October 7, 2013 - The Food
Revolution in full swing:
Below is an excellent article from local Swedish paper Corren about this week's SBU report
showing that low-carb diets are superior for weight loss. It's particularly pleasing to see so many wise comments from Professor Fredrik Nyström, who was a member of the expert group of the SBU. For Fredrik Nyström the report represents a victory.
- Absolutely. I've been working with this for so long. It feels great to have this scientific report, and that the skepticism towards low-carb diets among my colleagues has disappeared during the course of the work. When all recent scientific studies are lined up the result is indisputable: our deep-seated fear of fat is completely unfounded. You don't get fat from fatty foods, just as you don't get atherosclerosis from calcium or turn green from green vegetables. The time has come for the health care system to learn how to advise patients on a low-carbohydrate diet.
Here's the full article, translated into English:
Butter, olive oil, heavy cream and bacon are not harmful foods. Quite the opposite. Fat is the best thing for those who want to lose weight. And there are no connections between a high fat intake and cardiovascular disease.
On Monday SBU, the Swedish Council on Health
Technology Assessment, dropped a bombshell. After a two-year long inquiry, reviewing 16,000 studies, the report "Dietary Treatment for Obesity" upends the conventional dietary guidelines for obese or diabetic people.
For a long time, the health care system has given the public advice to avoid fat, saturated fat in particular, and calories. A low-carb diet (LCHF - Low Carb High Fat, is actually a Swedish "invention") has been dismissed as harmful, a humbug and as being a fad diet lacking any scientific basis.
Instead, the health care system has urged diabetics to eat a lot of fruit (=sugar) and low-fat products with considerable amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners, the latter a dangerous trigger for the sugar-addicted person.
This report turns the current concepts upside down and advocates a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, as the most effective weapon against obesity.
The expert committee consisted of ten physicians, and several of them were skeptics to low-carbohydrate diets at the beginning of the investigation.
One of them, however, who's been an avid proponent of saturated fat (butter, full fat cream, bacon) since 2006, is Prof. Fredrik Nyström, Linköping, Sweden, and who has at times been scorned and sneered at to the same extent as LCHF's "mother", Dr. Annika Dahlqvist.
For Fredrik Nyström the report represents a victory.
- Absolutely. I've been working with this for so long. It feels great to have this scientific report, and that the skepticism towards low-carb diets among my colleagues has disappeared during the course of the work. When all recent scientific studies are lined up the result is indisputable: our deep-seated fear of fat is completely unfounded. You don't get fat from fatty foods, just as you don't get atherosclerosis from calcium or turn green from green vegetables.
Nyström has long advocated a greatly reduced intake of carbohydrate-rich foods high in sugar and starch, in order to achieve healthy levels of insulin, blood lipids and the good cholesterol. This means doing away with sugar, potatoes, pasta, rice, wheat flour, bread, and embracing olive oil, nuts, butter, full fat cream, oily fish and fattier meat cuts.
- If you eat potatoes you might as well eat candy. Potatoes contain glucose units in a chain, which is converted to sugar in the GI tract. Such a diet causes blood sugar, and then the hormone insulin, to skyrocket.
Moreover, this summer another study on the Mediterranean diet, rich in unsaturated fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts), was published, and was part of the basis for the SBU report.
- It showed that it does more harm to eat a low-fat diet than a high-fat diet. The study also advised drinking wine with the Mediterranean diet. I have long emphasized that a moderate intake of alcohol is beneficial to health and have myself done a study that confirmed a better blood lipid profile from red wine consumption. Thus, alcohol in moderation is not just OK, it's beneficial.
There are many mantras we have been taught to accept as truths:
"Calories are calories, no matter where they come from."
"It's all about the balance between calories in and calories out."
are fat because the don't move enough."
"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day."
- Of course these are not true. This kind of nonsense has people with weight problems feeling bad about themselves. As if it were all about their inferior character. For many people a greater intake of fat means that you'll feel satiated, stay so longer, and have less of a need to eat every five minutes. On the other hand, you won't feel satiated after drinking a Coke, or after eating almost fat free, low-fat fruit yogurt loaded with sugar. Sure, exercise is great in many ways, but what really affects weight is diet.
The report states: "physical activity for obese people has a, if anything, marginal effect on weight loss."
But what about breakfast?
- If you can - skip it! This is a habitual behavior, the body has no need for nourishment the minute you get out of bed if you've eaten a high-fat dinner the day before. We make our own glucose from stored protein, and it probably costs a few calories to produce this glucose, which can be one reason why a low-carb diet provides great weight loss. Also skip snacks and any low-fat products. If we were meant to nibble on low-fat foods all day we wouldn't have been equipped with a gall bladder. If you eat two meals daily, with few carbohydrates and plenty of good fats, you'll do just fine. Do like the Mediterranean people. Let a cup of coffee be your breakfast in the morning.
One of Sweden's biggest blogs, Kostdoktorn.se (DietDoctor), is run by physician Andreas Eenfeldt. Since 2007 he's an avid proponent of a low-carbohydrate diet and a debater on how diabetics can greatly reduce their needs for medical intervention, or even avoid it altogether.
- Diabetics should think the same way as all others who suffer health problems from certain foods: avoid them. Less blood sugar-raising food makes diabetics require less blood sugar-lowering medication.
On Monday there were 73,000 visitors to his blog and he marks it as a historic day.
- The SBU report challenges the Swedish health care system. It's time to stop giving people with a weight problem advice that now has been shown to be the worst in tests.
Both he and Fredrik Nyström argue that a paradigm shift, a health care revolution, has to happen.
- Our National Food
Agency (the USDA equivalent) has long ignored recent research, and this influences many dietitians. This is very troublesome. As the SBU report is published by one of our most important government agencies, the health care system is almost obliged to follow the SBU report, as it's considered "the law" until disproven. However, how we are going to successfully educate a lot of various "health experts" on how to recommend fewer low-fat products, bread and pasta, I really don't know.