February 2012Monthly Archives

Salt restriction linked to higher heart death rates

Dr. Mercola sent out a link this morning to an article praising salt. There was a meta-analysis study done, and salt restriction was linked to higher heart death rates. Imagine that. Those with the highest intake of salt had the lowest heart death rate, and significantly so. Dr. Mercola does say that salt restriction can help some people with high blood pressure, but apparently it’s a limited subset. There’s a list of other problems that can occur with salt restriction as well. The article includes stats and study links.

Stress and junk food

There actually is a physiological reason we run to junk when we’re stressed.  It isn’t just an upbringing thing.  Carbohydrates tend to have a sedating effect.  It can be like taking drugs.  The downside of self-medicating with junk food is that it can set you up for blood sugar swings, which can lead to mood swings.  So what initially made you feel better will make you feel worse.  Of course, the natural reaction in such a case is to reach for more junk, which just feeds into the vicious cycle, and that vicious cycle just adds to the stress.  A healthy diet will help to keep you more on an even keel and more able to deal with stress.


I thought the section in The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek about “bonking” or “hitting the wall” was particularly fascinating. It happens to athletes when they engage in endurance sports. It has applicability to the NutriSystem diet as well in that it could happen to us to a lesser degree if meals are delayed or skipped. Bonking is the result of the brain running low on glucose. The first symptom is intrusive thoughts about food. Then, after a while if nothing is eaten, anxiety and the shakes can set in. If the person still fails to eat something and he reaches the end of his glucose supply, he’ll feel a profound depression. This is why you might see a marathoner in tears toward the end of a race. He’s hit the wall. This has applicability to my business as well. I doubt that hypnotic suggestions are much of a match against physiologically induced cravings caused by skipping meals. If a client chooses to do an ADA style low-fat/high-carb diet like NutriSystem, then it makes sense to give him suggestions to eat small meals at regularly scheduled frequent intervals the way NutriSystem recommends so that he won’t bonk. Those ketoadapted to a low-carb diet don’t bonk because their brains are running on ketones, not glucose. As long as they’ve got body fat, there’s a continuous supply.

What is a high-fat diet

More from The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek: When looking at studies about high-fat diets, it is important to know what is meant by a high-fat diet. Most consensus experts define a high-fat diet to be one with 45% – 60% of calories from fat. The authors of the book define high-fat to be 65% – 85% of calories from fat. The distinction is very important. Consensus experts will tell you that insulin resistance gets worse as fat in the diet increases, and this is true of the diets in the lower range. However, after fat intake goes above 60% of calories from fat, insulin resistance turns around and starts to improve. The benefits of a low-carb diet are found in the higher range of fat intake.

Diet modification results

Cholesterol results are in.  As you all know too well, I’d been very concerned that my levels might drop too low due to the dieting.  I have made modifications to my NutriSystem plan with the intention of preventing this.  I have decreased the carbohydrateI am pleased to report that what I am doing is working.  The total was 180, which is right where I want it.  HDL was 71, which is high on the lab’s scale.  I believe this is a good thing.  LDL was 100, and VLDL was 9.  Total to HDL ratio was 2.54, which is low on the lab’s reference range.  I believe this is also a good thing.  Triglycerides were 46, which is toward the low end of the scale.  I would say that my diet modifications have been successful.  I’ve been able to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and that was my goal.  Glucose was 88, which is acceptable.

Low-carb dieters need more salt

I bought The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek for my Kindle. These two have done a lot of primary research into low-carb dieting. They were also coauthors on the most recent Atkins book, The New Atkins for a New You.

So far, I’ve learned that they would consider the way I’m doing NutriSystem to be a low-carb diet because I’m eating less than 125g of carbohydrate a day. I average about 100g, according to my tracking. I would like to be eating less carbohydrate than that, but that’s about as low as I can get it on the NutriSystem foods.

Another thing I learned is that those on low-carb diets need more salt. Low-carbers retain less fluids, and thus they pass more of their sodium through their kidneys. A lot of the problems low-carb dieters run into have to do with lack of salt. This morning’s egg tasted better with some salt on it.

According to the authors, none of my ancestors (mostly northern Europeans and some Native Americans) would have been eating dense carbohydrates earlier than about 2,000 years ago when the Romans introduced grains to northern Europe, so I would have little genetic accommodation for it. That would explain why I thrive so much better with little or no grains.

Dr. Eades on lard

Who would think that we’d actually see a medical doctor post an entry on his blog called “Add lard to your larder”? Dr. Michael Eades, the author of Protein Power, did just that. Among interesting points that he made, he said that the Mediterraneans are actually eating lard more than olive oil. The olive oil they produce in the region is for export. That certainly changes the face of what many believe is one of the healthiest diets!

In another of his posts about “The best low-carb book in print,” he quotes study summaries from the book. One study was particularly interesting. They looked at an ADA low-fat/high-carb diet against a low-carb/high-fat diet. I like studies like this because it pits one intervention diet against another, thus eliminating the conscientiousness factor when comparing the diets. Even though the high-fat dieters were eating considerably more saturated fat, the blood levels of saturated fat decreased from their pre-diet numbers, both in terms of percentage of fat in the blood and in terms of the absolute serum content. By the latter measure, saturated fat in the blood dropped 30% in the high-fat group, even though they were eating more saturated fat. Triglycerides fell by 51% in this group. The latter figure did not surprise me much because I already knew that triglycerides increase with carb intake. It would have been nice to know how they did weight-wise, but Dr. Eades did not quote those results. I guess I’ll have to get the book to find out.