Now Licensed for Virtual Dietetic Practice Across Canada

If you live almost anywhere in Canada and are looking for a Registered Dietitian with experience in food allergy or sensitivity, including celiac disease and IBS as well as the specific of providing low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet support, I can help.

Whether you live in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland or Labrador, I am now licensed to provide you with services.

I currently can't provide Dietitian services to Prince Edward Island (PEI) but if I have enough demand, that may change.

Registered in British Columbia since 2002

I have been registered with the College of Dietitians of British Columbia since 2002 as an RD(t) and since 2008 as a full registrant. This registration enables me to provide services to people across Canada, with the exception of  Alberta and PEI but since I’ve had several physicians in Alberta who have asked to refer patients to me as well as individuals from Alberta requesting services, I recently applied to- and was accepted into the College of Dietitians of Alberta.

Provincial Registration Requirements for Virtual Dietetic Practice

As can be seen from the table below, Registered Dietitian such as myself that provide virtual Dietetic practice services (Distance Consultation) to other provinces are required to meet very specific registration requirements, as well as observe other regulatory regulations.

Virtual Dietetic Practice (Telepractice) – from the Alliance of Dietetic Regulatory Bodies. August, 2017

In the US or overseas?

I am a member of the College of Dietitians of British Columbia as well as the College of Dietitians of Alberta and am licensed to provide Registered Dietitian services in most provinces in Canada (except PEI), but if you live in the USA or elsewhere, I can still provide you with nutrition education services that would not be considered medical nutrition therapy (MNT) and that would be provided for information purposes only.

More Info

If you would like more information, you can find out more under the Services tab or by looking in the ShopIf you have specific questions, please send me a note using the Contact Us form on the tab above and I’d be glad to reply as I am able.

To your good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

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Copyright ©2019 The LCHF-Dietitian (a division of BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.)

 

American Heart Association: Some Kids & Teens at Risk for Premature CVD

INTRODUCTION: It is well known that adults are at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) due to having obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, but it is now known that children and adolescents are also at risk of premature coronary artery disease and stroke for the same reasons.



According to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) published in the Association’s journal Circulation this past Monday (February 25, 2019) [1], obesity and severe obesity in childhood and adolescence have been added to the list of conditions that put kids and teenagers at increased risk for premature heart disease, including coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke and are considered at high risk of cardiovascular disease simply by having Type  2 Diabetes, whether or not they are overweight.

Childhood overweight is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) between the 85th to 94th percentile for age and sex, and childhood obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) ≥ 95th percentile for age and sex.

Youth with obesity are now considered at-risk of heart disease and stroke
and those with severe obesity are now considered at moderate risk of heart disease and stroke based on a large-scale study from 2016 that followed 2.3 million people for over 40 years and found the risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease were 2-3 times higher if people’s body weight as adolescents had been in the overweight or obese category, compared to youth with normal weight [2].

Obesity,  specifically the ectopic fat  (fat in the organs) is considered an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and is associated with other CVD risk factors such as high triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure,  high blood sugar (hyperglycemia),  insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress.

It Is estimated that in 2014 ~6% of all youth 2 to 19 years old in the United States were severely obese [3] and 2015 Canadian data indicates that obesity in children aged 5-17 years of age averaged around 12% (14.5% for boys and ~9.5% in girls) [4].

Given these children are 2-3 times more likely to have premature cardiovascular disease as adults, the time to successfully address their overweight and obesity is when they are still young.

Cardiovascular Disease -a leading cause of death

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for people of all ages and both genders in the United States [5] and the second leading cause of death in Canada [6] and a large percentage of these deaths are entirely preventable with appropriate dietary and lifestyle habit changes whether they are implemented as children, youth or adults.

Proposed Mechanism – inflammation

The American Heart Association scientific statement states that the exact mechanism by which these contribute to cardiovascular disease remains to be fully understood and explained, they believe that the cardiovascular risk is brought about by a combination of insulin resistance and oxidative stress (free radical damage), but that inflammation comes first.

“Insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and
inflammation are linked multidirectionally, but emerging
evidence supports a mechanism by which inflammation
comes first.”

SIDE-NOTE: This idea that inflammation precedes insulin resistance is something I've been coming across recently. Some propose that insulin resistance itself may be a protective mechanism against high levels of circulating glucose (sugar) in the blood [a], in much the same way as the ability to produced more and more subcutanous fat (the fat directly under the skin) may be protective against the accumulation of fat around the organs (called visceral fat) or fat in the organs or even the bone (called ectopic fat). That is, excess energy (calories) seen as high levels of glucose in the blood may be the result of storage problems in fat cells (the body's inability to make new subcutaneous fat cells), and the subsequent overflow of fat may drive excess high glucose production in the liver.

a. Nolan CJ, Prentki M, insulin resistance and insulin hypersecretion in the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: Time for a conceptual framework shift, Diabetes and Vascular Disease Research, Feb 15, 2019

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that inflammation may increase cardiovascular risk through a combination of these three factors;

(1) high triglycerides (TG)
(2) low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL)
(3) high small low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles (LDL-s)

NOTE: Studies on LDL-particle size indicate that people whose LDL  is mostly the small, dense sub-particles have a 3x greater risk of coronary heart disease than those with mostly the large, fluffy sub-particle type, which is thought to be protective."

The American Heart Association suggests that it’s the inflammatory process itself that triggers insulin resistance as a mechanism to keep blood sugar high in order to meet the needs of an  immune system that has become activated, as would occur when the body is fighting a significant infection. 

They propose that this process of inflammation leads to;
(1) defective activity of an enzyme that is responsible for breaking down triglycerides (i.e. lipoprotein lipase) which would normally be used by the body as energy or stored in fatty tissue for later use
(2) blocking of normal fat cell creation (adipogenesis)
(3) an increase in triglycerides in order to deal with infectious toxins and
(4) an overproduction of smaller LDL particles* and HDL particles

*The ADA suggests that the formation of small LDL particles may perform some important function in this situation of high inflammation, as small LDL particles can easily penetrate the blood vessels to deliver cholesterol to damaged tissue and that oxidation of these small LDL particles make athlerosclerosis even worse.

The decrease in HDL cholesterol which is frequently seen on a standard cholesterol test (lipid panel) in the context of inflammation is thought to be associated with a decrease in reverse cholesterol transport which promotes the building up of cholesterol in the tissues, where it is used for the synthesis of cortisol for the cell membranes that have become damaged by what the body sees as an ‘infection’.

Recommended Dietary Changes

The AHA recommends different dietary and lifestyle changes for each of the risk factors

High Triglycerides(TG)

The AHA recommends a diet low in simple carbohydrates and added sugars, high in dietary fiber from fruits* and vegetables**, moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates, and high in polyunsaturated*** and  monounsaturated fats, without specific restriction of saturated fats.

NOTES:

* fructose, the sugar in fruit is a simple carbohydrate and can be a major contributor to high TG. 

** there is no distinction between starchy vegetables such as potato and sweet potato (which accounts for a large percentage of overweight children and adult's 'vegetable' servings) and non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, as well as a whole host of other low carbohydrate non-starchy vegetables. 

*** it is well established that omega 6 polyunsaturated fats contribute to the inflammation process yet the recommendation doesn't indicate that there should be a decrease in omega 6 polyunsaturated fats such as from soybean oil, canola oil, etc. and an increase in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats from fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, etc even though the paper itself proposes inflammation at the heart of the issue.  This makes no sense to me.

Total LDL Cholesterol

Diet high in fiber from fruits* and vegetables**, whole grains, high in polyunsaturated*** and monounsaturated fats, low in saturated
fat and devoid of trans fats.

See Notes above for * , ** and ***.

NOTE: The body of the AHA paper elaborates on the detrimental effect of the small LDL subparticle (LDL-s), yet no such differentiation from total LDL cholesterol (LDL-c) is made in the Dietary Recommendations. Why is that?

Particle size of LDL can be established by testing, using Apo B:Apo A ratio (Apo B is a component of lipoproteins involved in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease) and by proxy using a TG:HDL ratio. 

It makes no sense to me that the dietary recommendations focus on total LDL cholesterol when the paper makes it clear that it is the small LDL subparticle that is the risk factor.

Blood glucose (without diagnosis of
Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes)

Low glycemic diet limiting intake of added sugar to ≤5% of total
calories, high in fruits* and vegetables**, encouraging intake of
polyunsaturated*** and monounsaturated fats, and without specific limitation to dietary saturated fats.

See Notes above for * , ** and ***.

Some final thoughts…

The dietary recommendations in this paper that focus on lowering simple carbohydrate and added sugars are very sound, as are recommending moderate amounts of complex carbohydrate and high in monounsaturated fat. However, to me it makes no sense for the AHA to recommend a diet high in fruit when fruit is the primary source of the simple sugar fructose and it also makes no sense to me for the dietary recommendations not to differentiate between starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn (which is actually a grain that is counted as a vegetable) that raise blood sugar and the non-starchy vegetables such as salad greens,  broccoli and cauliflower and the abundance of other low carbohydrate vegetables.

Furthermore, given that the AHA proposes an inflammatory mechanism at the root of the cardiovascular disease process, it makes no sense to me for the dietary recommendations to fail to differentiate between pro-inflammatory omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (such as those found in soybean and canola oil) and anti-inflammatory omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in fatty fish.

Finally, when the body of the paper makes it very clear that it is the small LDL cholesterol subparticle that contributes to athlersclerosis and that oxidization of it in particular is an additional risk factor, why do the dietary recommendations not focus on lowering the small LDL subparticle, rather than total LDL cholesterol?

Eating a lower carbohydrate intake will both reduce triglycerides (TG) and increase high density lipoproteins (HDL), resulting in an improved TG:HDL ratio, which would indicate a reduction in the small, dense LDL subfraction, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.   Recommending a reduction in saturated fat intake will likely reduce any increase in HDL cholesterol with no consistent evidence that lower total LDL cholesterol will result in lower cardiovascular rates.

On one hand, the paper provides a good explanation about the risks of the small, dense LDL subparticle yet recommends lowering dietary intake of saturated fat, in order to lower total LDL cholesterol.

Why the avoidance of consistent dietary changes that would reduce the small, dense LDL subparticle and increase protective HDL? 

If you would like to know about the services that I offer for lowering body weight in adults as well as youth as well as bringing high blood sugars under control, then please click on the Services tab to learn more. If you have questions related to my services then please send me a note using the Contact Me form located on the tab above and I will reply as I am able.

To your good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

         https://twitter.com/lchfRD

          https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

           https://plus.google.com/+JoyYKiddieMScRD

https://www.instagram.com/lchf_rd

 

Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. American Heart Association, Cardiovascular Risk Reduction in High-Risk Pediatric Patients – a scientific statement from the American Heart Association, Circulation. 2019;139:00-00
  2. Twig G, Tirosh A, Leiba A, Levine H, Ben-Ami Shor D, Derazne E, Haklai
    Z, Goldberger N, Kasher-Meron M, Yifrach D, Gerstein HC, Kark JD.
    BMI at age 17 years and diabetes mortality in midlife: a nationwide cohort
    of 2.3 million adolescents. Diabetes Care. 2016;39:1996–2003.
  3. Skinner AC, Perrin EM, Skelton JA. Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity
    in US children, 1999–2014. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016;24:1116–
    1123. doi: 10.1002/oby.21497
  4. Statistics Canada. 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey, Measured children and youth body mass index (BMI) (World Health Organization classification), by age group and sex, Canada and provinces, Canadian Community Health Survey.
  5. Benjamin EJ, Virani SS, Callaway CW et al (on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee). Heart disease and stroke statistics—2018 update: a report from the American Heart Association [published correction appears in Circulation. 2018;137:e493]. Circulation. 2018;137:e67–e492
  6. Statistics Canada, Leading causes of death, total population, by age group, https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1310039401

Are You Pushing Your Pancreas Too Hard?

Most people think of pre-diabetes as ‘warning sign’ that they are at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes, but it is actually the final stage before diagnosis. By the time a person is prediabetic their blood glucose results (also called “blood sugar”) are in the abnormal range on routine tests such as a fasting blood glucose test (FBS) and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C). They also already have increased rates of high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke as well as chronic kidney disease.

It is now known that abnormalities with the hormone insulin — including insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia appear more than 20 years before a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes[1], so prevention of Type 2 Diabetes needs to begin when blood sugar results still appear normal.

Before getting into the technical details of insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, I want to explain these concepts in terms that everyone can understand.

Most people know that a car’s speedometer indicates how fast the car is going. The tachometer indicates how many times per minute the engine is rotating.

If a car is doing 180 km / hour (110 miles per hour) on the highway, one would expect the engine to be working hard. But if a car was only doing 70 km / hour (44 miles per hour), one wouldn’t expect the engine to be working that hard, right?

***The problem is blood sugar may be within normal range because the pancreas is overworking to keep it low!*** 

When people have a 2 hour Oral Glucose Test with added insulin assessors (explained below), blood glucose results may come back normal because the person is healthy.

The problem is that blood glucose results may appear normal because the pancreas is working way too hard to keep it that way! That is, using the car example, the tachometer is working very hard, but the car is hardly moving!

Normal blood sugar values with abnormal insulin values = overworked pancreas – original illustration by Joy Y. Kiddie MSc, RD (special thanks to Dr. Eric Sodicoff for the idea)

Let’s look at this scenario in terms of blood test results;

Let’s say we have a person that has fasted overnight and their fasting blood glucose in the morning is normal at 4.9 mmol/L (88 mg/dl), but their fasting insulin is much higher than the ideal 14.0 – 42.0 pmol/L (2-6 uU/ml) — in this case, say it is 132.6 pmol/L (19.1 uU/ml).

This would be like the car being started but in “park” in the driveway and the engine turning at 3,000 RPM!  The pancreas is working  way too hard to maintain blood sugar and the person hasn’t even eaten yet! 

Say we now give this person 75 g of pure glucose to drink and check what happens to their blood sugar at 30 minutes and/or one hour afterwards.

What we expect a healthy person’s blood sugar to do is to go up in response to taking in the glucose, for the pancreas to release the appropriate amount of insulin which results in the blood sugar going back down to at- or slightly below where it started from. This is the normal, healthy response.

On a graph it would look like this;

Normal Glucose Response with 75 g of glucose

But in the case of the person whose blood sugar is normal at fasting (i.e. 4.9 mmol/L (88 mg/dl)) but their fasting insulin is much higher than ideal (i.e. 132.6 pmol/L (19.1 uU/ml) instead of 14.0 – 42.0 pmol/L (2-6 uU/ml)), their car is in “park” but the engine is already turning fast! 

Image result for oral glucose tolerance testWhen this person drinks the 75 g of glucose, their pancreas goes into “high rev” and releases a huge amount of insulin—which not only keeps the blood sugar from going up normally in response to taking in glucose, it may result in the blood sugar actually dropping slightly below the fasting level (from 4.9 mmol/L / 88 mg/dl to 4.8 mmol/L / 86 mg/dl). This is not a healthy response but is characteristic of both hyperinsulinemia (too much circulating insulin even when the person is fasting) as well as insulin resistance (cells not responding to insulin’s signal to take up glucose from the blood).

This glucose and insulin response would look as follows;

If this person had only had a standard 2 hour Glucose Tolerance Test, they would be told everything is “fine” because their fasting blood glucose was normal at 4.9 mmol/L / 88 mg/dl and at 2 hours their blood glucose came right back down to normal (4.9 mmol/l / 88 mg/dl)! 

Using the car analogy, their “tachometer” (pancreas that produces insulin) is working way too hard in order to keep blood sugar low and without assessing simultaneous glucose AND insulin at fasting, 30 minutes or 1 hour and at 2 hours, the fact this person’s pancreas is working way too hard to keep glucose low would be totally missed. Burnout of the pancreatic β-cells is what results in Type 2 Diabetes (T2D).

By the time a person is diagnosed with T2D, they have lost approximately half of their β-cell mass, so preventing the β-cell's of the pancreas from being overworked is how to delay or prevent becoming Type 2 Diabetic!

Four Stages of Type 2 Diabetes

There are four stages in the progression of Type 2 Diabetes, with Insulin Resistance and Hyperinsulinemia being the stage BEFORE pre-diabetes [2].

Stage 1: Insulin Resistance (including hyperinsulinemia)
Stage 2: Pre-diabetes
Stage 3: Type 2 Diabetes
Stage 4: Metabolic and Vascular Complications

Four Stages of Type 2 Diabetes – original illustration by Joy Y. Kiddie MSc, RD

Insulin resistance and  hyperinsulinemia together are essentially “pre-pre-diabetes“, therefore stopping progression of the disease at this point reduces the risk associated with high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, heart attack and stroke, as well as chronic kidney disease.

What is Insulin Resistance and Hyperinsulinemia?

Insulin resistance is where the cells of the body ignore signals from the hormone insulin which tell it to move glucose from broken down from digested food — from the blood and into the cells. When someone is insulin resistant, blood glucose stays higher than it should be, for longer than it should be, which is called  hyperglycemia.  When there are insufficient receptors on muscle cells to move glucose out of the blood after eating, this is called insulin resistance. It isn’t known whether insulin resistance comes first or hyperinsulinemia (high circulating levels of insulin) does. It is believed that it may be different depending on the person[3].

What Can Cause Insulin Resistance & Hyperinsulinemia?

It is known that excessive carbohydrate intake can trigger both high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), as well as too much insulin release (hyperinsulinemia).  Eating lots of fruit, for example or foods that contain fructose (fruit sugar) will cause the body to first move the fructose into the body in order to get it to the liver, before it deals with glucose. Since many processed foods contain “high fructose corn syrup” (HFCS), eating these foods contribute to problems with both high blood sugar and high levels of circulating insulin. Eating lots of fruit or drinking fruit juice or smoothies made with lots of fruit can contribute to the same problem. There are other things that can also trigger high blood sugar and high insulin levels besides too much carbohydrate intake, including certain medications like corticosteroids and anti-psychotic medications, and even stress.  Stress causes the hormone cortisol to rise, which is a natural corticosteroid. It is thought that long-term stress may lead to hyperinsulinemia, which increases appetite by affecting something called neuropeptide Y. This may explain why people tend to eat more when they’re stressed and are very often drawn to carbohydrate-based foods that are quickly broken down for energy.

Measuring Insulin Resistance

Homeostatic Model Assessment (HOMA-IR) estimates the degree of insulin resistance (IR), β-cell function (the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin) and insulin sensitivity (%S) and is determined from the results simultaneous fasting blood glucose test and a fasting insulin test.

Alternatively, HOMA-IR can be determined from a fasting blood glucose test and a fasting C-peptide test [3]. C-peptide is released in proportion to insulin, so it can be used to estimate insulin. Individual results are best compared to local population cut off values for HOMA1-IR [4] (1985) or the updated HOMA2-IR [5] (1998) .

HOMA1-IR  is defined as [fasting insulin (µU/mL)× fasting glucose (mmol/L)]/22.5 [4] and HOMA2-IR is calculated using an online HOMA2 calculator released by the Diabetes Trials Unit, University of Oxford available at http://www.dtu.ox.ac.uk/homacalculator/index.php (updated January 8, 2013).

The original HOMA1-IR equation proposed by Matthews in 1985 [4] was widely used due to its simplicity, however it was not always reliable because it did not consider the variations in the glucose resistance of peripheral tissue and liver, or increases in the insulin secretion curve for blood glucose concentrations above 10 mmol/L (180 mg/dL) or the effect of circulating levels of pro-insulin. [6]. The updated HOMA2-IR computer model [5] has been used since 1998 and corrects for these.

Cutoff for insulin resistance using the original Matthews values (1985) [4] for HOMA-IR ≥ 2.7

Insulin sensitive is considered less than 1.0
Healthy is considered 0.5-1.4
Above 1.8 is early insulin resistance
Above 2.7 is considered significant insulin resistance

Cuffoff values for insulin resistance using the HOMA2-IR calculator (1998) [5] is HOMA2-IR ≥ 1.8. Three population based studies found the same or very close cutoffs applied, including a 2009 Brazilian study [7] which found HOMA2-IR ≥ 1.8, a 2014 Venezuelan study [8] which found HOMA2-IR ≥ 2.0 and a 2014 Iranian study [9] which found HOMA2-IR 1.8.

Measuring Hyperinsulemia

Detection of hyperinsulinemia (high circulating levels of insulin) can occur using an Oral Glucose Sensitivity Index (OGIS) where available, or with a 2-hr Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (2-hr OGTT) with simultaneous assessors of insulin.  These are tests where a fasting person drinks a known amount of glucose (usually 75 g or 100 g of glucose) and their blood sugar and insulin values are measured before the test starts (baseline, while fasting) and at 2 hours. An additional assessor of blood glucose and insulin can be requested at 1 hour which is very helpful for detecting abnormalities that would missed if only assessing at fasting and at 2 hours. In the OGIS, both blood glucose and blood insulin levels are measured at baseline (fasting), at 120 minutes and at 180 minutes[3].

Final thoughts…

As mentioned at the start of this article, abnormalities in insulin, including insulin resistance and/or hyperinsulinemia begin to occur as much as 20 years before a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes — while blood sugar results are still normal. That is when we need to diagnose abnormalities!

If we simply monitor fasting blood glucose, we will miss that someone’s pancreas may be overworking.

Even if we monitor fasting blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), we can miss that someone’s pancreas is overworking by constantly producing too much insulin.

Furthermore, even if a standard 2 hour Glucose Tolerance Test is run and the person’s fasting blood glucose and 2 hour glucose level after a load is measured, we still can miss that someone’s pancreas is being pushed way too hard if those values appear normal at baseline and at the end of the test.

By running a 2 hour Glucose Tolerance Test with simultaneous glucose and insulin at baseline (fasting), 30 minutes or 1 hour, and at 2 hours we can observe the pancreas being pushed way too hard and implement dietary changes to avoid further β-cell damage or β-cell death. 

In British Columbia, the cost of a standard 2 hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test is $11.82 before tax and $13.36 with HST.

Each additional glucose assessment is $3.48 before tax and $3.93 after tax.

Each insulin assessment costs $32.82 before tax and $37.09 after tax, so a 2 hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test with additional glucose assessor at 1 hour and 3 insulin assessors at fasting, 1 hour and 2 hour costs as follows;

2 hour Oral Glucose Tolerance (fasting, 2 hours)           = $  13.36  with HST
additional glucose at 1 hour                                                       = $   3.93   with HST
3 insulin assessors at fasting, 1 hour, 2 hours                   = $111.27  with HST
TOTAL                                                                                                   = $128.56 with HST

When there are clinical reasons to suspect that a person may be insulin resistant and/or hyperinsulinemic and assessment of simultaneous glucose and insulin function can provide sufficient motivation for individuals to implement dietary changes that can prevent progression to Type 2 Diabetes, is this testing not worth <$130?

If you would like to know about the services that I offer, please click on the Services tab to learn more and if you have questions related to these, please send me a note using the Contact Me form located on the tab above and I will reply as I am able.

To your good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

         https://twitter.com/lchfRD

          https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

           https://plus.google.com/+JoyYKiddieMScRD

https://www.instagram.com/lchf_rd

 

Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Sagesaka H, S.Y., Someya Y, et al, Type 2 Diabetes: When Does It Start? Journal of the Endocrine Society, 2018. 2(5): p. 476-484.
  2. Mechanick JI, G.A., Grunberger G, et al, Dysglycemia-Based Chronic Disease: an American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists Position Paper. Endocrine Practice, 2018. 24(11): p. 995-1011.
  3. Crofts, C., Understanding and Diagnosing Hyperinsulinemia. 2015, AUT University: Auckland, New Zealand. p. 205.
  4. Matthews, D. R; Hosker, J. P; Rudenski, A. S; Naylor, B. A; Treacher, D. F; Turner, R. C; ―Homeostasis model assessment: insulin resistance and β-cell function from fasting plasma glucose and insulin concentrations in man‖; Diabetologia; July, 1985; Volume 28, Number 7: Pp 412-419
  5. Levy JC, Matthews DR, Hermans MP. Correct homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) evaluation uses the computer program. Diabetes Care. 1998;21:2191–2192
  6. Song YS, Hwang Y-C, Ahn H-Y, Comparison of the Usefulness of the Updated Homeostasis Model Assessment (HOMA2) with the Original HOMA1 in the Prediction of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Koreans, Diabetes Metab J. 2016 Aug; 40(4): 318–325
  7. Geloneze B, Vasques AC, Stabe CF et al, HOMA1-IR and HOMA2-IR indexes in identifying insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome: Brazilian Metabolic Syndrome Study (BRAMS), Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2009 Mar;53(2):281-7
  8. Bermúdez V, Rojas J, Martínez MS et al, Epidemiologic Behavior and Estimation of an Optimal Cut-Off Point for Homeostasis Model Assessment-2 Insulin Resistance: A Report from a Venezuelan Population, Int Sch Res Notices. 2014 Oct 29;2014:616271
  9. Tohidi M, Ghasemi A, Hadaegh F, Age- and sex-specific reference values for fasting serum insulin levels and insulin resistance/sensitivity indices in healthy Iranian adults: Tehran Lipid and Glucose Study, Clin Biochem. 2014 Apr;47(6):432-8

 

McGill Professor: Risks and Benefits of Low-Carb Keto Diets

INTRODUCTION: Last Friday, February 8, 2019, the Montreal Gazette published a special article with accompanying video by Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Professor of Chemistry from McGill University titled “Keto Diets Work, but is There a Catch?” and this morning the follow-up was published titled “The Known Benefits of Low-Carb Keto Diets“. This post contains a summary of both.


