Your brain needs 50g of glucose a day

Adapted from Richard Feinman’s Nutrition in Crisis 

We have all heard NHS dieticians and diabetologists telling us that we will die of brain failure or get severe brain damage when we go on low carb diets because the brain needs 130g of glucose a day.

We will typically remind them that the glucose does not need to be ingested since our livers are perfectly able to manufacture well over 130g of glucose a day, the process called gluconeogenesis.

Richard Feinman is a cell biologist and he has an even finer retort.

The 130g of glucose a day necessity was discovered by George Cahill. This was the amount of glucose that a brain uses in normal nutritional states. It is indeed the case that this glucose can be ingested or manufactured in the liver or both.

Under starvation conditions however, the brain will only use 50g of glucose a day.  In starvation, the utilisation of ketone bodies becomes more important for brain function.

Unfortunately, nutritionists picked up on the 130g of glucose a day message and have been repeating it ever since. Cahill is reported to have said that by the time he was aware of the simplified but inaccurate message, it was too late to stop it.

Thus, it is not always true that you need 130g of glucose a day for brain function and it is never true that this must be from dietary carbohydrate.

So, if you get the old chestnut thrown at you, you know what to say now!

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Chris Palmer: Ketogenic diet now being used in mental health

Dr Chris Palmer from Harvard has been using the low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets in practice for over 15 years now mostly for weight loss. Recently, he has found an anti-psychotic and mood stabilizing effect from specific types of the ketogenic diet. Now he is pursuing clinical research in this area to better understand the topic. As a result, he has also been speaking at national and international conferences.

Here area few of his podcasts/interviews:

http://lowcarbmd.com/episode-49-dr-chris-palmer-treating-schizophrenia-with-lifestyle

https://www.chrispalmermd.com/ketogenic-diet-psychology…/ and keto putting schizophrenia into remission.

https://www.chrispalmermd.com/ketogenic-diet-remission…/

https://www.chrispalmermd.com/keto-naturopath-by-karl-goldcamp-interview-christopher-palmer/

My comment: It is a very good idea for those people with schizophrenia to be on a low carb diet, mainly due to the side effects of the anti-psychotics which give people metabolic syndrome and diabetes. It is even better to hear that there conditions are improved so they are less reliant on these drugs.

Diet doctor: free online course with credit for medical professionals

This is a message from dietician Adele Hite:

I am thrilled to announce that Diet Doctor is now offering a free CME activity to all interested clinicians, patients and carers: Treating metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and obesity with therapeutic carbohydrate restriction.

Thanks to the support of our members, we can offer this CME at no cost to clinicians.

This fully referenced, evidence-based CME activity is certified for three AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. It is jointly provided by Postgraduate Institute for Medicine (PIM) and Diet Doctor and is intended for physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, and dietitians engaged in the care of patients with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

The course was designed by clinicians for clinicians. As this course outline shows, it covers all clinicians need to know about dietary carbohydrate restriction and how to implement it safely and effectively with patients for whom it is appropriate. In keeping with Diet Doctor’s mission to “make low carb simple,” the course also comes with supplemental materials for clinicians and their patients to make it easy to translate evidence into practice.

We hope that this course will help reaffirm the scientific and clinical support for this approach and — along with other efforts by LowCarbUSA and expert clinicians — act as another step in solidifying a standard of care around low-carb nutrition. We would love it if you would share the news about this course with colleagues. You can forward this email to them or use this flyer to share or post.

Diet Doctor also has some new resources to help make low carb simple for patients and clinicians alike. For patients, we have:
‒ a sample menu
‒ shopping list
‒ a meal planning guide
‒ a substitutes for favorite foods handout
‒ simple meals and planned leftovers, and
‒ information about target protein ranges

For clinicians, we have handy one-pagers on:
‒ monitoring ketones
‒ fasting insulin and HOMA-IR ranges
‒ lab tests and follow-up schedule
‒ type 2 diabetes medication reduction, and
‒ a 5-day food diary for patients who need to monitor their intake

Of course, for those on the list who are not clinicians, anyone can register for and view the course. You just won’t be eligible for CME credits.

