Shoddy science used (again) in an attempt to discredit low-carb eating

Last Friday’s blog featured a study presented recently at an American Diabetes Association symposium. It found that in a group of individuals with type 2 diabetes, a low-carb diet led to statistically significant reductions in weight, as well as blood sugar and triglyceride levels compared to a low-fat diet. In this blog, I also attempted to put the findings of this study in the context of published research which, taken as a whole, supports the notion that controlling carbohydrate intake has considerable merit to enhance health.

Go back to this post and you will see that it is followed by a response by ‘Chris’, whose previous comments inform me is a dietician. The main point of her comments, it seems, is to draw our attention to a study which purportedly links low-carb eating with colon cancer. The message appears to be that restricting carb is putting people in mortal danger – it’s a common theme put about by low-carb detractors.

So, today, I thought I’d take moment to have a good look at the study supposedly linking low-carb eating to colon cancer, to see if the facts stack up.

Because the study is unpublished (a problem in itself, see point 8 below), I haven’t been able to discern its precise design. I’ve gleaned what I can from the Rowett Research Institute in the UK (where the work was conducted) website here.

From what I can make out, the participants in this study comprised a group of 19 men, who were fed 400 g of carbohydrate each day for 3 days, followed by 160 g of carbohydrate a day for a month, followed by 24 g of carbohydrate for another month. Samples were taken to assess levels of certain bacteria in the gut (not specified in the report) as well as levels of butyrate – a substance made by gut bacteria that is linked with reduced risk of colon cancer in lab experiments.

It seems that the levels of certain gut bacteria and butyrate after feeding individuals160 and 24 g of carb were compared to those found after feeding the men 400 g of carb a day.

Basically, it appears (again, I cannot be sure because the report is less than transparent) that eating 24 g of carbs per day, compared to eating 400 g per day, led to a ‘four-fold reduction’ in levels of the type bacteria being measured. The report also states that butryrate levels reduced too, but neglects to tell us by how much, and if the reduction was statistically significant.

Nevertheless, Professor Flint (the lead researcher in this study) is quoted in reference to low-carb diets that: In the long run, it is possible that such diets could contribute to colorectal cancer.

The report does tell us that two of the diets led to loss of body weight and fat, but (curiously) neglects to tell us which of the three diets these were.

Never mind, let’s now focus more specifically on some other specifics that I think need to be borne in mind when interpreting this piece of ‘science’.

1. The very low-carb group were allowed just 24 g of carbohydrate a day. This barely more that is permitted in the induction phase of the Atkins’ diet, and a level of carb consumption that individuals will generally not sustain – nor would generally be advised to sustain (not even on ‘Atkins’) in the long term.

2. The highest carb intake of participants in this study was 400 g per day. This is substantially higher carb intake than is conventionally recommended. It’s therefore not a benchmark against which to measure the effects of carbohydrate restriction.

3. Butyrate is believed to be what is known as a ‘surrogate marker’ for colon cancer. We do not know if lower butyrate levels (unspecified) would actually lead to an increased risk of colon cancer in the long term. And even if this is the case, how do we know that other effects of carb restriction won’t offset this risk or even reduce overall risk? The answer is, we don’t.

4. Butyrate is found in generally high quantities in foods traditionally permitted on low-carb regimes (e.g. butter and cheese).

5. Professor Flint’s quote that: In the long run, it is possible that such diets could contribute to colorectal cancer is nothing but hypothesis/opinion. I suggest we all remain mindful of the fact that study did not actually show that eating a low-carb diet increases colon cancer risk. It showed that a very low carb diet after an extremely high carb diet led to reductions (unspecified) in the level of a substance which appears in lab experiments to reduce colon cancer risk.

6. Lower carbohydrate eating has been found to be beneficial for weight reduction and for the reduction in markers that would expect to reduce the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

7. Higher carbohydrate diets have been linked with an increased risk of some forms of cancer.

8. And last but not least: Professor Flint’s study is unpublished. This makes it impossible to appraise properly. Though, even on the limited facts he has shared with the press, there is much about this study that is clearly inadequate from a ‘scientific’ perspective.