PART I – “Keto Diets Work, but is There a Catch?”

Dr. Joe Schwarcz, The Montreal Gazette, February 8, 2019 (reference below)

This article began;

“There is little doubt that cutting way back on carbs results in weight loss. But how does all that fat impact cardiovascular risk factors?”

This is a very good question, however it is incorrectly based on the assumption that a “keto diet” is necessarily very high in fat, especially saturated fat, something which is not necessarily the case.

Dr. Schwarcz stated in the article in the Montreal Gazette that on a “keto diet” there is no bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes, carrots, rice, fruit or beer but that one can;

“gorge on fish, butter, eggs, high-fat cheese, whipped cream, coconut oil and meat to your heart’s delight.”

As mentioned in an earlier article that I wrote on a site dedicated to low carbohydrate diets;

“There is no one “keto diet“, but many variations of ketogenic diets that are used for different therapeutic purposes.

Some therapeutic ketogenic diets are used in the treatment of epilepsy and seizure disorder and are extremely high in fat. Other types of therapeutic ketogenic diets are used in the treatment of various forms of cancer (those that feed on glucose), such as brain cancer. There are ketogenic diets that are used in the treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome  (PCOS), as well as for weight loss and for increasing insulin sensitivity in those with Type 2 Diabetes and insulin resistance.

Even among those using a nutritional ketogenic diet for weight loss and to increase insulin sensitivity, there is no one “keto diet”.

There are ketogenic diets with a higher percentage of fat than protein, with a higher percentage of protein than fat and mixed approaches which may have different ratios of protein to fat – depending on whether the individual is in a weight loss phase or a weight maintenance phase.

There are as many permutations and combinations as there are people following a keto diet for these reasons.

What makes a diet ketogenic (or keto) is that the amount of carbohydrate relative to the amount of protein and fat results in the utilization of fat as a primary fuel source rather than carbohydrate. “

Assuming that the specific type of “keto diet” that Dr. Schwarcz is referring to is one where one that (1) avoids bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes, carrots, rice, fruit* or beer and (2) indulges in foods high in fat, such as fish, butter, eggs, high-fat cheese, whipped cream, coconut oil and meat, it is a very appropriate question to ask as to what effect does this type of keto diet have on cardiovascular risk factors.

Note: Most keto diets used for weight loss allow fruit as berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries as well as those fruit that we often think of as vegetables, including tomato, avocado, cucumbers, lemon and lime.  Dr. Schwarcz raised a concern in the video that not eating fruit limits one's access to the important antioxidants in fruit, which for the most part is incorrect.

The article states that;

There is little doubt that cutting way back on carbs results in weight loss. The question is, why?

The body’s main source of energy is glucose, generally supplied by starches and sugars [i.e. carbs] in the diet. If consumption of these carbohydrates is drastically reduced, below about 50 grams a day, energy has to be derived from an alternate source. At first, the 65 or so grams of glucose the body needs per day are produced from amino acids, sourced from proteins. But this process itself has a high energy requirement, and furthermore, the body is not keen on using up proteins that are needed to maintain muscle integrity. Fortunately, there is a backup system that can swing into action.

The liver begins to convert fats into “ketone bodies,” namely beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone. These are then shuttled into the mitochondria, the cells’ little energy factories, where they are used as fuel. At this point the body is said to be in “ketosis,” with excess ketones being excreted in the urine.”

Great explanation!

The article raises a few excellent points;

The article states that the “usual argument” for the more efficient weight loss associated with extremely low carb diets as compared to low fat diets is that (1) low carb diets produce a metabolic advantage because a lot of calories are needed to convert proteins to glucose.  The article adds that not everyone agrees with this premise and states that others suggest that (2) ketone bodies have either a direct appetite suppressant effect or that they (3) alter levels of the respective appetite stimulating and inhibiting hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Lastly, the article states that some argue that (4) ketogenic diets lead to a lower calorie intake which the article’s author believes is “due to the greater satiety effect of protein“.

“No long-term studies of keto diets”

The article correctly states that;

There are numerous studies published over the last 20 years that have compared low-fat diets to low-carb diets with the overall conclusion that the low-carb diets are more effective in terms of weight loss, at least in the short term.

…but incorrectly adds;

“Unfortunately, there are no long-term studies of keto diets.”

While there have been 3 long-term clinical trials (2 years) published over the past 10 years involving low carb diets, unfortunately as documented in and earlier article none of these involved research groups that actually ate a low carbohydrate diet. There is, however the recent two-year data from the Virta Health’s study that was published this past December 2018 which demonstrated the long term safety of a ketogenic diet and that participants on average;

(1) lost 12.4 kg (28 pounds) in two years; most of which was achieved in the first year maintained with only a slight increase of 2.3 kg (5 pounds) in the second year.

In addition to the weight loss, participants in the Virta Health study;

(2) significantly lowered medication use for Type 2 Diabetes (read more here)

(3) lowered glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) by a full percentage point at two years (7.7% to 6.7%)

(4) lowered fasting blood glucose from 9.1 mmol/L (164 mg/dl) at the start of the study to 7.4 mmol/l (134 mg/dl ) at two years.

High Fat Keto Diet and Cardiovascular Risk Factors

The article concludes with the initial question as to how a diet “high in fat, such as fish, butter, eggs, high-fat cheese, whipped cream, coconut oil and meat” impacts markers of cardiovascular risk.

“As one would expect, LDL, the “bad cholesterol,” does go up, although the increase is mostly in the “large particle” sub fraction that is deemed to be less risky.

Triglycerides, a significant risk factor, actually decrease on a very-low-carbohydrate diet, as does the body’s own production of cholesterol.

Levels of HDL, the “good cholesterol,” increase.

That is, over the short term, markers of cardiovascular risk doesn’t change to any degree.

What about over the long term?

Unfortunately, the article concludes with;

“the problem is that there are no studies of people who have followed a keto diet long enough to note whatever effect such a diet may have on heart disease.”

…but as mentioned above, we do have the two-year data from the Virta Health’s study that was published this past December 2018 and which demonstrates that;

(1)  LDL cholesterol of the intervention group at the start of the study averaged 2.68 mmol/L (103.5 mg/dl) and at two years was slightly higher as expected, to 2.96 mmol/L (114.5 mg/dl), however this level after 2 years was almost identical to what it was at 1 year; 2.95 mmol/L(114 mg/dl). That is, LDL (mostly the large particle sub-fraction) increased as expected the first year but didn’t continue to rise.

(2) At baseline, HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”) of the intervention group averaged 1.11 mmol/L (41.8 mg/dl) and after two years was stable at the same level it had risen to at 1 year, namely 1.28 mmol/L (49.5 mg/dl).

(3) At baseline, triglycerides of the intervention group averaged 2.23 mmol/L (197.2 mg/dl) and at two years was down to 1.73 mmol/L (153.3 mg/dl ), only up slightly for the one year average of 1.68 mmol/L (148.9 mg/dl).

Final Thoughts…

While Dr. Schwarcz seemed to be unaware of the publication of the two-year Virta Health study data in December 2018 that demonstrates both long-term safety and efficacy of a ketogenic diet for weight loss and improvement in metabolic health (including markers of cardiovascular risk), the Montreal Gazette article and accompanying video does indicate that a very high fat ketogenic diet does not adversely impact markers of cardiovascular risk.

Reference
  1. Dr. Joe Schwarcz, “The Right Chemistry: Keto diets work, but is there a catch?” Montreal Gazette, February 8, 2019, https://montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/the-right-chemistry-keto-diets-work-but-is-there-a-catch

PART II – “The Known Benefits of Low-Carb Keto Diets

Dr. Joe Schwarcz, The Montreal Gazette, February 15, 2019 (reference below)

This morning, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Professor of Chemistry from McGill University and popular radio show host released a follow-up to last week’s opinion article and video that was published in the Montreal Gazette on the cardiovascular risks of a keto diet; this one on the known benefits of low-carb keto diets.

Schwarcz begins by fondly reminiscing about going to the circus with his mother when he was about 7 or 8 years old and the memories of the snack that she packed for him of crusty Hungarian bread, slathered with butter and topped with green bell pepper. He said that he’s loved it ever since, but “now we question such snacks. Why? Because of the carbohydrate content of the bread”.

“I’ve been looking into this for quite a while. There is really a plethora of papers and information that floods us about the keto diets; the very low carbohydrate diets”.

To his credit, Dr. Schwarcz acknowledged (possibly as a result of my written response to his article of last week in the Montreal Gazette) that there isn’t just one “keto diet” (singular) but several very low carbohydrate diets (plural) .

Schwarcz reiterates;

“I would have thought that by having all of that fat in the diet that risk levels for certain cardiovascular factors would go up, but really there isn’t really that much alteration in these factors”.

Low-Carb “Keto” Diets and Diabetes

Transitioning from the lack of cardiovascular risks associated with low-carb keto diets, Schwarcz adds;

“When it comes to Diabetes the information is really overwhelming to the benefit of these low carb diets. There are people — Type 2 Diabetes sufferers, who have been able to give up their medication by following a stringent, low carbohydrate diet.

Schwarcz dismisses anecdotal reports of people’s “brain fog” resolving and possible benefits for cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease as not being scientifically based but is unequivocal about the known benefits;

What we do know is that weight loss can be very significant on a low carbohydrate diet and as I said — surprisingly, without any significant risk factors.

Schwarcz continues;

“On the other hand, the longest terms studies that I’ve seen which were really properly controlled have only been about six months, and that really isn’t long enough.”

NOTE: In this case, Dr. Schwarcz is referring only to randomized, controlled double blind studies — excluding the data from long term studies of other types.

“We also know from dietary studies that after about a year, it doesn’t much matter what diet you’re on when it comes to weight loss — whether it’s low fat, whether it’s low carb, the results tend to be the same as long as you’re cutting out some calories.”

NOTE: While this may be true, what Schwarcz neglects to mention is that the major difference is that in a calorie-restricted low-fat diet, people are deliberately restricting food intake, often feeling hungry — whereas in a low carbohydrate diet, people naturally feel less hungry due to the satiety (hunger-reducing effect of protein and fat) which results in them eating less. In one case people are purposely restricting calories in the the other case, they don't feel as hungry so they naturally eat less.

Schwarcz reiterates;

“However, for people who are afflicted with Diabetes, I think there is no question that the very low carb diets are worth trying.”

Towards the end of the video Dr. Schwarcz reflects on his childhood snack of crusty Hungarian bread, slathered with butter and topped with a quarter of a green bell pepper and admits that he looks askew at this snack.

“I admit that I’ve been eating less bread — I haven’t cut it out because I don’t think I need to do that, but I’m eating less.”

Schwarcz adds that for those who are gravitating towards a low carbohydrate diet, they can opt instead to eat bell pepper with a dollop of hummus with tahini (ground sesame seeds) or raw broccoli dipped in a bit of hummus.

“It tastes good! I think it is possible to cut down on the bread!”

Since Dr. Schwarcz is presumably not Diabetic and has all the nostalgia of memories of the circus as a child, he concludes the video by happily biting into a slice of crusty Hungarian bread that’s been slathered with butter and topped with a quarter of a green bell pepper…for nostalgia reasons, of course!

Bon appetit, Dr. Schwarcz!

If you would like to know more about the services I offer (including low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets) please click on the Services tab, and if you have questions about those please feel free to send me a note using the Contact Me form located on the tab above.

To your good health!

Joy

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Reference

Montreal Gazette, February 15, 2019, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Known Benefits of Low Carb “Keto” Diets” https://montrealgazette.com/category/opinion

Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

Reflections of a Nutritional Centrist

INTRODUCTION: In a recent article titled Carbohydrates are not Evil I referred to myself as a “nutritional centrist” and in this post I’ll elaborate on what I mean by this. This post is more of an editorial than a standard ‘Science Made Simple’ article. References can be found in the previous articles by using the search feature.


Much of the discussion about nutrition these days on social media seems to take an “all-or-nothing” stance.

As in politics, there are those that tend towards a “left-wing” (liberal) position and others who tend towards a “right-wing” (conservative) position; some who are libertarian (let people decide for themselves) and others who are very authoritarian (dictate what they believe is best).

When it comes to nutrition, I am a centrist.

Defining a Nutrition Centrist
In this article, I am using the term "centrism" to include a very wide range of nutritional positions apart from any at extreme ends of the spectrum. I believe that a wide range of nutritional centrists positions are supported by current, evidence-based science.

Veganism and Carnivory – two ends of the spectrum

In the food world there are vegans on one hand and carnivores on the other.  One eats only plant-based food with nothing coming from animals (no eggs, milk or cheese) and the other eats only animal flesh food (no fruit, vegetables or dairy). In my understanding, these nutritional positions are the corresponding equivalent to left wing/liberals and right wing/conservative political positions and while I respect people’s individual right to choose veganism or carnivory as a lifestyle choice, for health reasons or on the basis of ethical or religious beliefs, in my understanding there are significant nutritional challenges to both ends of the spectrum.

Nutritional centrists – vegetarians, pescatarians and omnivores

Somewhere between veganism and carnivory are vegetarians
(who eat mostly plant-based foods but will also eat eggs, milk and cheese because no animal is killed or harmed in the making of these) and those who are omnivores (that will eat food from a wide variety of plant and animal sources). Somewhere in the middle of these two are pescatarians who are like vegetarians but who will also eat fish (perhaps because they are not mammals, and sometimes only when they are wild species i.e. not man raised).

From my perspective, people who chose any of these lifestyles fall somewhere in the “nutritional centrist” position. I find it easy to support people following any of these lifestyle or ethical choices because it is possible to design a diet that ensures adequate nutritional intake of a wide range of macro- and micro-nutrients from the foods they choose to eat.

Whole-food-plant-based

Those who follow a “whole-food plant-based diet” can be either vegan or vegetarian so in my understanding, whole-food plant-based vegetarians fall somewhere in the “nutritional centrist” position, whereas whole-food plant-based  vegans are vegans with an approach that falls at one end of the spectrum.

Low Carb High Fat and Ketogenic diets – a centrist approach

As I’ve mentioned in numerous previous articles, there are several different types of “low carb” and “ketogenic” diets.

For example, if a client comes to me with a dietary prescription from a physician for a specific type of ketogenic diet to support a specific medical or metabolic condition that is a very different scenario than someone who wants me to help them with “quick weight loss” using a “keto diet”.

As a “nutritional centrist” my approach to supporting people in following a low carbohydrate lifestyle for weight loss is to start at a moderately-low level of carbohydrates (130 g carbohydrate per day) and lower the amount of carbohydrate as needed to achieve clinical outcomes. If individuals are insulin sensitive, this level of carbohydrate intake often works very well, especially at first when people were formerly eating ~300+ g of carbohydrate per day. For those who are insulin resistant or have Type 2 Diabetes, I start at a moderately-low level of carbohydrate intake and with self-monitoring of blood sugar and follow-up and oversight from their doctor with respect to any medications taken, will gradually lower carbohydrate intake as needed to achieve the desired clinical outcome(s).

It is not a “one-sized-fits-all” approach. As documented in several previous articles, people’s glycemic (blood sugar) response to carbohydrate varies significantly, even among those who are insulin sensitive and also in those with Type 2 Diabetes, so determining individual blood sugar response to carbohydrate is the best way to determine which types and amounts of carbohydrate people respond best to. I don’t believe it is appropriate or necessary for everyone to follow a “keto diet”.

Nutritional Centrism with respect to added fat

Amongst those that teach and support a “low carb” lifestyle, there are those that promote lots of added fat from a wide variety of sources.  These are people that believe in adding coconut oil and butter to beverages, butter to top meat and vegetables and using whipping cream copiously. From the beginning this is not an approach I have taken. In light of the recent scientific evidence (such as the large-scale PURE epidemiological study and others), I do not believe that moderate saturated fat intake is harmful to cardiovascular health. At the same time, I see no reason that if added fat is helpful in a particular person’s diet, that fats such as cold-expressed olive and avocado oil as well as nut and seed oils such as macadamia, walnut and almond oil aren’t suitable options.

I don’t see the need for extremes with regards to added fat. I encourage people for whom the recommendation is appropriate to add enough good quality healthy fat to make the vegetables or salad taste interesting enough that they will want to eat a fair amount of them and enjoy them. After all, eating isn’t only about getting enough nutrients, but enjoying the foods that are eaten.

Fat that comes with protein

Unless there is a medical or metabolic condition involved which precludes it, I encourage people to eat the fat that comes naturally with their protein source if they enjoy doing so.

I encourage folks to trim excess external fat off a fatty cut of steak, but if they enjoy chewing on the bone on a rib steak to ‘go for it’. The yolk in an egg or the fat in cheese is not harmful when eaten in moderate amounts so unless there are strong risk factors, I don’t believe people need to avoid or limit these foods.

While the new Canada Food guide recommends limiting foods with saturated fat based on the fact that dietary saturated fat raises total-LDL cholesterol, as I’ve documented in several previous articles I don’t believe when considering all the recent evidence that there is compelling reason to advise all people to limit foods containing cheese or to select plant-based foods over foods that contain saturated fat.

As mentioned in a few recent articles, Canada Food Guide is directed towards a healthy population in order to help them stay metabolically well and I believe that the whole-food approach of the new Guide which avoids refined grains, fruit juice and processed foods is a good evidence-based approach to accomplishing this, and one I support in my practice.

My concern as covered recently is that as many as 88% of Americans are already metabolically unwell (with presumably a slightly lower percentage in Canada due to our slightly lower obesity statistics) so in those that already have indications of insulin resistance (which is a large percentage of my client base), I do recommend a whole-foods approach but with a lower percentage of carbohydrate intake.  In my understanding, this is a “nutritional centrist” approach which is supported by the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes who both support the use of a low carbohydrate diet as Medical Nutrition Therapy in the management of Type 2 Diabetes and for weight loss.

Supporting lifestyle choices

Veganism, like carnivory is a lifestyle choice that is sometimes made for religious or ethical reasons and sometimes for health reasons.  Regardless of the reason for the choice, these are lifestyles that need to be respected and supported by healthcare professionals who are qualified to do so.

As a “nutritional centrist” I can help healthy individuals follow the new Canada Food Guide and provide meals for their family along those lines if they so choose, as well as to support those who are already metabolically unhealthy using everything from a Mediterranean diet, a whole-food plant-based approach or a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet. There is no “one-sized-fits-all” diet for any of these approaches and each should be tailored to individual needs.

No Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories abound in many areas from religion to politics and there are plenty in the nutrition arena, as well. As a “nutritional centrist“, I don’t believe that “big-pharma” and “big-food” are behind everything, but at the same time I am also not naive enough to think that industries and special interests groups don’t attempt to influence the marketplace or government funding or policies by the types of research they fund, or by other means. I give scientists and researchers the benefit of the doubt that their intentions are in the interest of good science and the public interest, even though on occasion it is found out otherwise.

No Conspiracy Theories

My writing about topics such the funding of the Harvard studies by the sugar industry does not mean that I believe the scientists involved deliberately wrote biased reports. The articles were written to document the fact that researchers were funded by the sugar industry to write articles about why saturated fat was the underlying issue with respect to cardiovascular disease. Likewise, the recently translated French language newspaper report that shed light on why the government (e.g. Agriculture Canada or a political party’s leadership) may have been motivated to encourage the highlighting of legumes does not mean anything inappropriate occurred.  In my understanding, conspiracy theories are not compatible with a “nutritional centrist” position.

I would encourage my readers to give scientists and researchers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their intentions; unless there is very credible and verifiable reasons to believe otherwise.

Libertarian versus Authoritarian Approach – a centrist approach

libertarian approach to dietary choice supports each person’s individual’s right to choose the most suitable dietary approach for themselves whereas an authoritarian approach essentially tells a person what is best for them.

As a “nutritional centrist“, I am frequently in the scientific literature, reading and reviewing the latest studies and evaluating these in light of what is already known about nutrition. My motivation in writing articles that put these studies into “plain English” is that so ordinary people can evaluate these in light of what they know and choose what they feel is best for them. From my perspective, the current available quality research on the subject is the “authority” but by no means should this be used in an authoritarian way to tell a person what is best for them. My position as a “nutritional centrist” is that people should be presented with the range of available evidenced-based options and the supporting science behind those options, but in accordance with a libertarian approach, the choice is theirs to make.

I hope that as a result of reading this article, you have a fuller understanding of what I believe and why and that I support a range of evidence-based dietary approaches including those who want to follow the Canada Food Guide, a Mediterranean approach, a whole-food vegetarian plant-based approach or a low carbohydrate approach and that include moderate amounts of healthy fats of all types. There certainly isn’t a “one-sized-fits-all” dietary approach suitable for everyone so from my perspective, the issue is which one may be best suited to help you achieve your health and nutrition goals, within your personal food preferences.

If you would like to know more about the services I offer, please click on the Services tab and if you have questions related to those, please feel free to send me a note using the Contact Me form located on the tab above.

To your good health!

Joy

Feedback and question from Dr. Andrew Samis, MD, PhD – shared with prior permission

UPDATE: February 1, 2019 13:20

Dr. Andrew Samis, MD, PhD, a surgeon and critical care specialist from Kingston, Ontario asked a very interesting question on Twitter, in response to this article;

Could the same eating strategy be healthy for one person, and make a second metabolically unhealthy?”

This was my response;

Yes, I believe there is ample evidence that the same eating strategy could be healthy for one person and make a second person metabolically unhealthy. Monitoring metabolic markers enables us to catch this early and make adjustments, as necessary.


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LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

Carbohydrates are Not Evil

Much of the discussion about nutrition these days on social media seems to take an “all-or-nothing” stance on carbohydrates.  On one hand there are those who promote a plant-based diet that necessarily comes with a large amount of carbohydrate as grains, legumes (pulses) such as beans and lentils as well as carbohydrate-containing vegetables and fruit, and on the other hand there are those who eschew anything with the remotest amount of carbohydrate.

In politics, there are left-leaning ‘liberals’ and right-leaning ‘conservatives’, as well as those that hold a moderate position called “centrists“.

I am a centrist when it comes to my position regarding carbohydrates. In this article, I will elaborate on the following;

  1. Carbs are not evil or single-handedly responsible for the obesity epidemic or metabolic diseases. If that were the case, then the traditional diets of much of Asia and West Africa would have resulted in obesity and diabetes and they did not. It is the degree of processing of the carbohydrate-based foods that impacts the blood glucose and blood insulin response of carbohydrate-containing foods.
  2. Carbohydrate-based foods combined with fat in the same food ‘hijack’ the reward center of our brains (striatum), resulting in over-consumption.
  3. Carbohydrates are not essential macronutrients.

Part 1 – Degree of Processing of Carbohydrate-based Foods Impacts Blood Glucose and Insulin Response

Processing carbohydrate even in simple ways such as cooking or grinding means that more of the carbohydrate is available to the body to be digested. As pointed out in an earlier article which I will refer to throughout this section, when grains are cooked they become much more digestible – meaning that more of the nutrients in the grain is available to be absorbed. In the case of potatoes, there is double or triple the amount of energy (calories) available to the body when they are cooked versus when they are raw.

Mechanical processing, such pounding, grinding or pureeing are also forms of food processing which have an effect on how many nutrients are available to be digested. The nutrients available to the body when food is eaten raw and whole versus raw and pounded is significant.

Glucose Response – based on the amount of food processing

Mechanical processing of a food doesn’t change the amount of carbohydrate that is in it. That is, when 60 g of whole apple are compared with 60 g of pureed apple or 60 g of juiced apple, there are the same amount of carbohydrates in each and the Glycemic Index of these are similar, however when these foods are eaten the blood glucose response 90 minutes later is significantly different. As outlined in the earlier article, in healthy individuals, blood glucose level goes very high with the juiced apple and in response to the release of insulin, blood glucose then goes very low, below baseline. The response that we see with the juiced apple in healthy individuals is typical of what is seen with other forms of ultra-processed carbohydrates.

This is why it is preferable for metabolically healthy people to eat carbohydrate-based foods as whole, unprocessed foods with a minimum of disruption to the cell structure.

Insulin Response with Mechanical Processing

When healthy individuals eat grain-based meals, the plasma insulin response is inversely related to the particle size of the grain. That is whole, unprocessed grain releases less insulin than the same amount of cracked grain, which is still less than the same amount of course flour. The highest amount of insulin is released in response to eating the same amount of fine flour.

This increased insulin response of eating grains that are highly processed can drive chronic hyperinsulinemia, which underlies the metabolic dysfunction of insulin resistance.

It is for this reason that for metabolically healthy individuals, eating whole, unrefined grains is recommended.

Effect or Lack of Effect of Fiber

It is the lack of disruption to the cell structure of the grain that limits the insulin response and not the fiber content. 

