December 30, 2013

"The idea that gluten and carbohydrates are at the root of Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, depression, and ADHD has now reached millions of people."

"It is the basis of a number-one bestseller written by a respected physician. What is it worth?" asks James Hamblin in The Atlantic.
Even as someone who was seriously skeptical of [David] Perlmutter’s story, after reading his 336 pages — and watching his whole YouTube channel and most every TV appearance — I have found myself hesitating around grain. His message is so ardently and unwaveringly delivered. That is how one-sided pop-science works. Katz wrote a tongue-in-cheek case that the 1974 advent of the Post-it note was the cause of the obesity pandemic, to show how easily correlations can be spun. If I read 336 pages on the evils of Post-its, I might set our office supply room on fire....

When a person advocates radical change on the order of eliminating one of the three macronutrient groups from our diets, the burden of proof should be enormous....

73 comments:

Salamandyr said...

Why?

The burden of proof for eliminating fat from our diet was extremely tenuous and shallow. Why should the anti-carb folks be held to a higher standard?

And the anti-carb folks have one very solid thing going for them. Their diets work.

SGT Ted said...

There is no "miracle diet information" that hasn't been tried and promoted before. Most of this stuff is recycled from as far back as the early 20th century when the first fad diets became popular. The "no carb/low carb" diets are that old at the very least.

When any person or group claims that a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders are caused by one or two otherwise normal foods, you know you are reading junk science. And it usually turns out they have something to sell you to "cure" the diseases and disorders said to cause the problems.

Diet oriented Snake Oil will never go out of fashion.

SGT Ted said...

"No carb" diets lead to health problems.

If you eat a normal diet but lower your portions, you will lose the weight just the same.

Oh, and don't eat crap food for snacks.

Not eating crap food and not overeating in the first place is really the only diet plan anybody needs.

Exercise too. That burns the carbs. Duh.

So, eat less and exercise. Please send me 20 bucks a piece after you read my scientifically proven, tried and true, weight loss plan.

madAsHell said...

My father died 7 years ago at 87 years of age. The death certificate said pneumonia, and dementia.

My mother just turned 88 years of age. She doesn't show any signs of dementia. She bought and prepared all the foods for both of them.

I'll bet on exercise. I NEVER saw my father exercise.

SGT Ted said...

Eliminating fat from your diet is unhealthy, too.

Most diet fad stuff is bullshit, designed to sell a product.

Charles Austin said...

"When a person advocates radical change... the burden of proof should be enormous...."

You mean, like fundamentally transforming the country?

EDH said...

Next they'll tell us it was the quadrotriticale itself that killed the Tribbles.

It's a Klingon plot!

Perlmutter is a Klingon surgically altered to resemble a human.

Sorun said...

Gluten is one of my favorite foods. I hope the government doesn't ban it.

Laura said...

Walking a dog regularly works too. Now that I think of it, Cesar Chavez...

Christopher B said...

All I'll say is read Gary Taubes. "Good Calories, Bad Calories" is relatively quick to read but impressive. He covers a wide range of topics related to diet, from the evidence for how carbs are processed to the history of how we wound up with the current recommendation of a 'low-fat' (i.e. high-carb) diet.

As Salamandyr pointed out, low-carb diets work, often without people intending them too. Just today Assistant Village Idiot posted that his wife followed a restricted carb diet in an effort to reduce digestive upset (no doc advice or any feeling she had allergies) and lost 10 lbs.

It's not just one best seller. Taubes also covers the evidence that carb-restricted diets work from a multitude of different sources, including studies of diets (Atikins being one) that include carb-restriction without that being the focus of the diet.

Christopher B said...

BTW, all I'm saying is that I see clear and convincing evidence that Taubes theory is correct as far as weight loss goes. I don't subscribe to anybody, regardless of their position, who pushes that into other physical conditions.

Christopher said...

"No carb" diets lead to health problems.

