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.
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.”
No doubt you’ve heard or read about a ketogenic diet, going keto or even just keto as the newest diet trend. Actually, a ketogenic diet is much more than a trend. “Ketogenic” is a term for a low-carb diet (like the Atkins diet). The basic idea is to get more calories from protein and fat and much less from carbohydrates. It was originally developed to use with children who had seizures many times each day. Now it is promoted for weight loss, improving athletic performance and halting inflammation.
Most of the carbs that are easy to digest, like sugar, soda, pastries, and white bread are the first to go.
White bread is a no-no
These types of processed carbs start to change into sugar molecules in your mouth. Take a piece of white bread and hold it in your mouth for a few minutes. You will be surprised at how sweet the piece of bread becomes–thanks to the work of enzymes in saliva.
I’ve been half-heartedly following a sort-of keto diet for the past year or so. I started it to lose weight, but never went fully keto even after I lost 10 pounds. At this time, I was baking sourdough bread using an ancient wheat variety called Einkorn. The loaves were so healthy and tasty I didn’t want to give up bread. Also, I was concerned about following a strict keto diet when my underlying health was so poor. My conventional medical training scared me off of it.
Ketosis is a mild form of ketoacidosis
Any extremely low (20-30 grams) or no-carbohydrate diet forces the body into a state of ketosis. This occurs when people eat a low/no-carb diet and molecules called ketones build up in their bloodstream. Low carbohydrate intake causes blood sugar levels to drop. The body begins breaking down fat to use as energy. A body in ketosis is actually a mild form of ketoacidosis, the leading cause of death for people under 24 with Type 1 diabetes. I saw several patients in ketoacidosis when I worked in hospitals. It was always an emergency. Additionally, I had a patient die from ketoacidosis when I was doing home-based medical care.
I searched the literature for ketogenic diet research on this damn disease. However, no studies were done on the effects of ketogenic diets in Chronic fatigue syndrome. Some CFS clinicians recommend ketogenic diets as a management strategy citing mitochondrial, immune, and neuroinflammation as pathways through which ketogenic diets could confer some benefit (Source). A ketogenic diet is well-known for the way it reduces inflammation, especially in the brain.
Char, from Chronically Hopeful, started going keto last year about this time. Here’s her story.
I often get asked what this ketogenic diet has done for me. What benefits have I had? Why should somebody give up those delicious carbs and starchy foods? Are the benefits really worth the sacrifice? In this post I’ll explain my journey so far. In short, in my opinion, the answer is yes – it’s […]
In her blog, Char writes about following Dr. Sarah Myhill, a British doctor running her own specialist M.E. clinic in Wales, United Kingdom. Her website is an extensive resource of articles and information based on her treatment of patients. The website runs to 920 web pages and has had over 6 million individual visits. Dr. Myhill believes the disease is characterized by a cellular mitochondrial dysfunction and has published several studies. She has treated in excess of 10,000 CFS/ME sufferers over her 30-year career (Source).
Tracking Protein, Carbs and Fat AKA The Macros
So, with Char’s results in mind, and a long look through Dr. Myhill’s site, I started back on a ketogenic diet, one that is low-carb, moderate protein and high fat. This time I’m using a smartphone app to track my carbs, protein and fat intake to be certain I get enough nutrition and remain in ketosis. Again, I have Char to thank for her instructions.
The thought of tracking macros scares many people into delaying their keto journey, but it’s really not as complicated at it might seem. There are some great tools available that make the whole process so easy. 40 more words
So, with Char’s results in mind, and a long look through Dr. Myhill’s site, I started back on a ketogenic diet, one that is low-carb, moderate protein and high fat. This time I’m using a smartphone app to track my carbs, protein and fat intake to be certain I get enough nutrition and remain in ketosis. Again, I have Char to thank for her blog entry.
My lean body mass, the weight I would be at if there were no fat clogging things up is 108 pounds. I think I weighed that in grade school. 😉 That means I should shoot for 65 grams of protein, 25 grams of carbs and a whopping 132 grams of fat.
So here we are, the second day into my ketosis journey–but hopefully not ketoacidosis. I’m almost 66, overweight and have a family history of Type 2 diabetes so this is a real possibility. However, I wasn’t diabetic the last time my blood sugar levels were tested. But I will be careful and listen to my body and its signals.