So, in summary, I’d be disinclined to let this sort of poor and unpublished science to ‘scare’ individuals off a dietary approach which has, it seems, very broad benefits for health.

This Professor-led Rowett Research Institute study is, to my mind, a classic example of the sort of quite rubbishy science that is dredged up by those keen to discredit the concept of low/controlled carb eating.

My sincere hope is that when ‘Chris’ uses this research to inform and educate her dietetic clients, she at least points out its manifold deficiencies and puts it in the context of existing evidence.

26 Responses to Shoddy science used (again) in an attempt to discredit low-carb eating

  1. chris 11 July 2007 at 1:29 pm #

    john – i posted it as this board is totally one sided – it never ever posts anything other than low carb. I am at work and do not have a reference but a few weeks ago a study in an american journal showed that the incidence of diabetes was higher in those who ate cereals – but as usaul you will not post on anything unless it is low carb. There is enough research to show the benefits of fibre and low carb often means low fibre – unless of course your clients are again different!

  2. Dr John Briffa 11 July 2007 at 2:13 pm #

    Chris
    “i posted it as this board is totally one sided – it never ever posts anything other than low carb.”

    That’s not true. Have a look through the archive (even a cursory glance will do) and you will see that a wide variety of topics are covered on this site e.g. yoga, fluoride, vitamin D…

    And even if you do believe that this site is ‘one-sided’, that does not seem to me to justify your posting of a piece of very poorly conducted and unpublished science in an effort to support your stance.

    “I am at work and do not have a reference but a few weeks ago a study in an american journal showed that the incidence of diabetes was higher in those who ate cereals”

    A study that shows that the incidence of diabetes was higher in those who ate cereals only helps to make my point, doesn’t it?

    “There is enough research to show the benefits of fibre and low carb often means low fibre – unless of course your clients are again different!”

    Please provide some of that research when you have time. And anyway, why can’t individuals get their fibre from foods such as fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds?

  3. chris 11 July 2007 at 7:40 pm #

    my wording – sorry the people who didnt eat grains developed diabetes – my fault was surfing between patients. It was a study of nurses I think.

    John – people eat grains and dairy and I reckon will continue to do so – most are fed up with all the do this do that – dont u see that . To the average lay person your diet seems a fad. Dont u get the fact that if people stopped junk their health would improve?

    Low carb advocates have a very closed opinion in my humble opinion and havent studies also shown that low carb gives low seratonin levels – makes people grumpy. I have certainly found this with atkins dieters. I am not advocating really high cho intakes but I have plenty of diabetics who are in the 150-200g low GI type food who have brilliant bs and good hbais – and they are happy!

    I have a problem with my laptop – it was taken away this aft – I hope that I can find the ref when I get it back . It was a study published about 3 weeks ago – I cannot remember where but an american journal… I have just been looking at your recipes – did I read that some chefs devised them?

  4. Dr John Briffa 11 July 2007 at 8:43 pm #

    “Low carb advocates have a very closed opinion in my humble opinion and havent studies also shown that low carb gives low seratonin levels – makes people grumpy. I have certainly found this with atkins dieters.”

    Again, Chris, you have made claims about the ‘hazards’ of low-carb eating that you have not, it seems, been able to substantiate.

    This site and my book contain literally dozens of studies that show carbohydrate control brings broad benefits for health, and repeatedly you pour scorn on this approach but, up until this point, have not been able to provide any decent science to support your view. And then you accuse advocates of carb-control of being close-minded. Kinda hypocritical, don’t you think?

  5. chris 11 July 2007 at 9:08 pm #

    nope i dont think so – there is a ton of evidence about healthy eating – i have no intention of spending hours putting it here – u know there is and u choose to ignore it. Long term low carbing or no carbing as some call it has nothing to offer – except to sell books. I see patients and private clients day in day out – all tried it but cannot sustain it. maybe u are the exception. TBH u constantly have snipes at dietitians and properly trained nutritionists and so do your posters but actually we are a well respected profession with good training and accountabilty. And we can cook – dont need chefs – i have been looking at your recipes – would not offer very much variety !

