Creation of US dietary guidelines correlate with rise in childhood obesity

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I was reading an article by Zoe Harcombe this morning where she covers why we eat carbohydrates. In the article she gives the year in which the United States started issuing dietary guidelines. It’s 1977 by the way. I had always thought the federal government’s involvement in the public school system, in particular the school lunch program, contributed to the rapid rise in childhood obesity. I found a chart on the CDC’s web site that tracks with the issuing of federal dietary guidelines.

When dietary guidelines were introduced in the US in 1977 and the UK in 1983, telling people to eat no more than 30% of their calories in the form of fat, this inevitably meant that people were being told to consume at least 55% of their calories in the form of carbohydrate. For the avoidance of doubt, the implication of setting a cap on fat was spelled out: “Increase carbohydrate consumption to account for 55 to 60% of calorie intake” (Ref 7).

The main reason we eat carbohydrates today, therefore, is because we were told to avoid fat. It was not because we had studied carbohydrates and found them to be optimally healthy at an intake of 55%. We had not even studied carbohydrates to know that they were safe at an intake of 55%. I can’t emphasise this point strongly enough. Our intake of carbohydrate is the consequence of demonising fat. However, official dietary advice doesn’t give this as the reason for eating carbs, as it hasn’t made this connection (Ref 8). Documents such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the UK Eatwell Guide focus on telling you to eat carbohydrates rather than explaining why. 

Why we eat carbohydrates – Zoe Harcombe

In the chart you can clearly see from 1963 to about 1977 childhood obesity rates were relatively flat. Starting somewhere between 1976 and 1980 the rates increase dramatically. From around 5% in 1963 to 15% to over 20% by 2016. Is it just a coincidence that US dietary guidelines started at the same time the obesity rate skyrocketed? Correlation is not causation but this looks like pretty strong evidence to me.

New York Times reports no benefit to time restricted eating… but what did participants in the study eat?

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The New York Times reported on a study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on time restricted eating, or as it is more commonly known these days, intermittent fasting. It’s important to note the study was also based on calorie restriction, which was left out of the headline, in addition to time restriction. The study showed no significant difference in weight loss or body composition between those practicing both calorie restricted and time restricted eating versus those simply practicing calorie restriction.

But now, a rigorous one-year study in which people followed a low-calorie diet between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or consumed the same number of calories anytime during the day has failed to find an effect.

The study, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, was led by researchers at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, and included 139 people with obesity. Women ate 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day, and men consumed 1,500 to 1,800 calories daily. To ensure compliance, participants were required to photograph every bit of food they ate and to keep food diaries.

The bottom line, said Dr. Ethan Weiss, a diet researcher at the University of California, San Francisco: “There is no benefit to eating in a narrow window.”

Scientists Find No Benefit to Time-Restricted Eating – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The article did not report on what the study participants ate. I don’t have a sufficient background in analyzing the study so I’ve reached out to some doctors on Twitter to see if they will review the findings.

I know from personal experience over decades of eating mainly one meal a day that I never need to restrict calories, count calories, count macros, or limit myself in any way in order to maintain my weight. I also know from personal experience if I want to lose weight I simply start restricting intake of carbohydrates, even more than I do now, and I can drop weight very quickly. If you add real fasting to the weight loss regimen, not eating for at least 3 days, you can enhance the weight loss effect even more. These things have held true to me when I waver off my normal weight range of 165 lbs. to 170 lbs.

If people are eating roughly the same number of calories but those calories are high in carbohydrates I wouldn’t expect for there to be a great difference in weight loss between the groups but I would expect some. In fact there was a small difference. The time restricted group lost around 18 lbs. while the other group lost 14 lbs.

The mean weight loss from baseline at 12 months was −8.0 kg (95% confidence interval [CI], −9.6 to −6.4) in the time-restriction group and −6.3 kg (95% CI, −7.8 to −4.7) in the daily-calorie-restriction group. 