If you have questions or comments, please enter them below.
Equations were never my strength. Even before ME/CFS I couldn’t remember the common ones, like how to find an area of something. If someone looked at me funny because of it, I reminded them that Albert Einstein never memorized his phone number. He didn’t want to crowd his brain with information that could easily be found. That usually shut them up. 😉
Anyhow, here’s an equation that even I can remember.
Saving Money=Sustainable Nutrition=Healthier Body
It’s not news that we are living in a nation of quick and easy meals from a box, freezer or the bag handed through a drive-up.
It isn’t easy to eat healthily and sustainably, especially on a budget. Here’s how I manage it.
Starting with produce, I check organic prices and if there is a good conventional produce sale. Most of the time the loss-leaders are on the Dirty Dozen list, so I don’t buy them. Once in while I can snap up a great bargain–like a couple of months ago when organic avocados were selling 2/$1 because they were all ripening too fast.
You don’t know about the Dirty Dozen list (not the Steve McQueen movie)? Each year the Environmental Working Group looks at all the pesticides applied to all the crops grown for sale in the US and assigns each fruit or vegetable a rank in comparison to each other. The top 12 “winners” are called the Dirty Dozen.
Summer fruit and veggies I don’t grow myself are bought at one or more of the local Farmers Markets. Here I can talk directly with the grower and be certain no pesticides were used–especially glyphosate (RoundUp®).
While I’m at the Market, I also buy pastured pork products from a family farm where the pigs roam about and don’t receive antibiotics to grow faster. My beef is grass-fed and raised on a friend’s farm where the cattle receive excellent care.
I used to do public relations for the top crop seed breeder in the US. As part of this, we spent time in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska where a whole lot of feedlots hold a whole lot of cattle. These steers spend the final months of their lives, sometimes up to their knees in manure, in a crowded feedlot with cattle they never met before. No wonder grass-fed tastes better. Just think of the stress those feedlot animals are under!
If you want to eat better for less, these are good ways to cut your food budget:
EAT LESS MEAT
Even when bought in bulk, meat from animals that have the freedom to wander pastures is expensive. Organic is not as necessary to purchase as beef that is 100% grass fed. Why is this important? First, grass-fed cattle are on pastures all spring, summer, and fall here in Wisconsin. They can remain outdoors even during winter in many other areas of the country so you know they are as close to having a good life as it’s possible for cattle to have.
Second, grass-fed beef has a very good nutritional profile compared to conventionally raised steers. This meat has less total fat, more omega-3 fatty acids, more conjugated linoleic acid and more antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E (Source).
Although my freezer is still full of freezer paper wrapped roasts, steaks, hamburger, we don’t have meat at every meal. You could try observing a Meatless Monday for a few weeks. Then look at the difference in your grocery budget. There are lots of vegetarian main dishes you can find online
If you are interested in some of my recipes, let me know in the comments. I was a good cook when I was working. However, I didn’t really have time for something that couldn’t go in the crockpot or on the table in less than an hour.
When I started getting better I began to change my eating habits. This inevitably leads to learning how to cook all over again. I love that I now know the most nutritious ways to prepare meals and snacks, but I know I would find it more difficult if I were still working. Soaking beans and grains, making sourdough bread, and accounting for the time my Instant Pot needs to naturally release before opening all take more planning than I was up to when working.
The obvious solution is a multi-generational home. Grandparents would be the traditional cooks and childcare providers for their children’s families. Sadly, I don’t see that happening much around me or with me. Sometimes I dream about what it would be like living with my daughter and her family (husband, 2 girls, dog) and it’s all good. Until I remember they live in the Washington DC/Baltimore Metroplex.
Now, where was I?
Ah, yes. Here it is.
BUY IN BULK
Grocery stores are offering more and more healthy choices. Frequently, they will have a bulk foods department that may or may not contain organics. Conventional granola, trail mix and sesame sticks bought in bulk are an environmentally responsible choice even if they aren’t all that healthy. If you want to be super PC, buy from the local health food cooperative, natural foods store or buyers club.