  6. Glenice 11 July 2007 at 10:12 pm #

    Keep up the good work Dr. Briffa, the more people there are like you, the more the shoddy reporting of research science will be exposed. In my view there needs to be a HUGE change in the way dieticians are trained, they are literally killing diabetics with their advice. This is from a type 2 who for 8 years followed the standard diabetic diet rules emphatically, only to end up on myriad drugs, insulin and the beginning of kidney disease. It was blogs like yours, M Eades, and particularly Dr Richard Bernstein where I finally found REAL help and am now after 18 months off insulin and most drugs and no kidney disease at all. Lipids are better than they have ever been in my life – all on 30 or less grams of carbs per day!

    I am sure your site as well as the others I have mentioned have saved lives and there really is nowhere else that diabetics can get worthwhile information, certianly not with the standard medical and dietician advice. My goodness, 200g of carbs per day, how can anyone in their right mind tell diabetics to eat that many carbs in a day, oh yes of course, just cover it with insulin. Have any of them ever read Dr Rosedale’s Insulin and its metabolic effects? I doubt it!

    Sorry for the rant, but I have been on the wrong side of this so-called healthy advice and it nearly ruined my life.

    Thanks again Dr Briffa I look forward to your posts.

  7. Dr John Briffa 12 July 2007 at 6:39 am #

    Glenice
    No need to apologise for the ‘rant’ – your story is all too familiar.

    Chris
    As usual, your last post is full of rhetoric, but devoid of substance or science. I’m not sure you’re doing the image of your profession much good, quite frankly.

  8. chris 12 July 2007 at 7:02 am #

    john u are very patronising man and rather arrogant. I was actually rather irritaed by the the lack of practical advice on here – any one can google anything on the web – i have no intentions of doing that for you. My feeling is that is an I luv dr john website – not one person has diagreed with a single thing u have said!!
    I think it is a waste of time posting anything but what i am trying to make people realise is that in reality the vast majority of people in the UK will NOT follow your advice as it is based on hypothosis.

  9. Dr John Briffa 12 July 2007 at 7:50 am #

    “My feeling is that is an I luv dr john website – not one person has diagreed with a single thing u have said!!”

    If readers love anything here, it’s not me, but the information. Not the messenger, but the message. And again, you have got your facts wrong – there are indeed plenty of comments on this site that come from people who disagree with something I have written or my stance.

    “I think it is a waste of time posting anything but what i am trying to make people realise is that in reality the vast majority of people in the UK will NOT follow your advice as it is based on hypothosis.”

    Actually, the book is based on mere ‘hypothesis’, but about 350 scientific references (again, ignore them if you like but they are there) and my clinical experience with literally thousands of individuals.

  10. Kate 13 July 2007 at 9:19 am #

    I think Chris is missing the point here.
    People read Dr Briffa and either agree with him or they don’t and then they stop reading his dietary advice.
    So most of the people who subscribe to this blog are those who have found that the traditional low fat advice for high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, etc just doesn’t work for them.
    Also, those who have been through the statin drugs and who have found that they don’t work. There we are, being told that these are ‘wonder drugs’ and that they will save our lives and then to discover that our cholesterol lipid profile has not improved. That is a rather frightening prognosis UNTIL we discover that a low carbohydrate diet will work better with lots of omega oils to bump up the HDL.

    The people who follow this type of diet do it because ‘normal’ dietary advice doesn’t work for them. So why does Chris feel that he/she must come and put us right?
    I don’t know.
    Yes, Chris’s advice would work for a junk-food addict. Someone without the emotional intelligence to follow a sensible diet, needs a dietician.
    But those people won’t be reading this blog.

  11. Linda Collier 13 July 2007 at 12:40 pm #

    I don’t understand why people need to eat so many carbs, and why Chris feels we do. Many carbs are rubbish food i.e. cakes, donuts, crisps, sugary cereals. If you eat the healthy cereals your carb levels automatically fall. Potatoes are not essential to life, neither is white rice, pasta and all the processed foods. I hate them all and find the basic whole food is much more flavoursome and enjoyable to eat than white . anaemic sludge.

