Although they are more than a couple of decades behind functional medicine, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is finally recommending lower carbohydrate diets for people with diabetes.
In functional medicine, we have long seen the deleterious effects of carbohydrate-laden diets on not only blood sugar, but also on chronic inflammatory disorders, weight, hormonal balance, and brain function.
High blood sugar disorders such as type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, not only make you feel worse, they also significantly raise your risk of numerous chronic health disorders, including heart disease, stroke, autoimmune disease, and Alzheimer’s. In fact, some researchers call Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes because high blood sugar is so damaging to the brain.
While it’s heartening that such a large and official organization is finally making dietary recommendations to stabilize blood sugar, their list of recommended foods remains problematic. Some foods on the ADA list have been shown to trigger autoimmune attacks on the pancreas, worsening type 1 diabetes and increasing the risk of developing autoimmune diabetes in people with type 2 diabetes, a lifestyle-induced disease.
If you would like help understanding about food recommendations for low carb diet, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
The ADA’s new recommendations for carbohydrate consumption
Previously, the ADA warned against diets under 130 grams a day of carbohydrates because people would be deprived of essential nutrients. They also stated the brain needs more than 130 grams a day to meet its energy needs.
However, given the success of lower carb diets in not only reducing the need for insulin but also in lowering heart-disease risk, the ADA has adjusted its recommendations to support a lower carb diet.
In what may eventually prove to be a sea change in government recommendations, the ADA bases the new recommendation on findings that a low-carb diet better manages health than a low-fat diet.
It also states that dietary recommendations should depend on the patient and that a “one-size-fits-all” diet should not be given to every patient.
They do not recommend a low-carb diet for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people who have eating disorders or at risk of developing eating disorders, people with kidney disease, and for those taking SGLT2 inhibitor medication.
ADA guidelines on low-glycemic foods fail to consider foods that trigger autoimmune attacks
It’s a step in the right direction that the ADA is finally recognizing the vast amounts of research and the countless case studies linking lower carb diets with better health.
However, they have yet to recognize the science showing that some ADA recommended low-glycemic foods trigger autoimmune attacks on cells that cause type 1 diabetes.
The most prevalent triggers are gluten and dairy, although other foods also cross-react with cells involved in type 1 diabetes. This does not mean that these foods trigger an autoimmune attack in all people, but research shows certain foods raise the risk of exacerbating autoimmune diabetes.
For the person with type 1 diabetes it’s especially important to be aware of which foods may trigger autoimmune attacks that worsen their condition. You can screen for these foods with testing from Cyrex Labs.
However, research also shows that about 10–20 percent of people with type 2 diabetes, which is lifestyle induced, also have undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. This is referred to as type 1.5 diabetes.
Should you go on a low-carb diet?
The average American eats more processed carbohydrates than the human body was designed to handle. The incidences of inflammatory disorders related to high blood sugar are crushing the healthcare system — diabetes, obesity, heart disease, chronic pain, depression, dementia, and neurodegenerative diseases are just a few.
However, this doesn’t mean every person should be on the same diet. For some, a very low-carb ketogenic diet is highly therapeutic. For others, such as those with compromised brain function that has caused dysregulated metabolic and neurological function, a ketogenic diet can be disastrous.
Although finding your optimal carbohydrate consumption may take some trial and error, it’s safe to assume you do not need sugar, high fructose corn syrup, processed carbohydrates, and industrial oils. Instead, the bulk of your diet should come from a diverse array of ever changing vegetables and fruits (be careful not to go overboard on fruits), and healthy fats and proteins.
It’s also safe to assume the human body was designed for daily physical activity, time outdoors, and healthy social interaction.
Ask my office for help on customizing and diet and lifestyle plan designed just for you.
What’s for BREAKFAST? Here is a great, simple recipe that is good for you as well.
YUMMY CHIA BERRY BREAKFAST ~ from the Celaya Kitchen
1 cup purified water 3 Tbsp chia seeds 2 Tbsp hemp seeds ½ cup organic cherries (fresh or frozen) ½ cup organic blueberries (fresh or frozen–wild blueberries are best) 3 drops liquid stevia (optional)
Pour all ingredients into a pot and heat until chia seeds are soft, and if using frozen berries, they must be warm and soft. Instead of both ½ cup cherries and ½ cup blueberries, you can just use 1 cup blueberries.
