FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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Discrimination in Health Care?

Diet and Health: With key to the calories. Lulu Hunt Peters, 1918

Will this become the norm in the United States?  There is already prolific fat shaming from the public and health care providers. Check out this article about the French HERE and what is being considered in Great Britain. This is all the more reason for preventing weight gain in the first place; much research supports the sad fact that losing weight and keeping it off is a daunting task and may even be almost impossible for some.

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Is the Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss Safe?

 

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

Sally Feltner, PhD, RDN

Glucose is the preferred fuel for the body to use for energy. However, when carbohydrates are limited there may not be adequate glucose for energy use. The body can make some glucose from protein but it can also supply an energy source from fatty acids called ketones.

Ketones ( ketosis) are molecules formed in the liver from fatty acids and released in the blood when there is not sufficient carbohydrate. Ketosis can be generated in a ketogenic diet by fasting or by strictly restricting carbohydrate intake to less than 20-40 grams a day. Fat intake is increased to about 70-80 percent of total calories. Protein intake makes up the rest of the calories.

Ketone production is a normal response to starvation or to a diet very low in carbohydrate. Ketones can be used for energy by the heart, muscle, and kidney. After about three days of fasting, even the brain adapts and can obtain about half its energy from ketones. Ketones not used are excreted in urine. However, if produced in excess, they can build up in the blood. If severe in untreated diabetes, it can increase the blood’s acidity so much that normal body processes cannot proceed, eventually causing possible coma or even death.

The ketogenic diet was originally developed to treat children with epilepsy with some success. Lately, it has become a new diet trend in weight loss. When ketones are used for energy, the body can burn fat stores more efficiently often resulting in rapid body fat loss. Ketosis also lessens hunger helping to avoid excessive calorie intake.

In general, registered dietitians, but not all, do not recommend the ketogenic diet for weight loss due to some serious concerns about its safety. This is due to the lack of research especially on long-term effects. It may in some people cause adverse kidney function and bone metabolism leading to a reduction in bone mineral content. Since it is a carbohydrate restrictive diet, there may be other nutritional deficiencies that occur from a lack of fruits, vegetables, or fiber-rich foods. It is also generally a high fat diet causing some to question the safety of consuming high saturated fats and increasing heart disease risks.

There are other cautions. It is estimated that about 7 million people don’t know they have diabetes type 2. With a high number of people in the population that may have undiagnosed diabetes, the serious dangers of high levels of ketones in the blood can have serious consequences as previously discussed above.

Food choices should be monitored by a registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN) in order to keep the carbohydrate content low and help the dieter choose healthy fats. Electrolytes such as sodium and magnesium should be assessed periodically. Lab values for total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, blood glucose and blood pressure should be monitored.

My opinion? Long-term use of the ketogenic diet is not recommended until more research tells us more about its safety. Perhaps it may help people  to lose weight on a short-term basis; however, please consult your physician before trying any version of a ketogenic diet.

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More Glyphosate News?

The news continues to warn about the extensive use of glyphosate. While its carcinogenicity still remains to be determined, there are other health concerns about its extensive use. There are so many questions and biases  about the production and use of the herbicide from both sides of the  issue. Have the research findings been suppressed by the industry? Have they have been altered by the corporations that produce it? That depends on which side one believes. It is extremely hard to find an unbiased opinion about an important topic regarding our food supply.

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For more news about Ben & Jerry ice cream, click HERE.


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The Obesity Epidemic: Nature or Nurture?

Fat shaming is found in many aspects of our culture. The obese are described as fat and lazy and looked upon with disdain by even some of the health professionals they seek out to solve many of their health care needs. Perhaps we need to examine the complexities of the interactions that may have contributed to this so-called obesity epidemic to gain a better understanding of what the obese population has to contend with.

In 1960, only 13.4 % of Americans were overweight or obese. By 1990, about 23% were obese, and today, only two decades later, almost 36% are obese. Obesity affects both men and women and all racial and ethnic groups. As far as we know, we still had the same genes and physiology during these decades; however, the food environment or culture had obviously changed.

“The interplay between genetics and lifestyle is often illustrated by the higher incidence of obesity in Pima Indians living in Arizona than in a genetically similar group of Pima Indians living in Mexico. When this genetic susceptibility is combined with an environment that fosters a sedentary lifestyle and consumption of a calorie dense diet, the outcome is the strikingly high incidence of obesity seen in this population. The Pima Indians of Mexico are farmers who work in the fields and consume the food they grow. On the other hand, the Arizona Pima eat the high-calorie, high-fat processed foods,  found in the Standard American Diet (SAD) and lead a more sedentary lifestyle. Both groups have  higher rates of obesity due to their genetic susceptibility; however, the average BMI or the Mexican Pima is significantly lower than that of their American counterparts.” Smolin and Grosvenor, Nutrition: Science and Applications, Third Edition.

Check out my previous post HERE.

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