There isn’t a big difference between the insulin response of brown rice versus white rice. That is, the amount of fiber in the rice does not change the insulin response so eating brown rice instead of white rice won’t change the amount of insulin that is released, Insulin is the hormone that signals the body to store energy (calories), and chronically high levels of insulin called hyperinsulinemia is what eventually results in insulin resistance; the beginning of the metabolic disease process.

As mentioned in the earlier article (link above), studies have been done with bread where the fiber was added back in (such as in so-called “whole wheat bread”) and the insulin response was the same as with white bread, so it is not the amount of fiber in the grain that makes the difference, but the lack of disruption to the grain structure itself.

The disruption of the structure of the grain also has an adverse effect on GIP response (an incretin hormone released from the K-cells high up in the intestine that triggers the release of insulin). Bread made with flour (as opposed to whole, intact grains) results in a much larger and earlier plasma GIP response, which in turn results in a higher and earlier insulin response, than bread made with whole kernel grains, such as artisanal rye or wheat breads.

In metabolically healthy individuals, the eating of whole, intact minimally processed carbohydrate-containing food is preferable, as opposed to eating processed carbohydrate-containing foods (be it grains or fruit) with significant disruption to the cell structure.

Part II – Carbohydrate and Fat Combined

In nature, there are very few foods in the human diet that contain a combination of both carbohydrate and fat in substantial quantities. Human breast milk is one of those few natural foods, along with some nuts and seeds. When humans began drinking the milk of other mammals such as goats, sheep and cows, milk became one of those foods.

Also as outlined in a previous article foods with both fat and carbs together result in much more dopamine being released from the reward-center of our brain, called the striatum. Dopamine is the same neurotransmitter that is released during sex and that is involved in the addictive “runner’s high” familiar to athletes so this is a very powerful neurotransmitter.

It is believed that there are separate areas of the brain that evaluate carb-based foods and fat-based foods but when carbs and fat appear in the same food together, this results in what the researchers called a “supra-additive effect“. That is, both areas of the brain get activated at the same time, resulting in much more dopamine being released from the striatum and a much bigger feeling of “reward” being produced. This combination of carbs and fat in the same food is why we find foods such as French fries, donuts and potato chips irresistible and this powerful reward-system is why we’ll  choose French fries over baked potato and why we have no difficulty wolfing back a few donuts, even when we’ve just eaten a meal.

This “supra-additive effect” on the pleasure center of our brain along with the fact that more insulin is released when both carbs and fat are eaten together helps explain the roots of the current obesity epidemic and the metabolic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes that go along with it. The high rates of obesity seen more recently in places like China (as covered in this article) are due to the adoption of Western eating habits (refined, processed foods) that are notoriously high in both carbohydrates and fat.

When foods that are rich sources of carbohydrate are eaten it is best that foods that are also rich sources of fat are not eaten at the same time in order to avoid this supra-additive effect.

I do not believe that carbohydrate-based foods in and by themselves in metabolically healthy individuals are the underlying cause of obesity and metabolic disease. 

I believe that it is the (1) consumption of carbohydrate-based foods that have undergone some kind of food processing (grinding, milling, pureeing, etc) that has disrupted their cell structure and (2) the consumption of foods that combine both carbohydrate and fat in the same food that have driven both.

Part III – Carbohydrates are Not Essential Macronutrients

With all the arguing about eating more carbs or less carbs, it needs to be emphasized that carbohydrates are not essential nutrients. Yes, the body needs a certain amount of glucose for the brain, but the body can make this glucose from protein and fat through a process called gluconeogenesis.

This is not simply my opinion, but is stated by the Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids (2005) on page 275;

The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed. 

That is, there is no essential need for dietary carbohydrate provided there are adequate amounts of protein and fat provided in the diet

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for carbohydrate is set at 130 g / carbohydrate per day based on the average minimum amount of glucose utilized by the brain— however the body can manufacture this glucose from protein or fat. A well-designed low carbohydrate diet provides sufficient amounts of fat and  protein such that the body can manufacture the glucose it needs.

Carbohydrate – to eat or not to eat

For Healthy Individuals

For those who are healthy and metabolically flexible, consumption of whole, unprocessed carbohydrate-containing foods such as whole grains, tubers, starchy vegetables such as peas, squash and corn and whole fruit are of no concern. Due to the ‘supra-additive’ effect of fats with carbohydrate, I recommend that when eating carbohydrate-based foods, to avoid foods that are a rich source of fat.

For Metabolically Unhealthy Individuals

As mentioned in the two previous articles related to the new Canada Food Guide (here and here), 88% of Americans are already metabolically unwell, with presumably a large percentage of Canadians as well.

That is, only 12% have metabolic health defined as;

  1. Waist Circumference: < 102 cm (40 inches) for men and 88 cm (34.5 inches) in women
  2. Systolic Blood Pressure: < 120 mmHG
  3. Diastolic Blood Pressure: < 80 mmHG
  4. Glucose: < 5.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dL)
  5. HbA1c: < 5.7%
  6. Triglycerides: < 1.7 mmol/l (< 150 mg/dL)
  7. HDL cholesterol: ≥ 1.00 mmol/L (≥40 mg/dL) in men and ≥ 1.30 mmol/L (50 mg/dl) in women

For the large majority who are metabolically unhealthy, knowing which carbohydrate-based food raise one’s blood glucose levels is important. Even if lab tests show one’s fasting blood glucose is still normal, blood glucose levels after eating carbohydrate may be quite abnormal, and even more significantly insulin levels may be as well. You can read more about that here. As mentioned previously in this article, these high insulin levels are what drives metabolic disease by driving insulin resistance.

Eating a low carbohydrate diet can be very helpful to lower blood glucose response and lower chronically high levels of insulin. Which carbohydrates can be tolerated and in what quantities varies considerably between people, but is easy to determine and I help people do this.

For those that already have Type 2 Diabetes, reducing carbohydrate intake for a considerable length of time will enable them to reduce their overall blood glucose and insulin response, which will help them reverse the symptoms of Diabetes as well as other metabolic diseases that often go along with it, such as high blood pressure and high triglycerides. In time, some carbohydrates may be able to be eaten again however the amount and type will vary between individuals.

Final Thoughts…

Carbohydrates aren’t “evil”.  In and by themselves, they don’t result in obesity or metabolic disease. It is the amount of food processing that carbohydrate-containing foods have undergone that results in cell-wall disruption that will determine how much of a glucose– or insulin-response they will cause. In metabolically healthy people, eating minimally processed whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruit without a source of fat is fine.

For those who are metabolically unhealthy, especially those who have a measurably abnormal glucose- or insulin-response, the amount of carbohydrate that can be tolerated is individual and will need to be determined.

For those who have Type 2 Diabetes and follow a low carbohydrate diet to reduce the symptoms of high blood sugar or metabolic diseases that often go along with it, eating the amount of tolerated carbohydrates as minimally processed ones, without a source of fat is also best.

There is no “one size fits all” diet that is suitable for everyone.

For metabolically healthy individuals, following the new Canada Food Guide and selecting carbohydrate sources using the above principles can provide people with a healthy diet. For those that are already metabolically unhealthy, I can help design a Meal Plan that will meet your energy and nutrient needs and that provides the amount of carbohydrate that you can tolerate. If you would like more information, please send me a note using the Contact Me form, above and I’ll be happy to reply soon.

To your good health!

Joy

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New Canada Food Guide – carbohydrate estimate of the sample plate

There has been some discussion on Twitter that the macronutrient estimated in the previous article of an average ~325-350 g of carbohydrate per day based on a 2000 kcal per day diet for the new Canada Food Guide was “too high”, so in the interest of determining whether it was accurate, I’ve evaluated the carbohydrate content of the illustrated plate.

Actual Number, Standard Cup Measure and Scale of Reference

Since no portion sizes are provided with the new guide, both scale of reference or when available, the actual number of items was used.

The actual number of chickpeas, kidney beans, nuts and seeds were used and determine in terms of the portions of a standard cup measure.

For items such as vegetables and fruit, actual portions were measured using a standard set of stainless steel measuring cups.

For any remaining quantities, since a quarter of an egg is featured on the illustration of a healthy plate and a large sized egg is the standard on which nutrient analysis is based and this is of a known size, I used the 1/4 of a large egg as the scale of reference for other items,when the actual number was not available.

Carbohydrate Content of the Protein Group

The protein group contributed~37 g of carbohydrate to the sample plate.

Carbohydrate content of the protein group on the sample plate

Carbohydrate Content of the Whole Grains Group

The whole grains group contributed more than~58 g of carbohydrate to the sample plate.

Carbohydrate content of the whole grains group on the sample plate

Carbohydrate Content of the Vegetable and Fruit Group

The vegetable and fruit group contributed more than~53 g of carbohydrate to the sample plate.

Carbohydrate content of the vegetable and fruit group on the sample plate

The sample plate used as an illustration for the new Canada Food Guide has close to 150 g of carbohydrate on it and this is for only one meal. The carbohydrate content of lunch and dinner (the two generally mixed meals of the day) already totals as much as 300 g of carbohydrate — and there’s still breakfast to add! Whether it’s a couple of whole grain toast (30 g carbs), 2 tbsp unsweetened nut butter (6 g carbs) or some whole grain cereal (30 g carbs) and 1/2 cup of low fat unsweetened yogurt (6 gm carbs), there’s another 42 g of carbs (plus the carbs for the milk or nut or soy milk to pour on the cereal); bringing the average for the three meals alone to 337+ g of carbs which is exactly what it was estimated as in the previous article — as between 325 – 350 g carbohydrate per day.

And this is just for 3  MEALS.

What about snacks?

Yes, snacks are mentioned TWICE on the first page under the link for “eating habits” in the section on “how to make a meal plan and stick to it”;

Recommendations for meals and snacks

Assuming a person eats a “healthy whole grain” muffin without any dried fruit in it for coffee break in the morning (~50 g of carbs) and a single piece of fruit like an apple or orange mid-afternoon (15 g of carbs), these add another 65 g of carbohydrate to this day, bringing the average total to over 400 g of carbohydrate for one day.

UPDATE (January 26, 2019) Given the sample plate is there to demonstrate proportions, not portions — looking at the grain group alone, the proportion of grain is 1/4 of the dietary intake. Based on a 2000 kcal/day diet, that's 500 calories per day / ~125 g of carbohydrate from the grain group alone. Add in the carbohydrate from the largely plant-based protein group, that's another ~100 g carbohydrate per day, on average. Since half the plate should be vegetables and fruit and both starchy vegetables such as squash, yam, potato, peas and corn contain 15 g of carbohydrate per half cup, as does the same amount as fruit, it is reasonable to assume that on average, half of the vegetable servings will be comprised of a mixture of starchy vegetables — along with the fruit servings and the other quarter of the plate of non-starchy vegetables. That is, 1/4 of the vegetable and fruit side of the plate will be carbohydrate-containing, adding another ~125 g of carbohydrate per day to the diet. Of course, there will be days where people will eat lower carbohydrate grains like quinoa and lower carbohydrate plant-based protein such as tofu, but equally there will be days where vegetable servings are starchy ones such as peas and corn along with plant-based proteins that are higher in carbohydrate, such as legumes like kidney beans. So, the numbers above are averages Whether one uses the portions on sample plate as a basis for estimating the carbohydrate content or uses the proportion of the diet that is carbohydrate, the results fall in the same range of an average of 325 - 350 g carbohydrate per day, based on only 3 meals (without snacks). 

Real Life Meals

Despite there being no “portion sizes” in the new Canada Food Guide, some insist that a “serving of pasta is 1/2 cup” because that is what is illustrated on the sample plate. Okay, let’s go with that for the sake of argument.

If a person ate twice that amount of pasta (instead of also eating some wild rice or rice or bread, for example), this is what the size of that portion would look like (of course it would be “whole grain”!);

1 cup of cooked pasta – size of a tennis ball

I’ve been in private practice a long time and in my experience only children and women who are portion restricting eat pasta in amount the size of a tennis ball.  More than 90% of my clients report eating servings of pasta that are significantly larger than that. In fact, the usual ‘smaller-sized’ servings are about a cup and a half when eaten along with salad or a cooked vegetable (bigger if eaten alone). What does a cup and a half of pasta look like? It looks like this;

1 1/2 cups of whole grain pasta…and this amount of pasta without sauce has 45 g of carbohydrate in it which is still less than the 53 g of carbs illustrated in the Canada Food Guide sample plate. Naturally, no one is expected to eat exactly like the “sample meal”, but whether one eats their “whole grains” as all brown rice, wild rice, Bulgar wheat or something else, 1/4 of the plate all have the same amount of carbohydrate per 1/2 cup serving as pasta. 

Add to the pasta the vegetables and fruits above on the sample plate (or corresponding assortment of a mix of starchy, non-starchy vegetables and fruit) and that adds up to 100 g of carbohydrate …and we still haven’t added any protein into the meal, yet.

Add another 37 g of carbohydrate for an assortment of legumes, nuts and seeds as well as a bit of meat and “low fat” cheese for the pasta sauce (because after all, we are encouraged to eat animal protein “less often”) and that totals more than 135 g of carbs for just this one “real life” meal. Eat a meal like the one in the sample illustrations, it adds up to 150 g of carbs!

The question I’ve been asked is if it is “healthy whole grain”, then what’s the concern?

For metabolically healthy adults, none. For metabolically healthy adults, the new Canada Food Guide is a huge improvement from it’s predecessor! It eliminates refined carbs, sugary drinks including fruit juice and encourages eating whole foods, cooked at home as much as possible. 

The problem is, most adults are not metabolically healthy.

Majority of Adults Metabolically Unhealthy

As mentioned in the previous article research indicates that as many as 88% of Americans[1] are already metabolically unwell, with presumably a large percentage of Canadians as well. That is, only 12% of the adult population would be considered metabolically healthy [1]”.

Metabolic Health is defined as [1];

  1. Waist Circumference: < 102 cm (40 inches) for men and 88 cm (34.5 inches) in women
  2. Systolic Blood Pressure: < 120 mmHG
  3. Diastolic Blood Pressure: < 80 mmHG
  4. Glucose: < 5.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dL)
  5. HbA1c: < 5.7%
  6. Triglycerides: < 1.7 mmol/l (< 150 mg/dL)
  7. HDL cholesterol: ≥ 1.00 mmol/L (≥40 mg/dL) in men and ≥ 1.30 mmol/L (50 mg/dl) in women

Given the slightly lower rates of obesity in Canada (1 in 4) as in the United States (1 in 3), presumably there is a slightly lower percentage of Canadians who are metabolically unhealthy. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that there are TWICE as many metabolically healthy adults in Canada, which would mean that only slightly over 75% of adults are metabolically unhealthy.  Since Canada’s Food Guide is intended for a healthy population in order to reduce the risk of overweight and obesity as well as chronic diseases manifest as the markers above, that means that the new Canada Food Guide — as beautiful as it is, is only appropriate for ~1/4 of the adult population.

For the other 75% of adults that are presumably metabolically unwell, a diet that provides 342 g of carbohydrate per day for meals alone (based on a 2000 kcal per day diet) and as much as 400 g of carbohydrate per day with 2 "healthy" snacks is not going to address the large percentage of adults who are already demonstrating symptoms of being carbohydrate intolerant.

Carbohydrate Intolerance

As outlined in detail in a previous article, based on a large-scale 2016 study that looked at the blood glucose response and circulating insulin responses from 7800 adults during a 5-hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test, 53% had normal glucose tolerance at 2 hours but of these people, 75% had  abnormal blood sugar results between 30 minutes and 60 minutes  demonstrating that they were already hyperinsulinemic, although it went undetected on standard assessors that only look at glucose and insulin responses at baseline (fasting) and at 2 hours.

These people are already exhibiting symptoms of not tolerating a normal carbohydrate load of 100 g.

How does it make sense to encourage adults that already have abnormal glucose response to eat 150 g of carbohydrate per meal when these people already have an impaired first-phase insulin response? How will eating “whole grains” and the “added fiber from plant-based proteins” improve their first-phase insulin response (which likely results from dysfunction in the release of the incretin hormone GIP (Glucose-dependent Insulinotropic Polypeptide) from the K-cells?

For these people, continuing to eat a diet high in carbohydrate, irrespective of the amount of fiber or the glycemic load will not restore their insulin response, and in time is likely to make it worse. This is my concern.

Canada Food Guide is for a healthy population to avoid the risk of chronic disease and based on these statistics most adults are not metabolically healthy.

Final Thoughts…

For the ~1/4 of adults that are metabolically healthy, I think the new Canada Food Guide is beautiful and focuses on real, whole food, preparing food at home, avoiding refined grains and avoiding high sugar beverages such as fruit juice (formerly seen as “healthy”).  For the high percentage of adults that are already metabolically unwell and who already demonstrate abnormal glucose responses, I don’t see that advising them to eat a diet that is between 325-350 g of carbohydrate per day (meals without snacks) helps them to avoid the progression to Type 2 Diabetes.

If you are part of the majority of Canadians that are already struggling with overweight and/or being metabolically unwell and would like to know more about how I may be able to help you achieve a healthy body weight and restore metabolic markers then please send me a note using the Contact Me form, on the tab above.

To your good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

 https://plus.google.com/+JoyYKiddieMScRD

References

  1. Araújo J, Cai J, Stevens J. Prevalence of Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2016. Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders Vol 20, No. 20, pg 1-7, DOI: 10.1089/met.2018.0105
  2. Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.

The New Canada Food Guide at a Glance

This morning at 10 AM EST, the new Canada Food Guide was officially released in Montreal.

The suite of Food Guide resources includes:

  • Canada’s Dietary Guidelines for Health Professionals and Policy Makers
  • Food Guide Snapshot
  • Resources such as actionable advice, videos and recipes
  • Evidence including the Evidence Review for Dietary Guidance 2015 and the Food, Nutrients and Health: Interim Evidence Update 2018
Canada Food Guide “plate”

Canada Food Guide – directed towards healthy Canadians

According to Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide – A Resource for Educators and Communicators the goal of Canada’s Food Guide is to ‘define and promote healthy eating for Canadians’ and to ‘translate the science of nutrition and health into a healthy eating pattern’. By definition, Canada’s Food Guide is directed towards a healthy Canadian population so they can meet their nutrient needs and reduce their risk of obesity and chronic diseases.

“By following Canada’s Food Guide, Canadians will be able to meet their nutrient needs and reduce their risk of obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and osteoporosis.”

The New Canada Food Guide – no more rainbow

The familiar “rainbow” has been replaced with clear, simple photography illustrating food choices. In response to feedback from focus groups that the draft of the Guide focused too much on “how to eat” but didn’t provide adequate direction on “what to eat“, the final version clearly illustrates the proportion of vegetables and fruit, grains and protein foods to eat on a plate.

“Protein Foods”

As anticipated in the draft, the new Canada Food Guide dropped the Meat and Milk groups replacing it with an all-inclusive “Protein Foods” group which includes approximately equal amounts of animal-based and plant-based proteins.

Protein Foods Group

Animal-based proteins included beef, poultry, fish, egg and yogurt. Noticeably absent from the animal-based proteins was cheese.

Plant-based proteins included legumes and pulses (beans and lentils), nuts and seeds and tofu.

Whole Grains

Whole Grains Food Group

The Whole Grain group is visually exemplified by whole grain bread, pasta, rice, wild rice and quinoa and the link that relates to “whole grain foods” contains the following information;

  • Whole grain foods are good for you
  • Whole grain foods have important nutrients such as: fibre, vitamins and minerals
  • Whole grain foods are a healthier choice than refined grains because whole grain foods include all parts of the grain. Refined grains have some parts of the grain removed during processing.
  • Whole grain foods have more fibre than refined grains. Eating foods higher in fibre can help lower your risk of stroke, colon cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Make sure your choices are actually whole grain. Whole wheat and multi-grain foods may not be whole grain. Some foods may look like they are whole grain because of their colour, but they may not be. Read the ingredient list and choose foods that have the word “whole grain” followed by the name of the grain as one of the first ingredients like; whole grain oats, whole grain wheat. Whole wheat foods are not whole grain, but can still be a healthy choice as they contain fibre.
  • Use the nutrition facts table to compare the amount of fibre between products. Look at the % daily value to choose those with more fibre.

Vegetables and Fruit

Vegetable and Fruit Food Group

The new Guide illustrated that 1/2 the plate should be comprised of vegetables and fruit and the plate showed mostly non-starchy vegetables as broccoli, carrot, shredded peppers, cabbage, spinach and tomato, with a small amount of starchy vegetables as potato, yam and peas.

Fruit as blueberries, strawberry and apple was illustrated as a small proportion of the overall Vegetable and Fruit group.

Beverage of Choice – water

The place setting showed a glass of water with the words “make water your drink of choice”; which indicates that fruit juice and pop (soft drinks) are not included as part of a recommended diet.

It is good that water is promoted as the beverage of choice, but why does the Guide doesn’t also illustrate a small glass of milk? The absence of milk in the new Guide seems odd.

Note: with both cheese and milk being limited in this new food guide, adequate calcium intake may be of concern; especially since vegetables that are high in calcium will have that calcium made unavailable to the body due to the high amounts of phytates, oxylates and lectins that are contained in the grains, nuts and seeds that are also in the diet.

Healthy Food Choices

The link for “healthy food choices” indicates;

  • Make it a habit to eat a variety of healthy foods each day.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.
  • Choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat*
    Limit highly processed foods. If you choose these foods, eat them less often and in small amounts.
  • Prepare meals and snacks using ingredients that have little to no added sodium, sugars or saturated fat*
  • Choose healthier menu options when eating out
  • Make water your drink of choice
  • Replace sugary drinks with water
  • Use food labels
  • Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices

* the limited of saturated fat is addressed below,

Eating Habits

The link for “healthy eating habits” indicates;

  • Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It is also about where, when, why and how you eat
  • Be mindful of your eating habits
  • Take time to eat
  • Notice when you are hungry and when you are full
  • Cook more often
  • Plan what you eat
  • Involve others in planning and preparing meals
  • Enjoy your food
  • Culture and food tradition can be a part of healthy eating
  • Eat meal with others

Additional links on the web page include, Recipes, Tips and Resources.

First Impressions of the New Canada Food Guide

Overall, I think the new Canada Food Guide is visually clear, well illustrated and in terms of a communication tool is a huge improvement over its predecessor. It promotes a whole food diet with minimum processing, advises people to limit refined carbohydrates and sugary beverages as well as encourages people to cook their own food. It is neat, clean and appealing to look at and use.

I have two main concerns with respect to the Guide;

(1) the percentage of carbohydrate in the diet given the number of adult Canadians who are already metabolically unwell
(2) the focus on avoiding saturated fat

Percentage of Carbohydrate in the Diet

At first glance, it would appear that the overall macronutrient distribution of the new Guide is ~10-15% of calories as protein, 15-20% as fat, leaving the remaining 65-75% of calories as carbohydrate (based on estimates by Dr. Dave Harper, visiting scientist at BC Cancer Research Institute, social media post). While no portions are set out in this new Guide, based on the carbohydrate (and protein) content of the legumes and pulses (beans, lentils) and nuts and seeds contained in the Protein food group, as well as their proportion of the food group, and the fact that they are encouraged to be eaten ‘more often’ than meat, the protein estimate seems accurate. As well, the carbohydrate content seems accurate based on the proportion of the Whole Grain group and carbohydrate-containing other foods relative to the proportion of other foods.

While this diet may be fine for those who are metabolically healthy, research indicates that as many as 88% of Americans [1] are already metabolically unwell, with presumably a large percentage of Canadians as well. That is, only 12% have metabolic health defined as have levels of metabolic markers “consistent with a high level of health and low risk of impending cardiometabolic disease“.

Metabolic Health is defined as [1];

  1. Waist Circumference: < 102 cm (40 inches) for men and 88 cm (34.5 inches) in women
  2. Systolic Blood Pressure: < 120 mmHG
  3. Diastolic Blood Pressure: < 80 mmHG
  4. Glucose: < 5.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dL)
  5. HbA1c: < 5.7%
  6. Triglycerides: < 1.7 mmol/l (< 150 mg/dL)
  7. HDL cholesterol: ≥ 1.00 mmol/L (≥40 mg/dL) in men and ≥ 1.30 mmol/L (50 mg/dl) in women

When looking at only 3 of the above 7 factors (waist circumference, blood glucose levels and blood pressure) more than 50% in this study were considered metabolically unhealthy [1]. Given the slightly lower rates of obesity in Canada (1 in 4) as in the United States (1 in 3), presumably there is a slightly lower percentage of Canadians who are metabolically unhealthy, but the similarity of our diets may make that difference insignificant.

This would indicate that for a large percentage of Canadians that are  metabolically unwell, a diet that provides provides 325-375 g of carbohydrate per day (based on a 2000 kcal per day diet) is not going to adequately address the underlying cause. While there is evidence that a high complex carbohydrate diet with very low fat and moderately-low protein intake (called a “whole food plant based” / WFPB diet) will improve weight and some markers of metabolic health, there is also evidence that a WFPB diet doesn’t work as well at improvements in body weight and metabolic markers as a low carbohydrate higher protein and fat (LCHF) diet. This will be addressed in a future article.