For clinicians, please let us know if we can help you help your patients in other ways. And if you are interested in supporting us as we continue to develop materials to make low carb easy for clinicians and patients, please think about becoming a Diet Doctor member yourself.

Finally, we are happy to hear suggestions for improvements moving forward. If you take the time to view the course, we’d love to hear what you think.

Best regards,
Adele

Nina’s plea: Would you write to Congress and change USA food guidelines?

This is a message from Nina Teicholz, writer and low carb activist:

My highest concern about the existing USA Food Guidelines is for the people who have no choice but to eat the food that they are given, which is based on what is thought of as “a healthy diet”. There are many essentially ‘captive’ populations in schools, hospitals, and prisons. Many of these people are the most disadvantaged among us. Native Americans on reservations have no choice about the food assistance they receive.

I’ve spoken with the Native American woman who for years has been trying to change the USDA food they get, and she cannot get even the tiniest change. They desperately need the food, yet it’s more than 50% carbs, and something like 40% of the kids on these reservations have diabetes.

The same is true for poor people, education programs, and feeding programs for the elderly. These people have no choice.  No other food  is given to them. Many doctors also say they have no choice, because  they are required to teach the guidelines to patients. It is the same thing in most federally funded institutions.

Thus, my hope is, if we have to have Guidelines for the time being, that they do as little harm as possible. The Guideline is coming up for review, but the committee have already decided not to review the evidence on low carb diet studies.  We are seeking to change this, and there is already some support for our position, that these studies should be included in the evaluation. Could we get in a low-carb option? Could we force them to consider all the science on saturated fats? This next set of Guidelines will come out by the end of this year, and I think there is still time to try to force change. Our actions now would build awareness around the issue that there is something wrong with the Guidelines. There is so little awareness of the problems. And actually I’m hopeful,  because in the last few months, we’ve worked with a number of groups to raise awareness to a level it’s never been before.

Here’s what I would suggest for now.
Both my group, The Nutrition Coalition and the group Low-carb Action Network,  have webpages that make it very easy for you (if American) to write/call your Members of Congress. This is super important and I urge everyone to do this. USDA is not budging. Congress is really the only body of power interested in change, and they need to hear from people. So I would urge everyone to contact their members of Congress. It can take just a few min.

Thank you,

Nina

My comment: If the USDA food guidelines are changed, it would make it so much easier for the UK to follow. The photograph shows the breakfast given to a diabetic patient in a US hospital who had just had a heart attack. The UK also dishes out abysmal food to its patients. Wouldn’t it be great if they had a low carb option?

Paleo Canteen recipe book

Ally and John are Scottish chefs who have a van in Glasgow from which they sell reasonably priced, interesting, low carb fare.

Paleo canteen recipe

They are releasing their first recipe book in the next few weeks and you can get  a sample version of the book  here:

bit.ly/cooklowcarb

paleo canteen

They both have extensive educational backgrounds, having both studied for PhDs before leaving physics and philosophy behind them,  to take up chef’s whites and knives.  Both have worked across a range of cooking genres at excellent restaurants such as Ottolenghi’s in London  and Rogano’s in Glasgow.

Their full book includes meat, particularly moderately priced meats, poultry and fish, vegetables, soups, salads, sauces and desserts. They are aware that low carbing has a reputation for being pricey and they want to make delicious meals with the five star touch accessible to all.

 

 

 

Public Health Collaboration conference online a great success

The Public Health collaboration online conference 2020  was very successful.  The videos are available on You Tube for free making the conference even more accessible for everyone who needs advice on what to eat to stay healthy.

If you are able to contribute to the PHC fund to keep up our good work please do so. Sam Feltham has suggested £2.00.  This is via the PHC site.

This year there were contributions from mainly the UK but also the USA.

