What’s the best way to reduce the impact of dietary carbs on our health?
Low Carb Nugget 68
If eating lots of carbs will sicken or even kill you, should you eat fewer of them, or rely on pharmacological options to reduce your body’s response to dietary carbohydrates?
Announcing the Life after Carbs Newsletter
“Dietary Carbohydrates Impair Healthspan and Promote Mortality.” Meenakshi Ravichandran, Gerald Grandl, and Michael Ristow. Cell Metabolism. October 3, 2017.
“Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study.” Mahshid Dehghan, et al. The Lancet. August 29, 2017.
Low Carb Nugget 68
“Carbs: impairing health, promoting mortality”
This is Episode 68 of the Low Carb Nugget for Saturday, October 14, 2017. I’m Jim Anderson.
My topic today is a science journal article that says dietary carbs “promote mortality.” Before I get to that, I wanted to give you some personal news.
I’m adding an email newsletter to my LCHF publishing empire. A blog and a podcast weren’t enough. I subscribe to several newsletters myself, and I like the medium. Some are simple, some elaborate. Mine will probably be in the middle somewhere. I’m a moderate kind of guy.
The newsletter issues will include some news about my blog, and this podcast, but also original items. The plan is to publish the letter once a month, on the final day of the month, with the first issue coming out on October 31. Go over to LifeAfterCarbs.com to sign up. If you sign up this month, you’ll get a chance to enter a drawing for a new book by Mark Sisson, The Keto Reset Diet (Kindle Edition). The book seems appropriate since I have my own keto diet reboot going on. Which, by the way, is starting to go somewhere. This morning I weighed in at 223 pounds, the lightest weight that I’ve recorded for myself in 2017.
I should mention that my newsletter sweepstakes is being run by Amazon Giveaway, at Amazon.com, which means there are a couple restrictions. To enter, you must be 18 or older, and a resident of one of the 50 U.S. states or the District of Columbia. I plan to have some giveaways or special offers without those restrictions.
Now, on to the main topic. The article of concern was published in Cell Metabolism on October 3, 2017, and is entitled, “Dietary Carbohydrates Impair Healthspan and Promote Mortality.”
I interpret that title as saying that carbs will make you sick, and probably kill you. The article is an argument based on other published research, most notably the so-called PURE study that I discussed in Episode 50, “The carbs are gonna get you.” The PURE study was conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Canada, who looked at data from 135,000 participants in 18 countries. It found an association between eating more carbohydrate and less fat and earlier death from all causes.
The current article attempts to explain and defend that finding. Why do dietary carbs impair our health and contribute to earlier death? What are the mechanisms? The discussion gets technical, but it comes down to this: too much insulin, released in response to eating carbohydrates, “may be considered the key reason as to how increased carbohydrate uptake promotes mortality.” The authors add that “hyperinsulinemia not only is a hallmark of lifespan-impairing type 2 diabetes, but also specifically promotes malignant growth as reflected by an increased incidence of cancers in diabetics.”
The authors consider possible therapies, which start with eating fewer carbs. There may also be ways of inhibiting the body’s normal glucose response to dietary carbohydrates. Personally, I’d rather just change my diet than take a bunch of pills, which may be expensive and have negative side-effects.
The authors also consider other research that supports or extends the PURE study, mostly mouse based. A couple statements stood out to me in this section. One was that it’s sugar specifically, and not carbs in general, that has the biggest impact in reducing lifespan. Another was that combining high-fat and high-carb in a diet has the worst effect on lifespan. That last one resonated with me because critics of high-fat diets often illustrate their claims with photos of cakes, donuts, or french fries — all high-fat, high-carb foods.
The authors also defend the PURE study against criticism that confounding variables accounted for its findings, the most important being income and wealth, which are known to affect the quality of diet. But, in fact, a re-analysis did account for income and wealth, without changing the findings.
Finally, the authors conclude by calling for a fundamental reconsideration of dietary recommendations for macro-nutrients, and especially for refined carbs and sugar. That I certainly support. I’m not as keen for their suggestion that “pharmacological options to mimic low-carb nutrition” be considered for the general population. I’d reserve pharmacological options for special cases.
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