  12. deborah booth 13 July 2007 at 12:54 pm #

    I think that Kate has got to the root of this argument… she observes that perhaps Chris is seeing a lot of patients who eat junk, but there are many like myself who have never eaten junk food, but now follow a fairly low carb way of eating and consequently (especially in middle age) can keep their weight reasonable, their blood sugar swings completely controlled, their mood continuously good,their food cravings(which was once for me always bread) have gone, all by this way of eating. How can you say low fibre?? I eat mainly fruit and veg,( 15 portions, maybe more ,I dont count, not 5 as per the government) as much as I want, with some meat , cheese and eggs, yoghurt, soy milk and snacks of nuts. I am no longer constantly hungry. My point is that you have to be an educated, interested enthusiatic type , for this to work not a supermarket – meat, fad follower, poor diet type in the first place.
    I am appalled at the average diet and supermarket purchases of the western world these days, so perhaps we should not be damming Chris so roundly as she has an uphill task to even begin to re educate her patients into any form of reasonable food habits!

  13. Steve T 13 July 2007 at 1:11 pm #

    I wish this debate was less emotional and more fact-based. It seems like people feel compelled to join one camp or another and draw up battle lines. I have seen this from low-carbers, though that is not the case here. John has faithfully presented evidence that supports his hypothesis regarding the negative effects of excess carbohydrates. He is under no obligation to present information that might support the opposition’s hypothesis. Call that one-sided if you must, but don’t deny the science. Rather than merely mentioning web articles, John has footnoted his information in a truly scientific manner.

    As one who has had great success with the low-carb nutritional approach, I can offer lots of anecdotal experience for the health benefits I have received from this approach. Nevertheless, my experience is merely anecdotal. If I were part of a formal study, my experience would gain value due to the diligent presentation of the results in an unemotional scientific peer-reviewed publication.

    Chris, please don’t expect to find evidence here that supports the views of your “camp”. Rather, consider the science being presented. Read the studies. The conclusions are undeniable. Just because you came of age during the period of history where the low-fat/high-carb approach was in vogue (1970-2000) don’t assume everything you were taught is correct. You are in fact the victim of a one-sided presentation based on the hypothesis of the medical establishment of the era. You accuse John of ignoring “a ton of evidence”, but your profession has done that very thing for a generation, coincidentally a generation that has spawned record rates of heart disease and diabetes.

    Perhaps you owe your professional existence to the LF/HC approach… your waiting room is full of it’s victims.

  14. Julie 13 July 2007 at 3:08 pm #

    I have followed low-carb for 5 years (after being diagnosed with insulin resistance / pre-diabetes & polycystic ovary syndrome / PCOS) and have never felt better, over 6 stone lost, 90% of acne cleared / better skin, drastically improved moods, less tiredness, improved sleep, regular periods, I really am dedicated for life. It is natural food (i.e. from animals & plants), not processed packaged stuff that people believe to be “healthy”. Fibre is not essential for good bowel health, my old low-fat high-fibre diet is the worst way I could ever have eaten!

    I believe most people can’t/won’t stick to a low-carb way of eating because they’ve become too addicted to junk food, big plates of chips, bread, pasta, etc!

  15. alan 13 July 2007 at 8:36 pm #

    Don’t look at this post for any “evidence” scientific or otherwise. I can only tell you how I feel. I am not a diabetic or as far as I know have any other problems except a desire to lose some weight – not massive amounts but a stone or two – slowly – and get my body fat levels down a bit.

    I registered on http://www.fatmanslim.com (brilliant site and brilliant name, don’t laugh) and followed the advice – except that I ate a lower proportion of carbs and higher proportion of fat/protein than advised there, and more nuts, fruit etc (probably as a consequence of hearing Dr Briffa at a company training course). But I did pick up the advice about eating slowly and “listening” to my body and only eating when I was hungry and not out of habit.

