Lowcarbarama is a gathering place for links and pointers to all sort of things relevant to low-carb: articles, blogs, interviews, Web sites, forums. It's a place for commentary on health and nutrition in public policy, the sciences and the media. Comments are welcome anytime, regardless of the post's date.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A new old Gary Taubes article from 1998

Telling Time by the Second Hand: By emphasizing challenges to conventional wisdom, the popular press distorts how science really works.

With his enormous impact on the landscape of nutritional awareness, it's easy to forget that Gary Taubes was an award-winning science writer for several years before he starting exploding myths about fat -- or about salt, for that matter.

Gearing up for the 2018 CrossFit Health Conference to be held in Madison, Wisconsin at the end of July, Gary sent out one of his rare newsletters, and it contained this link to (as well as the text of) an article published in the MIT Technology Review in 1998.

The article, he writes, came to his mind because his upcoming talk is about “the pathology of science (i.e., the ‘science of things that aren’t so’).”

You can subscribe to Gary’s newsletter at his official website, garytaubes.com.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Case Against Sugar sparks debate

He's back, baby!

Gary Taubes's new book, The Case Against Sugar is out, but not all folks endorse it, even among the cluster of communities of those who advocate real food, low carb, paleo, and other approaches under that umbrella.

In The Case Against Sugar: Sweet and Sour on FoodMed.net, Marika Sboros summarizes the kerfluffle and provides a roundup of videos and articles. You'll find some of our favorite names over the years here, from Richard Nikoley and Stephan Guyanet to Dr. Michael Eades.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Low-carb preference on increase, Gallup Poll indicates

Most people in America still believe it's better to reduce fat in your diet than carbs, but according to a Gallup poll, that majority has eroded over the past 10 years.  See:

Americans Still Say Low-Fat Diet Better Than Low-Carb But Slightly More Now Prefer a Low-Carb Diet Than in the Past
by Andrew Dugan and Frank Newport

Note the spin in the headline -- "hardly any more people think low-carb is good."

But look at the actual numbers in the article. It could just as well have been titled, "Americans' Preference for Low-Carb Diet Skyrockets; Low-Fat Falters."

In 2002, 22 percent of Americans were reported as saying a low-carb diet was "more beneficial from a health perspective." In 2012, that jumped to 30 percent. That means the number of people who believe low-carb is better jumped by nearly a third.

Sixty-eight percent said low-fat was best in 2002. That declined to 63% by 2012.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sugar in the Cross Hairs

How fat became demonized and sugar came to be seen as benign -- and how we started eating so darn much of it. And, significantly, the public health crisis that resulted.

This surprisingly comprehensive article in the Guardian tells the tale. Names of players probably already familiar to those who follow these issues include Dr. Robert Lustig, Earl Butz, John Yudkin and Gary Taubes. Names and episodes less often covered flesh out the story.

Why Our Food Is Making Us Fat, by Jacques Peretti
The Guardian, June 11, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What cholesterol is for: Dr. Robert Rowen interviewed by Dr. Mercola

I came to this article via the newsletter of Dr. Joseph Mercola's this morning. It's perhaps the best single article on cholesterol I've ever read in terms of clarity, simplicity, scope and usefulness.

If you want to read one compact article that explains what cholesterol is for, why it's futile and often tragically damaging to attempt to reduce it -- in your body or your food -- and why statin drugs and common vegetable oil are dangerous to health, read this. If you want to send a friend or loved one to one introductory article on the topic, send them to "Dr. Robert Rowen Talks About Cholesterol and Statins: Even if You Eat Organic Food, This Cooking Mistake Can Ruin Your Health" by Dr. Mercola.

Here are the opening lines by Dr. Mercola:
The idea that high cholesterol causes heart disease is based on the premise that cholesterol is found in the plaque of people with coronary artery disease.
But does that automatically mean that cholesterol itself is the root cause, and must be kept at a minimum to prevent plaque formation?
The answer is “no.”
Missing from this hypothesis is the holistic understanding of how cholesterol operates inside your body, and why arterial plaques form in the first place.
Cholesterol is actually a critical part of your body’s foundational building materials and is absolutely essential for optimal health. 
The article summarizes points made in an accompanying 48-minute video interview with Dr. Robert Rowen, who practices medicine in Santa Rosa, Calif. I haven't watched the video yet, but I am eager to do so.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Los Angeles Times: Harvard's Willett and others say to fear sugar, not fat

A reversal on carbs
Dec. 20, 2010
Los Angeles Times


Marni Jameson wrote the following. Great job, Ms. Jameson! Thanks for telling it like it is, without any cautionary "...but just in case..." obligatory quote from some antifat "authority" at the end.
Most people can count calories. Many have a clue about where fat lurks in their diets. However, fewer give carbohydrates much thought, or know why they should.

