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Medical Research: Low Fat vs. Low Carbohydrate Diet–Which One Promotes Weight Loss?

The debate between following a low-fat, weight-loss diet and eating to lower carbohydrates and thereby lose weight appears to be settled after a large medical study. Some people, including many ketogenic and paleo dieters, believe cutting back on carbohydrates helps them lose weight. Others, including many physicians and medical centers, promote diets that cut back on saturated fats found in red meats and dairy products, as recommended by the US Department of Agriculture in its Food Pyramid.

food pyramid
The official USDA Food Pyramid

In a 600-person, year-long study, the two eating styles helped dieters drop almost exactly the same number of pounds — and there didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason as to who succeeded on which plan.

Going into the study, which was published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers wanted to settle the debate but they also wanted to know if blood insulin levels or genotype had an effect on weight loss.

High blood levels of insulin are a sign of insulin resistance, which often precedes Type 2 diabetes. Many believe high serum insulin promotes storing calories as fat. Researchers looked at the genetic profile of each participant and determined which ones had particular genetic traits thought to lead to weight gain. To the researchers’ surprise, neither genetic predisposition nor high insulin levels had any effect.

Results show you can lose weight with either eating plan

People studied were between 18 and 50 years old, and all overweight or obese but otherwise healthy. They attended nutrition classes taught by a health educator. There were no calorie restrictions. Everyone was directed to minimize their intake of sugars, refined flours, and trans fats. At the same time, they were encouraged to eat vegetables and nutrient-dense foods.  Everyone was encouraged to adopt healthy habits like cooking at home and sitting down for structured meals with family members.

As you would expect, not everyone on the diets lost weight and some had dramatic losses. The outliers were one individual who gained 20 pounds and another who lost 60. However, the average weight loss in each group was almost identical: 11 pounds in the low-fat group, compared to 13 pounds in the low-carb group.

“It’s not so much about that food — it’s really about [changing] this crazy way that Americans eat.”

About 30% of people in the study had a genetic signature that, in theory, should have pointed to success on the low-fat diet, while 40% had a low-carb “profile”. But the data didn’t show any strong similarity between these genetic markers and weight loss on the corresponding diet. Neither did measures of insulin resistance, which the team also thought would be related to success.

The successful dieters, regardless of which group they were in, credited their achievement to a reframed relationship with food. They began eating more mindfully, cooking at home more often and focusing on whole foods instead of processed, packaged foodstuff.

According to the lead researcher, Christopher D. Gardner, Ph.D., “That was more powerful than differentiating between low-carb or low-fat. Just getting them to be a lot more mindful about what they were eating. It’s not so much about that food — it’s really about [changing] this crazy way that Americans eat.”

What about your diet?

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https://www.aswellasicanbe.com/chronic-illness/a-ketogenic-diet-improves-me-cfs-symptoms/

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acetaminophen bottle

Medical Research: Pain Med Has Unexpected Effect On Sex Hormones, Blood Sugar Measurement

acetaminophen bottle
This commonly used painkiller has a hidden side.

A recent examination of patients taking acetaminophen (Tylenol ) for pain unexpectedly found that the common painkiller alters sex hormones. If taken during pregnancy it may cause male babies to be born with urogenital malformations. (Source)

Acetaminophen (APAP) has been in use for over 50 years, but researchers still don’t know all the ways it works in the body.

The effect on one sex hormone was roughly equivalent to the effect of 35 years of aging, or the normal decrease in levels seen in menopause. Fortunately, the effect only lasts for 48 hours if no additional APAP is taken

Taking APAP every day for pain causes some hormones to become menopausal–regardless of age.

Acetaminophen also causes false highs, by a rather large margin, in people with continuous glucose monitors, according to another study reported in Diabetes Care. This obviously is a concern for the many diabetics who use continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), which is swiftly becoming the standard of care for Type 1 diabetics.

Blood Sugar Measurement Also Affected

For example, three patients in the study had blood glucose meter values less than 70 mg/dL with much higher CGM readings — 63 vs 138 mg/dL, 46 vs 175 mg/dL, and 51 vs 184 mg/dL.

glucometer
New technology should eliminate false high blood sugar readings.

In 10 patients, the CGM values read higher than 180 mg/dL, but the meter reading was over 100 mg/dL lower. The effect appears to be limited to CGM since finger stick glucometer readings were used as a control.

Newer blood sugar measurement technology under development will take this consequence into account. Until then people who use CGM need to be aware of the APAP effect.

The study that found the sex hormone effect with APAP also was able to shed light on how the painkiller works in the body. People who took acetaminophen had very low levels of neurosteroids made by the brain itself, such as pregnenolone sulfate and DHEAS [dehydroepiandrosterone]. The drug also works with three distinct metabolic pathways–one of them being the endocannabinoid system, which produces marijuana-like molecules.

This may explain the calming effects experienced by some individuals and acetaminophen’s use as a mild sedative in children. The uncertainty and growing number of proposed mechanisms raise the possibility that there are further actions involving central nervous system (CNS) cell receptors. (Source)

The findings are significant because they show how the body is impacted by seemingly innocuous everyday medications. There are hundreds of other drugs that no one has done this research for.