I'm unfamiliar with no-carb diets, but low-carb diets do not as a rule lead to health problems. I've been on low-carb for years and have never been healthier. Going back to what I used to think as a normal carb loads packs the pounds on me like turning a switch.

If you eat a normal diet but lower your portions, you will lose the weight just the same.

Mainly because, fewer carbs.

You're right about "miracle diet information" that has been tried before; that was part of low-carb guy Gary Taube's research, which showed it used to be common knowledge that you do carbs to put on pounds, that is, before all the low-fat nonsense came into vogue.

For most people exercise can help reduce weight on the margins but it's tricky because it increases appetite. Exercise is great for many reasons but its role in weight loss is probably overrated.

I don't know about all the claims being made in the linked article. They are pretty broad.

Peter said...

Is there anyone who doesn't actually know that the "secret" to a successful weight-loss diet is: eat less (every day, in every way)?

People want magic. They want diets that make them practically immortal- and slim at the same time!

The will to believe in magic potions & pills will support quackery forever. The will to believe insures that there will always be new suckers.

Joe said...

I'll bet on exercise.

I'll bet on genetics.

* * *

Gary Taubes is very selective in choosing his "evidence" and is pretty much wrong on how insulin works. The other day I chanced across a radio interview with him; he sounds very compelling, but several of the things he claimed were clearly exaggerations or just plain loony and could have been shot down with a few questions, but the interviewer just kept kissing his ass. He has his pet hypothesis and will discard everything that contradicts it while embracing everything which supports it (and I mean everything--he freely mixes scientific studies with weak anecdotes [but doesn't grant the other side the same privilege].)

SGT Ted said...

Low carb diets work because you were overating to begin with, so you were putting on weight. You cut back on carbs to match your bodies burn rate and you now keep weight off.

High carb diets are good when doing major physical work, like soldiering in the field. Because your body burns it and doesn't store it as fat. One can burn 6000 calories a day with no weight gain and carbs help meet that need.

I lost 35 lbs just lowering my portions and modest exercise. I ddin't cut out any carbs at all. My weight was a result of overeating for my lifestyle.

"Low carb" is just a targetted portion reduction, most likely needed because of sedentary lifestyles. There's nothing noteworthy about it otherwise.

As I have noted in other "fatty" threads, I know plenty of people that lost vast amounts of weight by reducing portions and eliminating useless carbs, like sugar sodas. They didn't use any fad dieting tips, just portion control.

One would do well to note that most of the Scientifically PROVEN food dangers of 30 years ago in regards to diet turns out to have been wrong.

Salamandyr said...

Except that Taubes' recommendations work.

You hold your carbs down to less than 75 grams a day and you will lose weight regardless of what else you eat.

SGT Ted said...

I bet on portion control, based on observed results.

"Genetics" is usually a cheap excuse to keep over-stuffing ones face, which makes anybody fat.

Joe said...

You hold your carbs down to less than 75 grams a day and you will lose weight regardless of what else you eat.

Bullshit. Seriously. That is utter, absolute bullshit.

SGT Ted said...

If your low carb diet causes you to lose weight constantly, regardless of how much other stuff you eat, then you may not be getting enough carbs in your diet.

Weight loss is the result of starvation. If you are eating so few carbs that the other things you are eating don't maintain you at a healthy weight, it's not healthy anymore.

Too few carbs can be unhealthy in the long run.

Ann Althouse said...

This post is about the claim that "gluten and carbohydrates are at the root of Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, depression, and ADHD," so why is everyone talking about weight loss?!

Obviously, low carb is a weight-loss strategy, and I personally believe it is what works (as opposed to smaller portions and exercise!). But the notion that gluten messes up your brain… could we pay attention to that claim?

gerry said...

Diet oriented Snake Oil will never go out of fashion.

Diet Snake Oil? Which sweetener does it use?

SGT Ted said...