I buy in bulk whenever possible because of things like steel cut oats at half the price of the imported can. For example, splitting a quarter of a cow. I have a small chest freezer, but my friend who split the purchase with me got everything from her half of a quarter into her side-by-side freezer.
Out-of-season fruits and vegetables are more expensive, not to mention less sustainable, because of the fuel and other resources used in transport from other areas with different growing seasons. Buying local is, by definition, buying seasonally. It’s good for you in several areas. Traditional medicine, like Ayurveda from India and Chinese Medicine, stresses eating seasonally because of the way our bodies have evolved. When we are in tune with the environment, we can heal and then maintain our wellbeing. Most importantly, eating locally grown food in season is much less expensive at both ends of the marketplace transaction.
For example, my friend, Mary, who milks cows and raises grass-fed beef and pork, has few to no marketing expenses. I see her at the Farmers Market where I and many others buy individual cuts and put in orders for bulk beef. Before selling directly to the consumer, Mary had to settle for what cattle futures were the day she shipped steers to the feedlot. Now she can sell at a price that keeps her profitable. Would you believe Mary sold bulk beef for the same per pound price this fall as in the autumn of 2015? (No special favors. The price was the same for everyone buying her beef.) What other food has remained the same price over the same period?
Fruits and vegetables reach their nutritional peak at the same time they are harvested. This, conveniently, is also when they taste best. According to the University of California-Davis, as a bell pepper progresses from green to red it gains 11 times more beta-carotene and one and a half times more vitamin C.
Once a fruit or vegetable is harvested it begins to lose nutrients and taste within the first hour. The USDA’s Table of Nutrient Retention Factors shows frozen fruit, in most cases, is more nutritious than fresh fruit that was picked before ripening and transported from who knows how far away.
If you’re not familiar with Farmers Markets, call the local reference librarian and ask. If your community has 211 phone service you can use them, too. Most often, you’ll find something if you ask around. Local Harvest is a clearinghouse for small farms raising healthy plants and animals. You pop in your zip code and nearby farmers who register with them pop back at you.
With all the new things in the produce department these days it can be hard to tell if a certain fruit or vegetable is in season. You can find a produce person at the store and ask them. And don’t forget to make room in your budget to purchase organic produce on the Dirty Dozen list. I’ve read you can break down some pesticide residue with a brief (10 min) soaking in a sink full of cold water and about a quarter cup of white vinegar.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Recipe requests? Let me know below.
Are recommendations to avoid grains and legumes due to anti-nutrient content predicated in science or founded in fear mongering? An evidence-based analysis of the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to lectins, phytates and autoimmune disease recently appeared in GreenMedInfo. Due to the length of this evidence-based article, I broke it up. Another section, this one on diet for chronic illness, will be posted tomorrow.
Written by: Ali Le Vere, B.S., B.S. – Senior Researcher-GreenMedInfo
In the past decade, some paleo diet proponents have popularized the notion that anti-nutrients, or compounds in foods which undermine health, are responsible for the prevailing epidemics of chronic illness. In fact, one of the fundamental tenets of the paleo diet, that grains contribute to disease and degeneration, is due in part to arguments about their content of lectins, some of the most infamous anti-nutrients. This review will serve as a preliminary examination of the evidence and will shed light on whether fears about this and another commonly vilified anti-nutrient, phytic acid, are groundless or justified.
Lectins: A Self-Survival Mechanism
Lectins are ubiquitous carbohydrate-binding proteins, present in almost a third of our food supply, which constitutes an adaptive mechanism that plants evolved to confer protection against predation and pests. For instance, lectins act as effective biological agents against insect attack by destabilizing insect metabolism, interfering with enzyme activity, and disturbing the protective, digestive, and secretory functions of the gut (1). Due to their insecticide properties, “insect-resistant plants produced by expression of lectin genes in transgenic plants are already a reality,” which is cause for alarm due to the potential health hazards posed by artificially manipulating lectin content.
Lectins act as agglutinins, or sticky proteins, which cause particles to coagulate and form aggregate masses. While most concentrated in seeds, other vegetative tissues such as barks, bulbs, flowers, leaves, roots, and rhizomes also contain lectins . Two of the best-characterized families of plant-derived lectins are the leguminous lectins and cereal lectins, which is the impetus for their exclusion by paleo diet adherents due to their high levels of prolamins and agglutinins, two types of lectins which are purported to most adversely affect the barrier function of the gut. Solanaceae lectins, which occur in the nightshade vegetables potatoes and tomatoes, are also excluded on the more restrictive autoimmune paleo (AIP) protocol.