    What do you know – I lost a stone in seven weeks with no effort and then plateaued. I have been happy with that for a few months but am now going to have another go at losing a few more pounds. My body fat levels have come down nearly to “normal” levels.

    What I have learned in the meantime is what I eat which causes my weight to go up for a few days (only by a pound or two), what when it comes back down again, and how I feel. I have no doubt that I feel lighter, more energetic, and generally healthier when I eat a low glycaemic diet.

    Make of that what you will. I have no axe to grind except my own health.

  16. Hellistile 14 July 2007 at 3:12 am #

    I think Steve T hit the nail on the head. Chris is a victim of her era and is completely unreceptive to any alternative theories. What does she think man ate 50, 100, 1000, 1 million years ago if she considers low-carb a fad diet? Has she even glanced at the traditional diets of healthy hunter gatherers? What in the world did we eat before whole wheat bread, unfermented soy or cereal was invented and hailed as super-foods? Who says fibre is found only in cereals? What about the best fibre of all – berries and leafy greens, nutritious and delicious at the same time.

    I’ll continue eating low glycemic vegetables and fruits, butter, eggs, cream, full fat cheese, all meats, fish, seeds and nuts and continue to lose weight, feel the best I’ve ever felt and continue getting stellar yearly bloodwork results, while not taking any medications whatsoever at age 57. I could not say this 10 years ago eating according to the Canada Food Guide.

  17. Hellistile 14 July 2007 at 3:32 am #

    Oh and another thing I forgot to address. Of course we love Dr. Briffa, as we do Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, Dr. Robert Atkins, Dr. Weston A. Price, Dr. Wolfgang Lutz, Dr. Jan Kwasniewski, Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, Dr. Mary Enig, simply because these doctors among others, are pioneers in going against the conventional nutritional wisdom of the day. And not only nutritional but medical. They came to perceive that a lot of the diseases of mankind are caused by our modern diet and looking for ways to treat these diseases/conditions with the best nutritional approach before mindlessly grabbing a prescription pad and writing out a toxic medication.

  18. helen 15 July 2007 at 10:16 pm #

    I am not surprised that the bulk of nutritional advice given on this site revolves around low carb. We are discussing good health measures here are we not?
    The world is full of the visual & medical evidence that the low fat high carb diet is working well to ensure the shonky medical & pharmaceutical companies keep their bottom line increasing! What better way to keep shareholders happy than to actively promote the very diet that keeps people slaves to the diet industry & illness industry drugged way of life.
    Fat sick people abound & what are they eating – not steak, eggs or salad but pasta, chips, rolls, cakes & rice dishes. Don’t blame the healthy meats & vegetables or saturated fats – blame the stupid people who dispite all the evidence to the contrary insist we eat huge amounts of carbohydrate (sugar in other words) if you don’t believe me look around you at what people are eating & what is being offered as “healthy” foods & remember that all those “fried” foods we keep getting warned about are all fried in – trans fatty grease & 98% of the content is carbohydrate. The fact they sometimes contain a little meat is just coincidence so hey blame the meat if it really is meat & not a soy substitute masquerading as the real deal!

  19. songbook 16 July 2007 at 8:03 am #

    Bit late on this debate – sorry if all the points have been made – but I am an average lay person who followed the GI plan (though I didn’t eat artificial sweeteners and I did eat good quality dark chocolate just about every day) and I lost three stone and have kept it off for two years. The way I followed this eating plan is closely aligned to what I know so far about the True You Diet (just got the book, not that far into it yet) in that I drastically cut out crappy processed foods and changed the way I ate (and the way many of us in the UK eat) so that it was not bread/pastry based; I also reduced consumption of sugary things (which I had already started to do). At no point did I ever or do I equate low carb with low fibre; in fact, my understanding of the way my eating plan works is that lots of fibre is crucial to my diet – ergo, when I do eat bread, it is the wholemealiest, roughest bread I can eat. And I do eat cereal, but it is porridge or un-sugary (usually homemade) muesli, not processed cereal like corn flakes or wheat flakes, etc. I have increased my consumption of lentils and beans (which I always liked anyway) and in the summer certainly, try to have salad at least once a day, as a side or as a main usually with some kind of protein in it (chicken/tuna/egg/nuts) and seeds (pumpkin/sesame/sunflower/linseed – or all of ‘em sometimes) in it. I also eat lots of veg (I am lucky – my partner is a greengrocer – I have eaten lots of really fabulous asparagus this summer!). And oatcakes and hummus really saved me – when everyone else is eating crisps or breadsticks or other processed things, I can eat an oatcake or two with hummus – very satisfying, very yummy, and talk about fibre! I was never a big drinker, but I love a glass of red wine. Since losing weight (I was off alcohol almost entirely during the plan) I notice that if I have more than the occasional glass (a weekend of parties, for example) I put on weight. It turns to sugar very fast – and sugar makes me fat!

