As more and more research and clinical trials take place into low-carb, high-protein diets we are discovering that there are many health advantages other than losing weight.
A new study using mice has found that low-carb diets could reduce the risk of getting cancer as well as slow the growth of tumors in cancer sufferers.
The British Columbia Cancer Research Center has been running clinical trials using mice that were fed a diet similar to the South Beach or other Low-GI diets. The mice that ate a diet that consisted of 15% carbs, 58% protein and 26% fat, were found to have slower tumor cell growth than laboratory mice that were fed a more typical American diet of 55% carbs, 23% protein and 22% fat.
The research team put mice that were predisposed to developing breast cancer into two teams, one team were fed the high-carb traditional Western diet, the other the low-carb, high-protein diet. During the first year, almost half of the mice on the high-carb diet actually developed the cancer, but none of the mice fed on the low-carb diet developed breast cancer.
During the 2 year trial only one of the mice on the high-carb diet lived his full life expectancy, and of all the mice on the western diet—70% died of cancer. In the team fed on the low-carb diet, only 30% developed cancer, and more than 50% of the mice reached their life expectancy or exceeded it.
Gerald Krystal, a scientist at the research center, said: “This shows that something as simple as a change in diet can have an impact on cancer risk” The researcher also added “On the Western diet, half of the mice had tumors by middle age. On the low-carb diet, none of the mice had the tumors”.
The study had proved that tumor cells are fed by glucose. By simply decreasing the amount of carbohydrates eaten the glucose in the body is greater reduced, so tumors cannot use it as fuel to grow. Whilst the study was based on mice, the principals should also be strong enough to be applied to our own eating habits.
In addition to this, reducing the amount of carbohydrates consumed also limits the amount of insulin the body produces. Insulin has been found in past studies to actively speed the growth of tumors in both humans and mice.
The emphasis on choosing both good carbs and good fats however, is paramount to overall health.
There is much talk of diets such as gluten-free or lactose-free. Sometimes people undertake these diets for weight loss purposes, but for many people they have to eat gluten-free or lactose-free because they have food intolerance.
What Are Food Intolerances?
Food intolerances are generally where a person has adverse reactions to a particular food or food group. Usually, the reaction happens every each time the food has been consumed and the more the food is eaten the worse the reactions.
Food intolerances are not to be confused with food allergies, whilst food intolerances can make life pretty miserable to the sufferer they are in no way life-threatening. Food allergies on the other hand can cause major health issues such as anaphylactic shock which could result in death, so the sufferer needs to take great care not to accidentally consume the offending food.
What Causes Food Intolerances?
Usually a food intolerance occurs because the body is unable to produce enough of an enzyme (or chemical reaction) to break down that food in the digestive system. For instance, a lot of people have an intolerance to lactose, which is the natural sugar found in cow’s milk. Those who have a lactose intolerance have a shortage of an enzyme called lactase in their small intestine, because of this shortage they are unable to break down the lactose so that it can be absorbed correctly into the bloodstream.
The body’s inability to deal with certain foods causes the sufferer many side effects which may occur immediately or some days after eating the food.
What are the Most Common Food Intolerances?
The most common food intolerances are lactose and wheat (or gluten), but there are other foods groups such as soy, fructose, yeast, and nightshade vegetables (peppers—chilli and bell, eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes) that many people also have a high sensitivity towards.
Who’s Affected by Food Intolerances?
It’s estimated that between 30 and 50 million people in the USA are lactose intolerant, however most of these won’t realise it. Some 1 in 7 are said to be wheat intolerant.
Babies generally have higher levels of lactase so most lactose intolerances don’t surface until over 2 years of age. Some races are more predisposed to be lactose intolerant than others, for example American and Northern Europeans have a 10%-15% affliction rate, whereas the Asian, African and native American races have between 70% and 90%.
What are the Symptoms of Food Intolerance?
There are many symptoms of food intolerance, thankfully whilst they are uncomfortable for the sufferer they are rarely life-threatening. The side effects of eating foods that a person is intolerant to include, bloating, nausea, IBS, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, lethargy, sinus complaints, skin problems such as eczema and rashes, and mood swings.