But a growing number of top nutritional scientists blame excessive carbohydrates — not fat — for America's ills. They say cutting carbohydrates is the key to reversing obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

"Fat is not the problem," says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. "If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases."

It's a confusing message. For years we've been fed the line that eating fat would make us fat and lead to chronic illnesses. "Dietary fat used to be public enemy No. 1," says Dr. Edward Saltzman, associate professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University. "Now a growing and convincing body of science is pointing the finger at carbs, especially those containing refined flour and sugar."

Americans, on average, eat 250 to 300 grams of carbs a day, accounting for about 55% of their caloric intake. The most conservative recommendations say they should eat half that amount. Consumption of carbohydrates has increased over the years with the help of a 30-year-old, government-mandated message to cut fat.

And the nation's levels of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease have risen. "The country's big low-fat message backfired," says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar. That shift may be linked to the biggest health problems in America today."
Tell us what you think: Are carbs to blame? Add your own comments to the discussion. —

To understand what's behind the upheaval takes some basic understanding of food and metabolism.

All carbohydrates (a category including sugars) convert to sugar in the blood, and the more refined the carbs are, the quicker the conversion goes. When you eat a glazed doughnut or a serving of mashed potatoes, it turns into blood sugar very quickly. To manage the blood sugar, the pancreas produces insulin, which moves sugar into cells, where it's stored as fuel in the form of glycogen.

If you have a perfectly healthy metabolism, the system works beautifully, says Dr. Stephen Phinney, a nutritional biochemist and an emeritus professor of UC Davis who has studied carbohydrates for 30 years. "However, over time, as our bodies get tired of processing high loads of carbs, which evolution didn't prepare us for … how the body responds to insulin can change," he says.

When cells become more resistant to those insulin instructions, the pancreas needs to make more insulin to push the same amount of glucose into cells. As people become insulin resistant, carbs become a bigger challenge for the body. When the pancreas gets exhausted and can't produce enough insulin to keep up with the glucose in the blood, diabetes develops.

The first sign of insulin resistance is a condition called metabolic syndrome — a red flag that diabetes, and possibly heart disease, is just around the corner. People are said to have the syndrome when they have three or more of the following: high blood triglycerides (more than 150 mg); high blood pressure (over 135/85); central obesity (a waist circumference in men of more than 40 inches and in women, more than 35 inches); low HDL cholesterol (under 40 in men, under 50 in women); or elevated fasting glucose.

About one-fourth of adults has three or more of these symptoms.

"Put these people on a low-carb diet and they'll not only lose weight, which always helps these conditions, but their blood levels will improve," Phinney says. In a 12-week study published in 2008, Phinney and his colleagues put 40 overweight or obese men and women with metabolic syndrome on a 1,500-calorie diet. Half went on a low-fat, high-carb diet. The others went on a low-carb, high-fat diet. The low-fat group consumed 12 grams of saturated fat a day out of a total of 40 grams of fat, while the low-carb group ate 36 grams of saturated fat a day — three times more — out of a total of 100 grams of fat.

Despite all the extra saturated fat the low-carb group was getting, at the end of the 12 weeks, levels of triglycerides (which are risk factors for heart disease) had dropped by 50% in this group. Levels of good HDL cholesterol increased by 15%.

In the low-fat, high-carb group, triglycerides dropped only 20% and there was no change in HDL.

The take-home message from this study and others like it is that — contrary to what many expect — dietary fat intake is not directly related to blood fat. Rather, the amount of carbohydrates in the diet appears to be a potent contributor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gary Taubes on Salt: Shake off Your Worries!

This one is hard to find sometimes. Gary Taubes's piece on salt was a winner of the 1999 Science in Society Journalism Awards.

The (Political) Science of Salt

It seems that salt, for some reason, is commonly feared even by cholesterol skeptics who embrace a high-fat, low-carb diet, who know well how misleading and misled the common nutritional talking points are. Dunno why. The links between high sodium and blood pressure problems are even weaker than those between high cholesterol and heart problems. If such a thing is possible.

Read this. It's the article that, I believe, sent Gary Taubes down the rabbit hole. And I'm so glad it did.