I think there is somrthing to gluten sensitivity, as in an allergy. The gluten claims are specious junks science. It was only 10 years ago that all these things were being blamed on electro-magnetic fields.

Blanket claims of one item causing a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders is the Hallmark of Junk Science.

Ann Althouse said...

"If your low carb diet causes you to lose weight constantly…"

In my experience, low carb eating works for losing weight at a rate of about 1 pound a month and keeps it off. If you went too low, you'd just modify it a little and easily regain.

I don't think this is dangerous, and it is closer to what we evolved eating.

But, again, the subject of the post is brain function!

I haven't noticed my brain functioning differently since we started eating low carb in February 2012.

SGT Ted said...

I haven't noticed my brain functioning differently since we started eating low carb in February 2012.

Thats because the claim is bullshit.

jr565 said...

I think the guy who wrote Wheat Belly happens to be right. As does the guy who talks about sugar being the culprit in our dietary woes.
Insulin controls fat. So what drives insulin production? Sugar. And Wheat convertes to sugar in your body even worse than candy.
Fats are not the problem. Certain kinds of fats are the problem. But removing fat from your diet competely will lead to untold health problems.

Robert Zaleski said...

I can say I'm not hungry unless I eat very carby for 2-3 days, usually during holidays and vacation. And I can regularly be active and not eat for 18+ hours.

I'm not starving myself at all. My blood sugar is just level.

I think exercise, particularly weight lifting do help with fitness / fat control. But overall appetite control is much easier on a low carb diet!

That said, I'd want a well researched MD like Eric Westman from Duke to weigh in on something like that before I'd worry about it.

jr565 said...

If you read the book Why We Get Fat, he lays out the scientific process that has the body creating fat. And it's insulin production.
Insulin drives fat. Fat doesnt' drive fat.

jr565 said...

"When any person or group claims that a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders are caused by one or two otherwise normal foods, you know you are reading junk science"


The diseases are not caused by the food, but your body's reaction to the food. So, not junk science at all. What is "normal" about those foods at this stage of history?

Kelly said...

On some news show yesterday they were saying how the Alzheimer's rate is going to explode with the aging baby boomers. The doctors said that exercise can help put off Alzheimer's. If that isn't a motivation to exercise more I don't know what is.

jr565 said...

Althouse wrote:
This post is about the claim that "gluten and carbohydrates are at the root of Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, depression, and ADHD," so why is everyone talking about weight loss?!

Obviously, low carb is a weight-loss strategy, and I personally believe it is what works (as opposed to smaller portions and exercise!). But the notion that gluten messes up your brain… could we pay attention to that claim?


I think the argument is that gluten produces inflammation in the body and that inflammation is a large part of what causes alzheimers.
A lot of diseases are products of inflammation, so what causes inflammation?
Gluten is one example.

rhhardin said...

It's fairly new.

jr565 said...

Here's a link for ten foods that will reduce the risk of denentia and alzheimers (in the authors opinion):

http://www.naturalnews.com/042340_Alzheimers_disease_dementia_risk_healthy_foods.html

You'll note that what it's saying is that it's inflammation and plaque and free radicals that buildup over a life time that causes your brain to become sick.
I don't see why that is that controversial even.

jr565 said...

From http://healingandgrowth.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/food-this-is-your-brain-on-gluten/

“The biggest issue by far is that carbohydrates are absolutely at the cornerstone of all of our major degenerative conditions,” he says. “That includes things like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and even cancers. What we know is that even mild elevations in blood sugar are strongly related to developing Alzheimer’s disease. That was published August 8, 2013, in the New England Journal of Medicine. Even mild elevations in blood sugar compromise brain structure and lead to shrinkage of the brain. That’s what our most well-respected, peer-reviewed journals are telling us.”

So that appears to be the peer reviewed journals say blood sugar levels can lead to compromoise of brain function. SO what then drives blood sugar levels?
It's not GLUTEN itself that is the cause it's anything that would drive up blood sugar levels

jr565 said...