Calorie Restriction with or without Time-Restricted Eating in Weight Loss | NEJM

The study says it’s not statistically significant but 4 lbs. is enough to make a difference to me. But, statistics is a different world and maybe 4 lbs. isn’t that big a deal if the participants are morbidly obese.

I’d like to see an opinion from a scientist or doctor that I trust.

COVID-19 CAUSING UPTICK IN DIABETES?

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I was looking through Google News this morning and ran across this story about a kid who was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes months after recovering from COVID-19.

When their 11-year-old son started losing weight and drinking lots of water, Tabitha and Bryan Balcitis chalked it up to a growth spurt and advice from his health class. But unusual crankiness and lethargy raised their concern, and tests showed his blood sugar levels were off the charts.

Just six months after a mild case of Covid-19, the Crown Point, Indiana, boy was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. His parents were floored — it didn’t run in the family, but autoimmune illness did and doctors said that could be a factor.

Diabetes and Covid: Scientists explore potential connection (nbcnews.com)

I found it odd. Why would COVID cause Type-1 Diabetes? Then I clicked on the “View Full Coverage” link and found the news page with a bunch of these stories.

Google News – News about COVID, diabetes – Overview

We know people with Diabetes are more susceptible to severe COVID-19 but it is curious that there would be a link to the illness causing it.

High rates of newly diagnosed diabetes mellitus have been reported in COVID-19 hospital admissions around the world. It is still unclear, however, if this phenomenon represents truly new diabetes or previously undiagnosed cases.

It is also not known what the cause of these elevated blood sugars may be, and whether patients’ blood sugars improve after resolution of COVID-19 infection.

Preexisting diabetes in people with COVID-19 has been associated with higher rates of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation, and death.

“We believe that the inflammatory stress caused by COVID-19 may be a leading contributor to new-onset or newly diagnosed diabetes,” said lead author Sara Cromer, HMS instructor in medicine and an investigator with the Department of Medicine–Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at Mass General.

“Instead of directly causing diabetes, COVID-19 may push patients with preexisting but undiagnosed diabetes to see a physician for the first time, where their blood sugar disorder can be clinically diagnosed. Our study showed these individuals had higher inflammatory markers and more frequently required admission to hospital ICUs than COVID-19 patients with preexisting diabetes,” Cromer said.

COVID and Diabetes | Harvard Medical School

USDA study shows Black Turtle Beans help alleviate insulin resistance

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This USDA sponsored study showed that cooked black turtle beans helped with improving sensitivity to insulin in mice. The USDA data on cooked black turtle beans also show there are 24g of carbs per 100g serving. I would need to see this study reviewed by some low carb experts before I would venture to add this to my diet. I think it would all depend on how low carb you want to be. I don’t think you can consume too much of this ingredient if you’re trying to remain on a Keto Diet, however.

Adding cooked black beans to a high-fat diet improved sensitivity to insulin and other measures often related to diabetes and restored gut bacteria balance in obese mice, according to a USDA Agricultural Research Service study.

As little as the mouse-size equivalent of a single serving a day of black beans—about a half cup for a human—lowered insulin resistance 87 percent in obese mice compared to obese mice eating the same high-fat diet without the black beans. Insulin resistance is when a body’s response to the hormone insulin is impaired so glucose in the blood cannot be used for energy, resulting in high blood sugar, a factor often leading to diabetes.

Mice on the high-fat plus black beans diet also decreased low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called bad cholesterol, 28 percent and triglyceride levels 37 percent compared to mice eating the high-fat diet without black beans. These are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Other diabetes-related biomarkers such as the levels of leptin, glucagon, and a group of inflammatory biochemicals were all significantly better in the mice on the high-fat plus black beans diet.

Black Beans Help Fix Insulin Resistance and Gut Bacteria Balance : USDA ARS

Black Bean Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Today is National Keto Day. Who knew??

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I had no idea this existed. Have at it people! It’s not that hard. Just cut out most of the carbs you are consuming and you’re well on your way. You don’t need a diet plan or a dietician to tell you what to eat. Just look at your next meal and remove the carbs.

