Chalk yet another one up for low-carb, high protein diets: A study in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that a vegetable-based, low-carbohydrate diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
To assess the impact of diet on type 2 diabetes risk, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health examined the dietary habits of 85,059 women participating in the Nurse’s Health Study. The women were then assigned a score based on their diet, with higher scores going to the women who consumed a diet rich in animal fats and protein and low in carbohydrates and lower scores assigned to women following a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.
After analyzing the data – which spanned roughly 20 years – the researchers determined that women with the highest scores did not have an increased risk of diabetes. In fact, women in this category whose diets consisted of higher amounts of fat and protein primarily from vegetable sources actually had a slightly lower risk of developing diabetes.
Commenting on the findings, the study’s lead author notes that he was “surprised that total carbohydrate consumption was associated with type 2 diabetes, and that the relative risk for the glycemic load was so high.” Presumably these findings are surprising to the doctor precisely because they run counter to the general recommendations of nutritionists, who advise people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes to follow a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. In our estimation the only surprising thing here is that the findings are at all surprising.
Meanwhile, an assistant professor of medicine at New York University Medical School notes that “in general, carbs should be limited just like saturated fat needs to be limited,” adding that “if you eat too much of anything, you’re bound to get into trouble.” However, he does say that implementing the diet does present some challenges, especially for people who “don’t understand how to eat well.”
The MDA solution? Rather than just adding this study to the long list of evidence suggesting that low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets are good for us, it’s time to share the wealth with the American Public. Specifically, Americans need to be taught not only how to adopt the low-carb lifestyle but why it will benefit their health to do so. To help make this journey simpler, perhaps its time to take the case all the way to the top and campaign for the USDA food pyramid – which is used as the basis for most nutrition education – to literally be turned upside down to reflect the healthier lifestyle choice!
Now it’s your turn – tell us what do you think it will take for the U.S. public to finally embrace the low-carbohydrate lifestyle?