This makes a nice breakfast or midmorning snack after first drinking a cleansing green juice like celery juice or Heirloom Greens (https://drcelaya.com/product/heirloom-greens/).
You can also make this as a dessert topped with a scoop of coconut ice cream.
Fats are a hot topic of debate in the health-conscious community, and recent reports have made it hard to separate facts from fear-mongering. Canola and coconut oils are two popular fats that have received a lot of attention over the years, and thankfully recent studies are showing us more clearly which fats to embrace, and which to avoid.
To understand which fats are healthy, it’s helpful to understand “good” HDL and “bad” LDL cholesterol, small fat and protein packages that transport cholesterol throughout the body.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol helps protect your arteries from cholesterol and removes excess arterial plaque.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol can accumulate in the arteries to form plaque that narrows them and makes them less flexible (atherosclerosis).
Triglycerides. Elevated levels are linked to heart disease and diabetes. Risk factors include smoking, physical inactivity, excessive drinking, overweight, and a diet high in sugars and grains.
HDL, LDL, and triglycerides come in small and large particles. While the large particles are practically harmless, the small, dense particles are more dangerous. They can lodge in arterial walls, leading to inflammation, plaque buildup, and damage that eventually leads to heart disease.
When considering test results, your doctor will note:
HDL levels versus LDL levels
The ratio between triglycerides to HDL
The ratio between total cholesterol and HDL
The size of the particles
Here’s where the former warnings about fats and cholesterol have been misleading: We now understand that more important than knowing your total cholesterol is knowing the ratio between your HDL and your LDL, and especially the size of the particles.
In addition, the Mayo Clinic says many doctors now believe that for predicting heart disease risk, total non-HDL may be more useful than calculating your cholesterol ratio. Non-HDL cholesterol is figured by subtracting your HDL cholesterol number from your total cholesterol number.
Finally, either option appears to be a better risk predictor than your total cholesterol level or simply your LDL level.
Note: In some cases, people have a genetic tendency toward extremely high cholesterol. In those situations, it may take more than diet to manage cholesterol levels.
Should I consume saturated fats?
Sourced from tropical oils and animal products, saturated fats are typically solid or semi-solid at room temperature. Common dietary sources include beef, pork, lamb, poultry skin, high-fat dairy, palm oil, and coconut oil.
Saturated fat sits at the forefront of the debate about dietary oils. Why? For years, we’ve been warned that it increases the risk for cardiovascular disease because it raises LDL, the “bad” type of cholesterol.
This recommendation was based on four hand-picked studies done nearly 40 years ago and doesn’t reflect recent studies that shine a different light on fat intake. What the studies didn’t do is take into consideration other things saturated fats do to help balance the equation:
Raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Change LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from small, dense particles — dangerous for heart health — to large particle LDL, which does not increase heart disease risk.
Support brain health.
Possibly reduce stroke risk.
In fact, a recent meta-analysis of studies showed there is no significant evidence that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.
For some people there are legitimate reasons to moderate saturated fat intake:
Saturated fat intake can be associated with lighter, less restorative, more disruptive sleep (yet increased fiber can help increase sleep quality).
ApoE4 carriers (increased Alzheimer’s risk) see a much higher spike in LDL cholesterol from high saturated fat in the diet, without a matching rise in HDL. They may benefit from lower intake of saturated fat which can lower LDL cholesterol and improve HDL/LDL ratio.
A small percent of the population does experience a skyrocketing increase in LDL concentrations along with increased inflammation levels measured by C-reactive protein.
Ask meabout a diet that is sufficient in healthy fats, void of bad fats, and customized to your dietary needs.
If you shy away from fats for fear of heart disease, you aren’t alone, you may be surprised to learn that carbohydrates, not fats, are the culprits in heart disease.
For decades scientists and doctors have blamed dietary fats — especially saturated fat — for heart disease. We’ve been advised to stick to a low-fat, high-carb diet based on grains to keep our hearts healthy.
We now know this advice was based on outdated observational studies. As it turns out, none of the studies truly linked high-fat diets to heart disease, and numerous recent studies have debunked the theory.
In fact, the low-fat, high-carb diet promoted for decades by organizations such as the American Heart Association, the National Cholesterol Education Program, National Institutes of Health, and by the U.S. Department of Agriculture may have actually played a strong — yet unintended — role in today’s epidemics of obesity, type II diabetes, lipid abnormalities, and metabolic syndromes. If you would like help with these conditions and get to the root cause, go over to my free consult page and schedule.