You don’t have to eliminate them if you’re just starting out. Cut your current serving in half and over a week eliminate them altogether. Increase the portions of your protein and vegetable to compensate and you’ll find you’ll start eating less but be more full. Satiety is a feeling most people don’t feel because they’re filling themselves with empty carbs.

The Vitamin Shoppe founded the national day in 2019 as a way to raise awareness about the low-carb, high-fat diet, which has been credited for weight loss and epileptic seizure reduction. While many dieters have found success with ketogenic meal plans, researchers aren’t certain about keto’s impact long-term.

A study from National Jewish Health – a cardiac, respiratory and immune hospital – found that keto diets might help people shed pounds and promote “modest” improvements to heart health, but researchers warned that this high-fat dieting method could encourage “consumption of foods that are known to increase cardiovascular risk.” The study also claimed that keto diets might be ineffective in preventing heart disease because dieters left to their own devices tend to eat unhealthy saturated fats.

National Keto Day: Here’s what you should know before trying the diet | Fox News

FDA contradicts recent science on salt and high blood pressure

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The FDA is lowering the guidelines for salt intake to deal with high blood pressure even though recent studies show salt does not cause high blood pressure.

A new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension analyzed data from 8,670 French adults and found that salt consumption wasn’t associated with systolic blood pressure in either men or women after controlling for factors like age.

Why not? One explanation, the authors write, is that the link we all assume between salt and blood pressure is “overstated” and “more complex than once believed.” It should be noted, however, that even though the study found no statistically significant association between blood pressure and sodium in the diet, those patients who were hypertensive consumed significantly more salt than those without hypertension—suggesting, as other research has, that salt affects people differently.

No Association Between Salt And Blood Pressure, Study Finds | Time

This is the same FDA that still recommends the SAD diet. Go figure. I don’t think I’ll be changing my personal salt intake any time soon.

In far-reaching guidelines, the FDA is seeking voluntary short-term lower sodium targets for food manufacturers, chain restaurants and food service operators – focusing largely on processed and take-out food. 

The agency wants to cut sodium intake to an average of 3,000 milligrams per day, compared with 3,400 mg over the next two and half years. 

But the average intake would still be above the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommended limit of 2,300 mg per day for anyone over 14 years of age. 

FDA sets new goal for lower salt in everyday American food (yahoo.com)

Benefits of intermittent fasting

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There are many health benefits to intermittent fasting. Prevention magazine covers many of them. Mental health is not mentioned. How can intermittent fasting help with your mental health? You save money. If you’re practicing one of the many variations of intermittent fasting you’re most likely eating less. If you’re eating less you’re most likely not spending as much on food. Saving money has a positive effect on everyone’s mental health!

Maybe you’ve tried intermittent fasting (IF) to shed a few (pandemic!) pounds, since the hope and potential for weight loss is what this eating plan is best known for. And yes, scientists are looking into whether or not it really is effective at helping people slim down. But some studies show that IF—in which you only eat during a specified time period—may have other possible long-term health benefits as well.

“The goal with IF is improving metabolic health, reducing the risk of certain conditions such as diabetes, and increasing longevity,” says Laura Kelly, C.N.S., L.D.N., an advanced genomic nutritionist at Nutritional Genomics Institute. “One theory as to why fasting may be beneficial is that during the fasting period, the body’s cells are under mild stress, similar to exercise. The cells respond to this stress adaptively by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and to resist disease.”

Intermittent Fasting Benefits – Weight Loss, Immunity, Longevity (prevention.com)

New study finds metabolism doesn’t change as previously thought

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I’m not sure what to make of this. I need someone more qualified to examine the study to make more sense of what the NYT is reporting. I thought some of this was already known. For example, metabolism changes with different stages of life. I’m not sure what they found is true across all populations though.

Central to their findings was that metabolism differs for all people across four distinct stages of life.

There’s infancy, up until age 1, when calorie burning is at its peak, accelerating until it is 50 percent above the adult rate.

