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Lesser Known Benefits of Low Carb Diets

Well, we have a nutrition speaker coming to our office next week; I figure I had better make sure I am read up on the subject. Dr. Dan Peterson, MD, MPH will be speaking on, “Reducing Inflammation & Pain by Eating Less Carbohydrates.” So, it’s true, I am already on board with a low-carb diet. I avoid sugar (almost all of the time) and simple carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and so on, since your body breaks those down into sugar ever so quickly. I’ve been doing this long enough that I am used to it, and now I feel crappy when I do eat these things. Turns out that’s great because it is an immediate reminder that sugar-loaded brownies and ice cream don’t do my body any good. If you want a long nerdy video on how sugar is a toxin, watch “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” by Robert H. Lustig, MD. We watched this for school, and I’ll confess I loved it. It’s perhaps a little boring for most. But it explains on a molecular level how sugar (and alcohol) break down in your body.

Anyhow, we have all heard of low carb diets for weight loss, the Atkins diet of old perhaps being the most memorable. Low-carb diets aren’t just for weight loss. The research is adding up, and there are many other health benefits. The scientific review “Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets” lists them out, along with the level of evidence they have supporting them. It’s a 2013 article, so I’m guessing more evidence is mounting as the low-carb diets grow in popularity and acceptance.

There is strong evidence of the therapeutic role of ketogenic diets for
• Weight loss
• Cardiovascular Disease
• Type II Diabetes
• Epilepsy

There is emerging evidence of the therapeutic role of ketogenic diets for
• Brain Trauma
• Cancer
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Alzheimer’s
• Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
• Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
• Acne
• Neurological Disease

I also like the review because it addresses the potential risks of a ketogenic diet. These tend to be exaggerated. Yes, eating too much protein can be hard on your kidneys and could be an issue if you have kidney damage. Most ketogenic dieters don’t overeat protein, instead they eat more calories from fat. In addition, the review differentiates ketosis from ketoacidosis. If you are on a ketogenic diet, your blood pH is 7.4, the same as on a normal diet. Diabetic ketoacidosis has pH levels of less than 7.3, and this is a pathological not physiological condition.

Check out that review and look at Kelly Peterson explains things in every day terms. She also writes an amazing cooking blog (I can vouch for the deliciousness of her meals) and has a Keto cookbook coming out soon.

~Dr. Laura

* I’d better put this on here- DISCLAIMER – Before starting any diet, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider who sees you in person.