The purpose Canada’s Food Guide is to provide guidance for healthy Canadians so in actuality, this diet may only be appropriate for ~15% of adults.

Saturated Fat

The indication to “choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat” and to “prepare meals and snacks using ingredients that have little to no added sodium, sugars or saturated fat” sends the message that saturated fat is unhealthy. 

It is well-known that saturated fat raises LDL-cholesterol however it must be specified which type of LDL-cholesterol increases. There are small, dense LDL cholesterol which easily penetrates the artery wall and which are associated with heart disease [2,3,4,5] and large, fluffy LDL cholesterol      which are not [6,7].

The long-standing and apparently ongoing recommendation to limit saturated fat is based on it resulting in an increase in overall LDL-cholesterol and not on evidence that increased saturated fat in the diet results in heart disease.

What do recent studies show?

Eight recent meta-analysis and systemic reviews which reviewed evidence from randomized control trials (RCT) that had been conducted between 2009-2017 did not find an association between saturated fat intake and the risk of heart disease [8-15] and the results of the largest and most global epidemiological study published in December 2017 in The Lancet [16] found that those who ate the largest amount of saturated fats had significantly reduced rates of mortality and that low consumption (6-7% of calories) of saturated fat was associated with increased risk of stroke.

UPDATE: There are 44 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of drug or dietary interventions to lower total LDL-cholesterol that showed no benefit on death rates. (Reference:  DuBroff R. Cholesterol paradox: a correlate does not a surrogate make. Evid Based Med 2017;22(1):15–9.

Canadians are being encouraged to limit foods that are sources of saturated fat. In fact, cheese and milk aren’t even illustrated as foods to regularly include.

Where is the evidence that eating foods with saturated fat is dangerous to health — not simply that it raises overall LDL-cholesterol? I believe that for Canadians to be advised to limit cheese and milk which are excellent sources of protein and dietary calcium and to limit other foods high in saturated fat necessitates more than proxy measurements of higher total LDL-cholesterol.

Dr. Zoe Harcombe a UK based nutrition with a PhD in public health nutrition wrote an article this time last year about saturated fat [17] which is helpful to refer to here.

People have the idea that meat has saturated fat and foods like nuts and olives have unsaturated fats, but Dr. Harcombe points out that;

“All foods that contain fat contain all three fats – saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated – there are no exceptions.”

This article explains may explain why cheese was not included as part of the visual representation of animal-based Protein Foods in the new Guide and why milk was not visually represented because “the only food group that contains more saturated than unsaturated fat is dairy“.

A link off the main page of the new Canada Food Guide explains how to “limit the amount of foods containing saturated fat” such as;

Limit foods that contain saturated fat

Limit the amount of foods containing saturated fat, such as:

cream

higher fat meats
.
.
.
cheeses and foods containing a lot of cheese

Are Canadians being encouraged to avoid dairy products because they are high in saturated fat? Where is the evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease?

There is proxy data that saturated fat raises total LDL-cholesterol, but not that saturated fat causes heart disease.  In fact, a review of the recently literature finds that it does not (see above).

If saturated fat actually puts one’s health at risk, then Canadians should be warned that olive oil has 7 times the amount of saturated fat as the sirloin steak illustrated below and the mackerel has 1- 1/2 times the saturated fat as the sirloin steak [16] yet the new Guide recommends that Canadian’s choose foods with “healthy fats” such as fatty fish including mackerel and to use “healthy fats” such as olive oil.

from Reference #17

Final thoughts…

In generations past, Canada food Guide helped Canadians make food choices in order to achieve adequate nutrition for themselves and their families, especially in the early years after WWII.  With current rates of overweight, obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and other forms of metabolic dysregulation, I wonder how few this beautiful new Guide is appropriate for.

If you would like to learn more about how I can help you or a family member achieve and maintain a healthy body weight and to achieve metabolic health, please send me a note using the Contact Me form located on the tab above.

To our good health!

Joy

In the following post, I validate the average amount of carbohydrate in this new Canada Food Guide.

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LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Araújo J, Cai J, Stevens J. Prevalence of Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2016. Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders Vol 20, No. 20, pg 1-7, DOI: 10.1089/met.2018.0105
  2. Tribble DL, Holl LG, Wood PD, et al. Variations in oxidative susceptibility among six low density lipoprotein subfractions of differing density and particle size. Atherosclerosis 1992;93:189–99
  3. Gardner CD, Fortmann SP, Krauss RM, Association of Small Low-Density Lipoprotein Particles With the Incidence of Coronary Artery Disease in Men and Women, JAMA. 1996;276(11):875-881
  4. Lamarche B, Tchernof A, Moorjani S, et al, Small, Dense Low-Density Lipoprotein Particles as a Predictor of the Risk of Ischemic Heart Disease in Men, 
  5. Packard C, Caslake M, Shepherd J. The role of small, dense low density lipoprotein (LDL): a new look, Int J of Cardiology,  Volume 74, Supplement 1, 30 June 2000, Pages S17-S22
  6. Genest JJ, Blijlevens E, McNamara JR, Low density lipoprotein particle size and coronary artery disease, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 1992;12:187-195
  7. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 91, Issue 3, 1 March 2010, Pages 502–509
  8. Skeaff CM, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Human Nutrition, the University of Otago, Miller J. Dietary Fat and Coronary Heart Disease: Summary of Evidence From Prospective Cohort and Randomised Controlled Trials, Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2009;55(1-3):173-201
  9. Hooper L, Summerbell CD, Thompson R, Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease, 2012 Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 May 16;(5)
  10. Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S et al, Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids with Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Ann Intern Med. 2014 Mar 18;160(6):398-406
  11. Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G Dietary fatty acids in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease: a systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression BMJ Open 2014;4
  12. Hooper L, Martin N, Abdelhamid A et al, Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease, Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jun 10;(6)
  13. Harcombe Z, Baker JS, Davies B, Evidence from prospective cohort studies does not support current dietary fat guidelines: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Br J Sports Med. 2017 Dec;51(24):1743-1749
  14. Ramsden CE, Zamora D, Majchrzak-Hong S, et al, Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73), BMJ 2016; 353
  15. Hamley S, The effect of replacing saturated fat with mostly n-6 polyunsaturated fat on coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, Nutrition Journal 2017 16:30
  16. Dehghan M, Mente A, Zhang X et al, The PURE Study – Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet. 2017 Nov 4;390(10107):2050-2062
  17. Harcombe  Z, Saturated Fat,  http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2018/01/saturated-fat/

EAT-Lancet Diet – inadequate protein for older adults

We’ve come to expect that as people age they will gain more fat, loose bone mass and have decreased muscle strength which in time leads to difficulty in them getting around on their own, a greater risk of falls and eventually to physical disability. We commonly see older people with spindly little legs and bony arms and we think of this as ‘normal’. It is common in the United States and Canada, but this is not ‘normal’.

Sarcopenia is the visible loss of muscle mass and strength that has become associated with aging here, but what we see as ‘common’ here in North America is not ‘normal’ in other parts of the world where seniors in many parts of Asia and Africa are often active well into their older years and don’t have the spindly legs and bony arms of those here.

Here in North America, we celebrate ‘active’ seniors by posting photos of them in the media sitting in chairs and lifting light weights — when people their age in other parts of the world continue to raise crops, tend their grandchildren and cook meals for their extended family, even gathering fuel and water to do so.

The physical deterioration that we associate with aging here doesn’t  develop suddenly, but takes place over an extended period of time and is brought on by poor dietary and lifestyle practices in early middle age –  including less than optimal protein intake and insufficient weight bearing activity from being inactive.

Protein Requirement in Older Adults

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is set at 0.8 g protein/kg per day is not the ideal amount that people should take in, but the minimum quantity of protein that needs to be eaten each day to prevent deficiency. Protein researchers propose that while sufficient to prevent deficiency, this amount is insufficient to promote optimal health as people age[1].

There have been several position statements issued by those that work with an aging population indicating that protein intake between 1.0 and 1.5 g protein / kg per day may provide optimal health benefits during aging [2,3]. For an normal-sized older woman of my size, that requires ~65-95 g of high quality bioavailable protein per day and for a lean older man of ~185 lbs (85 kg) that would require between 85 – 125 g of high quality bio-available protein per day

High bioavailability proteins are optimal to preserve the lean muscle tissue and function in aging adults and animal-based proteins such as meat and poultry are not biologically equivalent to plant-based proteins such as beans and lentils in terms of the essential amino acids they provide.

Animal-based protein have high bioavailability and are unequaled by any plant-based proteins. Bioavailability has to do with how much of the nutrients in a given food are available for usage by the human body and in the case of protein, bioavailability  has to do with the type and relative amounts of amino acids present in a proteinAnimal proteins (1) contain all of the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities.

Anti-nutrients such as phytates, oxylates and lectins are present in plant-based protein sources and interfere with the bioavailability of various micronutrients.

The recommendations above for older adults to eat 1.0 – 1.5 g protein / kg per day distributed evening over three meals would be on average ~30-40g of animal-based protein at each meal to provide for optimal muscle protein synthesis to prevent sarcopenia as people age.  In an aging population, this maintenance of muscle mass as people age is critical to consider.

The Eat-Lancet Diet

Dr. Zoe Harcombe, a UK based nutrition with a PhD in public health nutrition analyzed the “Healthy Reference Diet” from Table 1 of the Eat-Lancet report using the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) all-food database and found that in terms of macronutrients, it had only 90g  Protein per day (14% of daily calories) which is below the 100g – 120 g per day that is consider optimal for older adults to maintain their lean muscle mass and as importantly, most of that protein is as low bioavailable plant-based proteins.

The Eat-Lancet Diet recommends only;

  • 1 egg per week
  • 1/2 an ounce of meat per day (equivalent to a thin slice of shaved meat)
  • an ounce of fish or chicken per day (equivalent to 1 sardine)
  • and 1 glass of milk

This is not an optimal diet to prevent sarcopenia in adults as they age.

A diet that puts seniors at significant risk of muscle wasting contributes to the loss of quality of life, significant costs to the healthcare system, as well significant cost and stress to individual families that need to care for immobile seniors.

This diet may be beneficial for those living with consistent under-nutrition (malnutrition) but this diet is anything but optimal for healthy, independent aging for the seniors of the US and Canada.

As mentioned in the previous article, the EAT-Lancet Diet also provides way too much carbohydrate intake for the 88% of Americans (and presumably a similar percentage of Canadians) who are metabolically unwell.

Final Thoughts…

For reasons mentioned above, the EAT-Lancet diet is not optimal for health for mature adults or older adults and as mentioned in the previous article, has way too high a carbohydrate intake for the vast majority of people who are already metabolically unwell.

If you would like to learn more about eating an optimal diet to support an active, healthy older age, please send me a note using the Contact Me form, above.

To your good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

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Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Volpi E, Campbell WW, Dwyer JT, et al. Is the optimal level of protein intake for older adults greater than the recommended dietary allowance? J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2013 Jun;68(6):677-81
  2. Fielding RA, Vellas B, Evans WJ, Bhasin S, et al, Sarcopenia: an undiagnosed condition in older adults. Current consensus definition: prevalence, etiology, and consequences. International working group on sarcopenia. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2011 May;12(4):249-56
  3. Bauer J1, Biolo G, Cederholm T, Cesari M, et al. Evidence-based recommendations for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: a position paper from the PROT-AGE Study Group. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2013 Aug;14(8):542-59
  4. Harcombe Z, The EAT Lancet diet is Nutritionally Deficient,  http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2019/01/the-eat-lancet-diet-is-nutritionally-deficient/

The New EAT Lancet Diet – healthy & sustainable for whom?

A new report released on January 16, 2019 by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet and Health sets out what it calls a “healthy and sustainable diet” [1] for the whole world.

The EAT-Lancet report proposes what it calls the “Planetary Health Diet“; a largely plant-based diet which aims to address the simultaneous global problems of malnutrition (under-nutrition) and over-nutrition; specifically that “over 820 million people continue to go hungry every day, 150 million children suffer from long-term hunger that impairs their growth and development, and 50 million children are acutely hungry due to insufficient access to food” and that at the same time “over 2 billion adults are overweight and obese”[2].

The “Planetary Health Diet” intends address both under-nutrition and over-nutrition simultaneously by promoting a 2500 kcal per day diet that focuses on high consumption of carbohydrate-based grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes (pulses and lentils) — while significantly limiting meat and dairy. This sounds a lot like the proposed draft of the new Canada Food Guide (which you can read more about here).

The Planetary Health Diet

The Planetary Health Diet – aka the EAT-Lancet Diet [4]
Here is the food per day that can be eaten per adult on the “Planetary Health Diet“;

  1. Nuts: 50 g (1 -3/4 ounces) /day
  2. Legumes (pulses, lentils, beans): 75 g (2-1/2 oz) /day
  3. Fish: 28 g (less than an ounce) / day
  4. Eggs: 13 g / day (~ 1 egg per week)
  5. Meat: 14 g (1/2 an ounce) / day / Chicken: 29 g (1 ounce) / day
  6. Carbohydrate: whole grain bread and rice, 232 g carbohydrate per day and 50 g / day of starchy vegetables like potato and yam
  7. Dairy: 250 g (the equivalent of one 8 oz. glass of milk)
  8. Vegetables: 300 g (10.5 ounces) of non-starchy vegetables and 200 g (almost 1/2 a pound) of fruit per day
  9. Other: 31 g of sugar (1 ounce), ~50 g cooking oil
On this diet, you can have twice the amount of sugar as meat or egg, and the same amount of sugar as poultry and fish.

While is is understandable how the above diet may address the problems of under-nutrition in much of the world’s population, what about the effect of such a diet on the average American or Canadian — when 1 in 3 Americans[5] and 1 in 4 Canadians is overweight or obese[6]?

Vast Majority (88%) of Americans are Metabolically Unhealthy

A study published in November 2018 in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders reported that 88% of Americans are already metabolically unhealthy[3]. That is, only 12% have metabolic health defined as have levels of metabolic markers “consistent with a high level of health and low risk of impending cardiometabolic disease“.

Metabolic Health is defined as [3];

  1. Waist Circumference: < 102 cm (40 inches) for men and 88 cm (34.5 inches) in women
  2. Systolic Blood Pressure: < 120 mmHG
  3. Diastolic Blood Pressure: < 80 mmHG
  4. Glucose: < 5.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dL)
  5. HbA1c: < 5.7%
  6. Triglycerides: < 1.7 mmol/l (< 150 mg/dL)
  7. HDL cholesterol: ≥ 1.00 mmol/L (≥40 mg/dL) in men and ≥ 1.30 mmol/L (50 mg/dl) in women

When looking at only 3 of the above 7 factors (waist circumference, blood glucose levels and blood pressure) more than <50% of Americans were considered metabolically unhealthy [3].

Given the slightly lower rates of obesity in Canada[6] as in the United States[5], presumably there is a slightly lower percentage of Canadians who are metabolically unhealthy, but the similarity of our diets may make that difference insignificant. As well, it was not only those who were overweight or obese who were metabolically unhealthy;

“Even when WC (waist circumference) was excluded from the definition, only one-third of the normal weight adults enjoyed optimal metabolic health.”

For the 12% of people who are metabolically healthy, a plant-based low glycemic index diet is not problematic, but it's a concern to recommend to the other 88% to eat that way — especially if they are insulin resistant or have Type 2 Diabetes.

Is the “Planetary Health Diet” an advisable diet for the average American or Canadian adult who is already metabolically unhealthy? To answer this question, let’s look closer at the macronutrient and micronutrient content of this diet.

Below is the “healthy reference diet” from page 5 of the report [7], which is based on an average intake of 2500 kcal per day;

Table 1 – Healthy reference diet, with possible ranges, for an intake of 2500 kcal/day (from Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems)

Nutritional Deficiency of the Eat-Lancet Diet

Dr. Zoe Harcombe a UK based nutrition with a PhD in public health nutrition analyzed the above “Healthy Reference Diet” from Table 1 of the Eat-Lancet report using the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) all-food database and found that in terms of macronutrients, it had [8];

Protein: 90 g (14% of daily calories)
Fat: 100 g (35% of daily calories)
Carbohydrate: 329 g (51% of daily calories)

Dr. Harcombe also reported that in terms of micronutrients, the diet was deficient in retinol (providing only 17% of the recommended amount), Vitamin D (providing only 5% of the recommended amount), Sodium (providing only 22% of the recommended amount), Potassium (providing only 67% of the recommended amount), Calcium (providing only 55% of the recommended amount), Iron  (providing only 88% of the recommended amount, but mostly as much lower bio-available non-heme iron, from plant-based sources), as well as inadequate amounts of Vitamin K (as the most bio-available comes from animal-based sources).

High Carbohydrate Content

The “Planetary Health Diet” contains on average approximately 329 g of carbohydrate per day which is of significant concern — especially in light of the extremely high rates of overweight and obesity in both the United States and Canada, as well as the metabolic diseases that go along with those, including Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and abnormal triglycerides.

Since 1977, Canada Food Guide has recommended that Canadians consume 55-60% of daily calories as carbohydrate and the Dietary Goals for the United States recommending that carbohydrates are 55-60% of daily calories and in 2015, Canada Food Guide increased the amount of daily carbohydrate intake to 45-65% of daily calories as carbohydrate.

What has happened to the rates of overweight and obesity, as well as diabetes from 1977 until the present?

In the early 1970s, only ~8% of men and ~12% of women in Canada were obese and now almost 22% of men and 19% of women are obese. As mentioned above, 1 in 4 in Canada is obese and 1 in 3 in the US is and with those, Type 2 Diabetes as well as the metabolic diseases mentioned above.

Final Thoughts…

The Dietary Guidelines of both Canada and the US have spent the last 40 years promoting a high carbohydrate diet that has provided adults with between 300 g and 400 g of carbohydrate per day (based on a 2500 kcal / day diet).

EAT-Lancet’s “Planetary Health Diet” may seem to be good for the planet, and for those facing under-nutrition in many parts of the world, but with 88% of Americans already metabolically unhealthy (and presumably the majority of Canadians as well), this diet which provides 300 g of carbohydrate per day is going to do nothing to address the high rates of overweight and obesity and metabolic disease that is rampant in North America.

If you would like to learn more about eating a lower carbohydrate diet for weight loss or for putting the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes and associated metabolic diseases into remission, please send me a note using the Contact Me form.

To your good health!

Joy

PS If you would like to learn why this diet provides inadequate protein for older adults and seniors, please click here.

You can follow me at:

       https://twitter.com/lchfRD

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https://www.instagram.com/lchf_rd

 

Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet and Health,  https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/
  2. The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet and Health – EAT-Lancet Commission Brief for Healthcare Professionals,  https://eatforum.org/lancet-commission/healthcare-professionals/
  3. Araújo J, Cai J, Stevens J. Prevalence of Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2016. Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders Vol 20, No. 20, pg 1-7, DOI: 10.1089/met.2018.0105
  4. BBC News, A bit of Meat, a lot of veg – the flexitarian diet to feed 10 billion, James Gallagher, 17 January 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46865204
  5. State of Obesity, Adult Obesity in the United States, https://stateofobesity.org/adult-obesity/
  6. Statistics Canada, Health at a Glance, Adjusting the scales: Obesity in the Canadian population after correcting for respondent bias,  https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-624-x/2014001/article/11922-eng.htm
  7. Willet W, Rockstrom J, Loken B, et al, Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, The Lancet Commissions, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(18)31788-4
  8. Harcombe Z, The EAT Lancet diet is Nutritionally Deficient,  http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2019/01/the-eat-lancet-diet-is-nutritionally-deficient/

Background to the New Canada Food Guide Draft

This article is to provide background information to the article posted yesterday (available here) about the proposed changes to the new Canada's Food Guide.

As I thought yesterday, I can confirm now that the source of the draft version of the new Canada’s Food Guide was from the Earnscliffe Strategy Group’s report titled “Healthy Eating Strategy – Dietary Guidance Transformation – Focus Groups on Healthy Eating Messages, Visuals and Brands Research Report which was released on October 31 2018.

Health Canada has confirmed that the draft of the new food guide is not the final version.

Media stories about the new guide first began last week (January 4, 2019) after a draft of the new food guide was referred to by the French media outlet LaPresse in their article titled “Les produits laitiers largement écartés du nouveau Guide alimentaire” (translation: “Milk products are largely removed from the new Food Guide”).

English language media stories cited in the article I posted yesterday also relied on the Earncliffe report.

According to this report, Health Canada is planning to release a Canada’s Food Guide (CFG) “suite of products” to meet the needs of a variety of audiences.  The “look and feel” of the final concept will be applied across the suite of products (pg. 1 Healthy Eating Strategy – Dietary Guidance Transformation – Focus Groups on Healthy Eating Messages, Visuals and Brands – Final Report).

This past June, Ann Ellis who is Manager of Dietary Guidance Manager at Health Canada spoke at the Dietitians of Canada conference on Vancouver Island and shared the specific “suite of products” that will be rolled out.

For the general public the focus of the new guide will be on “how to eat” (eating with others, taking meals to school or work, food shopping) rather than on “what to eat“. Guidance with regards to the types of foods and number of servings will be provided to healthcare professionals such as Dietitians rather than to the general public.

The first set of resources that were supposed to be released this past fall but will probably be release in early 2019 will be;

  1. Canada’s Dietary Guidelines for Health Professionals and Policy Makers: A report providing Health Canada’s policy on healthy eating. This report will form the foundation for Canada’s Food Guide tools and resources
  2. Canada’s Food Guide Healthy Eating Principles: Communicating Canada’s Dietary Guidelines in plain language
  3. Canada’s Food Guide Graphic: Expressing the Healthy Eating Principles through visuals and words
  4. Canada’s Food Guide Interactive Tool:  An interactive online tool providing custom information for different life stages, in different settings
  5. Canada’s Food Guide Web Resources: Mobile-responsive healthy eating information (fact sheets, videos, recipes) to help Canadians apply Canada’s Dietary Guidelines

The second set of resources that were to be released in the spring of 2019 but will probably be pushed back to the summer are;

  1. Canada’s Healthy Eating Pattern for Health Professionals and Policy Makers:  A report providing guidance on amounts and types of foods as well as life stage guidance
  2. Enhancements to Canada’s Food Guide: Interactive Tool and Canada’s Food Guide (Web Resources): Enhancements and additional content to Canada’s web application on an ongoing basis

As far as “timelines” for release of the new Canada Food Guide, the following was available from the Health Canada website;

Key dates

The revision of Canada’s food guide will be completed in phases.

In early 2019, we will release:

  • Part 1 of the new dietary guidance policy report for health professionals and policy makers, which will consist of general healthy eating recommendations
  • supporting key messages and resources for Canadians

Later in 2019, we will release:

  • Part 2 of the new dietary guidance policy report, which will consist of healthy eating patterns (recommended amounts and types of foods)
  • additional resources for Canadians
It is very good news that healthy eating patterns with recommended amounts and types of foods will be released to health care professionals, but why not to the general public?

Phase 1 of market research was targeted to five different audiences and focused on a variety of healthy eating topics. The five different audiences included;

  1. adults experienced in food preparation
  2. adults with minimal experience in food preparation
  3. seniors responsible for food preparation
  4. parents of children who are responsible for grocery shopping and food preparation
  5. youth aged 16 to 18

Market research included a series of 10 focus groups that were held in English in Ottawa (March 20 and 21) and in French in Quebec City (March 21 and 22).

Phase 2 of market research was to test the visual elements for the new Canada’s Food Guide to assess:

  • effective use of text and graphics/images
  • credibility, relevancy and perceived value to the audience
  • acceptance
  • appeal, usefulness and appropriateness
  • relevance and engagement
  • memorability (eye-catching and general visual appeal)

Audiences for Phase 2 included:

  • those at risk of marginal health literacy
  • those with adequate health literacy
  • primary level teachers
  • community level educators
  • registered dietitians working in public health or community nutrition
  • registered dietitians working in clinical/private practice/media/bloggers
  • registered nurses working in public or community health.

In addition, 10 focus groups were conducted with members of the general public in five Canadian cities:

  • Toronto, ON (June 5, 2018)
  • Quebec City, QC (June 6, 2018, in French)
  • Calgary, AB (June 7, 2018)
  • Whitehorse, YK (June 11, 2018)
  • St. John’s, NL (June 14, 2018).

Fifteen (15) mini-groups were conducted with health professionals and educators in 3 Canadian cities:

  • Toronto, ON (June 4, 2018)
  • Calgary, AB (June 6, 2018)
  • Quebec City, QC (June 18, 2018, in French)

The following note appeared in the introduction to the Earnscliffe report;

“It is important to note that qualitative research is a form of scientific, social, policy and public opinion research. Focus group research is not designed to help a group reach a consensus or to make decisions, but rather to elicit the full range of ideas, attitudes, experiences and opinions of a selected sample of participants on a defined topic. Because of the small numbers involved the participants cannot be expected to be thoroughly representative in a statistical sense of the larger population from which they are drawn and findings cannot reliably be generalized beyond their number.”