    All of this to say that I do not agree that to most people low-carb means low-fibre (and if that perception exists, I suppose it is up to dieticians and other health care professionals to set it right).

    I think this is the most sensible eating plan ever, which is why it has worked for me, and why it was so easy to do. I have been fat all of my life; I have lost and regained weight on WW and other diets – I finally gave up. It was the fear a few years ago that I would develop Type 2 Diabetes (I haven’t – phew!) that spurred me on to change my eating. I would recommend it to anyone, and I look forward to learnnig more about the details of the True You plan – I woudl like to lose a bit more weight.

  20. Tiggy 18 July 2007 at 7:20 pm #

    I was a bit anti low carb diets because of the association with Atkins, but then I learned how important it was for people like me with insulin resistance and I started cutting right down on carbs. Since then I’ve lost weight which I need to do, whereas before nothing was happening even though I went on a four week healthy eating regime at my gym. What they were recommending me to eat was not right for someone with insulin resistance so it didn’t work.

    Chris talks about ‘junk food’ without defining it. Junk food is whatever food isn’t good for your body. If it’s not providing needed nutrition then it’s just junk. Sugar is a natural product taken from a root vegetable or cane, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

  21. Jackie Bushell 19 July 2007 at 10:28 am #

    Low carb diets (and the Atkins Diet in particular) have been villified in the media and by members of what I shall call the ‘conventional medical establishment’ for want of a better name ever since they came to popular notice.

    The study which purportedly links low-carb eating with colon cancer is yet another example of people being eager to claim that low carbing is harmful in some way and providing scientifically unsupportable ‘evidence’ to back it up.

    One might wonder just why low carbing has met with such extraordinary opposition. Vested interests within the agricultural industry in a high-grain diet continuing to be seen as ‘healthy eating’? Or perhaps the vested interests of the food manufacturing industry in continuing to be able to claim ‘fat-free’ or ‘low-fat’ foods are more healthy, no matter how much trans fat, sugar or refined carbohydrate they contain? Or the remarkable over-reliance of much of the medical profession on the pharmaceutical and food industries for their own information and for patient information on dietary and nutritional topics? Not to mention the media, which has done a good job of helping to polarise people into pro- and anti-low carb camps and spreading misinformation with Atkins ‘shock-horror’ stories – all of which sells more newspapers and magazines.

    Professionals like Dr Briffa do the world a tremendous service by being prepared to speak out against current opinion, including that of fellow members of the medical profession, researching the truth behind accepted dietary wisdoms and informing those of us who wish to listen.

    The world of diet, nutrition and health is unfortunately full of closed eyes and ears. Thank goodness for people like Dr Briffa who help us to get at the truth. If this makes this sound like an ‘I luv Dr John site’ then I don’t find that strange or in some way wrong. Why shouldn’t people who improve their health and wellbeing through the information Dr Briffa provides give him feedback on their successes? Why should Dr Briffa not want to broadcast this information, so that other people can benefit from this knowledge, too?