 

 

 

Prestigious Study Finds Proof Of Chronic Lyme Disease

At long last, researchers have confirmed the presence of Lyme disease, an infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, following the recommended antibiotic treatment. Johns Hopkins University reported that chronic Lyme disease is a “real” disorder.

The study involved 61 patients who completed the recommended antibiotic course and continued to report symptoms of joint pain, fatigue, cognitive deficits, insomnia, and depression despite largely normal physical exams and blood testing. People with this holdover infection commonly call it chronic Lyme. Researchers call this collection (called constellation in medical speak) “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome” or PTLDS.

Unfortunately, the study did not address what is perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of chronic Lyme–whether it’s caused by lingering infection and is treatable with additional courses of antibiotics.

tired woman on couch
Lyme Disease is growing in numbers and locations.

Published in the December issue of in Frontiers of Medicine, these findings hopefully will spur further investigation into the cause of the persistent symptoms. Lyme disease rates have climbed steadily since the mid-1970s when it was initially recognized in Lyme, Connecticut. As the disease prevalence and incidence (how widespread and the number) have grown in the following decades, so have reports of what people with it call chronic Lyme.

Medical experts have questioned the existence of a persistent B. burgdorferi infection because there is no direct evidence of the bacteria’s ongoing infection in blood or tissue samples. To help distinguish persistent infection, researchers first studied people with PTLDS, defined by the Infectious Diseases Society of America as involving significant fatigue, widespread musculoskeletal pain and/or cognitive difficulties arising within six months after completion of antibiotic therapy for physician-diagnosed Lyme disease and lasting at least six additional months.

Study Parameters Were Rigorous

Researchers gathered prior medical records with evidence of Lyme disease and excluded all those who have conditions that may mimic those of PTLDS–like ME/CFS or fibromyalgia. They ended up recruiting 61 people who were either self- or provider-referred to the Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center at Johns Hopkins and met study criteria.

Individuals studied were almost evenly split between males and females, and ranged in age between 18 and 82. Healthy controls (n=24) were also split evenly between sexes and about the same ages as the study group but had no clinical history of Lyme disease symptoms and no antibodies to B. burgdorferi that would indicate past or current infection.

A comprehensive battery of tests and exams were performed on everyone. Study participants also completed standardized questionnaires to measure the severity of fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance and depression, as well as their quality of life. 

Few clinically significant differences in blood tests or physical exams were found in comparing the control group with the PTLDS patients. The study did find, however, that some people with PTLDS had a diminished vibratory sensation–a marker for neurological involvement seen in other studies of Lyme disease.

scatter graph
Participants with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) were compared to controls on the following: (A) Fatigue Severity Scale, (B) the Short-Form McGill Pain Index, (C) Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, (D) the Beck Depression Inventory-II, and the SF-36 (E) Physical and (F) Mental norm-based scores. The mean and 1 SD are shown by the solid lines. Clinically relevant cutoffs for each measure are shown by the dotted line.

There were significant differences in the results from the questionnaires meant to measure subjective experience. Approximately 50 percent of the PTLDS patients reported severe fatigue, 28 percent reported severe pain, about 23 percent said they had severe cognitive issues and about 31 percent reported severe sleep difficulty. None of the healthy controls reported any symptoms in the severe range.

The researchers found 19 symptoms that are not in the standard PTLDS criteria for diagnosis that were reported to be more severe among PTLDS patients than in controls. These symptoms included severe sleep difficulty (32%), severe neck pain (8%), severe numbness or tingling in hands or feet (10%), severe irritability (8%), severe low back pain (3%) and severe headache (17%). These symptoms reflect the significantly higher scores for depression and correspondingly lower scores on a questionnaire used to measure health-related quality of life, the SF-36.

No Clear Biomarkers Were Found

“Even though their exams and lab tests didn’t show much in the way of a common or clear biological marker or markers of PTLDS, it’s clear these patients don’t feel well,” says study co-author Kathleen Bechtold, Ph.D., associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “These symptoms are more severe than what the average non-PTLDS patient is experiencing even on a bad day.”Even with no objective laboratory or exam markers, Bechtold believes the results of this study suggest that PTLDS can be diagnosed through careful and thorough examination of symptoms. Finding a way to accurately identify people with PTLDS will improve diagnosis and care, as well as leading to future therapies. But as we have seen with ME/CFS, without objective laboratory or physical exam markers, mainstream healthcare providers likely are not going to diagnose it. The Johns Hopkins researchers are currently analyzing test results and blood to search for biomarkers that were not examined in the initial study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. Of those diagnosed early and treated following infectious disease recommendations, between five and 30 percent go on to experience PTLDS. Factors such as delayed diagnosis and inappropriate antibiotics and steroids (like Prednisone) given before recommended treatment occurred in over half the PTLDS patients in this study. The Johns Hopkins researchers said this could account for the prevalence of chronic Lyme.

You may also be interested in this article.

https://www.aswellasicanbe.com/chronic-illness/fight-chronic-illness-autoimmune-diseases-diet/