"I'll bet on exercise."
What kind and how much? There too is a bone of contention.

Joe said...

Insulin drives fat

No it doesn't. There has been quite a lot of genuine scientific research on this and insulin simple does not do what Taubes claims. He has massively oversimplified the role of insulin and turned what it does as a regulator on its proverbial head. Insulin is not the villain.

A big irony is that protein stimulates insulin production.

SGT Ted said...

The diseases are not caused by the food, but your body's reaction to the food.

Distinction without a difference.

It could very well be simply an unfortunate consequence of people being able to stuff their faces with whatever they want because food is so plentiful.

I've never had a high sugar, high junk food diet for any stretch of my life. I drink water, beer, coffee and milk, in order of most consumed to least.

The most weight I ever gained was over a period where I was overeating purchased lunches while tied to a desk. Since I got big portions, I ate it. I was also very stressed out.

Once I got away from that job and eating lifestyle, I began to lose weight. It took about 4 months to lose the 35 lbs. I didn't really try to diet, I was just not eating the same way and stayed on my feet and outdoors for much of the day. I am working less like that these days, but I have kept the weight off as haven't changed my diet habits back to unhealthy overeating.

Which is why I see it as an overeating issue. Carbs in the diet is normal. Too many carbs is not. Over eating meat can lead to issues as well. Too much of anything can throw your body out of whack. Dietary balance is the key.

But, everybody is different, so, again, blanket attributions of a range of diseases and disorders to gluten, or whatever the trendy new diet target is being blamed, ignores the issue of over consumption causing the problems, rather than simply blaming the item itself.

It's the equivalent of blaming liver disease on alcohol without bothering to consider that it is over consumption and sometimes genetics that is the reason for the damage.

Marty Keller said...

A couple points, it seems to me, should be taken into consideration in the gluten/Alzheimer's conversation.

1) The research is incomplete and evolving. Is there a single expert prepared to state categorically that we now know everything there is to know about it? This is not to debunk the gluten claim, but to suggest holding it lightly in the context of evolving knowledge.

2) The biotech world is opening up significant innovations in healing technologies across the board, promising curative strategies that were just pipe dreams twenty years ago. Brain research, along with the implications of Kurzweil's brain reverse engineering suggestion, will doubtless yield up useful therapies if not cures for dealing with vexing syndromes like Alzheimer's.

Christopher said...

I lost 35 lbs just lowering my portions and modest exercise. I ddin't cut out any carbs at all.

Smaller portions is one way to arrive at fewer carbs. Way to go.

Mainly, it's about carbs.

This overlaps with what Althouse prefers we talk about when it gets into insulin response and, most importantly, inflammation. Avoiding inflammation is where it's at when it comes to long-term cardiovascular health. It sounds like the subject of the Atlantic story is making some pretty broad claims; however, you can definitely look to increasing research on inflammation and gradual, quiet withdrawals of nutty claims about cholesterol levels in the coming years.




Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

He holds up a large frog.
“How far will you go?”


First thing every morning, eat a live frog. After that, the rest of the day is easy.

-Hammond

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I'm going to write a book about how eating rice causes humans to have too many children. I think it will run about 337 pages.

Cheryl said...

Sgt. Ted is right--I think this varies a ton by age, sex, and lots of other factors. But for me, low carb has been a gift.

I had four babies in my early-mid thirties, and gained SIXTY (yikes) pounds with each one, and lost it each time, no problem, by portion control and running. I maintained that into my early forties, when I realized that I was softer than I wanted to be. I got back on the scale and realized I needed to lose about 15 pounds. Nothing worked. Nothing. Not portion control, crazy amounts of exercise, cutting out fats, limiting sweets, nothing. I got pretty depressed about it.

I read Taubes' book after Instapundit recommended it. I decided I had nothing to lose and tried it. It worked, and I dropped the weight without even thinking about it.

