Monday, December 3, 2007

Inflammation and Low Carb

Some months ago Dr Eades had a fascinating post on his blog about Inflammation and Diet. A few days later he had another on intermittent fasting (IF) and inflammation. The last paragraph of the first post sums things up nicely:

Over the past couple of decades just two of dietary changes – eating more and eating more often—have led to a state of chronic inflammation. The changes in diet composition have had an additive effect as well. Numerous studies have shown that while carbohydrates in general cause more of an inflammatory response than other macronutrients, fructose specifically causes the most rapid and intense inflammatory response of all. Polyunsaturated vegetable oils of the omega-6 variety (the majority) are inflammatory, trans fats (all of which start out as vegetable oils) are the worst, and most of the fat of animal, fish and dairy origin are actually anti-inflammatory. Sadly, we’ve been busy replacing the latter with the former. We find ourselves as a nation in the situation where most of our population is overfed the wrong kinds of food all too often with resulting high rates of obesity and chronic inflammation.
I was reminded of these thoughts today when I saw this story:

Low-carb diet reduces inflammation and blood saturated fat in metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a condition afflicting one quarter to one third of adult men and women and is an established pre-cursor to diabetes, coronary heart disease, and other serious illnesses. Patients have long been advised to eat a low-fat diet even though carbohydrate restriction has been found to be more effective at reducing specific markers, such as high triglycerides, characteristic of the syndrome. Now, a new study indicates that a diet low in carbohydrates is also more effective than a diet low in fat in reducing saturated fatty acids in the blood and reducing markers of inflammation.
The full article is available here, but is also commented on by Jimmy Moore here and by Regina Wilshire here. One of the authors makes a great statement at the end:

Dr. Volek points out that “this clearly shows the limitations of the idea that ‘you are what you eat.’ Metabolism plays a big role. You are what your body does with what you eat.”
The take home message to me is a low-carb diet, with occasional fasting, is anti-inflammatory.


randy said...

As is often the case, the devil is in the details.

For instance:
1. CRP (the most studied inflamatory marker) was NOT reduced any more in the low carb as the high card diet.

2. They used an "especially bad" low card diet with below minimum amount of fiber.

3. Other recent studies (more than 1) have shown that low card diets increase inflamation relative to decent higher carb diets.

4. When looking a vascular imaging studies, atkins diets show movement towards disease states. Good high carb diets show the opposite response.

Chris said...

Thanks for the comments Randy. I'm just putting things out here that I find interesting. I may be totally wrong and off beam, but i is interesting to discuss.

1 -OK CRP wasn't reduced - but lots of other markers were. There is more to inflammation than CRP?

2 - I'm confused by your point here. If the "bad" low carb diet with little fibre reduced the inflammatory markers, what is the problem? Sounds like it was "good" in terms of reducing inflammatory markers?

3- maybe. What is "decent"

4 - who mentioned Atkins? Which disease states? What is a "good" high carb diet? What makes it "good"?

Chris said...

I just asked a friend who is a research immunologist and she told me that most immunologists do not pay much attention to CRP anyway - it is only really medics that look at it because it is an easy thing to measure. However it is a blunt measure and only a measure of systemic inflammation whereas the cytokines, chemokines and adhesion molecules are much more specific. She also said that there may be a time delay in CRP going down whereas changes in the other markers are more immediate

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