A new month has arrived in 2009 and the headlines about livin’ la vida low-carb and health continue to pour in like a rushing tide on the shores of the nutritional landscape. It’s important for those of us who have taken back control of our own health to stay on top of the very latest updates on information about healthy living. You can’t count on traditional media sources to highlight these stories for you, but I do my best to find the information that is most important for YOU!
One of the most frequently asked questions people have for me about livin’ la vida low-carb is about the current low-carb studies that are being conducted. While many of these studies, especially the long-term ones that are in the process of taking years to be published, are unknown to the general public until they appear in a medical or scientific journal, one of my readers shared with me about the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Trials web site which lists all the current clinical trials that the government is conducting. When I did a quick search for “low-carb”, I found two completed studies, two recruiting studies, and one that is active but no longer recruiting. Don’t let anyone convince you that low-carb diets are just a passing “fad” that have no scientific merit for examining. They ARE being looked at seriously even if the positive results are having a tough time getting past the low-fat gatekeepers at many of the major journals. Keep an eye on this site!
Another reader noticed in his November/December 2008 issue of Archeology magazine that the gladiator diet was one filled with high amounts of plants and carbohydrates to fatten them up and protect them against the inevitable blows during competition. “The vegetarian diet had nothing to do with poverty or animal rights. Gladiators, it seems, were fat. Consuming a lot of simple carbohydrates, such as barley, and legumes, like beans, was designed for survival in the arena. Packing in the carbs also packed on the pounds.” While the stored body fat from that high-carb, low-fat diet might have protected against getting seriously cut during a fight, it did very little to help with their health–specifically with the “serious calcium deficit”–which had to be remedied by drinking a broth of bone ash ostensibly to get all the health benefits of the calcium and bone marrow. Oh yummy! While Russell Crowe might have glamorized the svelte lean “look” of a gladiator in his 2000 blockbuster film, the reality is these were a bunch of fat guys slapping each other around. Puts it all in perspective, huh?
One of the most peculiar studies I’ve ever seen on the response to carbohydrate in athletes was published in the April 2009 issue of The Journal of Physiology. The researchers gave athletes in the study one of three energy drink concoctions–a glucose-based one (a flavored carbohydrate source), a maltodextrin-based one (tasteless carbohydrate source), or neither. All of them were flavored with artificial sweeteners to make them all taste the same. And get this…they weren’t even required to DRINK them, just swish ‘em around in their mouths. The results? The carb-laden groups performed 2-3 percent better than the ones that tasted no carbs. The researchers believe there is some sort of properties in the carbohydrates that makes the mouth receptors respond apart from the taste of “sweet” that can fool the brain into providing energy for the muscles. The best part of this study is that you don’t even have to ingest the carbohydrates to enjoy these benefits. Fascinating!
You knew it wouldn’t take long for the negative naysayers to start rearing their ugly head on the plant-based sweetener stevia, didn’t you? After the FDA finally granted “sweetener” status to stevia in December 2008, companies began scrambling to find new ways to add this seemingly “healthier” option to their line of products. We’ve seen some pretty incredible new products hit store shelves in recent months, including Truvia from Cargill Foods. But this MSNBC story brings up the same old, same old arguments that have been argued against other sweeteners like Splenda for years–they make you hungry which leads to weight gain, there’s risk for cancer, they make you consume too many calories…yadda yadda yadda. The old adage was that these sweeteners weren’t natural and stevia counters that argument directly. And yet the questions remain from these idiots who would rather thump their chests about what they think is good for people than give people viable and healthy natural options for improving their weight and health. Frustrating people by railing against an outstanding product like stevia will only make obesity and disease WORSE, not better.
The April 13 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine produced a rather unassuming review of previously-published data that ultimately concluded intake of trans-fatty acids and foods with a high glycemic index may be harmful to heart health. They looked at all the various studies and papers on cardiovascular disease between 1950 and June 2007 where 146 prospective cohort studies and 43 randomized controlled trials were identified and examined. Of these 189 studies the researchers identified, would you believe they found “weak evidence…[about the] causal relationships between…saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and total fats, alpha-linoleic acid, meat, eggs and milk.” You read that right! While the saturated fat that is found in foods like beef, eggs, and dairy products has been so maligned as some great health hazard for people to consume ostensibly on their heart, the conclusion of this research shows the evidence that is supposedly against it is “weak” at best, if at all. WHY ISN’T THIS FRONT PAGE NEWS?! Is it any wonder why those of us who have taken back control of our own health stay so skeptical about what we hear from the so-called health “experts?”
This is EXACTLY why I don’t go to fast food restaurants like McDonald’s anymore. Aside from the fact that there is very little I can eat on my healthy low-carb lifestyle there, you run into issues like what one of my readers did attempting to order their highly-touted new McCafe gourmet coffees. This guy has been ordering this product since it came out thinking the “sugar-free vanilla syrup” he was adding to it made perfect sense for his low-carb lifestyle. Unfortunately, he was in for a rude awakening when he visited the nutritional page for his “sugar-free” McCafe. Each cup of java gave him 14g carbohydrates just from the milk alone and that’s not counting the additional 11g carbs from the sugar alcohols in the sugar-free syrup (granted, it’s erythritol and you can subtract that from your carbohydrate counts for net carbs, not everyone reacts the same way to it). My reader noted that his “weight loss stalled” when he was drinking this product. Additionally, he said that the McDonald’s employees are supposed to make the McCafe with cream instead of milk if you request it. This gives you a whole lot more carbs than you bargained for! The moral of this story: DON’T EAT AT MICKEY D’S!
