Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Big Fat Diet

One of the readers of this blog - thanks Bob - pointed this out to me:

CBC Newsworld TV tomorrow night, (Tuesday 11 March) 10 pm ET and 10 pm PT "My Big Fat Diet"

This from the webpage:

Supersize Me meets Northern Exposure in My Big Fat Diet when a First Nations community off Vancouver Island gives up sugar and junk food, returning to a traditional style of eating for a year to fight obesity and diabetes. Together they'll lose over 1200 lbs and are now calling on other First Nations to take the weight loss challenge.

My Big Fat Diet chronicles how the Namgis First Nation follows a diet study led by Dr. Jay Wortman and sponsored by Health Canada and the University of British Columbia. Through the stories of six people, it documents a medical and cultural experiment that may be the first of its kind in North America.

Now I am in Scotland not Canada, so this being a show on CBS I put it on the back of the pile of things to think about. However, in a quiet moment today I had a look at the website of the programme and it is fascinating stuff!

The programme is a documentary about the application of a "paleo" diet to the natives of an island off Vancouver in Canada.

Like most aboriginal communities across North America, the rates of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes here are up to five times the national average.
No one's life is untouched by this problem, everyone is related to someone who is either at risk, or coping with one of these health issues. Mainstream medical professionals cite sedentary lifestyles and a diet rich in fat as the underlying reason for the growing epidemic.

But after two decades of service in public health and a distinguished career, M├ętis physician, Dr. Jay Wortman, believes that the western diet which replaced the traditional diet is the primary cause of the epidemic. "Obesity, diabetes and heart disease were unknown in these populations until very recently. No aboriginal language has a word for diabetes."

Wortman's conviction comes from personal experience. Four years ago, he discovered that he had type 2 diabetes. "My immediate instinctive response was to stop eating any food that caused my blood sugar to rise. So I eliminated carbohydrates from my diet. Within four weeks, my blood sugar and blood pressure had normalized and I began to feel much better."

The diet is the sort of low carb, "paleo" diet that I get accused of promoting through this site:

The study diet is based on the traditional diet (wild salmon, oolichan grease) but also includes modern market foods, (bacon, eggs). i.e. foods that have protein and fat but no starch or sugar.

Permitted foods include; beef, pork, chicken, fish or seafood, cauliflower, broccoli, all the salad greens, eggs, cream, but not milk. Milk contains lactose, which is sugar.

Not permitted are starches like pasta, rice, potatoes, bread and sugar. Dr. Jay Wortman believes that it was the introduction of these by Europeans over a hundred and fifty years ago that caused the rise of diabetes and obesity. And so the key to this diet is the avoidance of starch and sugar because those were not common components of a traditional diet.

Now, that is the story, but the interesting thing is the results. In a scientific poster the doctors involved present an interim analysis of results from study at Alert Bay. (A final analysis will be done soon, once collecting data on everyone has been finished)

So far, there were significant improvements from baseline in weight, type 2 diabetes and parameters of the metabolic syndrome over a 7.6 month period. Download the poster and have a look through the stats for yourself.

None of this is new but it is interesting to see it tried out and tested on people.

If you are interested, Dr Bernstein has been successfully treating Diabetes with a low carb diet for decades. Bernstein's testimony is a great read and the articles and links on his site are worth following through too.

1 comment:

Stephan said...

This is really cool, please keep us posted!