Visitors to this site will be very pleased to know that keeping your weight in the normal range, keeping your blood sugars tightly controlled, keeping your vitamin D levels up, and keeping fit from activity and exercise, are all important factors in having a good result if you are unfortunate enough to be affected by Covid-19. We have been promoting these factors in our book and website for several years now, mainly with the view to making life more enjoyable, especially for people with diabetes, now and in the future. The reduction in the severity  to the effects of   coronavirus is a side effect of these healthy living practices.

Several talks went into the factors and reasons for this, but in a nutshell, if you are in a pro-inflammatory state already, you will have a much more pronounced cytokine inflammatory response to the virus than is useful for clearing the virus, and you end up with inflammed lung tissue which leaks fluid thereby impairing your blood oxygen levels.

A talk that I found particularly apt was the talk from a GP who had had a heart attack at the age of 44 despite a lack of risk factors except for massive stress. He gives a list of self care practices that helped him. I would also include playing with your animals. Emma and I are cat lovers and can vouch for this!

My talk is about VR Fitness, which was the only talk this year which was specifically exercise related. The Oculus Quest has only been out a year and has been sold out since shortly after New Year. I was fortunate enough to buy one in anticipation of my imminent retirement, and it has been great as an exercise tool over the long, cold, dark winter and more useful than I had ever anticipated over the lockdown as a social tool.

There were several very professional cooking and baking demonstrations on the conference this year, and indeed, this could not have otherwise happened on a traditional stage format.  We had low carb “rice”, bread, pancakes and pizza demonstrations which may well help you if you prefer to see how it is done step by step or if you want to broaden your repertoire.

I was particularly taken with the pizza base idea from Emma Porter and I will follow up with this in a later post.  The whole video is available from the PHC  site which takes you to all the videos on You Tube.

 

 

 

Soldiers improve their physique on a ketogenic diet

Adapted from Military Medicine January 2019 by Richard Al LaFountain et al of Ohio State University.

This is the first study of a ketogenic diet in military personnel. Daily ketone monitoring was done to personalise the diet. 29 subjects from various branches of the military took part over the 12 week study.

15 self selected to go on the ketogenic diet (KD) monitored by blood ketones daily. 14 continued their mixed diet (MD). Various measurements were done at the start and end of the programme.

All of the KD group were in ketosis throughout the 12 weeks as assessed by beta-hydroxybutrate levels. The KD group lost 7.7kg more (range -3.5 to -13.6kg) despite no calorie restriction. They lost 5.1% body fat (range -0.5 to -9.6%). 43.7% was visceral fat (range – 3.0  to – 66.3%) and had a 48% improvement in insulin sensitivity. There were no changes in the MD group.  There were no changes between the groups in aerobic capacity, maximal strength, power and a military specific obstacle course.

The authors conclude that this was a very well accepted intervention which showed remarkable improvements in body composition and weight without compromising physical performance in exercise training.

In the USA two thirds of active military personnel are overweight or obese which mirrors the general population. Nearly three out of four young people aged 17-24 fail to qualify for military service mainly due to obesity and failure to meet fitness standard thus posing an impending recruitment crisis.

The military usually follow the USDA’s dietary guidelines that advocates low fat, high carbohydrate foods. Americans have followed these recommendations for decades and have seen a marked rise in obesity at the same time. A diet that emphasises carbohydrate has the effect on suppressing fat oxidation and the production of ketones. Over half of active military personnel report drinking sugar and caffeine containing energy drinks in the past month.

Ketones produced while following a ketogenic diet have been shown to improve fat oxidation, enhance gene expression, inflammation, antioxidant defense and  healthspan. Fat loss without the explicit need to restrict calories is a benefit. Reversal of metabolic syndrome and obesity occurs. Previous studies have shown no detrimental impact on endurance and resistance training performance. The study was done in the military to see if this was a feasible approach.

The success of a ketogenic diet depends on commitment so we did not randomise the subjects. Both groups took part in identical physical training that emphasised strength and power.