But here's the brain function part: I started sleeping again. I hadn't been sleeping well for about a year, and my GYN said it was just hormones. But about three weeks into this diet, I realized I wasn't waking up at all during the night.

I fell off the wagon about six months ago because of an irrestible urge to eat chocolate, but I still do about half low-carb days. I've found that I am far more alert on those days than when I have a sandwich or dessert at lunch.

Lots of other good results from low-carb. FOR ME, it is the way to live. YMMV, of course, like so much in life.

William said...

I don't follow this closely but I read somewhere that of the three factors of diet, exercise, and genetics, exercise has been singled out the best guarantor of a long, healthy life........Our taste buds are unreliable guides to a healthy diet. Who would ever believe that butter is unhealthy just by going by its taste. Just the reverse with coffee......I wonder if a lot of this isn't idiosyncratic. Some people are susceptible to the toxins in certain foods, and others are able to extract the nutrients.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Clearly Congress should eliminate subsidy programs for sugar cane, corn (that devil Corn Syrup), and other grains - except those certified to have been used in production of bio-fuels.

Also export sales of grains must be stopped.

This is a major public health issue. Obama must act NOW to stop the national and inter-national distribution of these poisons.

SGT Ted said...

Who would ever believe that butter is unhealthy...

Research ias beginning to absolve butter and condemn constant vegetable oils.

In 20 years the dietary CV may all change again. Which is why dietary research should be taken with large amounts of sodium. It makes it taste better.

SGT Ted said...

When they first came out with the food pyramid, I knew it was anti-meat, pro-whole grain bullshit, leftover from the granola crowd.

Turns out I was right.

Of all the parts of my diet that were reduced to lose weight, carbs was the least overall, as I don't really eat all that much to begin with. I just don't get my carbs from wheat. I eat rice, potatoes and beans. Pasta is fairly rare. I don't eat bread daily and I don't ear alot when I do, excepting certain occasions. I eat wheat tortillas and corn chips.

Balance is good.

wildswan said...

"But the notion that gluten messes up your brain… could we pay attention to that claim?"

Some people (I'm one) have inherited low-level gluten allergies which means that gluten causes a low-level generalized inflammation throughout their body. Then they feel tired and their brain doesn't work well for the amount of time it takes for the gluten reaction to stop. But in our culture people are likely to eat some gluten (toast, cereal, bread, bagel, donut, pasta, pizza) every time they eat so the reaction can go on for most of day. As you get older, you can become more sensitive to gluten and the reaction lasts longer and so you become more tired with each year It is really worth giving gluten up to get rid of the constant fatigue. And also in the long run, as others have said, the constant inflammation caused by gluten will not be good for your brain.
But I don't think gluten in itself actually causes Alzheimer's or other diseases. That claim seems to me part of the foodie obsession that keeps people from drinking tap water and milk or using butter and salt in moderate amounts.

Steven said...

I think people are avoiding the topic because it's so blatantly ridiculous. Wheat was the "staff of life", the staple food, for thousands of years. If gluten or carbs caused those things, they should all have been markedly on the decline in the last century in the northern US, Canada, and Europe. (The traditionally corn- and rice-fed US South would be harder to determine, because they might be eating more gluten now than they were in 1913.)

People similarly try to blame processed foods instead of "real" food for all sorts of evils, but plenty of the foods of the American diet of (for example) 1953 were heavily processed. The nostalgia about "real food" we have today is the same sort of stuff Henry Ford (that Henry Ford, yes) went on about eighty years ago. Sugar Frosted Flakes, tuna salad on white bread, canned soups, Hershey bars . . . America was already awash in processed food before Michael Pollan was born.

No, if you're going to blame a type of food for something that's increased in the last 60 years, there's only one candidate. Because the one type of food that's become much, much more available in the intervening time is fresh produce, freed by intercontinental shipping from seasonality.

Henry said...

Althouse wrote: But the notion that gluten messes up your brain… could we pay attention to that claim?