Digestive Impairments Due to Lectins
When consumed, lectins survive digestion and bind to carbohydrate moieties of cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, triggering deleterious local or systemic reactions in the animal that ingested the lectin-containing food (Source). By binding to cell surface sugars on the intestinal mucosa, lectins can interfere with stomach and intestinal architecture, and damage the luminal (inward-facing) membranes of the epithelial cell lining (Source). As a result, “Lectins may induce changes in some, or all, of the digestive, absorptive, protective or secretory functions of the whole digestive system and affect cellular proliferation and turnover” (Source).
For instance, lectin-induced changes to intestinal morphology can cause loss of brush border digestive enzymes, required for breaking down food, accelerate cell loss, and create irregularities in the microvilli, or the tiny hairlike projections from intestinal cells that increase absorptive surface area (Source). Cumulatively, these adverse changes impede carbohydrate and protein utilization and transport, which inhibits the growth of the organism (Source). As a compensatory countermeasure, trophic effects can occur, or an abnormal increase in the volume of the intestine due to cellular hyperplasia (Source).
The secretion of gastric acid, required for protein digestion, is also inhibited in some animal models due to lectins attaching to mucosal and parietal cells in the stomach, which generate hydrochloric acid. For example, lectins can result in incomplete proteolytic degradation of immune-stimulating dietary proteins, as evidenced by the ability of the lectin phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) from red kidney beans to decrease the hydrolysis of the dairy protein casein as well as bovine serum albumin.
Importantly, lectins from legumes and cereal grains, for example, can disrupt the integrity of the tight junctions which regulate trafficking of molecules across the gut barrier, causing intestinal hyperpermeability, the gateway to all autoimmune disorders. In other words, lectins can cause the spaces between cells lining our intestines to become excessively leaky and allow the entry of foreign immune-provocating agents. Violation of gut barrier integrity invites bacteria, dietary components, and toxins into systemic circulation.
Microbiome Alterations Due to Lectins
Due to its effects on epithelial cell metabolism, lectins have been demonstrated to result in dramatic overgrowths in coliform bacteria, and Escherichia coli (E. coli) in particular. Lectins also preferentially increase the growth of Lactobacillus lactis, which is associated with the development of rheumatoid arthritis along with E. coli. The lectin PHA from red kidney bean can provide increased levels of substrates upon which E. coli grow due to “PHA-mediated mucus secretion, epithelial cell loss, serum protein leakage and reduced digestion of dietary protein,” all of which serve as nutrient sources that promote bacterial replication (Source). In animal models, lectins also cause severe atrophy of the thymus, the organ where some immune cells mature, which could compromise the cell- and antibody-mediated immune responses that normally keep gut bacteria in check (Source).
This proliferation of bacteria may, in turn, promote overproduction of bacterial toxins such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), the outer wall from gram-negative bacteria that are implicated in insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Also relevant is that the resultant dysbiosis, or bacterial imbalance, that can occur due to lectin ingestion is a causative factor in autoimmune and allergic disorders, metabolic disease, gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and neuropsychiatric illnesses. Altering the commensal flora of the digestive tract can modulate the immune system in an unfavorable direction since the majority of the immune system interfaces directly with the gut.
Immune Derangements Due to Lectins
After binding to cells of the small intestine known as enterocytes, lectins are internalized at high rates via a process called endocytosis, where a part of the cell membrane invaginates (buds inward) and engulfs material (Source). Once present in the peripheral tissues, lectins can deposit in distant tissues and organs, promoting their enlargement or atrophy, disrupting macronutrient metabolism, and altering hormonal balance (Source). Lectins that translocate across the gut wall can also be perceived by the resident sentinel cells in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) called macrophages, which present lectins to other immune cells called lymphocytes and evoke an immune response (Source).