I admire the ferocious tenacity of people like Dr. Jonny Bowden because he’s an extremely talented health writer who knows what needs to be done to change the public’s mind about the glut of misinformation that is floating around out there about diet, nutrition, and healthy lifestyles. His column “The Statin Scams” on The Huffington Post challenges any and all investigative journalists to dig deeper into this subject and expose the lies about the cholesterol-heart disease hypothesis. Bowden says warnings from genuine experts like Dr. Uffe Ravnskov are routinely ignored by the general public because he’s a doctor and “people don’t pay attention to emperors who throw stones at other emperors. It starts to look like one big snooze of a squabble on CSPAN and everybody just tunes out.” And he’s right! We need another Gary Taubes-type to write a Good Calories, Bad Calories expose on the subject of the cholesterol myth in such a compelling and easy-to-understand manner that is then clearly articulated for the public to understand (Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s book The Great Cholesterol Con doesn’t count because he’s a part of the medical establishment–nevertheless, I’ll be sharing a podcast interview with him on June 18, 2009). Tom Naughton did a fabulous job of illustrating this in his documentary FAT HEAD, but maybe someone out there can take this on. Anyone?
Okay, I’m not exactly a fan of most of those shysters up on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, but this story caught my attention. It seems the business of passing laws and spending our money is causing so much stress and taking away so much invaluable time from our elected leaders that they don’t have time to eat right and exercise. But you know what? That’s a pretty flimsy excuse if you ask me! The pressures of being a United States Senator or member of the U.S. House of Representatives are no more stressful now than they have been before. These guys (and gals!) need to learn how to budget their time to make better choices about what they eat (eating a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet would keep your hunger away for HOURS on end!) and how to incorporate healthy activity into their hectic lifestyle. President Barack Obama does as a means for “relieving stress” and getting in a good workout. The “I’m so busy” excuse has really gotten old and easily debunked. If you’re THAT busy, then you are TOO busy. Prioritize about what is most important. Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice did by getting into a routine and sticking with it. What’s your excuse, Congress?
We all know about the looming June 12, 2009 deadline for televisions to broadcast their signal in the digital format? But three German physicians wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to “stop the scheduled introduction of this new technology in the United States of America and to save the people from the negative health consequences that have occurred in” Germany. According to these doctors, the introduction of DTV (digital television) in that country in 2003 has correlated with a mysterious rise in health problems among the German people, including constant headaches, pressure in the head, drowsiness, sleep problems, inability to think clearly, forgetfulness, nervous tensions, irritability, tightness in the chest, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, depressive mood, total apathy, loss of empathy, burning skin, inner burning, leg weakness, pain in the limbs, stabbing pain in various organs, weight gain. While the reasons for these symptoms are unexplainable medically, these three doctors are convinced it has to do with the “electromagnetic radiation” that emanates from these digital television reception to negatively impact health at the cellular level. I don’t know what to think about this since I’m no expert on the subject, but it’s certainly something worth noting for five or so years down the road if we begin seeing a rise in any of those symptoms listed above.
The namesake company for the Atkins diet has decided to repackage their popular bars and shakes in environmentally-friendly packaging that supports wind power with the purchase of carbon offsets. Additionally, the cartons used are produced with eco-friendly paperboard and the shake packaging uses Tetra Pak cartons as well. You will likely notice the logo “Carton Made With Wind Energy” on the Atkins packaging henceforth denoting these changes to a more green-friendly approach. The vice-president of marketing Jennifer McGhee said, “Choosing manufacturers that are cognizant of their impact on the environment is another way Atkins can respond to consumer requests for more efficient, eco-friendly packaging for our products. Whether it’s by creating delicious and healthy low-carbohydrate bars and shakes, to lowering our carbon footprint through changes to product packaging, Atkins truly embraces ‘low-carb’ living.” If that’s something that is important to you, then certainly you should support them with your dollars.
As an outspoken advocate about the positive changes livin’ la vida low-carb has produced in me, I think I’ve heard just about everything you can from people about those of us who support healthy low-carb living. But I do believe this blog post from personal trainer Martin Berkhan wins the prize for the most absurd accusation and comparison against low-carb advocates. Martin runs a blog called “Leangains” and it is dedicated to helping people understand and implement the concept of intermittent fasting into their health and fat loss routine. He’s even collaborating with fellow nutrition/trainer Lyle McDonald on a new book on the subject. But you absolutely MUST read his February 2, 2009 post entitled “Low Carb Talibans.” The argument could be made that Martin is only referring to the extreme fringe of the low-carb community as those “fundamentalists,” but he really doesn’t distinguish who he’s talking about. And the comparison of low-carbers to an evil terrorist group like the Taliban is as unprofessional and insane as anything I’ve ever heard! It’s such a shame that this kind of public discourse is becoming all too common nowadays while honest discussion and debate of the important topics is virtually dead. Where are we heading next with the likes of Martin Berkhan out there spouting off at the mouth?
That’s enough low-carb news and health headlines for now and there’s PLENTY more to share! Keep reading and I’ll post another update soon with even more health information to keep you informed and on the cutting-edge of all you need to know about the healthy low-carb lifestyle. Feel free to send me any diet and health news or stories you see that are appropriate for sharing with your fellow readers. E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.