Limit carbs, not fat, for heart health
For most people, it’s carbohydrates, not fats, that are the true cause of heart disease.
Since 2002, low-carb diets have been studied extensively with more than 20 randomized controlled trials. These studies show that limiting your consumption of carbohydrates rather than fats is the surer way to decrease heart disease risk.
An analysis of more than a dozen studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that subjects consuming a low-carb diet had a healthier cardiovascular system and body weight than those on low-fat diets.
The Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study not only found that increasing fat intake was linked to lower risk of heart disease, but as carbohydrate intake is increased, the risk of heart disease grew stronger.
Include plenty of healthy fats in your diet
We need plenty of healthy fats for our bodies and brains to function at their best. Low-fat diets have many risks, including decreased brain function, poor brain health, and hormone imbalances.
Essential to your body’s function, fats:
Provide a major source of energy
Aid in absorption of certain minerals
Help you absorb vitamins A, E, D, and K
Help reduce inflammation
Are necessary for building cell membranes
Help build nerve sheaths
Are essential for blood clotting and muscle movement
Help maintain your core body temperature
Protect your core organs from impact
Provide the key nutrient for your brain, which consists of nearly 60 percent fat
Four types of fat: Eat three, avoid one
Four types of fat are found in our diet, all with different characteristics and effects. Some are great, some are good, and one is purely horrible.
Saturated fat. Instead of being linked to heart disease, saturated fats actually offer important health benefits:
Supports brain health
May reduce risk of stroke
Raises HDL (your “good”) cholesterol
Changes the LDL (“bad”) from small, dense particles — dangerous for heart health — to large particle LDL, which does not increase heart disease risk. This has been intensively studied in the past few decades and the studies consistently show these results.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Examples include red meat fat, cooled bacon grease, whole milk, cheese, and coconut oil.
Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) are “essential,” meaning that your body doesn’t produce them on its own and you must get them through your diet.
MUFAs are liquid at room temperature and begin to solidify when refrigerated. They can be found in olive oil, nuts, avocados and whole milk.
Consuming higher levels of MUFAs than saturated fats has a protective effect against metabolic syndrome, a cluster of disorders that increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Polyunsaturated fats are also “essential,” meaning your body doesn’t produce them on its own and must get them via dietary intake.
Polyunsaturated fats can help improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease the risk of heart disease, and may also help decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: Omega 3 and Omega 6.
Omega 3 fats are linked with lowered inflammation, better brain function, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, tuna, trout, sardines, and herring. Plant sources include ground flaxseed, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.
While we do need some omega 6 fatty acids in our diet, excess consumption is inflammatory and is connected to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, psychiatric issues, and cancer.
To prevent an inflammatory environment, increase your consumption of omega 3 fats and lower consumption of omega 6. Researchers recommend a ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 that ranges from 1:1 to 4:1.
Trans fats are the one type of fat to always avoid. A byproduct of a process called hydrogenation that makes healthy oils into solids and prevents them from becoming rancid, trans fat have no health benefits. Their risks include:
Increased levels of harmful LDL cholesterol in the blood
Reduced beneficial HDL cholesterol
Higher risk for insulin resistance (a risk for Type 2 diabetes)
Trans fats are so risky the FDA issued a ban in 2015 that required they be removed from processed foods within three years.
Six foods to include for healthy fat intake
Rich in monounsaturated fats (raises good cholesterol while lowering bad)
High in vitamin E
High protein for a fruit
Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids which:
Are not stored as fat by the body as readily as other fats
Support brain function and memory
Are easy to digest
Extra virgin olive oil
Very high levels of monounsaturated fats
Supports heart health and cognitive function
Best for low or medium heat cooking (not high heat)
Omega 3 fatty acids
Found in cold water fish such as salmon and sardines
Easy to consume via fish oil supplements
Nuts and seeds
Rich in ALA (alpha lipoic acid) Omega 3 fats for the brain
Helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
MCT oil (from coconuts)
Provides medium-chain triglycerides, a healthy form of saturated fat
Limiting intake of carbohydrates, rather than fats, is a surer way to decrease the risk of heart disease. Many doctors have seen how low-carb diets with plenty of healthy fats help patients lose weight, reverse their diabetes, and improve their cholesterol.
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