The following topics on “how to eat” were explored for each of the following audiences during Phase 1:

Adults experienced in food preparation
 Healthy eating at work
 Grocery shopping
 Eating on the go

Adults with minimal experience in food preparation
 Healthy eating at home
 Beginner cook
 Celebrations

Seniors responsible for food preparation
 Building healthy meals & snacks
 Eating on a budget
 Healthy eating for seniors

Youth
 Eating on the go
 Building healthy meals & snacks
 Eating out

Parents responsible for food preparation
 Planning & preparing healthy food with the family
 Packing healthy lunches
 Eating out

It does not appear that any of the focus groups were consulted about the decision to eliminate the Meat and Alternatives and Milk and Alternatives food groups. The senior’s focus group was consulted about the “justification” for particular messages related to these. “Non-meat protein options” and “healthy fats” were considered “new information for which they would like to understand the justification” therefore “providing a rationale was felt to be useful“.

Regarding these “justifications“;

“the placement of the justification seemed to be pertinent.

For example, participants reacted favourably to the statement, “Eggs are a very convenient and versatile protein food. Prepare them poached, scrambled or made into an omelette with your favourite chopped vegetables.” because the justification (that eggs are convenient and versatile) was provided at the outset.

By way of contrast, reactions to “Eat meatless meals more often! Instead of meat have baked beans, lentil chilli or an egg sandwich. They cost less!” were less favourable because the justification was provided at the end (they cost less).

Some argued that as a result, this statement came across more as a directive to avoid something they enjoy (eating meat).

(pg. 18 Healthy Eating Strategy – Dietary Guidance Transformation – Focus Groups on Healthy Eating Messages, Visuals and Brands – Final Report).


Topics that were explored for each audience (teachers, dietitians, nurses and people with literacy issues) during Phase 2 included:

  • reactions to the draft look-and-feel elements
  • reactions to the draft visual elements

Two drafts of the new Canada’s Food Guide appeared in the report under the section of “visual elements“;

“At-a-glance” Visual Concept A

“At-a-glance” Visual Concept B

Participant’s feedback on these visual elements are worth noting;

When asked, some could delineate that because vegetables/fruits occupied a larger space visually, or in the example of Visual Concept B that vegetables/fruits were displayed at the top, that most of the food they should consume should come from this category. Others (but not many) inferred from the messaging, “plenty of vegetables and fruit”, that much of what they eat in a day should be vegetables/fruit.

However, all of this was not obvious and most indicated that they would have preferred a more direct reference to either specific proportions or, at a minimum, an image of a plate or a pyramid, in which the appropriate proportions of vegetables/fruits, grains, and protein were illustrated.

(pg. 34 Healthy Eating Strategy – Dietary Guidance Transformation – Focus Groups on Healthy Eating Messages, Visuals and Brands – Final Report).

It would seem that the draft guide’s focus on “how to eat” left focus group participants wanting more direction on “what to eat” which is primarily what Canadian’s look to the Canada Food Guide for. They wanted to know specific proportions of vegetables and fruit, grains and protein to eat and as a bare minimum wanted an image of a plate or a pyramid in which the appropriate proportions were illustrated.

Some final (personal) thoughts…

As mentioned yesterday, I believe that the role of a national food guide is to enable a country’s population to eat as optimally as possible and without providing guidance as to how much food and how often it should be eaten, the public will be left wanting.

It is clear from the reaction of the senior’s group that they wanted to know why they should eat less meat and less saturated fat and as I expressed yesterday, I believe that before Canadians are discouraged from eating meat and milk that the government should provide current, scientific evidence that eating saturated fat contributes to cardiovascular disease. The public doesn’t need nicer worded “justifications”, but the evidence related to limit saturated fat and to what degree.

To your good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

       https://twitter.com/lchfRD

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https://www.instagram.com/lchf_rd

 

Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

New Canada Food Guide Drops Meat and Milk Groups

According to an article published in the Globe and Mail yesterday, the new Canada’s Food Guide will have only 3 Food Groups; (1) Vegetables and Fruit (2) Whole Grains and (3) Protein Foods — and will have dropped the Meat and Alternatives and Milk and Alternatives food groups, along with dropping the recommendation for adults and children to consume 2-3 servings of meat and alternatives and milk and alternatives daily[1].

This draft of the new Food Guide does not recommend a specific amount of protein foods be consumed each day.

According to the article;

The proposed changes are consistent with Health Canada’s previous statements on its intentions; “the majority of Canadians don’t eat enough vegetables, fruits and whole grains.”[1]

The draft of the new Canada Food Guide shows the 3 new food groups and under the heading Protein Foods are images of tofu, red beans & chickpeas, peanut butter, milk, fish and a pork chop, under Whole Grains are images of rice, bread, quinoa and pasta and under Vegetables and Fruit which is the largest of the 3 food groups are a variety of fresh, frozen and canned produce.

The articles published in both the Globe and Mail[1] and on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)’s website[2] state the same things, as do other media outlets and may have been based on the Earnscliffe Strategy Groups report titled “Healthy Eating Strategy – Dietary Guidance Transformation – Focus Groups on Healthy Eating Messages, Visuals and Brands Research Report, Prepared for: Health Canada” which contained the following images:

from “Healthy Eating Strategy – Dietary Guidance Transformation – Focus Groups on Healthy Eating Messages, Visuals and Brands Research Report, Earnscliffe Strategy Group
from “Healthy Eating Strategy – Dietary Guidance Transformation – Focus Groups on Healthy Eating Messages, Visuals and Brands Research Report, Earnscliffe Strategy Group

The proposed new Canada Food Guide should come as no surprise given that the Government of Canada has had posted on its website since 2017 Health Canada’s ‘Guiding Principles, Recommendations and Considerations’ which include Guiding Principle 1;

Regular intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein-rich foods*especially plant-based sources of protein

Inclusion of foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat, instead of foods that contain mostly of saturated fat

*Protein-rich foods include: legumes (such as beans), nuts and seeds, soy products (including fortified soy beverage), eggs, fish and other seafood, poultry, lean red meats (including game meats such as moose, deer and caribou), lower fat milk and yogurt, cheeses lower in sodium and fat.

Nutritious foods that contain fat such as homogenized (3.25% M.F.) milk should not be restricted for young children.

The CBC article stated that Dr. Jennifer Taylor, Professor of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) and who is one of the experts that was consulted on the new guide said;

 “The new guidelines are evidence-based and relevant.”

and added that

“Any government in any developed country has a responsibility to have some good advice for their citizens.”

The question is, is the de-emphasis on the consumption of meat and milk in order to limit saturated fat based on current evidence? More on this below.

Meat and dairy products have been a major part of the diet of populations around the world for millennia and these are high quality proteins which have high bioavailability to the human body and are unequaled in plant-based proteins. Of course, individuals who choose to be vegetarian or vegan for religious or ethical reasons should be free to choose non-animal based protein foods consistent with their beliefs, however it is my opinion that the role of a country’s food guide is to encourage optimal dietary intake in all of its population.

"Bioavailability" has to do with how much of the nutrients in a given food are available for usage by the human body.  In the case of protein, bioavailability  has to do with the type and relative amounts of amino acids present in a protein*. Anti-nutrients such as phytates, oxylates and lectins which are present in plant-based protein sources interfere with the availability of nutrients in those foods. *Animal proteins (1) contain all of the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities and (2) do not contain anti-nutrients (as plant-based proteins do).

High bioavailability proteins are optimal for the body’s of growing children and youth and to preserve the lean muscle tissue and function in aging adults and a pork chop and red beans or chickpeas are not biologically equivalent in terms of the essential amino acids they provide. I believe, that as in the past the Canadian population should be encouraged to consume both Meats and Alternatives whenever possible.

Professor Taylor said that “not everyone follows the Food Guide strictly” however hospitals, long term care facilities, daycare centers, some  schools, as well as prisons are required by their provincial licenses to provide food that meets Canada’s Food Guide. Will there be a different food guide for institutions with a requirement to provide a specific amount of high bioavailable protein daily? I certainly hope so as the young, the infirm, the institutionalized and the aged are amongst the most vulnerable in our society.

In light of this draft of the new food guide, here are some questions that I believe we, as a society must address;

Do we really NOT want to encourage parents to provide children and youth to be with a specific amount of high bioavailable protein daily?

Do we NOT want to encourage pre-teens and teenagers to eat the most bioavailable protein available to support optimal growth?

Do we NOT want to encourage seniors to consume a specific amount of high quality, bioavailable protein every day to reduce their risk for sarcopenia (muscle wasting)?


The new Canada Food Guide’s shift away from regular consumption of meat and dairy is based a perceived need to avoid foods that contain saturated fat — seeing it as a negative component of the diet. Yes, saturated fat is known to raise LDL-cholesterol however such a finding is meaningless unless it is specified which type of LDL-cholesterol goes up. There are small, dense LDL cholesterol which easily penetrates the artery wall and which are associated with heart disease [4,5,6,7] and large, fluffy LDL cholesterol which are not [8,9].

Eight recent meta-analysis and systemic reviews which reviewed evidence from randomized control trials (RCT) that had been conducted between 2009-2017 did not find an association between saturated fat intake and the risk of heart disease [10-17] and the results of the largest and most global epidemiological study published in December 2017 in The Lancet [18] found that those who ate the largest amount of saturated fats had significantly reduced rates of mortality and that low consumption (6-7% of calories) of saturated fat was associated with increased risk of stroke.

As Canadians we must ask where is the current evidence that eating foods with saturated fat is dangerous to health?

I believe that Health Canada needs to provide this evidence — evidence which is not based on proxy measurements that saturated fat raises total LDL cholesterol. There needs to be a clear differentiation between small, dense LDL cholesterol (which are associated with cardiovascular risk) and large, fluffy LDL cholesterol (which are not).

I believe that it is inadequate for Canadians to not be encouraged to eat meat and milk without the government providing current, scientific evidence that eating saturated fat raises small, dense LDL and/or leads to cardiovascular disease. Where is this evidence?

Finally, Canada is in the midst of an obesity and diabetes epidemic. According to Statistics Canada, one in four Canadian adults were overweight or obese in 2011-2012 [19]. That’s about 6.3 million people and that number is continuing to increase. In 1980, only 15% of Canadian school-aged children were overweight or obese. This number has more than doubled to 31% in 2011 [20] and 12% met the criteria for obesity [21,22,23].

How will Canada’s overweight and obesity crisis be addressed by a new Canada Food Guide that de-emphasizes regular consumption of milk and animal proteins which increase satiety (feeling of fullness) while encouraging Canadian children, youth and adults to eat more vegetables, fruit and whole grains?

I believe Canadians deserve these answers before Canada’s Food Guide is changed.

The Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion is the federal department that is responsible for developing and promoting dietary guidance, including Canada's Food Guide. If you have concerns about the proposed changes to Canada Food Guide, they can be reached by email at nutrition@hc-sc.gc.ca.

To your good health!

Joy

UPDATE (January 10, 2019) This new article summarizes the report on which the media stories about the new Canada Food Guide draft are based and includes very interesting focus group reactions.

You can follow me at:

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Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. The Globe and Mail, Ann Hui, Canada’s Food Guide poised to shift focus from meat, dairy to vegetables, protein, published January 8, 2019, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-new-draft-of-canadian-nutrition-guide-drops-to-three-food-groups/
  2. CBC News,  New food guide will shift recommended diet from meat, dairy to fruits, veggies says expert, published January 8, 2019, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-canada-food-guide-jennifer-taylor-1.4970072
  3. Government of Canada, Guiding Principles, Recommendations and Considerations, https://www.foodguideconsultation.ca/guiding-principles-detailed
  4. Tribble DL, Holl LG, Wood PD, et al. Variations in oxidative susceptibility among six low density lipoprotein subfractions of differing density and particle size. Atherosclerosis 1992;93:189–99
  5. Gardner CD, Fortmann SP, Krauss RM, Association of Small Low-Density Lipoprotein Particles With the Incidence of Coronary Artery Disease in Men and Women, JAMA. 1996;276(11):875-881
  6. Lamarche B, Tchernof A, Moorjani S, et al, Small, Dense Low-Density Lipoprotein Particles as a Predictor of the Risk of Ischemic Heart Disease in Men, 
  7. Packard C, Caslake M, Shepherd J. The role of small, dense low density lipoprotein (LDL): a new look, Int J of Cardiology,  Volume 74, Supplement 1, 30 June 2000, Pages S17-S22
  8. Genest JJ, Blijlevens E, McNamara JR, Low density lipoprotein particle size and coronary artery disease, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 1992;12:187-195
  9. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 91, Issue 3, 1 March 2010, Pages 502–509
  10. Skeaff CM, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Human Nutrition, the University of Otago, Miller J. Dietary Fat and Coronary Heart Disease: Summary of Evidence From Prospective Cohort and Randomised Controlled Trials, Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2009;55(1-3):173-201
  11. Hooper L, Summerbell CD, Thompson R, Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease, 2012 Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 May 16;(5)
  12. Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S et al, Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids with Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Ann Intern Med. 2014 Mar 18;160(6):398-406
  13. Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G Dietary fatty acids in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease: a systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression BMJ Open 2014;4
  14. Hooper L, Martin N, Abdelhamid A et al, Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease, Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jun 10;(6)
  15. Harcombe Z, Baker JS, Davies B, Evidence from prospective cohort studies does not support current dietary fat guidelines: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Br J Sports Med. 2017 Dec;51(24):1743-1749
  16. Ramsden CE, Zamora D, Majchrzak-Hong S, et al, Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73), BMJ 2016; 353
  17. Hamley S, The effect of replacing saturated fat with mostly n-6 polyunsaturated fat on coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, Nutrition Journal 2017 16:30
  18. Dehghan M, Mente A, Zhang X et al, The PURE Study – Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet. 2017 Nov 4;390(10107):2050-2062
  19. Statistic Canada, Adjusting the scales: Obesity in the Canadian population after correcting for respondent bias, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-624. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-624-x/2014001/article/11922-eng.htm
  20. Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents: Results from the 2009 to 2011, Canadian Health Measures Survey [homepage on the Internet]. [Cited 2016 Nov 28]. Available from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2012003/article/11706-eng.htm
  21. Twells, LK, Midodzi W, et al. Current and predicted prevalence of obesity in Canada: a trend analysis. CMAJ Open. Mar 3, 2014. Vol 2 (1), E18-E26.
  22. Diabetes: Canada at The Tipping Point [homepage on the Internet]. [Cited 2016 Nov 28]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.ca/CDA/media/documents/publications-and-newsletters/advocacy-reports/canada-at-the-tipping-point-english.pdf
  23. Janseen, Ian. The public health burden of obesity in Canada. Canadian Journal of Diabetes. Apr 2013. Vol 37 (2), 90-96.

The Mediterranean Diet

Most people have heard that a “Mediterranean Diet” is healthy, but what is it?

According to the 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines from Diabetes Canada;

A “Mediterranean diet” primarily refers to a plant-based diet first described in the 1960s. General features include a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, cereals and whole grains; moderate-to-high consumption of olive oil (as the principal source of fat); low to moderate consumption of dairy products, fish and poultry; and low consumption of red meat, as well as low to moderate consumption of wine, mainly during meals”

There are many countries that border on the Mediterranean Sea and the traditional diets of these regions vary considerably! Countries such as Greece and Turkey have a long-standing tradition of a meat-rich diet, and countries such as France and Spain are known for their high saturated fat intake, which begs the question “what is the Mediterranean Diet” and “which country in the Mediterranean is it from” and “what time period is it from“?

Countries of the Mediterranean

Countries of the Mediterranean

Mediterranean countries include Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey and each country traditionally had it’s own diet. That is, there isn’t a single “Mediterranean Diet” but Mediterranean Diets.

The “Mediterranean Diet” referred to in the literature and in common speech refers to what was eaten in Southern Italy in the 1960s when Ancel Keys conducted his Six Country Study (1953) and later his Seven Countries Study (1970). These studies allegedly demonstrated that there was an association between dietary fat as a percentage of daily calories and death from degenerative heart disease but as will be elaborated on below, this is largely because some of the data available at the time was ignored by Ancel Keys’.

The definition of a “Mediterranean Diet” according to the Clinical Practice Guidelines is tied to Keys’ definition;

“Ecologic evidence suggesting beneficial health effects of the Mediterranean diet has emerged from the classic studies of
Keys.” [2]

The Data Ancel Keys Ignored

In 1953, Ancel Keys published the results of his “Six Countries Study“[3], where he said that he demonstrated that there was a direct association between dietary fat as a percentage of daily calories and death from degenerative heart disease (see figure below).

Looking at the diagram from Keys’ study above, it looks like a clear linear relationship however, four years later in 1957 Yerushalamy et al published a paper with data from 22 countries[4], which showed a much weaker relationship between dietary fat and death by coronary heart disease than Keys’s Six Countries Study data [3].

As can be seen from this diagram from the Yerushalamy et al study, no clear linear relationship exists. Data points are quite a bit more scattered;

In spite of the publication of Yerushalamy et al’s data in 1957,  in 1970 Keys went on to conduct his Seven Countries Study which he concluded showed an associative relationship between increased dietary saturated fat and coronary heart disease but he failed to include data from countries such as France, in which the relationship did not hold. 

In Keys’ paper published in 1989[5] he found that the average consumption of animal foods (with the exception of fish) was positively associated with 25 year coronary heart disease deaths rates and the average intake of saturated fat was supposedly strongly related to 10 and 25 year coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rates.

The problem is that Keys published his Seven Country Study 32 years after Yerushalamy et al’s 1957 paper which showed a significantly weaker relationship but Key’s (1) failed to mention the Yerushalamy study and  (2) failed to study countries such as France and Spain that had known high intakes of saturated fat, yet low coronary heart disease rates.

The “French Paradox” Ignored

France is known for the “French paradox” (a term which came about in the 1980s) because of the country’s relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) while having a diet relatively rich in saturated fat. According to a 2004 paper about the French Paradox [6], there was diet and disease data available from the French population that was carried out in 1986–87 and which demonstrated that the saturated fat intake of the French was 15% of the total energy intake, yet such a high consumption of saturated fatty acids was not associated with high coronary heart disease incidence[6]. According to the same paper about the French Paradox, high saturated fat intake combined with low coronary heart disease rates were also observed in other Mediterranean countries such as Spain [6].  Nevertheless, Keys published his 1989 study[5] ignoring the French dietary and disease data that was available 2-3 years earlier (from 1986-1987) [6], as well as ignoring Yerushalamy et al‘s data from 1957Was this deliberate oversight on Ancel Keys’ part or simply poor research practices?

As a result of Keys omission and the wide publication of his Seven Country Study results, the so-called “Mediterranean Diet” has become synonymous with the diet of Southern Italy in the 1960’s; a diet that is no longer eaten by children and youth there, according to the World Health Organization (WHO):

“In Cyprus, a phenomenal 43% of boys and girls aged nine are either overweight or obese. Greece, Spain and Italy also have rates of over 40%. The Mediterranean countries which gave their name to the famous diet that is supposed to be the healthiest in the world have children with Europe’s biggest weight problem.[7]”

Some Final Thoughts…

There never really was a “Mediterranean Diet” and the diets of Mediterranean countries in the 1960s varied considerably when it came to intake of red meat, cheese and saturated fat. The so-called “Mediterranean diet” is simply what people in Southern Italy ate in the 1960’s.

That said, for those who are metabolically healthy (that is, not having insulin resistance or Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol) eating what has become known as “the Mediterranean Diet” of whole, plant-based foods including vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, modest amounts of whole grains and fruit and moderate-to-high consumption of olive oil, as well as the inclusion of full-fat cheese and meat, fish and poultry is certainly a healthy choice and offers lots of variety!

Even for those that are metabolically compromised (already insulin resistance or have Type 2 Diabetes) the same style of eating can be adapted to limit quickly metabolized carbohydrate, while still enjoying all the other foods that comprise a traditional “Mediterranean Diet”.

Would you like to know more?

Please send me a note using the Contact Me form above and I’ll be happy to reply.

To your good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

       https://twitter.com/lchfRD

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https://www.instagram.com/lchf_rd

 

Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Sievenpiper JL, Chan CB, Dwortatzek PD, Freeze C et al, Nutrition Therapy – 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines, Canadian Journal of Diabetes 42 (2018) S64–S79 http://guidelines.diabetes.ca/docs/CPG-2018-full-EN.pdf
  2. Trichopoulou A, Costacou T, Bamia C et al, Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and Survival in a Greek Population, N Engl J Med 2003;348:2599-608.
  3. Keys, A. Atherosclerosis: a problem in newer public health. J. Mt. Sinai Hosp. N. Y.20, 118–139 (1953).
  4. Yerushalmy J, Hilleboe HE. Fat in the diet and mortality from heart disease. A methodologic note. NY State J Med 1957;57:2343–54
  5. Kromhout D, Keys A, Aravanis C, Buzina R et al, Food consumption patterns in the 1960s in seven countries. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 May; 49(5):889-94.
  6. Ferrières J. The French paradox: lessons for other countries. Heart. 2004;90(1):107-111.
  7. Boseley, Sarah, The Guardian, Thur May 24, 2018, ‘The Mediterranean diet is gone’: regions children are fattest in Europe.  https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/24/the-mediterranean-diet-is-gone-regions-children-are-fattest-in-europe

A New Year’s Resolution – a goal without a plan

It is said that the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, yet with the best of intentions many of us make a New Year’s Resolution each January 1st saying “this will be the year“!  The problem is, that by the end of the first week in January 50% of us will have already given up on our resolution to lose weight, exercise more or eat healthier[1]. By the end of the month, 83% have given up[1].  In fact, a study on New Year’s Resolutions found that only 8% of those that make these types of health-related commitments will actually achieve them[1], which are  pretty discouraging statistics.

If we want to lose weight, get in shape and start eating healthier the way NOT to do it is by making a New Year’s Resolution.

We need a plan; a plan that is specific, with outcomes that are measurable and achievable and that are relevant to our overall life goals and realistic, and we need them to be accomplished in a timely manner. These are the essence of SMART goals! You can read more about those here.

New Year’s Resolutions; a desire without a commitment

Saying “I’m going to lose weight this year” says nothing about how much weight, in what period of time, by what means, nor what “success looks like”.  It’s not a goal, but a wish. It’s expressing a desire without a commitment. This also applies to exercising more or eating healthier.

How convincing would it be to us if someone said “I want to spend the rest of my life with you” but made no commitment to a relationship, or to live in the same city as us or to spending time with us?  Why should we put confidence in our ourselves when we also express desires without commitment?

We may WANT to lose weight, we may WANT to exercise more and WANT to eat healthier but all the “wanting” in the world won’t move us closer to any of those goals because a goal without a plan is just a wish.

…and a goal without a plan is a New Year’s resolution.

If you want to lose weight, exercise more and eat healthier this year, then what I’d recommend is rather than making a New Year’s resolution this year, make a commitment to yourself to take the month of January to design an implementable plan built on SMART goals.

If you do this, by the end of the month when 83% of people that have made New Year’s Resolutions have already given up, you will be ready to begin implement a well thought out plan!  When most people have forgotten their wish, you will have what you need to be successful.

If you would like help setting SMART health and nutrition goals for yourself, I offer a one-hour session that is especially for this purpose that is available via Skype or telephone. I’ll help you set goals for yourself that are specific, measurable,  achievablerelevant /realistic and timely. These will be your goals and success will look like however you decide to measure it.  I will assist as a coach helping you set goals for yourself that are achievable, relevant and that can be achieved in a realistic amount of time.

If you would like to know more, please click here or if you have questions, please send me a note using the Contact Me form located on the tab above.

Wishing you and yours the very best for a healthy and happy New Year!

Joy

You can follow me at:

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Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Norcross, JC et al, Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. J Clin Psychol. 2002 Apr;58(4):397-405

 

Will You Achieve Your New Year’s Resolution?

If you are one of the many people that will be making a health-related New Year’s resolution this year, I’ve got some bad news for you. Half of people that make this type of resolution will have given up after only a week and 83% will have thrown in the towel by the end of January[1].

Why is that?

For one, it takes ~ 66 days (more than 2 months) for a new habit to become ingrained[2] and two, most New Year’s resolutions are wishes, more than a plan. More on that in a bit…

Yesterday I asked a question on Twitter:

 

 

“Are you making a New Year’s resolution this year and if so, is it to:

  • lose weight
  • exercise more
  • eat healthier
  • something else”

Of the 62 people that completed the survey, here are the results:

As you can see, they are pretty close, but of these 62 people, how many will actually meet their New Year’s Resolution? Based on a study on the outcome of New Year’s resolutions[1] referred to above, only 8% of people will meet their New Year’s resolution so at the end of 2019, of the 62 people above;

  • not even one person (0.94%) will have successfully achieved the weight loss they set out to
  • a little more than one person (1.44%) will have been successful at consistently exercising more
  • a little more than one person (1.54%) will have been successful at consistently eating healthier
  • one person (1.04%) will have met their other health-related goal

This is not very encouraging, is it?

As I said above, most New Year’s resolutions are wishes, more than a plan. A wish is along the lines of “I’d like to” but without a well-thought out, realistic plan to make that a reality.

There is hope!

