Low Carb Craziness: Part 1
Once again, the marketing mainstream has seized upon the tiniest piece of truth, blown it up to dangerous proportions, and backed it with hundreds of millions of dollars in promotional monies.
Then again, maybe we shouldn't blame the establishment at all. After all, they only go where we lead them. If we didn't display such an inexhaustible capacity to chase after magic bullets and quick fixes, they wouldn't continually be trying to sell them to us.
So what am I talking about? Well, if it's not obvious, I'm talking about the low-carb craze which is sweeping the world. Won't we ever learn?
The 'Low Carb Craze'
It wasn't that long ago that fat was the culprit. Every doctor and food commercial on TV promoted low-fat, lean foods. And we responded. Fat consumption in the United States dropped by 10%. But surprisingly, obesity soared at exactly the same time -- to the point that the United States is now the fattest country in the history of the world, with the rest of the developed world following closely behind. So what was wrong with the fat theory. Aren't fat calories bad for you, and don't they contribute to obesity?
And the answer, of course, is no -- at least not when stated in such a simplistic fashion. As it turns out there are good fats and bad fats. And I'm not talking about unsaturated and saturated fats. Why anyone would listen to the medical establishment when it comes to diet and nutrition is still mind boggling to me. Remember, these are the same people who think hospital food helps patients recover. Enough said.
The Truth About Fats
The simple truth behind fats is that the whole issue of saturated VS unsaturated fats is totally false. In fact, there are some saturated fats that are extremely healthy and extremely valuable -- even essential -- to good health. For example, coconut oil.
For a number of years now coconut oil has been vilified due to its saturated fat content. But as I said, not all saturated fats are alike. Coconut oil is unique in its structural make-up. It is not only the highest source of saturated fats (92%), but included in that number are the medium chain triglycerides, which are extremely beneficial to the body. In fact, coconut oil is the highest source of saturated medium chain triglycerides (62%) of any naturally occurring vegan food source. In addition, approximately 50% of these MCT's are made up of lauric acid, the most important essential fatty acid in building and maintaining the body's immune system. The only other source of lauric acid found in such high concentrations is mother's milk. In other words, the simple statement that all saturated fat is bad is 100% totally and absolutely wrong!
On the other hand, unsaturated fats are not all universally healthy. For years doctors pushed margarine only to discover that it was incredibly unhealthy because of its high levels of trans fatty acids. So now, low trans fatty acid margarines are the "in" thing. But what the establishment still hasn't "discovered" is that the type of fat consumed is a secondary issue. It is the ratio of unsaturated fat (Omega 6 to Omega 3) that is crucial to good health. The ideal ratio is approximately 1 to 1. However, thanks to the medical marketing machine that moved us towards the virtues of unsaturated fat (vegetable oils), the typical western diet now runs as high as 30 to 1 (Omega 6 to Omega 3) with profound unhealthy consequences. But enough about fats. Now we have a new absurdity to deal with.
The medical marketing machine, after resisting it for years (correctly, but for the wrong reasons), is embracing the high-protein, low-carb diet as promoted, most notably, by the late Dr. Atkins. So what's the story here?
Well, several things.
- The intestinal tract simply does not tolerate that much meat. Studies have shown that when meat consumption goes over about 4 oz a day, beneficial bacterial counts in the colon drop by about 90%, and E. coli counts increase by some 900%.
- It puts severe stress on the liver, ultimately damaging it, and thereby compromising the liver's ability to provide its life essential functions.
- High protein diets are much too acid forming in the body, which among other things is cancer promoting.
- Almost no one on these "meat lover" diets is using organic meats. (They're too expensive when eaten in high quantities.) That means people on these diets are consuming high levels of antibiotics and growth hormones. This leads to several problems including dysbiosis and the resultant increase in parasitic bacteria in the intestinal tract.
- Most meat is grain fed and contributes significantly to the imbalance of Omega 6 fats to Omega 3 fats discussed above. (Range fed beef does not.)
- It is unsustainable for most people long term.
- The weight-loss is often only temporary. In the end, the amount of calories you consume is a critical body weight regulator, and these low-carb diets tend to be highly caloric because of the quantities of meat and fat consumed.
- And yes, although it excludes foods that are bad for your body, such as refined carbohydrates (which provides most of the diet's benefits), it also excludes some of the most beneficial foods available to us, the foods mostly laden with essential phytochemicals: fruits and sprouts. Quite simply, if you don't include fruits and/or sprouts in your diet, you will not get essential nutrients (including key antioxidants such as flavonoids, polyphenols, many carotonoids, and ellagitanis) in your diet -- and supplements will not make up the difference.
- It's unbalanced. Simple logic tells us that nature abhors imbalance. Ultimately, the low-carb program must fail for the same reason the low-fat programs failed. These programs do not conform to the laws of nature. They lack balance.
As we continue this discussion next issue, we'll cover some of these points in more detail. Specifically:
- I want to talk more about the irreplaceable importance of fruit.
- A miraculous "newly-discoverd" grain based food that
- Provides 400% more energy per calorie than meat
- Satisfies hunger cravings for hours
- Actually lowers blood sugar levels
- And is one of the highest known sources of beneficial beta glucans known to man
So let me leave you with one final thought for the day. If you are on a low-carb program and consuming more than usual amounts of non-organic meat or dairy, then you are actively destroying the beneficial bacteria in your intestinal tract. This has significant health consequences. For anyone on such a program, supplementation with a good probiotic formula is essential. In fact, for most of us, since exposure to chlorine and antibiotics to some degree is now almost unavoidable, and the disappearance of bacteria rich foods to help replace those bacteria is now almost total (store-bought yogurt doesn't cut it), supplementation makes sense, and it also happens to be one of the most ignored parts of most people's health programs.