The Diet Doctor Andreas Eenfeldt has a traslation on his excellent site of a powerful article from a leading Swedish newspaper in which science journalist Ann Fernholmn argues why low carb high fat (LCHF) would be a a better option for diabetes than current dietary guidelines. This is an extract…
OPINION The dietary advice that many diabetics receive from healthcare professionals is outdated and useless. Dogmatic defensiveness in the world of academic science prevents progress and this costs the taxpayers many billions each year.
Results from a scientific study that should have created big headline news all around Sweden were published last summer. The study, Look AHEAD, is the biggest longitudinal evaluation that’s ever been done, following lifestyle recommendations for diabetics through the past decades. Thousands of people were closely monitored to follow a low-calorie, low-fat diet and to exercise. They lost weight and during all the years of the study, weighed less than the control group.
BUT. After nine years the researchers terminated the study prematurely. The weight loss had no significant impact on morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease. The results clearly showed that the lifestyle consultations that diabetics had been given as part of their health care regime had been a waste of time and money.
In my book “A Sweeter Blood” I examined the scientific foundation for low-fat diets. The belief that a low-fat diet would be heart-protective, rests on an assumption that scientists made in the 1950′s: that the total cholesterol level is the most important measure of health. The decision was never scientifically based, but has since the 1970′s completely dominated all types of dietary guidelines. Even type 1 diabetics (juvenile diabetes) have been advised first and foremost to avoid fat, despite the fact that high cholesterol isn’t even part of their medical problems. According to dietitians, even type 1 diabetics should fill their plates with carbohydrates, even though the science clearly shows that high blood sugar causes cardiovascular disease.
Diabetics, regardless of type, run a 2-3 times greater risk of suffering cardiovascular disease compared to a healthy person. A major European study from 2004 showed that almost seven out of ten people affected by cardiovascular disease had either diabetes or were pre-diabetic. Molecular-biology research also has shown that high blood sugar levels drive inflammation in the arteries, which leads to atherosclerosis. That the Look AHEAD intervention failed may therefore be most easily explained by the fact that a low-fat diet, which is per definition a diet rich in blood sugar-raising carbohydrates, makes the diabetic’s blood sugar fluctuate too much.
The fear of fat that was born in the 1970′s seems to have made many physicians completely forget that diabetes was once called “sugar disease”. If the diabetics of the 1920′s had received today’s dietary advice they would soon have died. The fact is that the current dietary guidelines for diabetics require that physicians prescribe drugs that inhibit the effect that the carbohydrates have on blood sugar.
Unfortunately, today’s heated diet debate shows us that many researchers and physicians will continue to shun calories, fat and cholesterol more than anything else. Hundreds of diabetics on an LCHF diet testify that a strict low-carbohydrate diet has a dramatic effect on their blood sugar and health. Many lose a lot of weight and are able to discontinue medications. But leading nutritional researchers dismiss their stories as anecdotal. Their dogmatic defensiveness is an obstacle to progress…
Sweden has been in the headlines recently for being the first Western country officially to endorse a high fat, low carb approach to fighting obesity and the approach has been popular in the country for about a decade now. Over that period butter consumption has risen substantially, and on his excellent blog the Diet Doctor shows how this corresponds to a period of lowering heart attack incidents. In other words, another high fat, low carb myth busted…
…New statistics from The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare show the exact opposite. The incidence of heart attacks in Sweden keeps plummeting, for both men and women, just as they have done since 2005. We are becoming healthier, despite eating more and more butter.
The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare: Fewer people suffer heart attacks (statistics 1988-2012, Google translated)
As modern science time and time again has shown that a low-fat diet doesn’t do anything good for heart health, nobody should be surprised. But there are definitely people that need to update their knowledge.
Above is the butter consumption in Sweden (yellow line) in relation to statistics on heart disease (blue + purple). The axis for butter consumption is to the right.
The Swedish butter consumption just keeps going up, while the incidence of heart attacks keeps going down.
So, what’s the correlation between butter consumption and heart disease? None. There is no correlation…