The more a food is consumed the worse the symptoms are likely to be.
How to Tell if You Have a Food Intolerance?
The easiest way to find out if you have a food intolerance is to eliminate the food from your diet. If, after a few weeks your symptoms have improved you can then re-introduce the food to see if the negative symptoms return. If they do return it’s likely that you have an intolerance to that particular food.
Bear in mind that it can take a few weeks before you start to feel better, and in some cases you may feel worse, as you go through withdrawal symptoms, before you start to see improvements. Also, it’s common for people to have more than one food intolerance. If you suspect more than one food group is giving you problems then you will need to eliminate them all, and then re-introduce them individually until you find out which are your culprits.
You can also arrange for blood tests and stool tests from your doctor.
How do You Treat a Food Intolerance?
The best way to treat a food intolerance is to completely eliminate it from your diet. Some people can tolerate small amounts of the foods every once in a while without too many problems, but others find that complete avoidance is the only way.
For lactose intolerance lactase enzyme drops or capsules can be prescribed by your medical practitioner.
If you have got a food intolerance you need to ensure that you are making up your vital nutrients, such as fiber and calcium, with other foods. We here at Linda’s Diet Delites stock a range of products that suit wheat and lactose intolerances as they are gluten or lactose free.
Michael Nace is a blogger for Linda’s Diet Delites.
Recent research has found that low carbohydrate/high fat diets will not lead to hardening of the arteries in patients.
Dr. Kerry Stewart of Johns Hopkins reported that those who lost 10 pounds after undertaking a low carb/high fat diet had no more hardening of the arteries than a dieter on a traditional low fat diet.
Presenting to the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver he said “Losing weight may be more important to health than the diet you’re on, counter to what the public has been told for the last 20 or so years,”
There has been much opposition to low carb/high fat diets over the years, with researchers often raising concerns about adverse effects on heart health and blood vessels in dieters who go on low carb diets such as the Atkins diet.
These latest studies show that low carb diets can actually have a positive effect on heart health including, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. They also show that the diets may reduce the risk of artery diseases such as atherosclerosis, so therefore reduce the risk of heart disease.
Stewart enrolled 55 obese or overweight, but relatively healthy, patients aged between 30 and 65 to take part in a lifestyle modification program. None of the patients had heart disease, or any markers of risk to cardiovascular health.
The patients were split into two groups with one set being given a low carb diet to follow for six months and the other a low fat diet. They also had to undertake an hour of supervised exercise three days a week. Researchers then monitored the patients for arterial stiffness and various other blood vessel health measures.
The findings showed that the same number of people in each group lost 10 pounds, but those on the low carb diet lost the weight quicker; in 45 days as opposed to the 70 days it took the low fat dieters to lose 10 pounds.
Tests on the patients revealed that there were no changes in arterial stiffness in either of the diet groups, nor was there any change in endothelial functions. Even with adjustments made to take into account the different lengths of time it took to lose the weight, the results of each group were the same.
In an interview with MedPage Dr. Stewart said: “My theory is that if people can achieve weight loss, it will benefit vasculature in every other system of body. Weight loss, in the long run, will count more than the specific content of the diet.”
The research also showed that there weren’t any acute effects on vascular function after a single high fat meal. A companion study with 66 patients revealed that there were no changes in endothelial function after consuming a meal at MacDonalds that contained 900 calories and 50 grams of fat. Conversely, it was discovered that arterial stiffness improved by 16% after consuming the meal. Of this finding Steward remarked: “It really seemed to make the arteries relax more, but we’re not entirely sure how. We’ll have to look more deeply into that.”
Other researchers have asked for longer-term follow up research, and for analysis to be included of the effects of different types of fat.
Steward promised that he would look at future analysis breaking down the types of fat consumed and assured people that the dieticians involved in the initial study had advised patients to stick to healthier fats such as monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids
He also added that this research should help put aside doctors and dieters concerns about low carb diets.
Michael Nace is a low carb blogger for Linda’s Diet Delites, a leading online retailer of the finest low carb foods!