Moreover, lectins can penetrate systemic circulation via regional lymph nodes and bind to glycoproteins (sugar-proteins) on diverse tissues such as that of the pancreas, thyroid, liver, kidney, nasopharynx, pituitary, eye, heart, breast, adrenal glands, myelin sheath, intestines, blood vessels, lymphatic system, cartilage or collagen (Source). This creates a neo-antigen which is perceived as a foreign entity by the immune system, potentially eliciting an immune attack. When self-tissue is caught in the crossfire of the immune response, tissue-specific autoimmune diseases manifest (Source).
Lectins stimulate the immune system via mechanisms such as T-cell proliferation, which expands the pool of autoreactive white blood cells, up-regulation of cell signaling molecules called inflammatory cytokines, which perpetuate tissue damage and recruit more inflammatory immune cells, and production of Th17-cells, which drive tissue destruction in autoimmunity (2). Similarly, lectins are known to incite release of histamine from basophils, as well as interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-13, which are instrumental in transitioning to a Th2-centered immune response favoring allergy and other atopic diseases such as asthma (Source).
The immune response is amplified as undigested food particles, bacterial toxins, and pathogenic byproducts that translocate across the gut barrier secondary to lectin-induced gut permeability also incite antibody production, which can, in turn, cross-react with human tissue that possesses similar amino acid sequences (Source). In this way, an immune attack against invading bacterial and food antigens can lead to the development of autoimmune disease via a process called molecular mimicry. This occurs as a result of homology, or similarity, between lectin-bound tissue and motifs (amino acid sequences) on these ‘invading’ substances which are the target of immune response (Source).
Gluten and Wheat Germ Agglutinins: Particularly Harmful Lectins for Autoimmune Disease
While the jury is still out on some lectins, the lectin wheat germ agglutinin (WGA)may be particularly problematic for health for a multitude of reasons. Humans consuming wheat germ exhibit biologically intact wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) in both their ileostomy effluent and fecal collections, indicating the ability of lectins to persist within the gut lumen (Source).
WGA has an affinity for N-acetyl glucosamine, an essential signaling molecule and structural component of the extracellular matrix of animal cells (Source). WGA also binds to the sialic acid called N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) found at the terminal position of the surface-exposed sugars that comprise the glycocalyx, a fuzz-like coating on the plasma membrane of epithelial cells in the gut that plays a role in cell recognition, adhesion, and communication. Diets high in wheat, which contain the potent lectin WGA, have been shown to cause changes in the mucosal architecture of the jejunum, the middle portion of the small intestine, even in normal subjects (Source). This lectin not only causes leaky gut syndrome, jeopardizing the barrier function of the gut, but it also enables cellular entry of WGA and provokes a pro-inflammatory immune response (Source).
Gluten, on the other hand, is a mixture of prolamin lectins present in wheat, rye, barley, and oats which are evolutionarily conserved proteins that share similar ancestral origins. Prolamins are proline-rich storage proteins in plants that function in germination and are resistant to protease-mediated digestion in the human gastrointestinal tract (Source). Not only are human digestive enzymes incompatible with prolamin degradation, but prolamins also contain protease inhibitors which impair our digestive capacity. Examples of prolamins are gliadins in wheat, hordeins in barley, secalins in rye, and avenins in oat.
However, because gluten-reactive immune cells that react to gliadin, hordein, and secalin do not react to epitopes in avenin, oats are classified as inherently “gluten-free” for celiac patients. Other studies, however, have shown that consumption of oats is pathogenic in one of ten celiac patients, and the potential for gluten cross-contamination of oats is high (Source).
Gluten is particularly detrimental in autoimmune disease since it triggers the release of the intestinal peptide zonulin, which regulates the tight junctions between cells in the gastrointestinal epithelium in a manner that is rapid, reversible, and reproducible (Source). Studies have demonstrated that intestinal exposure to gliadin [the protein sub-fraction of gluten] leads to zonulin upregulation and consequent disassembly of intercellular tight junctions and increased intestinal permeability” in all individuals, not just celiac patients with active disease and in remission, but in patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and in non-celiac healthy controls (Source).
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Induction of pathologic intestinal hyperpermeability, or leaky gut syndrome, via zonulin release, is prerequisite for the development of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, ulcerative colitis, Type one diabetes, Grave’s disease, vitiligo, Crohn’s disease, Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. In fact, researchers state that “The autoimmune process can be arrested if the interplay between genes and environmental triggers is prevented by re-establishing intestinal barrier function” (Source).
