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Monday, January 28, 2008

Some General Health News

I believe we low-carbers are interested in general health news as well as low-carbing. So with that in mind, here are some interesting tidbits of information.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D can help prevent heart disease and stroke, especially in folks with high blood pressure. In fact the risk was double for people with high blood pressure and a deficiency of vitamin D. The findings were published in Circulation, a journal published by the American Heart Association. Vitamin D is also important for bone health as a deficiency can lead to osteoporosis in adults or rickets in children. Vitamin D deficiency is more common in parts of the world with long winters. Apart from getting vitamin D from the diet (salmon is a good source), and supplements (some people supplement with D3 which is the active form of the vitamin), 10 minutes of sunshine about 3 times a week should be sufficient, according to the experts. D3 in studies seems to show it is protective against cancer and multiple sclerosis as well.

Cholesterol in the genes

British researchers uncovered a genetic link to high cholesterol, which increases risk of heart disease. The next step would be to find the exact gene and find new ways to treat the problem.

High Protein Fends off Hunger

This is good news for low-carbers! I have found when I don’t have enough protein, I will be hungrier between meals. Apparently protein is the best inhibitor of hunger, even over fat and carbohydrates. Dr. David Cummings of the University of Washington in Seattle, who worked on the study said that suppression of ghrelin is one of the ways one loses one’s appetite. Carbohydrates suppressed ghrelin initially but there is a rebound effect, where that is negated and one becomes even hungrier than before. Fats apparently are a poor suppressor of ghrelin, which I find so hard to believe, but perhaps in combination with protein it is more effective.

Gastric Surgery and Remission of Diabetes

It has been found that gastric bypass surgery can lead to remission of diabetes. A popular type of gastric surgery in Australia which uses an adjustable silicone band on the upper part of the stomach to limit how much a person can eat leads to weight loss over the next year or two. Apparently the patients who lost the most weight were the most likely to eliminate their diabetes. Gastric bypass surgery is very expensive, sometimes costing around $20 to $30,000, so I’m wondering if losing weight on a low-carbohydrate diet wouldn’t be a simpler way of achieving the same thing, without the expense and physical pain? Certainly I have a friend who achieved remission of her diabetes by losing 90 lbs on a low-carbohydrate diet.

Rimonabant: A Miracle Fat-Fighting Drug

A new drug, Rimonabant, that was tested on over 3,000 volunteers placed on a reduced-calorie diet showed that people not only lost weight significantly over 2 years, but also their HDL increased by 25% on average. It also lowered triglycerides and improved insulin sensitivity. In smokers, it prevented weight gain. This drug may soon be available, but frankly, if one can lose weight without drugs following a low-carbohydrate diet, improving blood profiles similarly as aforementioned into the bargain, then that would be the better route to take, in my opinion.

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