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Study: High-Carb Diet Leads To Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Possible Blindness

Posted Sep 12 2008 8:57am

Dr. Allen Taylor found AMD speeds up rapidly on a high-carb diet

It's not looking good for the highly-recommended, government-approved high-carb diet. We already know from previous research that such a diet leads to acne, increased blood pressure, an inability to lose weight in people with hyperinsulinemia, lower HDL "good" cholesterol and much higher triglycerides, the development of esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, and other forms of cancer, the development of Type 2 diabetes, and negligible weight loss, among a variety of other health-related concerns.

Now we can add to that ever-growing list of ailments something else--an increase in the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, according to this Food Navigator story.

Dr. Allen Taylor, Senior Scientist and Director in the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at the Jean Mayer USDA HNRCA at Tufts University in Boston, MA, and his fellow researchers observed nearly 4,100 nondiabetic senior citizens between the ages of 55-80 years old (average age for men was 79.3, for women was 77.9) in a nationwide study called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) to determine the impact of their diet on AMD, a very serious eye condition that has become the #1 reason for blindness in people 50 and over.

What the researchers found was those study participants who consumed a higher-carb diet than the average for their age experience a 49 PERCENT INCREASE in the risk of developing advanced AMD. Dr. Taylor said the more carbs that were consumed, the greater the risk.

"Men and women who consumed diets with a higher glycemic index than average for their gender and age-group were at greater risk of developing advanced AMD," he said. "The severity of AMD increased with increasing dietary glycemic index."

Interestingly, the kind and amount of carbs was not even a factor in this study originally, but it quickly became one once the researchers noticed the correlation between carbohydrates consumed and the advancement of AMD.

"Although carbohydrate quality was not the main focus in the AREDS, we were fortunate that the investigators had collected the dietary carbohydrate information we needed to do our analyses," Dr. Taylor revealed.

The results of this study found that 1 in 5 cases of advanced AMD would likely have been PREVENTED entirely by consuming a lower-carb diet.

As those of us who are livin' la vida low-carb know, the higher the glycemic index in the foods you eat the greater the impact on blood sugar which spike insulin levels causing all sorts of health problems. Eating a true low-G.I. diet (and I mean a REAL one, not the one being promoted by Rick Gallop!) which will be naturally low in carbs can help avert many of these issues.

The connection has now been made between the level of carbohydrate and AMD, too.

"Our results support our hypothesis that dietary glycemic index, which has been related to the risk of diabetes, is also associated with the risk and severity of AMD," Dr. Taylor noted.

He likens the damage to the eye tissue caused by a high-carb diet to that of a diabetic. Low-carb is now being considered as a possible simple resolution to these conditions, but Dr. Taylor said there will need to be further studies to confirm this as a recommended treatment for preventing AMD.

The results of this study appear in the July 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

You can e-mail Dr. Allen Taylor about his study at allen.taylor@tufts.edu.

Labels: age-related macular degeneration, Allen Taylor, AMD, AREDS, carbs, eyes, glycemic index, high-carb, low-carb, research, study, Tufts

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