Translocation of gluten-related peptides into the body secondary to so-called leaky gut syndrome are perceived by the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), the part of the immune system surrounding the gut. This induces innate and adaptive immune responses that can result in the production of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules which perpetuate the breach in the gut barrier and recruit more inflammatory immune cells. Eventually, these immune responses can cause “friendly fire” against our own body tissues, resulting in autoimmune disease, by processes such as the bystander effect or cross-reactivity between foreign antigens and our own tissues (Source).
Celiac disease results in increased infiltration of immune cells and villous atrophy, flattening the shag carpet of the intestines into Berber, and leading to nutrient malabsorption, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and other adverse sequelae (Source). However, the empirical diagnosis of gluten sensitivity or NCGS is serious in its own right. NCGS can incite not only gastrointestinal symptoms but extra-intestinal manifestations such as ataxia, neuropathy, encephalopathy, autism, and mood disturbances including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and psychosis (Source).
This is a lot of highly detailed information for people with brain fog to take in at one reading! 🙂 Please let me know in the comments below if this is too technical and I will translate future articles like this.
A couple of days ago there was a paper published online in PLOS Biology that outlined how the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) doubled down on misleading consumers by stopping a 1970 study that withheld information the microbiome may be an important factor in sugar-caused high triglyceride levels and that sucrose (sugar) consumption, compared to starch (like potatoes, bread, etc.), might be associated with bladder cancer!
It seems Big Sugar underwrote research at the University of Birmingham (England) to study rat diets, gut microbiota, and blood lipids (triglycerides) in the late 60s. Called Project 259, the rat research inconveniently found that sugar raised triglyceride levels and that it could be a human carcinogen.
This was at the same time that another suspected carcinogen, cyclamate, was being taken out of diet drinks and foods. Sugar didn’t want to be branded as a cancer-causer–even though 2014 research found it feeds cancer cells preferentially–so the sugar industry stopped Project 259 before it was completed. More recent research shows that high insulin levels and growth factors caused by sugar ingestion influence cancer cell growth the most, as well as increasing the risk of other chronic diseases.
Earlier, some of the same researchers published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association describing how the sugar industry secretly funded a 1967 review in the New England Journal of Medicine that failed to mention how a rat study involving sugar showed increased cardiovascular disease and lipid (fat) levels in the blood and instead put the blame on dietary fats and cholesterol, leading to the whole fat scare and atrocities like SnackWells(R) that were low-fat, but full of sugar.
The article was very interesting to me, possibly because before I went back to school to be a nurse and then nurse practitioner, I worked in public relations for almost 20 years and was a member of the Counselors Academy of the Public Relations Society of America. I think it would be interesting to anyone who likes to read history, though. It certainly does not read like a typical medical research study.
Study adds to a wide body of literature documenting industry manipulation of science
Obviously, fake news wasn’t invented in the last presidential campaign. The sugar industry was in it up to their eyeballs way back when the Green Bay Packers were playing in the first SuperBowl and the Israelis and Palestinians fought the six-day long Yom Kippur War. But they weren’t the only ones.
Industries wanting influence over state and federal regulations have a history of funding research resulting in industry-favorable interpretations of controversial evidence related to health effects of smoking, therapeutic effects of pharmaceutical drugs, the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and weight gain or obesity, and the causes of climate change (Oreskes N, Conway EM. Merchants of doubt. New York: Bloomsbury Press; 2010), among other issues.
And let’s not forget about one of the largest influencers of the USDA, FDA and Congress: Monsanto and its hit herbicide, RoundUp(R), also called glyphosate. I’ll get back to this in a later blog. There’s just too much of a horror story with them to mix this up with sugar’s withholding and also manipulating unfavorable data. The deliberate, profit-lead poisoning of America’s food supply by both the raw material manufacturers (agri-business) and consumer product manufacturers (General Foods, Kraft) really frosts me. Unfortunately, duplicity and data destruction goes on in the medical industry, too. And much of all this fakery and selective data selection is the brainchildren of public relations execs like I used to be.