Participants were recruited from the Ohio State Reserve Officer Training Corps and other local groups with a military affiliation.  We wanted people as similar as possible to the demographics of serving soldiers regarding age, sex, race and body mass. Participants were excluded if they had had previous experience of a ketogenic diet, were over 50, had certain illnesses, conditions, medications or allergies or who could not exercise safely.

The KD group were coached and were provided with unlimited frozen, pre-cooked meals and grocery supplies.  Carbohydrate was limited initially to 25g per day and protein to 90 g/d until ketosis occurred. Thereafter they could increase the amounts in their diet provided they stayed in ketosis. They were encouraged to use salt.  Carbohydrate was targeted at less than 50g per day including non starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, selected fruit and berries. Protein goals were 0.6 – 1.0g g/kg of lean body mass. Total energy intake was not restricted. Non starchy vegetables and fats were encouraged to reach satiety. Alcohol over 2 drinks a day was discouraged in both groups.  Participants checked their blood ketones every morning and sent pictures of their readings to the research team.

The mixed diet group had a minimum consumption of 40% dietary calories from carbohydrate.  All participants met with registered dieticians and were encouraged to eat to satiety with no specific caloric limit. Dietary supplements were not allowed.

All groups undertook a progressive resistance training programme two days a week for an hour at a time. They had one additional cardio training session a week consisting of running and body weight circuit training for at least 30 minutes. Each resistance training session ended with 15 minutes of whole body, high intensity circuit training.

Body mass and body composition was measured by DEXA. Fat was assessed by MRI. Indirect calorimetry was used to evaluate resting metabolic rate and the respiratory exchange ratio.

The most noteworthy result was a spontaneous reduction in energy intake resulting in a uniformly greater weight loss for the ketogenic group.  The visceral fat was also markedly reduced which leads to a reduced risk for insulin resistance and cardiometabolic disease.  Insulin sensitivity improved in the ketogenic group.

Normalisation of weight is important for soldiers because non combat musculoskeletal injury is 33% more common in this group.

Subjects in this study were overweight but not obese, so the weight loss effect could be expected to be even more in obese subjects.  Release of fatty acids and ketones are likely the cause of the satiety effect leading to less hunger. The weight loss in the ketogenic group was 80% from body fat mass.  44% of the fat lost was from the viscera, largely in the middle of the body.

Because the subjects decided what diet they would follow, selection bias can’t be ruled out. The KD  group was also slightly heavier at baseline than the MD group.  The two women in the KD group responded similarly to the men.

 

 

 

 

Type Ones get near normal blood sugars on very low carb diets

Adapted from Management of Type One Diabetes with a very low carbohydrate diet by Belinda S Lennerz et al. Pediatrics Volume 1 number 6, June 2018.

Exceptional glycaemic control of type one diabetes mellitus with low rates of adverse events was reported by a community of children and adults who consumed a very low carb diet. This study was done by recruiting patients via an online survey. Their medical records were then used to confirm their results.

Of the 316 respondents, just over a third were parents of diabetic children. The mean age of diagnosis was 16 years and the duration of diabetes was a mean of 11 years. The mean time of following a VLCD was just over 2 years. The mean daily carb intake was 36g. The mean HbA1c was 5.67%. Only 2% of the respondents reported diabetic hospitalisations. 4 admissions were for DKA and 2 for hypoglycaemia.

In the USA the average HbA1C for type one diabetics is 8.2%.  The ADA target to reduce complications is set at under 7.5% for children and under 7% for adults. Only 20% of children and 30% of adults reach these targets.

A major difficulty is achieving post meal blood sugar targets. The carbohydrate load has the greatest influence on this. A VLCD is regarded as between 20 and 50g of carb at each meal or between 5-10% of total meal calories from carbohydrate. Some practitioners worry about advising diabetics about VLCD because of concerns about DKA, hypos, lipid problems, nutrient deficiency, growth failure and sustainability.

The study was approved by the Boston Children’s Hospital.  The recruitment group were people who were following Dr Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution. They came from the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia. They were all confirmed as having type one diabetes from their medical records.