Yesterday, I wrote an article titled Why I Suggest Avoiding These New Year’s Resolutions which explains how to set goals that will transform your health-related wish into an achievable goal. The steps are very straight-forward and if you want they can be completed between now and New Years  or can be worked through during the month of January so that by the time 83% of people have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions, you will be primed to begin implementing your plan!

What I’d recommend is that you read through the article I wrote yesterday (link directly above) and if you need or want some help designing a plan, I have a special New Year’s SMART goal session that can help.  You can click here to learn more or send me a note using the Contact Me form located on the tab above.

I provide both in-person services in my Coquitlam (British Columbia) office and via Distance Consultation (Skype, phone), so whether you live in the Greater Vancouver area or away, I’d be happy to assist you.

Wishing you and yours the very best for a healthy and happy New Year!

Joy

You can follow me at:

       https://twitter.com/lchfRD

         https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

          https://plus.google.com/+JoyYKiddieMScRD

https://www.instagram.com/lchf_rd

 

Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Norcross, JC et al, Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. J Clin Psychol. 2002 Apr;58(4):397-405
  2. Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H. M., Potts, H. W. W. and Wardle, J. (2010), How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 998–1009.

Why I Suggest Avoiding These New Year’s Resolutions

Why on earth would a Dietitian suggest to avoid making New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, exercise more or eat healthier? The reason is that research indicates that half of those that make these types of health-related  New Year’s Resolutions give up just a week into the new year [1] and by the end of January, 83% will have given up [1]. A New Year’s resolution will see only 8% of people reach their goal, with 92% failing[1]. I want people succeed and since it takes approximately 66 days (that’s more than 2 months!) to create a new habit[2] having my support during the critical planning and implementing stage can make a huge difference!

Rather than making a New Year’s resolution, I recommend that people set SMART goals. Ideally if they want to lose weight during the new year, they will have done this in November and begun to implement their plan in December but it’s not too late!  Setting SMART goals in January and beginning to implement them in February works great!

What are “SMART” goals?

SMART is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

SMART goals

Goals that are Specific

When setting a goal, it needs to be specific.

If your goal is weight loss, then think about exactly what you are trying to accomplish in terms of how much weight in what amount of time.

If your goal is to exercise more, than decide how often you will exercise, for how long at each session , and what types of exercise you will do (weights, resistance, cardio, etc).

If your goal is to eat healthier, then define what that means to you.  Is it “clean eating”; then what is that, exactly?  If you want to eat to lower your blood sugar or cholesterol or blood pressure or to reduce your risk to specific diseases that run in your family, then you need to define it that way.

Goals that are measurable

When setting a goal it is necessary to define what is going to be used to measure whether the goal will have been met.  If the goal is weight loss, then it can be measured by a certain number of pounds or kilos lost or by a specific waist to height ratio.

If the goal is to exercise more, then it can be measured in times per week at the gym, the number of hours spent exercising each week or how many fitness classes you attend each month.

If the goal is to eat healthier, then how are you going to measure that?  It could be measured in how many times you eat fatty fish (like salmon or mackerel) in a week, or how many grams of carbohydrate you eat per day or how many servings of leafy green vegetables you eat per day.  How will you measure it?

What does success look like?

Goals that are achievable

For goals to be be successfully accomplished, they need to be realistically achievable from the beginning, otherwise people get discouraged and give up.

When it comes to setting weight loss goals, it is not uncommon for people to decide they want to lose 20 pounds in a month before a special social function, but is it achievable?

When it comes to exercising more, is it achievable to set a goal of working out an hour a day, 7 days per week or is there a different goal that is more likely to be achievable, but will still keep you progressing?

It’s the same with eating healthier; the goal needs to be achievable.  When I started my personal weight loss and health-recovery journey in March 2017, one of the goals I set was to put my Type 2 Diabetes into remission by a year. Based on the research and how I decided to eat, that was achievable. It actuality it took me 13 months to accomplish, but I was not discouraged that I didn’t actually achieve it in the time frame I planned because the goal was achievable. I was close at a year, just not “there” yet.

Goals that are relevant or realistic

For a goal to be relevant it needs to fit within a person’s broader goals.

If I have a goal to lose weight but I have a larger goal to eat with my kids, then I need to plan to make food for myself that is the same as what I make for them, with some modifications for my weight loss goals

If one of my goals is to spend more time with my kids in the evening then planning to go running each evening as a way of exercising more does not fit within my broader goals. If my goal is to buy only locally-sourced food and I want to eat mangoes as part of my plan to eat healthier, I will face challenges if I live in the northern US or Canada and it’s wintertime. We need to know our broader goals and set our individual ones in that context.

For a goal to be realistic it needs to be achievable and for this step, it is often best to consult someone that would know.

Goals that are time-bound

Setting a goal to “lose weight” is one thing.  That’s pretty generic.  Setting a goal to lose a given amount of weight in a specific amount of time means that a lot of planning and implementing needs to occur for that goal to be successfully realized.  It is the planning and implementing to achieve a specific, measurable, achievable and realistic goal in a specific time-frame that makes it successful.

A Dietitian’s Journey – SMART Goals

Back in March 2017 when I set out to restore my own health and lose weight, these were the goals that I set;

(1) blood sugar in the non-diabetic range

(2) normal blood pressure

(3) normal / ideal cholesterol levels

(4) a waist circumference in the “at or below” recommended values of the Heart and Stroke Foundation

While they don’t appear as SMART goals, as a Dietitian I knew what the “normal range” for these was and the time-frame I set was one year.

At the one year mark, my progress report as posted on Diet Doctor on March 14, 2018:

I did reach my goal of having my waist circumference at or below the recommended values of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, but still had a way to go to get it in a healthier range based on waist to height ratio;

I have not yet reached a low-risk waist circumference (one where my waist circumference is half my height).  I still have to lose another 3 inches to lose (having already lost 8 inches!), so however many pounds I need to lose to get there, is how much longer I have to go.

I am guessing that will be in about 20-25 pounds which may take another 6 months or so, but I’m not really concerned about the time because this “journey” is about me getting healthy and lowering my risk factors for heart attack and stroke, and any amount of time it takes is what it will take.

It took years to make myself that metabolically unhealthy and it will take time for me to get to a healthy body weight and become as metabolically ‘well’ as possible.

(from “A Dietitian’s Journey”)

As it turned out, it was only a week ago last Monday that I finally got to a place where my waist circumference was half my height; 8 months after my first year update. That was 2 months more than I thought it would take, but only 20 pounds more that I needed to lose to accomplish it, so I was close.

Was I discouraged at 6 months when I hadn’t “arrived”?

No, because  from the beginning my goals were SMART which made them rooted in what was possible.

I was very specific as to what I wanted to accomplish, how I was going to measure success, that the goals were achievable based on the available research, were relevant to my larger life goals and were time-bound. That said, just because reaching my goals was possible did not guarantee that I would achieve all of them in the time I planned. I achieved most of them within a year, and achieved the rest with a little more patience and time.

Some final thoughts…

Instead of setting a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, exercise more or eat healthier, perhaps spend the month of January setting very specific SMART goals. At the end of January, when 83% of the people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions to improve their health, you will about to implement your well-thought out, realistic plan and may have already engaged me, as a Dietitian or a personalized trainer to help you implement it. Now THAT is a whole lot more than wishful thinking!

  1. “What specifically do I want to accomplish”
  2. “How will I measure success?”
  3. Is this achievable? Do I know? Where can I find out?
  4. Is this goal relevant to my larger life goals?
  5. What time-frame do I want to accomplish this by?

Write out what you can about each of your goal(s) and then if achieving your goal will take more than a few months or a year or more to achieve, then I’d recommend engaging a professional to support you.

When it comes to weight loss and eating healthier I can certainly help, and if your goal is to lower risk to specific types of diseases I can certainly share with you the information I have gleaned as to which types of exercise are the most helpful in that regard.

If you want to consult with me to help you set SMART goals, please click here to learn more or send me a note using the Contact Me form located on the tab above. I provide in-person services in my Coquitlam (British Columbia) office or via Distance Consultation (Skype, phone) so whether you live close or far away, I’m happy to help.

If you would like more information about my hourly services or the packages I offer, please click on the Services tab above and if you have questions about those, please send me a note using the Contact Me form and I’ll reply when I am able.

Wishing you the very best for a  healthy and happy New Year!

Joy

You can follow me at:

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Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Norcross, JC et al, Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. J Clin Psychol. 2002 Apr;58(4):397-405
  2. Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H. M., Potts, H. W. W. and Wardle, J. (2010), How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 998–1009.

Low Carb Diet in 2019 American Diabetes Association Standards of Care

On Monday, December 17, 2018, the American Diabetes Association released its new 2019 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes including its Lifestyle Management Standards of Care which includes use of a low carbohydrate diet saying it may result in lower blood sugar levels and also has the potential to lower the use of blood sugar lowering medications[1] in those with Type 2 Diabetes. In support, they cite the one-year study data by Virta Health[2], as well as two other studies [3,4].

“…research indicates that low carbohydrate eating plans may result in improved glycemia and have the potential to reduce antihyperglycemic medications for individuals with type 2 diabetes…”

The new 2019 Standards of Care reflect the American Diabetes Association’s change in approach which began in 2018 to revise the guide throughout the year as new scientific evidence warrants it, rather than to wait annually to update guidelines. Towards that end, in November 2018, the American Diabetes Association launched a joint partnership with the American Heart Association to raise awareness about the increased risk of cardiovascular disease for those diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and in October, the American Diabetes Association in conjunction with the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) released a joint Position Statement which approved use of a low carbohydrate diet as Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) for adults with Type 2 Diabetes (you can read more about that here).

The American Diabetes Association’s newly released 2019 Lifestyle Management  Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes builds on this joint consensus paper released with the EASD by including use of a low carbohydrate diet in the section on Nutrition Therapy where it emphasizes a patient-centered, individualized approach based on people’s current eating patterns, personal preferences and metabolic goals;

“Evidence suggests that there is not an ideal percentage of calories from carbohydrate, protein, and fat for all people with diabetes. Therefore, macronutrient distribution should be based on an individualized  assessment of current eating patterns, preferences, and metabolic goals. Consider personal preferences (e.g., tradition, culture, religion, health beliefs and goals, economics) as well as metabolic goals when working
with individuals to determine the best eating pattern for them.”

The ADA deemphasizes a focus on specific nutrients; whether fat or carbohydrate and stresses that a variety of eating patterns are acceptable.

“Emphasis should be on healthful eating patterns containing nutrient-dense foods, with less focus on specific nutrients. A variety of eating patterns are acceptable for the management of diabetes”.

The Lifestyle Management Standards of Care underscores the importance of having a Registered Dietitian involved in the process of assessing a person’s overall nutritional status, as well designing an individualized Meal Plan for them that is tailored to their health, cooking skills, financial resources, food preferences and health goals and that is coordinated with the person’s physician who is responsible for prescribing and adjusting their medications.

“…a referral to an RD or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN)
is essential to assess the overall nutrition status of, and to work collaboratively with, the patient to create a personalized meal plan that considers the individual’s health status, skills, resources, food preferences, and health goals to coordinate
and align with the overall treatment plan including physical activity and medication.”

They outline a few eating patterns that are examples of  healthful eating
patterns that have shown positive results in research, including the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, plant-based diets and add that

“low-carbohydrate eating plans may result in improved glycemia (blood sugar) and have the potential to reduce anti-hyperglycemic medications (medications to lower blood sugar) for individuals with type 2 diabetes.”

The documents emphasizes again that individualized meal planning should focus on personal preferences, needs, and goals rather than focusing on any specific macronutrient distribution.

Without citing any references, the Standards of Care state that there are challenges with the ability of people to continue to follow a low carbohydrate diet long term and as a result that it’s important to reassess people who adopt this approach.

“As research studies on some low-carbohydrate eating plans generally indicate challenges with long-term sustainability, it is important to reassess and individualize meal plan guidance regularly for those interested in this approach.”

It’s unfortunate that the ADA did not have access to the very recently released two-year data from Virta Health’s study which showed a 74% retention rate in the low carb intervention.

The ADA takes the position that a low carbohydrate meal plan is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people who have- or are at risk for eating disorders, or have kidney disease and that caution should be taken with those taking SGLT2 inhibitor medication* for management of Type 2 Diabetes, as there is the potential risk of a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

*This article outlines the risk of SGLT2 inhibitors, as well as other medications used to treat high blood pressure and some mental health disorders that need supervision when following a low-carbohydrate diet.

Low Carbohydrate Diets for Weight Loss

The ADA’s new 2019 Lifestyle Management Standards of Care also includes use of a low carbohydrate diet in the Weight Management section of the document, which underscores the benefit in blood sugar control, blood pressure and cholesterol (lipids) of weight loss of at least 5% body weight in overweight and obese individuals and that weight loss goals of 15% body weight may be appropriate to maximize benefit.

In this section dealing with Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), the role of a Registered Dietitian (RD) / Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is emphasized;

“MNT guidance from an RD/RDN with expertise in diabetes and weight management, throughout the course of a structured weight loss plan, is strongly recommended.”

The ADA’s Lifestyle Management Standards of Care indicates that studies have demonstrated that a variety of eating plans with different macronutrient composition can be used safely and effectively for 1-2 years to achieve weight loss in people with Diabetes, including the use of a low-carbohydrate diet and that no single approach has been proven to be best;

“Studies have demonstrated that a variety of eating plans, varying in macronutrient composition, can be used effectively and safely in the short term (1–2 years) to achieve weight loss in people with diabetes. This includes structured low-calorie meal plans that include meal replacements and the  Mediterranean eating pattern, as well as low-carbohydrate meal plans. However, no single approach has been proven to be consistently superior.”

It is concluded that more study is needed to know which of these dietary patterns is best when used long-term and which is best accepted by patients over a long period of time.

“more data are needed to identify and validate those meal plans that are optimal with respect to long-term outcomes as well as patient acceptability.”

In the section dealing specifically with Carbohydrates, it is indicated that for people with Type 2 Diabetes or prediabetes that low-carbohydrate eating plans show the potential to improve blood sugar control and cholesterol outcomes for up to one year, and that part of the problem in interpreting low-carbohydrate research has been due to the wide range of definitions of what “low-carbohydrate” is (i.e. <130 g of carbohydrate, <50 g carbohydrate).

Point of Interest: No where in the Lifestyle Management Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes does the American Diabetes Association define what they mean by "low carbohydrate diet".  The fact that they cite the one-year study data from Virta Health[2] (see above) as evidence for safety and efficacy in lowering blood sugar and Diabetes medication usage when that study clearly employs a ketogenic approach is most interesting.

” For people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, low-carbohydrate eating plans show potential to improve glycemia and lipid outcomes for up to 1 year. Part of the challenge in interpreting low-carbohydrate research has been due to the wide range of definitions for a low-carbohydrate eating plan.”

The Standards of care stated that because most people with Diabetes say they eat between 44–46% of calories as carbohydrate, and that changing people’s usual macronutrient intake usually results in them going back to how they ate before, that they recommend designing meal plans based on the person’s normal macronutrient distribution, because it is most likely to result in long-term maintenance.

“Most individuals with diabetes report a moderate intake of carbohydrate (44–46% of total calories). Efforts to modify habitual eating patterns are often unsuccessful in the long term; people generally go back to their usual macronutrient distribution. Thus, the recommended approach is to individualize meal plans to meet caloric goals with a macronutrient distribution that is more consistent with the individual’s usual intake to increase the likelihood for long-term maintenance.”

NOTE: Most people are likely to indicate they eat within the recommended range of carbohydrate intake (45-65% of calories as carbohydrate) because that is how they were counselled when they were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, but stating that they should continue to eat that way because they are most likely to be compliant makes no sense. If a person realizes they are not able to meet optimal blood sugar levels eating that level of carbohydrate intake and are interested and motivated to lower it, then as healthcare professionals, we need to be equipped to support that in an evidenced-based manner.

In this section on Carbohydrates, it was emphasized that;

“…both children and adults with Diabetes are encouraged to minimize intake of refined carbohydrates and added sugars

and

“The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (including  fruit juices) and processed “low-fat” or “nonfat” food products with high amounts of refined grains and added sugars is strongly discouraged.”

Protein

With respect to protein intake, it was emphasized that;

(1) there isn’t any evidence to suggest that adjusting protein intake from 1–1.5 g/kg body weight/day (15–20% total calories) will improve health.

(2) research is inconclusive regarding the ideal amount of dietary protein to optimize either blood sugar control or cardiovascular disease (CVD).

(3) “some research has found successful management of type 2 diabetes with meal plans including slightly higher levels of protein (20–30%), which may contribute to increased satiety.”

Caution for those with diabetic kidney disease (i.e. urine albumin and/or reduced glomerular filtration rate) advise that dietary protein should be maintained at the recommended daily allowance of 0.8 g/kg body weight/day.

Fats

The Standards of Care acknowledged that the ideal amount of dietary fat for individuals with diabetes is controversial and underscored that the National Academy of Medicine has defined an acceptable macronutrient distribution for total fat for all adults to be 20–35% of total calorie intake. They stated that the type of fats consumed are more important than the total amount of fat when looking at metabolic goals and cardiovascular (CVD) risk and recommended that the percentage of total calories from saturated fats be limited. It was recommended that people with Diabetes follow the same guidelines as the general population when it comes to intakes of saturated fat, dietary cholesterol and trans fat and they recommended a focus on eating polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats for improved glycemic  (blood sugar) control and blood lipids (cholesterol) and that there does not seem to be a CVD benefit of supplementing with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Other Points of Interest

It is interesting that the Lifestyle Management Standards of Care indicated that the literature concerning Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) in individuals with Diabetes often yields conflicting results and that “studies longer than 12 weeks report no significant influence of glycemic index or glycemic load independent of weight loss on A1C”.

Conclusion

The American Diabetes Associations 2019 Lifestyle Management Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes emphasis on a patient-centered, individualized approach is under-girded by an acknowledgment that based on the current evidence, a low-carbohydrate diet is both safe and effective used as Medical Nutrition Therapy for up to two years in adults in order to lower blood sugar, reduce Diabetes medication usage and support weight loss.


I’m a Registered Dietitian that has years of experience working with non-insulin dependent individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. I can assess your overall nutritional status, review your personal and family medical background and lifestyle habits and create a individualized Meal Plan just for you that considers your health status, cooking skills, food preferences, resources as well as your health and weight goals. I even offer a single package (the Complete Assessment Package) that will do just that.

I provide in-person services in my Coquitlam (British Columbia) office as well as via Distance Consultation (Skype, long distance) for those outside of the Lower Mainland area.

You can find out more about the hourly consultations and packages I offer by clicking on the Services tab above and if you have questions, feel free to send me a note using the Contact Me form, and I will reply as soon as I am able.

To your good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

       https://twitter.com/lchfRD

         https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

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https://www.instagram.com/lchf_rd

 

Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. American Diabetes Association, Lifestyle Management Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes – 2019. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/42/Supplement_1. Accessed: Dec. 17, 2018.
  2. Hallberg SJ, McKenzie AL, Williams PT, et al. Effectiveness and safety of a novel care model for the management of type 2 diabetes at 1 year: an  open-label, non-randomized, controlled study. Diabetes Ther 2018;9:583–612
  3. Saslow LR, Daubenmier JJ, Moskowitz JT, et al. Twelve-month outcomes of a randomized trial of a moderate-carbohydrate versus very low-carbohydrate diet in overweight adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus or prediabetes. Nutr Diabetes 2017;7:304
  4. Sainsbury E, Kizirian NV, Partridge SR, Gill T, Colagiuri S, Gibson AA. Effect of dietary carbohydrate restriction on glycemic control in adults with diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2018;139:239–252

The Difference Between Reversal and Remission of Type 2 Diabetes

Some speak of having “reversed” Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) as a result of dietary changes whereas others refer to having achieved “remission“. What is the difference and why is the distinction important?

What is meant by Type 2 Diabetes “reversal”

Reversal” of a disease implies that whatever was causing it is now gone and is synonymous with using the term “cured”.  In the case of someone with Type 2 Diabetes, reversal would mean that the person can now eat a standard diet and still maintain normal blood sugar levels. But does that actually occur? Or are blood sugar levels normal only while eating a diet that is appropriate for someone who is Diabetic, such as a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, or while taking medications such as Metformin?

If blood sugar is only normal while eating a therapeutic diet or taking medication then this is not reversal of the disease process, but remission of symptoms.

We do see Type 2 Diabetes reversal in a majority of T2D patients who have undergone a specific kind of gastric bypass surgery called Roux-en-Y; with 85% having achieving normal blood sugar levels within weeks of having the surgery, without taking any blood sugar lowering medications or following any special diet[1]. The mechanism that is thought to make Type 2 Diabetes reversal possible with this type of surgery are (a) that the operation results in more of the incretin hormone GIP being released in the upper part of the gut (duodemum, proximal jejunum) which results in less insulin resistance [2,3] or (b) that the presence of food in lower gut (terminal ilium, colon) stimulates the lower incretin hormone GLP-1, which results in more insulin being secreted [3], which lowers blood sugar levels.

Is Type 2 Diabetes “reversal” possible with diet alone?

It is currently believed that T2D may be reversible by non-surgical intervention if diagnosed very early on in the progression of the disease.

One matter that needs to be overcome is that both the mass and function of the β-cells of the pancreas that produce insulin are thought to be reduced by 50% by the time someone is diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes [5]. Furthermore, the β-cells are thought to continue to deteriorate the longer a person has Type 2 Diabetes.

It is unknown for how long or at what stage T2D becomes irreversible [6].

What is meant by Type 2 Diabetes “remission”

There is evidence that indicates that weight loss of ~15 kg (33 pounds) can result in remission of Type 2 Diabetes symptoms and that β-cell function can be restored  to some degree either by (a) dormant β-cells being reactivated through a variety of means or (b) by existing β-cells functioning better [6].

Type 2 Diabetes “reversal” defined

In 2009, the American Diabetes Association defined Type 2 Diabetes partial remission, complete remission and prolonged remission as follows;

Remission is defined as being able to maintain blood sugar below the Diabetic range without currently taking medications to lower blood sugar and remission can classified as either partialcomplete or prolonged.

Partial remission is having blood sugar that does not meet the classification for Type 2 Diabetes; i.e. either HbA1C < 6.5% and/or fasting blood glucose 5.5 – 6.9 mmol/l (100–125 mg/dl) for at least 1 year while not taking any medications to lower blood glucose.

Complete remission is a return to normal glucose values i.e. HbA1C <6.0%, and/or fasting blood glucose < 5.6 mmol/L (100 mg/dl) for at least 1 year while not taking any medications to lower blood glucose.

Prolonged remission is a return to normal glucose values (i.e.
HbA1C <6.0%, and/or fasting blood glucose < 5.6 mmol/L (100 mg/dl) for at least 5 years while not taking any medications to lower blood glucose.

Remission can be achieved after bariatric surgery such as the Roux-en-Y procedure outlined above or with dietary and lifestyle changes such as a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, weight loss and exercise.

According the American Diabetes Association, people who are able to achieve normal blood sugar through diet, weight loss and exercise but also take blood sugar lowering medication such as Metformin do not meet the criteria for either partial remission or complete remission.*

Those who have achieved normal blood sugar levels as a result of following a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet and are also taking the medication Metformin are sometimes referred to in published studies as having “reversed” their Type 2 Diabetes.  I think this is problematic because clearly if these people go back to eating a standard diet again, their blood sugar would not remain normal. As well, in some well-designed ketogenic diet studies subjects are allowed to use Metformin but no other blood sugar-reducing medication, but based on the American Diabetes Association definition the use of Metformin which helps regulate blood sugar (largely via reducing gluconeogenesis of the liver and making the muscles less insulin resistant) precludes these cases from being referred to as either partial remission or complete remission*.

Don’t get me wrong; having normal blood sugar (and insulin) levels as the result of a well-designed low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet with or without the use of Metformin enables people to reap significant health benefits and lower their risk of the chronic diseases related to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hyperinsulinemia (high circulating levels of insulin) but it’s not reversal unless the people can then eat a standard diet without an abnormal glucose response.  It is normal glycemic control achieved through diet with or without the use of Metformin. Perhaps a term such as “partial remission with Metformin support” would be a more accurate descriptor.

Some final thoughts…

I think it’s important what terms we use.

There are genuine cases of Type 2 Diabetes “reversal” and we should use that term for those who can now eat a standard diet and maintain normal blood sugar levels, without the use of any medication or diet.

There are also genuine cases of “partial remission” or “complete remission” according to the American Diabetes Association definition that are a result of dietary and lifestyle changes and these terms should be reserved for cases where the defined criteria is met.

There are also genuine cases of “partial remission with Metformin support” that have been achieved as the result of people implementing dietary and lifestyle changes plus the use of Metformin that should be acknowledged and celebrated, but calling these either “Type 2 Diabetes reversal” or “Type 2 Diabetes remission” is confusing, at best.

Yes, Type 2 Diabetes a) reversal, b) partial remission and complete remission as well as c) partial remission with Metformin support are all possible. It may well be that people such as myself who had been Type 2 Diabetic for many, many years can eventually transition to genuine partial remission with eventual discontinuation of Metformin. That is my hope, at any rate!  The bottom line is that maintaining normal blood glucose levels and normal circulating levels of insulin is necessary in order to put the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes into remission, as well as to reduce the risks to the chronic diseases associated with high blood sugar and insulin levels — and for that there are well-designed dietary and lifestyle changes. This is where I can help.