  22. Hilda Glickman 20 July 2007 at 10:57 am #

    As a nutritionist I have helped many lose weight on the low carb type of diet. However this type of diet should not be seen as a fad. It is the diet we have eaten long before the carb junk foods like sweets, cakes, buns, biscuits pasta etc came about. There is carbohydrate in the foods I recommend such as carrots, sweet potatoes, some brown rice, other vegetables, yogurt, fruit. In fact anything which tasts at all sweet has carb in it. I do think that the food pyramid with lots of carbs at the bottom is just wrong. Where did it come from? Not from any research as as I can see?

    Incidentally pasta is a highly processed junk food with very few nutrients left in it. How it came to be seen as a ‘healthy’ food beats me! Hilda

  23. Hilda Glickman 21 July 2007 at 12:41 pm #

    In addition I would also say that I saw the food pyramid for diabetics in a hosptital and was appalled at the amount of carbs in it, How do you think they became diabetic in the first place, Chris and why is the rate increasing so much. Dieticiians need to rethink their 20 years out of date advice.

  24. songbook 25 July 2007 at 4:20 pm #

    Wholemeal spaghetti is not too bad…

  25. BamaGal 22 August 2007 at 8:05 pm #

    I love all that everyone has written here—you are a group of highly intelligent people.

    I want to address Chris’ comment about the Atkin’s diet making people grumpy—

    In the beginning—yes this can happen–as the body and brain convert to using ketones as fuel. As someone who has dealt with a serious brain disorder—bipolar disorder—I’ve looked into the research. The brain actually functions much better when burning ketones. A high carb diet has been noted to increase the incidence of violence and suicide. Eating carbs does increase serotonin but it is a quick fix at best. A high fat diet on the other hand has been shown to be beneficial in epilepsy, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

    I lost over 200 lbs following this way of eating—the higher fat the better. I ended up hospitalized for severe depression after following a dietitian’s advice to increase my carb intake after losing my weight—gained 35 lbs in the process too. My moods have stabilized once I returned to my high fat low carb way of eating and the weight is coming off again.

  26. Dee 8 June 2008 at 11:40 am #

    Can’t say I can add anything new to this argument, given that I’m new to the whole low-carb thing.

    I’m a 20 y/o female who has tried everything – from following the general guidelines (high-carb), to low-fat, to calorie counting, to increasing exercise to soup diets…

    Only recently have I attempted low-carb. I can admit I am a carb and sugar addict. I LOVE sweets, breads, pasta. I do however, consume them relatively in moderation, well at least my diet is fairly well-balanced, maybe a little higher in sugars than should be but nothing too outrageous.

    I quit the carbs and sugars cold turkey for a couple of weeks, desparate to lose some weight for a party (needed the dress to fit better!). I cannot convey how good I felt after the initial adjustment!! Unbelievable. Not only did I not feel hungry on a low-carb diet, but my sense of thirst returned. I am actually reaching for the water now.. prior to this I never noticed when I was thirsty and drank only out of obligation!! I truly believe this is in some way connected to my previous high-carb diet.

    The party was the other night (and my dress certainly fit much more comfortably) and I admit, I’ve succumbed to the carbs this weekend as a kind of ‘reward’ I guess. Funny that my taste buds no longer feel as happy when eating sweets as they did prior to my little diet experiment. I also note that my body is much more sensitive to carbs now and doesn’t seem to enjoy them all that much. I feel ill right now after 2 days of being back on the carbs!

    I’ve been doing so much research about low-carb diets that in the process I’ve learnt so much more about the dangers of carbs than I could ever have known before. I’m attempting to persue a paleolithic kind of diet for the future (caveman hunter gather style yeww!!) as a lifestyle choice.

    I can’t help but feel that… the government guidelines suggesting a high-carb diet, have not only got it all wrong, but have come way too far now to do a complete 180. Think about it, think about the economy… if we suddenly switched to a healthier, low-carb lifestyle… what of population control? The diet industry? The sweets industry? Pasta, among many other high-carb foods? What about the fact that our health would be so much more improved, that not only do we not have a form of population control, but less need for doctors and their ‘miracle pills’, so there goes the pharmeceuticals industry… Not to mention the diminished trust in the government…

    Interesting when you think about what the government’s motivations could possibly be when setting out these guidelines..

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