Dana, what is the range of health conditions that you have seen respond to a low carb diet in your readers?
The most exciting, perhaps, is polycystic ovarian syndrome, the most common cause of female infertility, and very definitely an insulin-driven illness. Back when I was still self-published, I got an email from a woman who had tried for years to get pregnant, but couldn’t because of PCOS. She read How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, went low carb, got pregnant, and carried the child to term. That’s the kind of thing that keeps me grinning for days.
Commonly, I hear of vastly improved blood work – one fellow had his triglycerides plummet by 1200 points in 2 weeks. People regularly report low trigs and high HDL.
Blood pressure reliably drops, too. It’s common for detractors to say “Oh, you only lost water weight on that diet.” That’s nonsense, of course, but it is true that the very rapid loss of 5-10 pounds in the first week or so is largely water. That’s because when insulin levels drop the kidneys resume excreting sodium properly, and with it the water it was holding. Because of this, blood pressure comes down quickly. (For this reason, people who are medicated for high blood pressure must be under a doctor’s care when they first go low carb. They may need a reduction in medication within days.)
By the way, the proper excretion of sodium means that many low carbers need to increase their salt intake – I’m one of them. If a new low carber is feeling tired, achy, dizzy, headache-y, the first thing to try is increasing salt – heavily salted broth or bouillon works wonderfully.
Energy swings vanish when the blood sugar swings stop. Many annoying symptoms of generalized inflammation, such as arthritis, are reduced or eliminated.
Gastroesophageal reflux, aka heartburn, generally clears up.
And all kinds of little things – skin conditions, bleeding gums, stuff like that. My husband, who has a mouth full of crowns, hasn’t had a single new cavity since we went low carb 20 years ago. (I still have no fillings at the age of 57.)
Perhaps most surprising was the woman who wrote me to say that since she and her husband had gone low carb, a range of problems had cleared up, including that he had “stopped coughing up blood.” She finished with “You have been a miracle for our family.”
I have no idea how a low carb diet would stop the coughing up of blood, but I’m certainly glad it did.
Dana Carpender is the author of nine cookbooks, including the best-selling 500 Low-Carb Recipes.