It's the kneading that messes up your brain. Don't let bakers near your head.

ALP said...

The different popular diets probably all have a measure of success because people's diets are dysfunctional in a variety of ways.

Eat lots of high fat proteins, slather butter on everything, fried food every day? Low fat diets probably help you out.

Munch on bags of chips uncontrollably, big boxes of popcorn, multiple slices of white bread toast, an inordinate love of baked goods? Low carb will have you losing weight.

Depends on what foods are your worst offenders and the ones you can't control your intake as well.

FWIW: a balanced diet + exercise + the occasional fast = best idea I have heard in years. I lose weight by eating less, not different. Eating less happens while under unusual stress - good or bad. Giving your system a break via moderate fasting is a good thing.

Robert Zaleski said...

I think your reasoning has one major error Steven. Even though wheat was used in food throughout history, people regularly died much younger than they do now. I don't think many of these mental diseases pop up before 50. And I'm pretty sure the majority of people were DEAD before then in europe before the last few hundred years.

So it doesn't absolve wheat. What has changed in America in the last 20-30 years is that meat and FAT were substantially removed from foods. EVERYTHING is now low fat compared to what it was. And I think that's actually made us FAT.

Steven said...

Robert - "I don't think many of these mental diseases pop up before 50."

That's true of Alzheimer's, but not "anxiety, depression, and ADHD".

acm said...

He loses me when he throws ADHD and Alzheimer's into the same bucket. They're just not that similar. Parents* have reported differences in their ADHD children's sleep, eating, crying amounts in infancy, before solid food was introduced, so I'm skeptical about the idea that gluten causes ADHD.

*I've read about this and seen it myself, as the parent of two kids with ADHD and two without.

SGT Ted said...

Mankind has been eating processed foods for thousands of years. Survival depended on it in Northern climbs.

Salted and dried meats being the most prevalent. Beer, wine and distilled spirits is another ancient form of processed foods. Pickling and brining, too.

Michael K said...

A couple of things. Carbs from wheat were fairly new in the Iceman's diet which was about 3000 BC. He did not have any cavities and they began with carbs.

Cinnamon prevents Alzheimers.

Insulin resistance leads to memory impairment. Cinnamon (CN) improves peripheral
insulin resistance but its effects in the brain are not known. Changes in
behavior, insulin signaling and Alzheimer-associated mRNA expression in the brain
were measured in male Wistar rats fed a high fat/high fructose (HF/HFr) diet to
induce insulin resistance, with or without CN, for 12 weeks. There was a decrease
in insulin sensitivity associated with the HF/HFr diet that was reversed by CN.


In rats. of course.

I can't find any literature on protein and insulin but I don;t think the statement about protein and insulin above is true.

Insulin resistance is the probable cause of type II diabetes and obesity causes insulin resistance. If you are fat, don't eat carbs which require insulin.

I remember when Aluminum pans were suspected of a role in Alzheimer's. Don't believe everything you read until you are sure it applies to humans.

jr565 said...

Robert Zaleski wrote:
So it doesn't absolve wheat. What has changed in America in the last 20-30 years is that meat and FAT were substantially removed from foods. EVERYTHING is now low fat compared to what it was. And I think that's actually made us FAT.

The other thing, which the author lays out in Wheat Belly is that the Wheat we eat today is not the same as the Wheat we may have eaten fifty years ago. It's been modified, and our bodies are really designed to sythesize it the same way. The same could be said for many of our fruits and vegetables. THe soil has been depeleted of essential minerals over time. What that has to do with fat, I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure it has led to our food becoming less nutritious.

LarryK said...

I got "Grain Brain" for Christmas, read the whole thing, and found it intriguing. Of course Perlmutter is an anti-carb zealot, but there are some interesting scientific findings out there that even Hamblin, Katz and the other doctors consulted for the article acknowledge.