Then, from age 1 to about age 20, metabolism gradually slows by about 3 percent a year.

From age 20 to 60, it holds steady.

And, after age 60, it declines by about 0.7 percent a year.

What We Think We Know About Metabolism May Be Wrong – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

I noticed my metabolism started to slow around age 35. What else would account for no change in diet and exercise but an increase in weight? My metabolism wasn’t measured it was just something I noticed so I changed my eating habits.

I hope this gets some scrutiny from metabolic health doctors and researchers I follow so I can get some trusted opinions.

Are mushrooms low carb and keto friendly?

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The short answer is… yes. I use mushrooms all the time to accent a meal. I put them in my omelets, serve them along side a steak, sauté them with green beans, snap peas, or broccoli among other vegetables. I think they’re great. I don’t think it’s possible to add so many mushrooms to a meal or a recipe that you’ll pop over your carb limit for the day.

There are many varieties of mushrooms, and the most common types are naturally low in carbohydrates in their natural form.

For example, a 1-cup (96-gram) serving of raw, whole white button mushrooms contributes 3 grams of carbs to your day. A cup of raw oyster and shiitake mushrooms contains around 6 and 7 grams of carbs, respectively.

If you like portobello mushrooms, you’ll find around 3 grams of carbs in both a 1-cup (86-gram) serving of them diced, or an average mushroom cap you might use to make a meatless burger

Can You Eat Mushrooms on a Keto Diet? (healthline.com)

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay

New study says increased exercise doesn’t always lead to burning more calories throughout the day

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It seems the human body tries to balance itself out all the time. This makes sense if you think about it. Your body is always trying to survive. If you fast your body’s metabolism will slow so you don’t starve to death too quickly. If you eat frequently your metabolism fires up in order to try to get rid of excess calories consumed. And now a new study shows that if you exercise too much your body will compensate by restricting calorie burn during the times you’re more sedentary.

According to new research led by the University of Roehampton and published on 16 August 2021, people who take part in regular exercise burn fewer calories on body maintenance than people who don’t do any strenuous activity, dramatically reducing the calorie-burning gains of exercise.

Using data from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Doubly-labelled water database of over 1,750 adults, researchers found that the calories the body burns to exist (known as basal energy expenditure, basal metabolic rate or BMR for short) decreases by 28% during periods when daily exercise levels are consistently high.

BMR accounts for approximately 60–75% of total daily energy expenditure in individuals, way more than calories burned during recreational activities such as running or cycling. A significant reduction in BMR can effectively counterbalance the positive calorie-burning effects of frequent exercising.

In short, the more we exercise over the long term, the fewer calories our bodies burn for the most rudimentary activities, therefore reducing the overall calories we burn per day.

Regular exercise may hinder weight loss says new research but I disagree – here’s why | T3

Don’t stop exercising though! My take away from the recent news on this and the energy balance model versus the carbohydrate insulin model is the secret to losing or maintaining your weight is some combination of all this information that is customized to the person. You have to learn what is right for you.

The energy balance model simply says you have to expend more calories than you take in to lose weight. I think this is true to an extent. The carbohydrate insulin model says that reducing carbohydrates aids in weight loss or maintenance because reducing carbs in the diet makes a person more insulin sensitive which in turn prevents energy from being stored as fat. I also think this is true to an extent. Exercise will burn more calories for you throughout the day than if you did nothing at all and that could aid in weight loss and/or maintenance. I think this is true to an extent.

In my life I try to evaluate how my body reacts to certain foods. I exercise, not for weight loss, but for fitness. Diet and exercise combined serves my cause to maintain strength, flexibility, and balance as I get older. I’ll hit 55 this year and my fitness and weight goals are to simply stay around 165 lbs. to 175 lbs., be able to lift 90 lbs. to 100 lbs. in various exercises, be able to stand on one foot in various poses, and be able to touch the floor while bending forward. If I can continue this for the next 30 years I think my remaining years I can binge on Resse’s Peanut Butter Cups to my heart’s content.