Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Obesity → Diabetes

A new study adds to the evidence that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing in the US, and our national weight problem is largely to blame.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently estimates that a jaw-dropping 33 percent of US men, and 39 percent of US women, will develop diabetes at some point in their lives (1).  Roughly one out of three people in this country will develop diabetes, and those who don't manage it effectively will suffer debilitating health consequences.  Has the risk of developing diabetes always been so high, and if not, why is it increasing?

In the same issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine as the low-carb vs. low-fat study, appears another study that aims to partially address this question (2).

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Metabolic Effects of a Traditional Asian High-carbohydrate Diet

A recent study supports the notion that an 'ancestral diet' focused around high-starch agricultural foods can cultivate leanness and metabolic health.

John McDougall gave Christopher Gardner a hard time at the McDougall Advanced Study Weekend.  Dr. Gardner conducts high-profile randomized controlled trials (RCTs) at Stanford to compare the effectiveness of a variety of diets for weight loss, cardiovascular and metabolic health.  The "A to Z Study", in which Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets were pitted against one another for one year, is one of his best-known trials (1).

Dr. McDougall asked a simple question: why haven't these trials evaluated the diet that has sustained the large majority of the world's population for the last several thousand years?  This is an agriculturalist or horticulturalist diet based around starchy foods such as grains, tubers, legumes, and plantains, and containing little fat or animal foods.  Researchers have studied a number of cultures eating this way, and have usually found them to be lean, with good cardiovascular and metabolic health.  Why not devote resources to studying this time-tested ancestral diet?  I think it's a fair question.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Help Advance Diabetes Research

A University of Virginia researcher named Hannah Menefee contacted me recently to ask for our help.  She and her colleagues are conducting a study on how people with type 2 diabetes use Facebook to manage their health, and how that technology can be leveraged to support effective health communication.

If you have type 2 diabetes, and you'd like to participate in the study, please join their Diabetes Management Study Facebook group.  There, you'll receive more information about the study, you'll receive a short survey, and you may be invited into one of the study phases.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My AHS14 Talk on Leptin Resistance is Posted

The Ancestral Health Society just posted a video of my recent talk "What Causes Leptin Resistance?"  Follow the link below to access it.  Enjoy!

What Causes Leptin Resistance?


Monday, September 8, 2014

Thoughts on the McDougall Advanced Study Weekend

For those of you who aren't familiar with him, Dr. John McDougall is a doctor and diet/health advocate who recommends a very low fat, high starch, whole food vegan diet to control weight and avoid chronic disease.  He's been at it for a long time, and he's a major figure in the "plant-based diet" community (i.e., a diet including little or no animal foods).

Dr. McDougall invited me to participate in his 3-day Advanced Study Weekend retreat in Santa Rosa, CA.  My job was to give my talk on insulin and obesity, and participate in a panel discussion/debate with Dr. McDougall in which we sorted through issues related to low-carb, Paleo, and the health implications of eating animal foods.  I was glad to receive the invitation, because I don't see myself as a diet partisan, and I believe that my evidence-based information is applicable to a variety of diet styles.  I saw the Weekend as an opportunity to extend my thoughts to a new community, challenge myself, and maybe even learn a thing or two.  It was particularly interesting to compare and contrast the Advanced Study Weekend with the Ancestral Health Symposium, which is more Paleo- and low-carb-friendly.

General Observations

The attendees were a lot older than AHS attendees.  I estimate that most of them were in their 60s, although there were some young people in attendance.

I don't place too much emphasis on peoples' personal appearance at conferences like this.  You don't know what a person's background, genetics, or personal struggles may be, you don't know how closely they adhere to the program, and you don't know to what degree a group of people might be self-selected for particular traits*.  But I will note that Dr. McDougall, his family, and many of the other starch-based/plant-based diet advocates tended to be extremely lean with low fat and muscle mass.  They also tended to have a healthy and energetic appearance and demeanor.  As I would expect, decades of exceptionally high starch intake hasn't made them obese or obviously ill.