Perlmutter's claims are probably too sweeping given where the science is right now, and he might even agree that he's extrapolating from very new research that hasn't had the time to be completely verified - but that's because he's a true believer who wants to get as many carbs out of as many diets ASAP. In other words, he's trying to be ahead of the science because he's already completely convinced by the partial and incomplete findings to date.

So take it with a grain of salt (ha), but there's a lot of interesting stuff here about brain chemistry and its relationship to diet. Definitely worth a read...

D.D. Driver said...

"I don't think this is dangerous, and it is closer to what we evolved eating.

But, again, the subject of the post is brain function!"

Ann, your argument is (to me) the most compelling. Natural selection such a powerful force that it is impossible for me to believe that somehow "natural selection got it all wrong" when it comes to eating animal fats. This is not to say that other diets cannot be healthful, but I seriously doubt any alternative diet is better than the one that our species adapted to eat through natural selection over the course of millions of years. The low-fat diet orthodoxy is such utter bullshit.

The other aspect of diet is under attack by science is the frequency of eating. We should not be eating three meals a day every single day. (Much less should we be eating six small meals as was briefly recommended with no basis in science). Your ancestors did not wake up and eat bowl of cereal in the morning and a have a sandwich at noon. They ate when food was available and ate their fill.

And this DOES affect brain function (Alzheimers) in animal studies.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2013-01-14-does-the-52-intermittent-fasting-diet-work-/

I have been doing various types intermittent fasting for a couple of years now. I used to get sick all the time (a cold 3-4 times every fall and winter). Now I get a cold maybe once a year and it lasts a day or two. Everyone else in my household still gets sick (they are in fact hacking and wheezing as I type this) but I somehow keep getting "lucky" and avoiding viruses.

Totally anecdotal sample size of one. But you will find lots of stories like mine. My gut tells me that years from now we will understand that how we eat (e.g., frequency) is even more important than what we eat.

Michael K said...

"Now I get a cold maybe once a year and it lasts a day or two"

In cold climates, I'm surprised the anyone survives winter without a humidifier. When I lived in New Hampshire, mine used 5 gallons of water a day and it still didn't get the humidity up enough. My relatives in Chicago get lots of winter colds. Those without small children to vacuum up the viruses at school should go all winter without one.

Unknown said...

You hold your carbs down to less than 75 grams a day and you will lose weight regardless of what else you eat.

Right, so if I cut out carbs I can eat a slab of bacon and a bucket chocolate ice cream every day and still lose weight?

Europeans eat a shit ton of pasta, polenta, and bread. Asians eat rice or noodles for every meal--I don't see that obesity is a real issue there.

As others have mentioned, eat less and exercise more, and you're guaranteed to lose weight. The human body is a pretty predictable machine --you can't decrease input and increase output and not lose weight. People who say they can't lose weight that way are lying. If that were true, you'd be a perpetual motion machine.

Freeman Hunt said...

Well, until we decide for certain I'm going to hedge my bets and eat only cake which contains lots of carbs and lots of fat.

Sorun said...

This shit is just too complicated.

Christopher said...

Right, so if I cut out carbs I can eat a slab of bacon and a bucket chocolate ice cream every day and still lose weight?

Bacon yes, chocolate ice cream, no.

(low carb/high carb. Plus you'll typically get less craving to keep eating more when you're going low-carb, so you won't have to eat a whole slab).

As others have mentioned, eat less and exercise more, and you're guaranteed to lose weight. The human body is a pretty predictable machine --you can't decrease input and increase output and not lose weight.

One of Gary Taubes' chief points is that the body doesn't accumulate weight simply via input/output--counting calories, etc., it isn't that simple. The insulin response, the hormonal response, tells the body when to accumulate fat.

People who say they can't lose weight that way are lying. Not necessarily. Some people's insulin response gets so screwed up it's really hard to get things back in order.

Birches said...

If a high carb diet resulted in all of these diseases, we'd see a high rate of Amish children with ADHD. We don't.