If you have Type 2 Diabetes or have been diagnosed as being pre-diabetic (which is the final stage before a diagnosis, not a “warning sign” — more about that here) and would like to work toward putting your symptoms into remission, then please send me a note using the Contact Me form above to find out more about how I can help.

I offer both in-person and Distance Consultation services (via Skype or long distance phone) and would be glad to help you get started as well as support you as you achieve your health and weight loss goals.

To yours and my good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

       https://twitter.com/lchfRD

         https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

          https://plus.google.com/+JoyYKiddieMScRD

https://www.instagram.com/lchf_rd

 

Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Xiong, S. W., Cao, J., Liu, X. M., Deng, X. M., Liu, Z., & Zhang, F. T. (2015). Effect of Modified Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery on GLP-1, GIP in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Gastroenterology research and practice2015, 625196.
  2. Schauer P. R., Kashyap S. R., Wolski K., et al. Bariatric surgery versus intensive medical therapy in obese patients with diabetes. The New England Journal of Medicine2012;366(17):1567–1576
  3. Lee W. J., Chong K., Ser K. H., et al. Gastric bypass vs sleeve gastrectomy for type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial. Archives of Surgery2011;146(2):143–148.
  4. Laferrère B., Heshka S., Wang K., et al. Incretin levels and effect are markedly enhanced 1 month after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care2007;30(7):1709–1716
  5. Taylor R. Banting Memorial lecture 2012: reversing the twin cycles of type 2 diabetes. Diabet Med. 2013;30:267-275
  6. Watson J., Can Diet Reverse Type 2 Diabetes? December 12, 2018 https://www.medscape.com/viewarticles/905409_print

Insulin Resistance, Hyperinsulinemia and Hyperglycemia

The distinction between insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia is often unclear because these terms are frequently lumped together under “insulin resistance“, but they are separate concepts. Hyperinsulinemia (“too high insulin”) is when there is too much insulin secreted from the pancreas in response to high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and insulin resistance is where the taking in of that glucose into the cells is impaired.

Blood glucose is a tightly regulated process. A healthy person’s blood glucose is kept in the range from 3.3-5.5 mmol/L (60-100 mg/dl) but after they eat, their blood sugar rises as a result of the glucose that comes from the broken-down carbohydrate-based food. This triggers the hormone insulin to be released from the pancreas, which signals the muscle and adipose (fat) cells of the body to move the excess sugar out of the blood. What happens in insulin resistance is that the cells of the body ignore signals from insulin telling it to move glucose from broken down from digested food from the blood into the cells. When someone is insulin resistant, blood glucose stays higher than it should be for longer than it should be (hyperglycemia).

The Process of Moving Glucose Inside the Cell

A special transporter (called GLUT4) that can be thought of as a ‘taxi’ exists in muscle and fat cells and is controlled by insulin. This ‘taxi’ moves glucose from the blood and into the cells. GLUT4 ‘taxis’ are kept inside the cell until they’re needed. When ‘taxis’ are required, they go to the surface of the cell, bind with insulin and pick up their ‘passenger’ (glucose) and moves it inside the cell. Both the ‘taxi’ (GLUT4 receptor) and the insulin are also taken inside the cell and then replaced on the surface of the cell with new receptors. As long as there are GLUT4 ‘taxis’ available on the surface of the cell to transport glucose inside everything’s good, but when blood sugar is quite high, the pancreas keeps releasing insulin to bind with the GLUT4 ‘taxis’, but those ‘taxis’ may not appear fast enough on the cell surface to pick up the glucose. In this case, blood sugar remains higher then it should be for longer, a state called hyperglycemia. When there are insufficient receptors to move glucose into the cell, this is called insulin resistance. It may be temporary, as in the example above, or may be long-term. If it is temporary, the rise in blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is short but if the receptors don’t respond properly long-term, then blood sugar remains higher for a longer period of time, until the ones that do work can bring the glucose inside. In one case, the blood sugar may be quite high for a short time or may be moderately high for a long time. In both cases, the body is exposed to higher blood sugar than it should be, and this causes damage to the body. It isn’t known whether insulin resistance comes first or hyperinsulinemia does. It is believed that it may be different depending on the person.

What Triggers Hyperinsulinemia?

It is known that excessive carbohydrate intake can trigger hyperglycemia, as well as hyperinsulinemia. Eating lots of fruit, for example or foods that contain fructose (fruit sugar) will cause the body to move that into the body first in order to get it to the liver, before it deals with glucose. This causes glucose levels in the blood to rise, resulting in both hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia. Lots of processed foods contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which contributes to problems with high blood sugar and hyperinsulinemia.

There are other things that can also trigger hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia include certain medications (like corticosteroids and anti-psychotic medication) and even stress. Stress causes the hormone cortisol to rise, which is a natural corticosteroid. It is thought that long-term stress may lead to hyperinsulinemia, which increases appetite by affecting neuropeptide Y expression. This may explain why people eat more when they’re stressed and are very often drawn to carbohydrate-based foods that are quickly broken down for energy.

Diseases Associated with Hyperinsulinemia

It is well known that hyperglycemia that occurs with Type 2 Diabetes contributes to problems with the eyes, kidneys and nerves of the extremities, especially the feet and toes. Less known are the diseases and metabolic problems that can occur due to hyperinsulinemia.

Hyperinsulinemia has a well-establish association to the development of Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes (the Diabetes of pregnancy), but also to Metabolic Syndrome (MetS).

Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is a cluster of symptoms that together put people at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.

These symptoms of MetS include having 3 or more of the following;

  1. Abdominal obesity (i.e. belly fat), specifically, a waist size of more than 40 inches (102 cm) in men and more than 35 inches (89 cm) in women
  2. Fasting blood glucose levels of 100 mg/dL (5.5 mmol/L) or above
  3. Blood pressure of 130/85 mm/Hg or above
  4. Blood triglycerides levels of 150 mg/dL (1.70 mmol/L) or higher
  5. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels of 40 mg/dL (1.03 mmol/L) or less for men and 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) or less for women

Hyperinsulinemia is also an independent risk factor for obesity, osteoarthritis, certain types of cancer including breast and colon/rectum, Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia[1], erectile dysfunction[2] and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)[3].

The damage associated with hyperinsulinemia is due to the continuous action of insulin in the affected tissues[4].

Risk factors for developing insulin resistance include a family history of Type 2 Diabetes, in utero exposure to Gestational Diabetes (i.e. an unborn child whose mother had Gestational Diabetes), abdominal obesity (fat around the middle) and detection of hyperinsulinemia.  Assessors of insulin resistance using blood tests such as the Homeostatic Model Assessment (HOMA2-IR) test which estimates β-cell function and insulin resistance (IR) from simultaneous fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin or fasting blood glucose and fasting C-peptide[1]. As well, incorporation of some forms of exercise including resistance training may lower insulin resistance in the muscle cells and weight loss – even when people are not very overweight can increase uptake of glucose, due to lowered insulin resistance of the liver.

Detection of hyperinsulinemia can occur using an Oral Glucose Sensitivity Index (OGIS), which is similar to a 2-hr Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (2-hr OGTT) which is a test where a fasting person drinks a known amount of glucose and their blood sugar is measured before the test starts (baseline, while fasting) and at 2 hours. In the OGIS, both blood glucose and blood insulin levels are measured at baseline (fasting), at 120 minutes and at 180 minutes [5].

Glucose and insulin response patterns that result after people take oral glucose can also be used to determine hyperinsulinemia status. Between 1970 and 1990, Dr. Joseph R. Kraft collected data from almost 15,000 people which showed five main glucose and insulin response patterns; with one being the normal response. Kraft’s methodology was to measure both glucose and insulin response over a 5-hour period, noting the size of both the glucose and insulin peaks, as well as the rate that it took the peaks to come back down to where it started from. Kraft concluded that a 3-hour oral glucose tolerance test with both glucose and insulin measured at baseline (fasting), 30, 60 120 and 180 minutes was as accurate as a 5-hour test. Most striking about the original study and recent re-analysis of this data found that up to 75% of people with normal glucose tolerance have carrying degrees of hyperinsulinemia [9]. You can read more about that in this recent article.

Hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance together are the essence of carbohydrate intolerance; the varying degrees to which people can tolerate carbohydrate without their blood sugar spiking. This is not unlike other food intolerance such lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance which reflect the body’s inability to handle specific types of carbohydrate in large quantities.

Some final thoughts…

Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are present long before a diagnosis of pre-diabetes and are now are considered an entirely separate stage in the development of the disease (you can read more about that here). A recent study reported that abnormal blood sugar regulation precedes a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes by at least 20 years [6] which means that long before blood sugar becomes abnormal, the progression to Type 2 Diabetes has already begun. Knowing how to recognize the symptoms of insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia and to have them measured or estimated, as well as to detect the abnormal spike in blood glucose that often occurs 30 to 60 minutes after eating carbohydrate-based food is essential to avoiding progression to Type 2 Diabetes as well as the complications associated with hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia.

If you would like my help in lowering your risk to developing Type 2 Diabetes and the chronic disease risks associated with hyperinsulinemia or in reversing their symptoms, please send me a note using the Contact Me form on the tab above. I provide both in-person consultations as well as by Distance Consultation,using Skype and phone.

To your good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

       https://twitter.com/lchfRD

         https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

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https://www.instagram.com/lchf_rd

References

  1. Crofts, C., Understanding and Diagnosing Hyperinsulinemia. 2015, AUT University: Auckland, New Zealand. p. 205.
  2. Knoblovits P, C.P., Valzacci GJR,, Erectile Dysfunction, Obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Their Relationship With Testosterone Levels in Eugonadal Patients in an Andrology Clinic Setting. Journal of Andrology, 2010. 31(3): p. 263-270.
  3. Mather KJ, K.F., Corenblum B, Hyperinsulinemia in polycystic ovary syndrome correlates with increased cardiovascular risk independent of obesity. Fertility and Sterility, 2000. 73(1): p. 150-156.
  4. Crofts CAP, Z.C., Wheldon MC, et al, Hyperinsulinemia: a unifying theory of chronic disease? Diabesity, 2015. 1(4): p. 34-43.
  5. Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.
  6. Sagesaka H, S.Y., Someya Y, et al, Type 2 Diabetes: When Does It Start? Journal of the Endocrine Society, 2018. 2(5): p. 476-484.

Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

There Are Now Two Stages BEFORE a Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes

This past Wednesday (November 28, 2018) the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) announced publication of a new Position Statement which identifies four separate disease stages associated with an abnormal glucose response including Type 2 Diabetes;

Stage 1: Insulin Resistance
Stage 2: Prediabetes
Stage 3: Type 2 Diabetes
Stage 4: Vascular Complications — including retinopathy (disease of the eyes that can result in vision loss),  nephropathy (disease of the kidneys which can lead to kidney failure) and neuropathy (disease of the nerves —especially of the toes and feet which can lead to amputations), as well as other chronic disease risks associated with Type 2 Diabetes.

For those who have read the first two articles in this series (links below), the existence of a stage before blood sugar becomes abnormal (Prediabetes) and two stages before a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes will sound very familiar!

In the two previous articles, I explained the findings of a recent a large-scale study that involved 7800 subjects and which found that 3 out of 4 adults have totally normal fasting blood glucose test results and normal blood glucose 2 hours after a standard glucose loadbut have very abnormal glucose spikes after eating and very abnormal levels of circulating insulin (“hyperinsulinemia“) that is associated with these dysfunctional glucose spikes.

It has been reported that hyperinsulinemia is present a decade before fasting blood glucose levels become abnormal, so it should come as no surprise that it is now recognized that there are two stages BEFORE a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. Those who have read the two preceding articles will know that it is the hyperinsulinemia that leads to the insulin resistance, so in effect the first stage in this disease process really includes both of these together.

This Position Statement also recognizes;

“According to a recent analysis using data from the
U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys
(NHANES; 1988-2014), patients with prediabetes have
increased prevalence rates of hypertension, dyslipidemia,
chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD)
risk.”

The Position Statement focuses on early intervention to reduce chronic disease risk which include diet and lifestyle changes as well as weight-loss. The goal of the release of the statement is to prevent the progression to Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the metabolic diseases associated with it.

What is the importance of these two early stages?

What these stages mean is that long before blood sugar becomes abnormal, the progression to Type 2 Diabetes has already begun.

What it also implies is that people need to be given additional lab tests when their fasting blood sugar results are still normal in order to detect the presence of abnormal glucose spikes 30 minutes and 60 minutes after a glucose load as well tests measuring the abnormal insulin spikes associated with it as it is chronic hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels) that leads to insulin resistance and the progression to Type 2 Diabetes as well as the associated chronic diseases.

Since 3 out 4 adults may have normal fasting blood glucose but with hyperinsulinemia, if we are going to stop the tsunami of Type 2 Diabetes, we must start treating it when fasting blood glucose is normal.

As I said in my last article, the time to think about implementing dietary changes and using updated lab testing procedures is now. We must act to  keep people from becoming carbohydrate intolerant and from developing hyperinsulinemia, Pre-diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes and the host of metabolic diseases that go along with it. This proactive approach is long overdue.

If you would like my help in lowering your risk to developing Type 2 Diabetes and the chronic disease risks associated with hyperinsulinemia or in reversing their symptoms, please send me a note using the Contact Me form on the tab above. I provide both in-person consultations as well as by Distance Consultation,using Skype and phone. Please let me know how I can help.

To your good health!

Joy

Note: If you haven’t yet read the two previous related articles, I would encourage you to have a look. The first article explains the existence of ‘silent Diabetes‘ in those with normal Fasting Blood Glucose test results and is titled When Normal Fasting Blood Glucose Results Aren’t Necessarily “Fine” and can be read here.

The second article titled Carbohydrate Intolerance & the Chronic Disease Risk of High Insulin Levels explains what hyperinsulinemia is (chronically high levels of circulating insulin) and why it’s a problem and can be read here.

You can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

 https://plus.google.com/+JoyYKiddieMScRD

and now on Instagram, too:

https://www.instagram.com/lchf_rd

Reference

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists Announces Framework for Dysglycemia-Based Chronic Disease Care Model, November 28, 2018, AACE Online Newsroom, url: https://media.aace.com/press-release/american-association-clinical-endocrinologists-announces-frameworkdysglycemia-based-c

Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

Carbohydrate Intolerance & the Chronic Disease Risk of High Insulin

In the previous article titled When Normal Fasting Blood Glucose Results Aren’t Necessarily “Fine” I explained why normal results on a fasting blood glucose (FBG) test does not necessarily mean that a person is not at risk for Type 2 Diabetes, as well as other metabolic diseases. Even when  both fasting blood glucose and 2-hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test levels are normal, the person can still have a very abnormal blood sugar response after they eat. In addition, as mentioned in the previous article, this won’t necessarily show up on a HbA1C test (3-month blood sugar average) because blood glucose returns to normal within 2 hours.

An even bigger concern than these ‘spikes’ of high blood glucose are the chronically high levels of the hormone insulin, a condition called  hyperinsulinemia.

Hyperinsulinemia occurs because a person’s blood sugar spikes every time they eats carbohydrate-based foods due to one of the roles of insulin being to take excess sugar out of the blood and move it into the cells. Even though blood glucose returns back to normal by 2 hours after eating carbohydrate (in response to the effect of the hormone insulin) this abnormal glucose response to eating carbohydrate-based foods is what drives hyperinsulinemia and is made worse by insulin resistance, which I explain below.  I call this overall response “Carbohydrate Intolerance” because like other food intolerances such lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance, the body is clearly not able to handle large amounts of carbohydrate and remain healthy.

It is the hyperinsulinemia and not the high levels of blood sugar in and by itself that puts people at risk for the serious chronic diseases of cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke), high cholesterol and high blood pressure [1] that people usually associate with Type 2 Diabetes. High blood sugar does have risks of course, including loss of vision and amputation of limbs, but to use and analogy, if high blood sugar is the “tip of the iceberg” then hyperinsulinemia is the bigger part of the iceberg that can’t be seen. We can’t see it because it is rarely, if ever measured.

Most concerning is that based on the same large-scale 2016 study referred to in the previous post [1] which looked at the blood glucose response and circulating insulin responses from almost 4000 men aged 20 years and older and 3800 women aged 45 years or older during a 5 hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test. The study found that 53% had normal glucose tolerance; that is, they had normal fasting blood sugar and did not have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) 2 hours after the glucose load. Of these people with normal glucose tolerance, 75% had abnormal blood sugar results between 30 minutes and 1 hour.

In the previous article, I illustrated what the three abnormal glucose responses looked like compare to a normal glucose response. A normal blood glucose curve represents Carbohydrate Tolerance and for all intents and purposes, the three abnormal glucose response graphs represent the Three Stages of Carbohydrate IntoleranceEarly Carbohydrate Intolerance, Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance and Severe Carbohydrate Intolerance.

Carbohydrate Tolerance

Normal Blood Glucose Pattern

As outlined in the previous article, the normal blood glucose curve rises to a single moderate peak and then decreases steadily until it’s back to where it started from at 2 hours.

Carbohydrate Tolerance (Normal Glucose Curve) – graph by Joy Y. Kiddie, MSc, RD (based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.)

Carbohydrate Intolerance

Carbohydrate Intolerance occurs in three progressive stages, Early Carbohydrate Intolerance, Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance and Severe Carbohydrate Intolerance and culminates with the diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). Hyperinsulinemia combined with insulin resistance form the heart of Carbohydrate Intolerance.

Insulin Resistance

In the early stages of Carbohydrate Intolerance, receptors in the liver and muscle cells begin to stop responding properly to insulin’s signal. This is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can be compared to someone hearing a noise such as their neighbour playing music, but after a while their brain “tunes out” the noise.  Even if the neighbour gradually turns up the volume of the music, the person’s brain compensates by further tuning out the increased noise. This is what happens with the body when it becomes insulin resistant. It no longer responds to insulin’s signal. To compensate for insulin resistance, the β-cells of the pancreas begin producing and releasing more and more insulin resulting in  hyperinsulinemia, which is too much insulin in the blood. Hyperinsulinemia  along with insulin resistance form the heart of Carbohydrate Intolerance.

The Three Stages of Carbohydrate Intolerance

In Early Carbohydrate Intolerance rather than blood glucose going up to a moderate peak and then falling gradually, blood sugar begins to remain elevated at 60 minutes before beginning to drop. Blood sugar at fasting is normal and after 2 hours  did not return to baseline, but did not meet the criteria for impaired glucose tolerance. A two-stage rise in glucose can be clearly seen.

Early Carbohydrate Intolerance – graph by Joy Y. Kiddie, MSc, RD (based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.)
As the inability to tolerate carbohydrate progresses, the Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance curve (below) reflects that blood sugar goes slightly higher at 60 minutes than at 30 minutes before beginning to fall, yet these people still have normal blood glucose at fasting (baseline) and do not meet the criteria for impaired glucose tolerance at 2 hours. As you will see below in the section about insulin, this is where insulin release is already very abnormal.

Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance – graph by  Joy Y. Kiddie, MSc, RD (based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.)
While the Severe Carbohydrate Intolerance curve (below) is shaped only a slightly differently than the Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance curve (above) as you will also see further on in this article, the insulin response in both of these two curves is very different.

Severe Carbohydrate Intolerance – graph by Joy Y. Kiddie, MSc, RD (based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.)

Normal Insulin Response

The β-cells of the pancreas of healthy people are constantly making insulin and storing most of it until these cells receive the signal that food containing carbohydrate has been eaten. β-cells also constantly release small amounts of insulin in very small pulses called basal insulin. This basal insulin allows the body to use blood sugar for energy even when the person hasn’t eaten for several hours or longer. The remainder of the insulin stored in the β-cells is only released when blood sugar rises after the person eats foods containing carbohydrate and this insulin is released in two phases; the first-phase insulin response occurs as soon as the person begins to eat and peaks within 30 minutes and can be seen at 30 minutes on the graph below. The amount of the first-phase insulin release is based on how much insulin the body is used to needing each time the person eats. Provided a carbohydrate tolerant person eats approximately the same amount of carbohydrate-based food at each meal day to day, the amount of insulin in the first-phase insulin response will be enough to move the excess glucose from the food into the cells, returning blood sugar to its normal range of ~100 mg/dl (5.5 mmol/L). If there is not enough insulin in the first-phase insulin response, the β-cells will release a smaller amount of insulin within an hour to an hour and a half after the person began to eat. This is the second-phase insulin response and can be seen at 60 minutes on the graph below.

Normal Glucose and Normal Insulin Curves

Below is the same normal glucose curve as above but here it is unlabeled and it is show along with the corresponding normal insulin curve (dashed line). As one can see, the two responses are more or less proportional to each other. As glucose rises in the blood, insulin is released mainly as a first-phase insulin response, which results in the blood glucose level falling in a straight line to baseline by 2 hours.

Carbohydrate Tolerance based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.

ABnormal Insulin Responses of CARBOHYDRATE INTOLERANCE 

Early Carbohydrate Intolerance

Below is the same Early Carbohydrate Intolerance glucose curve as above and in the previous article, just unlabeled.  As one can see,  as glucose rises in the blood even more insulin is released; initially as a first-phase insulin release and then as a second-phase insulin release.  This results in blood glucose level falling but not to baseline (fasting levels) by 2 hours afterwards, but the fall is not as a straight line. There are clearly two peaks in the glucose curve, before it falls.

It is insulin resistance of the liver and muscle cells which results in the β-cells of the pancreas making more insulin and as can be seen from the graph below it takes more insulin to move the same amount of glucose (carbohydrate) into the cell.

Early Carbohydrate Intolerance – based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.
Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance

By the time people have progressed to Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance, the first-phase insulin response won’t produce enough insulin be able to clear the extra blood glucose after a carbohydrate load and even the second-phase insulin response won’t be enough to overcome the insulin resistance of the cells. At this point, the β-cells of the pancreas are unable to make enough insulin to clear the excess glucose from the blood and blood glucose rises well above the normal high peak of 126 mg/dl (7.0 mmol/L).  What is also apparent is that even with all the insulin release, blood sugar levels begin rising sooner and rise to much higher levels.

With ongoing high intake of carbohydrate every few hours, especially refined and processed carbohydrate such as bread, pasta and rice which are broken down quickly to glucose, the amount of insulin that must be released from the β-cells of the pancreas to handle a steady intake of carbohydrate-based foods increases substantially.  The dashed black line on the graph below shows the insulin curve of Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance. While the Early Carbohydrate Intolerance glucose curve doesn’t look significantly different then the Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance curve (see above), it’s easy to see that the insulin curves are VERY different! The hyperinsulinemia (high levels of insulin) that is present in Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance is easy to see.

Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance  – based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.
Most concerning is that 53% had normal glucose tolerance (i.e. normal fasting blood sugar and 2 hour postprandial blood sugar <7.8 mmol/L). Of these people with normal glucose tolerance, 75% had abnormal blood sugar results between 30 minutes and 1 hour and the chronically high levels of insulin that accompanies it put these people at significant risk of chronic diseases in addition to Type 2 Diabetes, including heart attack and stroke, hypertension (high blood pressure), elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD), Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, as well as certain forms of cancer including breast and colon cancer [1].

Standard tests for blood glucose will NOT show the significant abnormality in Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance in terms of how the body is able (or rather, not able) to process carbohydrate between 30 minutes and 60 minutes because standard blood tests do not test either glucose or insulin at these points!  It's not that there aren't abnormalities, it is just that they are not measured!
Severe Carbohydrate Intolerance

By the time people’s insulin and glucose curves look like the ones below, these people have no way of knowing they are at significant risk for the serious, chronic diseases listed above because their fasting blood sugar is still normal!

Severe Carbohydrate Intolerance II – based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is the final stage of Carbohydrate Intolerance and is the natural outcome of a person continuing to eat a diet high in carbohydrate-containing foods at each of their meals and at snacks when their body is unable to tolerate it, which is made worse by insulin resistance.  Often this is the natural outcome of people following Dietary Guidelines (US or Canadian, which are quite similar) which are designed for a healthy population not people who are metabolically unwell. The problem is most people think they are healthy because they have normal blood glucose tests, and their metabolic dysfunction is never measured!

The Dietary Guidelines recommend that people eat 45-65% of their dietary intake as carbohydrate, which people in both countries do and even those who limit grain-based carbohydrate often take in considerable amounts of carbohydrate in the form of fruit, milk and yogurt, as well as starchy vegetables such as peas, corn and potatoes which puts the same strain on their β-cells as the “carbs” they are not eating as grain.

Since ~75% of people with normal glucose tolerance have abnormal blood sugar results between 30 and 60 minutes as well as the accompanying  abnormal insulin levels, these people continue to put a very high demand on their pancreas to produce and release large amounts of insulin every few hours when they eat, until it’s too late. 

Some Final Thoughts…

It has been said that Type 2 Diabetes is a “chronic, progressive disease”, but does it doesn’t have to be this way! It can be stopped LONG before fasting blood sugars become abnormal.

