One of the more exciting developments over the past few years has been the explosion in population genetics research. People are a diverse lot, and even though we’re all people who essentially want the same things out of life (and we’re working with the same basic machinery), there’s a lot of wiggle room. It’s not just information for curiosity’s sake. The information researchers are uncovering about human ancestry can have real ramifications for how said humans should eat.
A couple years ago, I wrote a post laying out a few guidelines for using your personal ancestry to inform your diet. Today, I’m going to talk about another one: polyunsaturated fat metabolism.
Imagine money is no object. Imagine you wield absolute control over the scientific community and can direct it to run whichever study you desire. If you can dream it up, they’ll get the subjects, produce the money, and make it happen. All you need to come up with is the overarching design. What would you choose? What do you wonder? What questions do you want answered once and for all?
Here’s what I’d choose:
“Back in my day, science came harder. We may not have had your fancy longitudinal data analyzing software, your iterated pool of available data upon which to build, or your worldwide network of instantaneous communication and information transmission, but we rolled up our sleeves and got to work just the same. And man did we do some science and discover some things. Boy, you don’t even know the half of it.”
When I turn my sights back to older research, I realize that a lot of this stuff we “discover” in health and nutrition has already been found, or at least hinted at. Today, I’m going to explore some of my favorite research from years past that, if posted to Science Daily or linked on Twitter today, would get a huge response.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First up, what are we to make of a recent study claiming to show that “high-fat diets” are harmful to rodents? Is it truly a high-fat diet, and what does it mean for us? For the second question, I field a comment from a reader experiencing a confluence of troubling symptoms and test results on his keto diet. And third, does keto actually cure diabetes, or just manage it?
If you think of Type 2 diabetes as carbohydrate intolerance, the natural dietary response should be to restrict the offending dietary component. And when this occurs—when diabetic patients restrict carbs—their symptoms improve, often to a greater degree than diabetic patients on other diets. Keto restricts more carbs than even other low-carb diets, so on the face of things, keto seems great for diabetes.
Let’s take a closer look.
Almost everyone has at least one dietary restriction. Maybe your religion or cultural traditions prohibit specific foods or food pairings. Maybe your physiological response to certain foods—an allergy or intolerance—prevent you from eating them. Or perhaps your immediate goals preclude a food’s inclusion in your diet.
Like every other diet, keto is already circumscribed by basic principles, which can make further limitations difficult to accommodate. But the benefits of going keto, at least for part of the time, are well-established and worth the effort. You want to do it. How can you go keto while honoring your own dietary bounds?
It depends on the restriction.