FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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Best Diets?

It is time for the U.S. News and World Report diet issue again. Rated by nutrition “experts,” this year the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet hold honors as most popular.  There are couple of “new” diets on the list this year. Conventional wisdom? The best diet is one that can become part of your lifestyle rather than following some gimmicky or faddish approach.

Bon appétit

CLICK HERE.

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Is the Ketogenic Diet Just Another Fad?

The ketogenic (keto, for short) diet is being promoted more and more in the media, especially on the Internet. CLICK HERE for more information on this “fad” diet which was published on this blog a couple of months ago. Also read a cautious and critical approach by Dr.David Katz, M.D.,M.P.H. HERE.

 


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Homeopathy: Just More Snake Oil?

Homeopathy has been claimed to cure just about everything. But what exactly is it?  One definition: “Homeopathy is a therapy based on principles that from a scientific point of view are nonsensical.”  With suggestive support, they are perfectly “honed to maximize placebo responses” and for that reason may seem to provide relief at least initially. They have failed to perform as claimed when subjected to rigorous clinical trials. Source: “Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body”, Jo Marchant, 2016.

In my opinion, they support the power of the placebo, but nothing more.

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The “Magic” of Weight Loss?

It has become more and more obvious that the simple advice for weight loss, i.e. “eat less” just does not work for many people. The body fights to maintain the weight it wants, and often that is not the weight we want. For most dieters, this results in losing a few pounds and gaining them back over and over again. Weight loss claims by many weight loss plans are “magical” and not realistic. How many times have you seen them display their results in terms of how their diet resulted in long-term weight loss? There is always the disclaimer that accompanies their before and after photos that says in fine print something like “results are not typical for every one.”

This was so obvious when the study on the “Biggest Loser” participants came to light that all but one in one of the seasons had gained a large percentage of their weight back. That is not to say their weight loss was futile since even a loss of 5-10% of body weight can have health benefits.

It has been reported that many people are just giving up on dieting – no wonder. Weight loss is difficult and weight maintenance is even more difficult based on past research and should not be portrayed as anything other than that.

My favorite quotes on the subject reflect how many dieters feel:

“In two decades I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet”Erma Bombeck

“I am more  than my measurements. The cycle of body shaming needs to end. I’m over it…My body is MY body. I’ll call the shots.” Ashley Graham

“I’m not going to miss 95% of life to weigh 5% less.” Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

“I finally figured out the big, elusive secret to weight loss. Don’t eat! Who knew?” Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway

“Healthy living is a learnable skill.” Claude Viens, The most powerful weight loss device ever made; The human brain

The obesity epidemic is becoming a global phenomenon. The obesity industry also continues to grow. With our current food environment, who knows when it may end

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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.

For more click HERE.