I do think exercise is really the secret. If you are moderately active, you can eat whatever you want and it will not affect you in the same way it will affect a sedentary person.

I've lost about 20 lbs over a 2 year period by exercising and not changing my eating habits at all. I also don't have the greatest metabolism. Some people might say my weight loss took too long and they'd look for a quicker diet fix. The thing is, though, I can't regain the weight I lost; once its gone, it's gone. People on diets live in constant fear of binging over a weekend and gaining five pounds. I don't. If I go to Five Guys for dinner, I don't freak out. I make sure that I keep to my running schedule and then I don't worry about it. But even if I have a bad week or two of exercise, it does not reflect on the scale. To me, that's way more piece of mind than constantly worrying about calories and fat content. And I'll never yo yo back because the exercise is an established habit now.

Birches said...

Some people's insulin response gets so screwed up it's really hard to get things back in order.

People's insulin responses get screwed up because they're constantly going back and forth between eat everything free for alls and crazy diet fads.

Jane said...

Here's my beef about the low-carb diets: it's not financially feasible for most people to eat heavy doses of meat, lots of fresh veggies, and no grains. Should we double the value of food stamps, and dole them out to everyone? Plus of course it would be bad for the environment for everyone to switch to meat-heavy diets. . .

Quaestor said...

I've been on low-carb for years and have never been healthier.

The Post-It/Obesity correlation is lost on some people.

Jonathan Card said...

I agree with you in theory, Professor, about the high standard of evidence for an extraordinary claim, but with one exception: if I am convinced that the currently held belief displaced an older belief without showing adequate evidence, I am willing to revert to the old belief with no further evidence. The claims about gluten's link to Alzheimer's is a smaller leap from the nutritional beliefs of the 1940s, before the belief that low-fat diets were healthy became (I believe erroneously) accepted. It's still not certain, in my opinion, but it's less a a major movement.

Kirk Parker said...

Michael K.,

"In rats. of course."

I'm good to go, then!


"Unknown",

Do you know how to read?

Do you know how to read nutritional content labels?

If so, I'll wait while you go read the net-carb and sugar content from your favorite brand of chocolate ice cream and report back to us, ok?

William said...

Over at the UK Daily Mail there's an article that claims Altzheimer's is linked to high cholesterol. So back to square one........Gluten is just a bad name for a food. They should change the name to slimol, and it wouldn't attract sch negative attention.

SGT Ted said...

The key is moving your body and burning excess carbs. If you don't, your body is more likely to store it as fat.

When people really stick to diets, they lose weight. Any former fatty will tell you this.

dennisr2 said...

Here's a link to a 2008 paper which says it's reasonable to call Alzheimer's disease "type 3 diabetes."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769828/

So, what's the link between carbs and diabetes? Well, Dr Richard Bernstein has long advocated the low-carb diet as an important tool to manage diabetes. Do carbs cause diabetes in the first place? I don't think anyone knows, but the obesity epidemic coincides with the drive to reduce dietary saturated fat, replacing it with sugar and polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

As far as I know, every premature degenerative disease is associated with glucose metabolism issues.

Exercise is nice, and everyone is a little different, but exercise is rarely a good weight loss strategy. Exercise just doesn't burn enough calories to make a big difference with weight issues (and concomitant metabolic syndrome or diabetes). Exercise seems to help with insulin sensitivity, and it improves fat burning, but it's hardly a panacaea.

Yep, I'll stick with my low-carb (and low-gluten) diet which keeps me slender and hopefully preserves my brain.

Joshua Turbeville said...

There are more than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffering from depression - and this number climbs during holidays! So reach out to them and add some cheer by spending time with them this holiday season. You may find that it actually brings more love and joy into your life!

Joshua Turbeville said...

There are more than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffering from depression - and this number climbs during holidays! So reach out to them and add some cheer by spending time with them this holiday season. You may find that it actually brings more love and joy into your life!