Thursday, May 11, 2006

Study: Cholesterol and Glucose Improved by Diet

During my hiatus it seems researchers were busy publishing data that continues to confirm previous findings supporting carbohydrate restricted diets to improve health risk markers!

Yet another study completely ignored by the media - Long Term Effects of Ketogenic Diet in Obese Subjects with High Cholesterol Level - from the April 2006 issue of Molecular Cell Biology. The above link is to the abstract only, the lead author, Dr. Hussein Dashti, was kind enough to send me the full-text of his paper which I'll use to discuss the results below.

The study investigated the effect of a ketogenic diet on two groups of obese subjects - those with normal cholesterol levels and those with high cholesterol levels. Group I had high cholesterol and 35 individuals participating; Group II had normal cholesterol and 31 individuals participating. Both groups were obese with BMI greater than 30. In addition to total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides, glucose, creatine, urea and body weight were measured at baseline and weeks 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, and 56 with the findings from the endpoint (56-weeks) compared with baseline in the results. In total, 74% of those participating completed the study term - an impressive number considering the dietary requirements of the study.

Those participating were provided with lists of acceptable foods and allowed to consume as many calories, protein and fat as desired with the only restriction being a limit of 20g of carbohydrate each day at the start with a gradual increase to 40g a day as the study continued. In addition, participants were provided with consultation and a multi-vitamin supplement throughout the study. The foods to avoid included flour, pasta, potatoes, rice, sugar, sweets, honey, cakes, soft drinks and fruit juices.

The results were, in a word, stunning. It's easier to show them visually than detail in numbers:

Body Weight


Total Cholesterol

LDL Cholesterol

HDL Cholesterol


TC/HDL Ratio


As the saying goes - Ignorance is bliss. As someone commented yesterday, if these results were from a drug study, millions would be spent to get the word out and convince people to use the drug.

Imagine the media blitz! It would overwhelm the senses and ensure vast numbers of people heard or read about the study results. We'd see people lining up at their doctors' office to ask whether the new drug was right for them.

But, a diet that restricts carbohydrate isn't a new and potentially profitable drug. A study such as this one, that results in such impressive data, isn't newsworthy because it isn't providing evidence that supports the current dogma which is deeply entrenched in the minds of consumers, healthcare professionals and government policy makers. This type of data "goes against the grain" (pardon the pun) and will continue to be ignored by the powers that be.

As my readers know, I'm convinced - based on continued review of the evidence - that controlled-carb diets are safe, effective and enhance metabolism to optimize health.

The key is to eliminate the excess carbohydrate from your diet, eliminate the junk foods and refined carbohydrates and choose high quality proteins and fats. One needn't lower carbohydrate to 20g a day for benefit - but that option has repeatedly been shown by the evidence to be extremely effective for weight loss, improvement in cholesterol and reduction of glucose and insulin. As a dietary intervention for diabetes (type II), metabolic syndrome and a host of other metabolic disturbances, a low-carb diet is supported by hard data.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:48 PM

    I have to say that I am not convinced. Your liver produces most of the cholesterol (good & bad) that's in body although what you consume does add to this. Familial tendency to high cholesterol levels or at least inappropriate fractions (mix of good bad chol) is probably the single most important factor in chol problems. Thus if you cholesterol is marginally a problem then a sensible diet (which can include a low carb diet) can help as can using plant sterols, benecol etc. But if you really have a problem then it is your body (liver) that is the main problem and you need to see your GP to help you – although I know that Statins (proper cholesterol reducing drugs) are now available over the counter at pharmacies.
    That said get to know your cholesterol level and if it is high do something about it (yes that means, depending on the magnitude of the problem, drugs, plant sterols, diet & EXERCISE) oh and then check that it is having the desired effect.