrome, a constellation of symptoms made up of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, ‘central’ obesity, and osteoarthritis.
If you have diabetes 2, pre-diabetes 2, metabolic syndrome, or low blood sugar symptoms, then a lifetime low-carbohydrate diet is your dietary path towards a longer, healthier lifetime.Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Jonathan V. Wright
Nutrition & Healing
Vol. 9, Issue 2 • February 2015
Full references and citations for this article are available in the downloadable PDF version of the monthly Nutrition and Healing issue in which this article appears.