Don’t know about you, but I really dislike most salads and cooked greens. I ate vegetarian for a couple of years when I was living in a Buddhist household in Milwaukee. I don’t recall problems cooking or eating, but I do remember we ate a whole lot of salads. Nutrition wasn’t something I thought about a whole lot.
At that time, I was going to the Milwaukee School of Engineering to get my bachelor’s in nursing and Eric (Ric) and I were separated. Corey (Corinna, our daughter) was away in her first year at The Citadel. I was attending class, full-time, all day and then I worked the overnight shift (7 pm to 7 am) at a local hospital on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
But enough background for right now. I figured out that the only way I was going to eat enough greens to satisfy my recovering body’s need for good nutrition was to do smoothies in my old Vitamix blender. I bought it in 1995 when I had severe TMJ and whiplash and could open my mouth only far enough to slip through a straw. Everything I ate for several weeks was thrown into the V-M and whirled to become liquid.
Diet and nutrition are proven to reverse diseases
Another important aside: Were you aware there are proven diets to reverse heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and hypertension (high blood pressure)? Unfortunately, doctors get only a tiny bit of nutrition education in medical school and often do not know about the importance of diet/nutrition in keeping us healthy. So instead of encouraging us to eat a sensible, whole food diet, we are given pills that suppress the symptoms but never touch the cause. Nurse Practitioner education is not much better. I’ve never looked at a syllabus for Physician Assistant education, but I bet it has very little on nutrition, too.
A huge part of our nation’s growing problem with obesity and diabetes is that people who begin to investigate about nutrition and diet run into a deluge of conflicting and confusing advice. What to do? When I want evidence-based information about nutrition I go to two sources.
The first is Nutrition Facts. This site is a non-commercial, science-based public service provided by Dr. Michael Greger that relies on individual donors to keep the site alive. There are more than a thousand videos on nearly every aspect of healthy eating, with new videos and articles uploaded every day. Best of all everything is free of charge and evidence-based.
The second site I use is called GreenMedInfo. Sayer Ji, the site’s founder, has a robust natural medicine database with over 10,000 health topics. Searching for ME/CFS brings up 30 entries with the first one being the book Plague, about the retrovirus controversy from five years ago. Querying with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome brings up 45 abstracts of published papers, 19 substances (adaptogens, curcumin) that are used for treatment, six “problem” substances (breast implants, aluminum hydroxide), six therapeutic modalities (yoga, acupuncture) and two problematic actions–vaccinations in general and Hepatitis B vaccine in particular. There is a monthly/annual fee for accessing the database, but there is an informative, free newsletter.
Back to maximizing nutrition. Phytonutrients, like beta-carotene and lycopene, can exist as microscopic crystals trapped inside the cell walls of fruits and vegetables. They’re only released when the cells are disrupted, which is why my mother was right–we have to chew our food really well. Food particle size ideally would be reduced to smaller than the width of individual plant cells. Most vegetable particles end up greater than two millimeters when you chew them, but when we break open all the cells in a blender (especially Vitamix and Blendtec), we release much more nutrition.
So, my veggie and fruit smoothies are the perfect way to get all your nutrients without eating all those yucky greens. Here’s a basic recipe with the products I use as links:
1 frozen banana (take the peel off before freezing)
2 raw pastured eggs (because of concerns for salmonella, do not use raw eggs unless you have visited the farm or they are labeled salmonella-free)
1 cup blueberries (I pick my own and freeze them)
1 cup frozen organic strawberries (strawberries are on the Dirty Dozen list so must be organic)
enough kefir, kombucha, coconut water, or filtered water to come up to the top of the ingredients in the container, usually 8-10 oz.
You’ll want to mix this very well so there are no remaining lumps from frozen berries. With my old VM, I have to stop every now and then to pound the container on the counter to let the thick mixture settle into the air pockets introduced by blending. You can add more liquid if this occurs, but I prefer my smoothie to be almost the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
Absorption of nutrients is the next step in maximizing our nutritional intake from real foods. Real food is anything that does not come in a box, is a single entity (a potato), contains no refined grains, such as enriched white flour or any type of white rice, and no added sugar–real or sugar substitutes, like high fructose corn syrup or Splenda(R). More about nutrition and cooking later.