Symptomatic hypoglycaemia was reported by 69% of the participants but severe hypos were rare. Most people had 1-5 episodes of mild hypos a month.

Most people had the characteristic low triglycerides, high HDL, high total cholesterol and high LDL pattern.  The average trig/hdl ratio was 1:1 indicating excellent cardiometabolic health. BMI was also lower than population averages for age. The DCCT covered 1441 adolescents and young adults and the factors that showed the greatest effect on cardiovascular risk were: HbA1c, then trigs, then LDLc.

The commonly reported growth deceleration noted with type one diabetes is generally thought to be due to poor blood sugar control.  In this study group however the children’s height were modestly above averages for age and gender.

A few participants deliberately did not disclose their low carb diets to their health care providers due to concerns about being criticised, pressured to change behaviour or accused of child abuse. Although 49% of participants thought that their health care provider approved of VLCDs, a robust 82% of the health care providers said they did.

We don’t know how generalisable the findings in this study could be. This group may be particularly well motivated and may be pursuing other health related behaviours such as physical activity. None the less,  the level of glycaemic control and low rates of DKA and severe hypos revealed by this study break new ground in research into diabetes management for type one diabetes.

 

 

 

RCGP: Adapting diabetes medication for a low carb diet

Adapted from RCGP July 19 Adapting diabetes medication for low carbohydrate management of type two diabetes by C Murdoch et al.

This topic has been well covered in our book but has been reviewed in this article. 

Type two diabetes can be reversed by a low carb diet. Changes in medication need to keep pace with lowered blood sugar levels that result. A low carb diet can range from under 30g to 130g of carb a day.  Blood pressure medication also often needs to be reduced or stopped as lower blood pressure results from a reduction in insulin resistance.

Sulphonylureas, meglitinides and insulin all reduce blood sugar and if not reduced appropriately can result in hypoglycaemia.  It is reasonable to cut the dose of these by 50% when a low carb diet is started. Once the diet is stabilised the levels can be increased if this is necessary. If a patient has very high blood sugars eg HbA1C of 10% or more then a reduction of 30% can be considered initially. As more weight is lost or more carb is cut from the diet, further reductions can then be made. Some patients will be able to stop insulin and oral hypoglycaemics entirely as progress is made.

Some patients have latent autoimmune diabetes and although they can reduce their doses, their insulin must be maintained at some level. These patients can often be identified because they developed type two diabetes when they were thin.

Some patients who may need to stay on some insulin have had type two diabetes for many years and have ceased to make any pancreatic insulin. (Secondary beta cell failure).  My comment:  Users of sulphonylureas eg Gliclazide over five years are prone to this problem.

It is important to provide plenty of blood glucose testing strips to patients over the transition so they can let you know if they are experiencing hypos.

GPs can refer to endocrinologists for advice over patients who are giving concern.

Flozins also known as SGLT2 inhibitors increase the risk of ketoacidosis in patients who have significant pancreatic insufficiency.  The ketoacidosis is hard to recognise because the blood sugar is often normal or only very slightly raised. The person just feels ill and may vomit. My comment: in my experience this effect is difficult to predict but usually occurs in the first week or two of treatment. Low carb diets of below 30g-50g of carb a day also produce dietary ketones so can muddy the waters even more. Therefore is someone is on a flozin and starts a low carb diet it is best to suspend the flozin. They may not require it after a while on a low carb diet in any event.

Commonly used drugs that do not give any risk of hypoglycaemia include Metformin, Glutides, Glitazones, Gliptins and Acarbose.

About a quarter of people on metformin get diarrhea and need to go on the long acting version or stop it altogether.  Because acarbose is meant to help block starch and this is eliminated on a low carb diet, this drug can be stopped.  Glutides, Glitazones, Gliptins can be stopped when blood sugars are at a satisfactory level.  My comment: The target blood sugar will vary from patient to patient. You can see more about this in my PHC talk on you tube or in our book.