How can we fund more high-quality dietary research into the health effects of fewer carbohydrates? Here’s one way – the Swedish non-profit The Dietary Science Foundation. I’m on the board of directors (with no pay) and the foundation is doing some truly awesome work getting important low-carb studies started.
Here’s a message from the founder, Ann Fernholm:
The Dietary Science Foundation – support us for healthier healthcare
Three years ago, we founded a non-profit organization for dietary research in Sweden. It has grown steadily, and donations have been used to initiate two high-quality randomized controlled trials evaluating the effect of low-carb diets on IBS and type 1-diabetes.
However, Sweden is a small country and we are keen to welcome international friends to our cause: strengthening the role of dietary treatments in health care so people can live healthier lives.
Why are we needed?
So why do we need a foundation for dietary science? If you follow the dietary debate in newspapers, TV and blogs you’ll hear many stories about how people have regained their health after changing their diet. Diabetics can throw away their insulin and other blood sugar medications, digestive systems calm down and stop causing pain, migraines or bodily aches and pains disappear and asthma may vanish. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome suddenly become pregnant after years of trying, or their acne goes away. Parents of children with ADHD or autism say that their children settle down or become easier to make contact with.
From a biochemical perspective, there is reason to believe that a change of diet can bring about these health improvements. Not for everyone, but for many people. The reason is that diet affects intestinal flora, blood sugar, insulin levels, growth factors and even various signal substances released in the brain.
Solid science is necessary for effective dietary advice
Healthcare treatments can however not be based on anecdotes or biochemical hypotheses. For doctors to recommend a particular diet we need well-designed scientific studies proving efficacy while evaluating possible side effects.
This is where the Dietary Science Foundation enters the picture. We started the foundation because we wanted to make these kinds of high-quality studies happen. The problem as we see it is that nutrition research is of no commercial interest. Researchers in the field of nutrition seldom get more than €200,000 to conduct a scientific study, whereas a pharmaceutical company can invest a hundred times more in evaluating the effect of a single drug.
The Dietary Science Foundation’s goal is to address this imbalance. The first project we initiated was an evaluation of the role of carbohydrates in IBS; a study that is currently taking place at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden. Read more about that study here: An evaluation of the role of carbohydrates in daily abdominal pain.
This week we received the wonderful news that our second study on diet and type 1-diabetes, has received full financing from the Swedish insurance company Skandia. Scientists will compare the effect of a traditional low-fat diet with both strict and a more liberal low-carbohydrate diet in a randomized controlled trial including 135 patients. The aim is to investigate if the diets are safe to eat and which one most efficiently lowers and stabilizes the blood sugar. The majority of the people living with type 1-diabetes today have problems controlling their blood sugar; sadly, many of them pass away early in life due to complications of the disease. This study – which will be the largest study ever in the area – can contribute to the establishment of new and more efficient dietary treatments, thereby saving lives.
Studies with a worldwide impact
The Dietary Science Foundation is based in Sweden, but the results from our studies will be reported in international scientific publications, and can be used as a basis for dietary guidance in any county. So no matter where you live, the support you give us will help to strengthen the official dietary recommendations in your own country.
Our goal is for the Dietary Science Foundation to become a force powerful enough to enact change, and the more people who support the foundation, the more high-quality studies we can finance. We have a Swedish “90 account” for donations, which is granted solely to charitable organizations engaged in public fundraising of high standards. Swedish Fundraising Control audits us annually.
Follow this link to read more about us: Dietary Science Foundation. You will find information on the Scientific Advisory Board, the board of directors (which includes Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt) and our aims. We hope for your support to help us reach our goal! As a monthly donor you give us the possibility to do long-term work and launch more studies. Every donation is meaningful and can contribute to saving lives.
Thank you to Michèle Wilcox who has volunteered many hours of her time to translate our site.
Learn more: The Dietary Science Foundation