Diagnosing hyperinsulinemia is simple and can be done with existing standard lab tests; namely a 2 hour Oral Glucose Tolerance test with an extra glucose assessor and extra insulin assessor at 30 minutes and 60 minutes. When patients request this test because they are at high risk, too many are told that it is “a waste of healthcare dollars” when quite literally they could be spared the scourge of Type 2 Diabetes by having the changes in insulin and glucose response diagnosed in the decade before blood sugar begins to become abnormal!

It’s time to think about ways to implement dietary changes and lab testing procedures that will keep people from becoming Carbohydrate Intolerant and from developing hyperinsulinemia, Type 2 Diabetes and the host of metabolic diseases that go along with it.

In fact, it is long overdue.

If you would like my help in lowering your risk to developing Type 2 Diabetes and the chronic disease risks associated with hyperinsulinemia, or reversing their symptoms, then please send me a note using the Contact Me form, on the tab above. I provide both in-person consultations as well as by Distance Consultation using Skype and phone.

To our good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

 https://plus.google.com/+JoyYKiddieMScRD

References

  1. Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.

Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

 

When Normal Fasting Blood Glucose Isn’t Necessarily “Fine”

INTRODUCTION: When people have a fasting blood glucose test and the results come back normal they’re told (or assume) that everything’s fine. But is it? Certainly, a fasting blood glucose test is the least expensive test to find out if someone is already pre-diabetic, but for those wanting to avoid becoming Diabetic and to lower their risk of the other chronic disease associated with Type 2 Diabetes and high levels of circulating insulin (called hyperinsulinemia) noticing abnormalities in how we process carbohydrates is essential and these changes are estimated to take place a decade before our fasting blood sugar begins to become abnormal.


Our bodies have to maintain the glucose (sugar) in our blood at or below 5.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dl) but each time we eat or drink something other than water or clear tea or coffee, our blood sugar rises as our body breaks down the carbohydrate in the food from starch and complex sugars to glucose, a simple sugar.  Eating causes hormones in our gut, called incretin hormones to send a signal to our pancreas to release insulin, which moves the excess glucose out of our blood and into our cells. When everything is working properly, our blood sugar falls back down to a normal level within 2 hours after we eat.

If we’re healthy and don’t snack after supper, our blood sugar falls to a lower level overnight but that too is maintained in a tightly regulated range between 3.3 mmol/l (60 mg/dl) and 5.5 mmol/l (100 mg/dl). During the night and as we approach morning, our body will break down our stored fat for energy and convert it to glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis.

When we have a fasting blood glucose test, it measures our blood sugar after we’ve fasted overnight and when we’re healthy, the results will be between 3.3-5.5 mmol/L (60-100 mg/dl). If it is higher than 5.5 mmol/l (100 mg/dl) but less than 6.9 mmol/L (125 mg/dl) we are diagnosed with impaired fasting glucose, but what if it’s normal? Is a normal fasting blood glucose test result enough to say that we’re not at risk for Type 2 Diabetes? No, because a fasting blood glucose doesn’t tell us anything about how our body responds when we eat!

A 2 hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (2 hr-OGTT) may be requested for people whose fasting blood glucose is impaired (higher than 5.5 mmol/L) in order to see if it returns to normal after they consume a specific amount of glucose (sugar).

If their blood sugar returns to normal (less than 5.5 mmol/L) 2 hours after drinking a beverage containing 75 g of glucose (100 g if they’re pregnant) then the diagnoses remains impaired fasting glucose because it is only abnormal when fasting. However, if the results are greater than 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dl) but below 11.0 mmol/L (200 mg/dl), then they are diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance which is called “pre-diabetes“.

If the 2 hour results are greater than 11.0 mmol/L (200 mg/dl), then a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes is made because their fasting blood glucose is > 7.0 mmol/L (126 mg/dl) and their 2 hour blood glucose is > 11.0 mmol/L (200 mg/dl).

But what if their fasting blood glucose is normal? Does that mean everything’s good? No, because we don’t know what happens to their blood sugar after they eat carbohydrate containing food, most notably between 30 minutes and 60 minutes.

A 2016 study looking at blood sugar response (and insulin response) from almost 4000 men aged 20 years or older and 3800 women aged 45 years or older who had a 5 hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test using 100 g of glucose. The study found that 53% had normal glucose tolerance; that is, they had normal fasting blood sugar and did not have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) 2 hours after the glucose load. Of these people with normal glucose tolerance, 75% had abnormal blood sugar results between 30 minutes and 1 hour.

Normal Blood Glucose Pattern

Based on the above study, a little less than 1000 people (990) out of the total with normal glucose tolerance (4030) had a normal glucose pattern after having 100 g of glucose (see graph below). See how the blood sugar rises to a moderate peak and then decreases steadily until it’s back to where it started from at 2 hours. This is what blood sugar is supposed to do.

Normal Glucose Curve (carbohydrate tolerance) – graph by Joy Y. Kiddie, MSc, RD (based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.)

Abnormal Glucose Patterns

Almost the same number of people (961) as had normal glucose curves showed early signs of carbohydrate intolerance which can be seen most noticeably between 30 and 60 minutes. These folks had normal fasting blood glucose and but after 2 hours, blood glucose did not return to baseline, but did not meet the criteria for impaired glucose tolerance. Unless someone was looking between 30 and 60 minutes, one would not know it was not normal in between. Keep in mind, this graph represents the average blood sugar response of these individuals. Rather than blood glucose going up to a moderate peak and then falling gradually, a two-stage rise in glucose can be clearly seen between 30 minutes and 60 minutes before beginning to drop. These people had normal fasting blood sugar and while their blood sugar at 2 hours was below the cutoff for impaired glucose tolerance, it was higher than at baseline.

Early Carbohydrate Intolerance (Early Abnormal Glucose Response) – graph by Joy Y. Kiddie, MSc, RD (based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.)
A little more than 1200 people (1208) had the follow abnormal glucose response between 30 and 60 minutes where blood sugar actually went slightly higher at 60 minutes than at 30 minutes before beginning to fall. While these people had normal fasting blood glucose their blood glucose did not fall to baseline at 2 hours but was below the cutoffs for impaired glucose tolerance.

Advanced Carbohydrate Intolerance (Advanced Abnormal Glucose Response) – graph by  Joy Y. Kiddie, MSc, RD (based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.)
Slightly more than 800 people (807) had an abnormal glucose response curve shaped as follows, with normal fasting blood glucose and  2-hour postprandial blood glucose results that were higher than at baseline, but did not meet the criteria for impaired glucose tolerance. What was significant is that blood sugar was significantly higher at 60 minutes than at 30 minutes.

Severe Carbohydrate Intolerance (Severe Abnormal Glucose Response) – graph by Joy Y. Kiddie, MSc, RD (based on [1] Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.)

The Significance of These Curves

The results of this study shows that even if fasting blood glucose is totally normal AND 2 hour postprandial blood glucose does not meet the criteria for impaired glucose tolerance, it often does not return to baseline and  the blood sugar response between fasting and 2 hours is very abnormal. What can’t be seen from these graphs is what happens to the hormone insulin at the same time. This will be covered in a future article, but suffice to say that in the normal glucose response pattern, blood sugar response mirrors what is happening with insulin but in the abnormal blood glucose response insulin secretion is both much higher and lasts much longer. This is called hyperinsulinemia (high blood insulin) and contributes to many of the same health risks as Type 2 Diabetes, including cardiovascular risks (heart attack and stroke), abnormal cholesterol levels and hypertension (high blood pressure).  This is like having “silent Diabetes“.

A “Waste of Healthcare Dollars”

When a person’s clinical symptoms and risk factors warrant it, I’ll request a 2 hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test with an extra assessor at 30 minutes (and sometimes at 60 minutes) to determine how their glucose response compares to the above curves. Since these people have normal fasting blood glucose test results, a request for an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (with or without the extra glucose assessor) is often declined as a “waste of healthcare dollars”.

What About Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1C)?

A glycated hemoglobin test (HbA1C) measures a form of hemoglobin that binds glucose (the sugar in the blood) and is used to identify the person’s three-month average glucose concentration because blood cells turnover (get replaced) on average every 3 months.

While having a glycated hemoglobin test and a fasting blood glucose test is better than only having fasting blood glucose, it will still miss a significant percentage of people who are able to control their sugars between meals and overnight but who have significant spikes after eating food, between 30 minutes and 60 minutes, but that return to normal by 2 hours. Since most physicians will not even requisition a HbA1C test if a person’s fasting blood glucose is normal, and even if they do that test can miss the glucose spoke that occurs between 30 minutes and 60 minutes after eating, this is the reason I sometimes resort to using a Glucose Response Simulation.

Glucose Response Simulation

A simple, if somewhat crude means of assessing glucose response under a load can be done at home using an ordinary glucometer (a meter for measuring blood sugar) such as would be used by people with Diabetes, and either a 100 g of dextrose (glucose) tablets (available at most pharmacies) or the equivalent. As part of the services I provide to my clients, I work with those that want to do this type of estimate so that they can understand whether they fall into the 75% of people that have normal fasting blood sugar and do not have impaired glucose tolerance at 2 hour postprandial, but do have an abnormal glucose response, as well as hyperinsulinemia. I explain how to prepare for the test, step by step instruction for conducting the test and then I graph and analyze the data then teach them what the results mean.

Basis for Individualizing Carbohydrate Intake

These results are very helpful as firstly they help people understand the reason for reducing their carbohydrate intake over an extended period of time, in order to restore insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion. These results also enable me in time to individualize their carbohydrate intake once they have reversed some of their metabolic response, based on their own blood sugar response to a specific carbohydrate load.  In time, some of these individuals may want to add some carbohydrate back into their diet in small quantities, so with this information, I can guide them to test a standard size serving of rice, pasta or potato compared to their own blood glucose response to 100 g of glucose.

Below are three curves that I’ve plotted from people that all used the same type of glucometer (Contour Next One) which was rated as the best in a 2017 survey (see earlier post) and a standard 100 g glucose load as dextrose tablets or equivalent to 100 g of glucose [2]. I provided each one with identical instructions on how to run this simulation and to collect the results and ensured they understood.

Example 1: The person below had a single glucose peak (similar to the early carbohydrate intolerance of the first abnormal curve, above) but blood glucose did not come back down to the fasting level even after 3 hours.

Early Abnormal Glucose Response – graph by Joy Y. Kiddie MSc, RD

Example 2: The person below had a single glucose peak  that reached abnormally high levels and that didn’t fall continuously downward but slowed, then dipped below baseline at 2 hours (mild reactive hypoglycemia) and that gradually came back to baseline over the following couple of hours.

Advanced Abnormal Glucose Response – graph by Joy Y. Kiddie MSc, RD

Example 3: This person had a similar initial rise as the person above, but no hypoglycemic dip however, this person’s glucose didn’t fall to baseline until almost 5 hours.

Some Final Thoughts…

An abnormal fasting blood glucose test may warrant further testing, however a normal result is frequently dismissed as being a sign that “everything’s fine”. Data from this study indicates that as many as 75% of people with normal fasting blood sugar may have abnormal glucose responses and associated hyperinsulimia and some of the same risks as someone who has already been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, but they simply don’t know it.

With reliable and relatively inexpensive glucometers, as well as continuous glucose monitors (CGM) people don’t need to wonder whether they are in the minority with a normal glucose response.

Not knowing one is at risk does nothing to provide motivation to make dietary and lifestyle changes, but knowing one has an abnormal response to carbohydrate not only enables them to want to make changes, it enables them  to find out in time which carbohydrates might be able to be added back into their diet, and in what quantities.

If you have questions as to how I can help you get started in knowing your own glucose response and to lower risk factors, please send me a note using the Contact Me form located on the tab, above.

To your good health!

Joy

References

  1. Crofts, C., et al., Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016. 118: p. 50-7.
  2. Lamar, ME et al, Jelly beans as an alternative to a fifty-gram glucose beverage for gestational diabetes screening, Am J Obstet Gynacol, 1999 Nov 18 (5 Pt 1): 1154-7

You can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

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Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

 

 

 

The Effect of Cannabis on Appetite, Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels

As of October 17th 2018, marijuana (cannabis sativa, cannabis indica) will be legal to be sold to or possessed by adults 18 years or older in Canada and to be consumed for recreational use.  Medical marijuana has been available for sometime in Canada (and in some US states) to those with authorization from their healthcare provider, but will now be widely available to the general adult population. So why am I, as a Dietitian writing about marijuana? Because food cravings, commonly referred to as the “munchies” are one of the known side-effects of cannabis and result in people eating even when they’ve just eaten.  For those who have made a decision to lose weight and keep it off, knowing how marijuana affects appetite is something that needs to be considered. As well, for those that are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes, knowing how marijuana impacts blood glucose and serum insulin levels is also important. So as a public service, this article is about the effect of marijuana and the “munchies” on blood sugar, serum insulin and weight gain.

The “Munchies”

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the active components in marijuana that is responsible for people feeling “high” and is also responsible for “the munchies”.  It’s been know for sometime that the THC in cannabis activates a cannabinoid receptor in the brain (called CB1R) which triggers an increased desire to eat but a 2015 study indicates that a group of neurons (nerve cells) called pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) which normally produce feelings of satiety (no longer feeling hungry after eating) become activated and promote hunger under the influence of THC. As it turns out, cannabis “hijacks” the POMC neurons, resulting in them releasing hunger-stimulating chemicals rather than appetite-suppressing chemicals. This is why despite having just eaten a full meal and being satiated, ordering a pizza suddenly becomes a priority. It is thought that THC from the weed binds to mitochondria inside of cells (the “powerhouse of the cell” that generates energy) and this binding acts to switch the feelings of satiety to feelings of hunger. But how does marijuana use affect weight gain, blood sugar and insulin levels?

Marijuana’s Effect on Fasting Blood Glucose and Fasting Insulin, Insulin Resistance and Weight Gain

Interestingly, epidemiological studies (studies of populations) have found lower rates of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in those that use marijuana compared to those that never used it, suggesting that cannabinoids play a role in regulating metabolic processes. A 2013 study that analyzed data from almost 4657 adult men and women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study from 2005 to 2010 were studied; 579 were current marijuana users and 1975 were past users. Results indicated that current marijuana use was associated with 16% lower fasting insulin levels and 17% lower insulin resistance as measured by HOMA-IR  which is calculated from fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin. As for weight gain as a side-effect from the “munchies”, this study  reported significant associations between marijuana use and smaller waist circumferences.

Marijuana and Metabolic Syndrome

A 2015 study which looked at 8478 adults 20-59 years of age who also  participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study from 2005 to 2010 reported that current marijuana users had lower odds of presenting with metabolic syndrome than those that never used marijuana. Current marijuana users in the 20-30 year old range were 54% less likely than those who never used marijuana to present with metabolic syndrome.

Marijuana’s Possible Role in Type 2 Diabetes Treatment?

The studies above indicate that fasting insulin levels were reduced in current cannabis users but not in former cannabis users or in those that never used it leads to the question as to whether THC may be of medical benefit to those already diagnosed with pre-diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. Certainly further study is warranted.

Some Final Thoughts…

Certainly, those who are Diabetic and who will begin using marijuana now that it is legal should monitor their body’s blood sugar response, especially if they are also taking medications to lower blood sugar.

Perhaps you’re curious how I can help you achieve your weight-loss and other health goals such as lowering risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes by making dietary and lifestyle changes. I provide both in person services in my Coquitlam, British Columbia office as well as via Distance Consultation (Skype, telephone). You can find out details under the Services tab above or in the Shop.

If you have questions regarding getting started or would like more information, please send me a note using the Contact Me form above and I will be happy to reply as soon as I’m able to.

To your good health!

Joy

you can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

Copyright ©2018 The LCHF-Dietitian BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

Government of Canada, Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/cannabis/

Koch M, Varela L, Kim JG et al, Hypothalamic POMC neurons promote cannabinoid-induced feeding, Nature, Volume 519 (2015), pages 45–50

Penner EA, Buettner H, Mittleman MA, The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults, Amer J of Med, 126 (7) July 2013, Pages 583-589

Vidot DC, Prado D, Hlaing WM et al, Metabolic Syndrome Among Marijuana Users in the United States: An Analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Data, Amer J of Med, 129 (2) Feb 2016, Pages 173-179

 

American Diabetes Association & European Association Classify Low Carb Diets as Medical Nutrition Therapy

The new joint American Diabetes Association (ADA) / European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) position paper [1] published online ahead of print on October 4th now classifies a low carbohydrate diet as Medical Nutrition Therapy. in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes in adults. What this means is these two organizations which are responsible for educating over 30 million Americans and 60 million Europeans diagnosed with Diabetes consider a low carbohydrate not only safe, but effective therapeutic treatment. This recognition comes on the heels of Diabetes Australia having just released in late August their own updated position paper designed to provide practical advice and information for people diagnosed with Diabetes who are considering adopting a low carbohydrate eating plan [2].

What is Medical Nutrition Therapy?

Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) is defined as;

“nutritional diagnostic, therapy and counseling services for the purpose of disease management, which are furnished by a Registered Dietitian or nutrition professional” [3].

The American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes preface their updated position statement by saying;

“A systematic evaluation of the literature since 2014 informed new recommendations.”

That is, upon a review of the most current research, these two organizations have updated their prior position statements and now consider a low carbohydrate diet defined as < 26%* of daily calories as carbohydrate [1] is suitable for the purpose of disease management of Type 2 Diabetes in adults.

*Note: based on an 1800-2000 calorie per day diet this amount of daily carbohydrate would be less than < 113-125 g daily. In fact, the position paper concludes that carbohydrate restriction of 26–45% is ineffective.

The new joint position statement elaborates that Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) is made up of an education component and a support component in order to enable patients to adopt healthy eating patterns with the purpose of “managing blood glucose and cardiovascular risk factors” and “reducing the risk for Diabetes-related complications while preserving the pleasure of eating” [1].  The paper defines the two basic dimensions of MNT as diet quality and energy restriction and outlines the benefits of a low carbohydrate diet in the section on diet quality.

page 12 of the joint position statement (courtesy of Jan Vyjidak)

Furthermore, the joint consensus paper lists  under diet quality (Table 2, page 13) which is one of the aspects of Medical Nutrition Therapy, several diets considered suitable for adults with Type 2 Diabetes, including a low carbohydrate diet.

Table 2 —Glucose-lowering medications and therapies available in the U.S. or Europe

This move has far-reaching significance!

Publication of this paper indicates that the current scientific literature supports that a low carbohydrate is not only safe for use in adults, but is also effective in lowering metabolic markers of Type 2 Diabetes, as well as  delaying or eliminating the need for blood-glucose lowering medications for up to 4 years [1].

It moves a low carbohydrate diet from the realm of a popular lifestyle approach to Medical Nutrition Therapy.

Most importantly, this consensus paper means that qualified healthcare professionals throughout the USA and Europe can now recommend a low carbohydrate diet to their adult patients in order to enable them to manage their Type 2 Diabetes. This is a huge step forward from only being able to provide such a diet based on person’s individual preference to follow a low carbohydrate lifestyle.

Some final thoughts…

The American Diabetes Association, European Association for the Study of Diabetes and Diabetes Australia have collectively led the way for international Diabetes Associations the world over to re-evaluate their own treatment and dietary recommendations in light of the most current scientific evidence and update their position statements regarding the safe and effective use of low carbohydrate diets in the management of Type 2 Diabetes in adults.


Perhaps you have wanted to follow a low carbohydrate lifestyle and have questions about how such a diet could help you manage some of your clinical conditions or lose weight. Please send me a note using the Contact Me form above and I will reply as soon as I am able.

Whether you live locally or away, I provide services in-person in my Coquitlam (British Columbia) office, as well as via Distance Consultation (Skype or phone).  You can find more information under the Services tab and in the Shop including the Intake and Service Option form to send in to get started.

To your good health!

Joy

you can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Davies M.J., D’Alessio D.A., Fradkin J., et al, Management of Hyperglycemia
    in Type 2 Diabetes, 2018. A Consensus Report by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), Diabetes Care, October 2018,  https://doi.org/10.2337/dci18-0033. Click here for pdf of the full article (on affiliate web page).
  2. Diabetes Australia, Low Carbohydrate Eating for People with Diabetes – Position Statement, August 2018,  https://www.diabetesqld.org.au/media-centre/2018/august/low-carb-position-statement.aspx and https://www.diabetesqld.org.au/media/583017/da-low-carb-statement-21-august-2018.pdf
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesFinal MNT regulationsCMS-1169-FCFederal Register1 November 200142 CFR Parts 405, 410, 411, 414, and 415

 

 

American Diabetes Association & European Association Approve Low Carb Diets

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) & the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) have just released their new joint position statement which includes approval of low carbohydrate diets for use in the management of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) in adults. This comes on the heels of Diabetes Australia having recently released an updated position statement in August titled Low Carbohydrate Eating for People with Diabetes (you can read more about that here).

This is huge!

By releasing this updated joint position statement, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) indicate that they now recognize a low carbohydrate diet as safe and effective lifestyle management of T2D in adults.

In the newly released joint position statement that was published online ahead of print on October 4, 2018 in the journal Diabetes Care, it was stated that the new recommendations were based on “a systematic evaluation of the literature since 2014” [1]. That is, approval for the use of low carbohydrate diets is based on current research.

A Full Range of Therapeutic Options

The new joint ADA & EASD position statement endorses “a full range of therapeutic options” including lifestyle management, medication and obesity management and indicate that:

“An individual program of Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) should be offered to all patients”.

The new joint position statement elaborates that Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) is made up of an education component and a support component to enable patients to adopt health eating patterns with the goal of “managing blood glucose and cardiovascular risk factors”. The goal is to reduce risk for Diabetes-related complications while preserving the pleasure of eating” with the two basic dimensions of MNT including diet quality and energy restriction.

Diet Quality and Eating Patterns

The joint American and European position paper on the management of T2D states clearly;

“There is no single ratio of carbohydrate, proteins and fat intake that is optimal for every person with Type 2 Diabetes.”

but

“Instead, there are many good options and professional guidelines usually recommend individually selected eating patterns that emphasize foods of demonstrated health benefit, that minimize foods of demonstrated
harm and that accommodate patient preference and metabolic needs, with the goal of identifying healthy dietary habits that are feasible and sustainable.”

Included in this category are;

  • the Mediterranean Diet
  • the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet
  • Low Carbohydrate Diets
  • Vegetarian Diets

The joint position paper noted that;

“Low-carbohydrate diets (<26% of total energy) produce substantial reductions in HbA1c at 3 months and 6 months with diminishing effects at 12 and 24 months.”

Unfortunately the paper failed to note that the one-year Virta study data that reported that HbA1C continued to decline at one year but yes, a diminished rates.

The new joint ADA and European Association for the study of Diabetes also noted that moderate carbohydrate restriction was of no benefit;

“no benefit of moderate carbohydrate restriction (26–45%) was observed.”

The paper acknowledged that there are many different types of “low carbohydrate diets’ and the particular benefits of a low – carbohydrate Mediterranean eating pattern was in reducing the requirement for medication over 4 years;

“people with new-onset Diabetes assigned to a low carbohydrate  Mediterranean eating pattern
were 37% less likely to require glucose-lowering medications over 4 years compared with patients assigned to a low-fat diet”.

The paper outlines that the primary physiological actions depend on which diet is followed.

It lists advantages of using diet, including a low carbohydrate diet in the management of T2D symptoms in adults is that dietary changes are inexpensive and have no side effects

Disadvantages of using diet, including a low carbohydrate diet in the management of T2D symptoms in adults is that it requires instruction, motivation, lifelong behaviour change and may pose some social barriers.

Yes, a well-designed low carbohydrate diet does require instruction, but for those that have the motivation to avoid the chronic health complications of Diabetes through diet and who are committed to maintaining the behaviour change, I can help!

Perhaps you’re curious about the types of services that I provide both in person in my Coquitlam, British Columbia office and via Distance Consultation (Skype, telephone)? You can find out more under the Services tab or in the Shop.

If you have questions regarding getting started or would like more information, please send me a note using the Contact Me form above and I will be happy to reply as soon as I’m able to.

To your good health!

Joy

P.S. Read here why the ADA and EASD classifying a low carb diet as Medical Nutrition Therapy is so significant!

you can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Davies M.J., D’Alessio D.A., Fradkin J., et al, Management of Hyperglycemia
    in Type 2 Diabetes, 2018. A Consensus Report by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), Diabetes Care, October 2018,  https://doi.org/10.2337/dci18-0033. Click here for pdf of the full article (on an affiliate web page).
  2. Diabetes Australia, Low Carbohydrate Eating for People with Diabetes – Position Statement, August 2018,  https://www.diabetesqld.org.au/media-centre/2018/august/low-carb-position-statement.aspx and https://www.diabetesqld.org.au/media/583017/da-low-carb-statement-21-august-2018.pdf
  3. Hallberg, S.J., McKenzie, A.L., Williams, P.T. et al. Diabetes Ther (2018). Effectiveness and Safety of a Novel Care Model for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes at 1 Year: An Open-Label, Non-Randomized, Controlled Study.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13300-018-0373-9