How to Help Your Doctor Understand Your Low-Carb Lifestyle
When your doctor hears you have gone low carb, they may think you’re crazy. They may think you’re clogging up your arteries. They may think you’re a heart attack waiting to happen. They may think you live on a diet of butter and bacon.
There are five things you can explain to your doctor to help them understand your low carb lifestyle. In fact it may just be the most sensible thing any of their patients can do for their health.
- What is low carb?
- Why eat low carb?
- How low carb works.
- How low carb improves test results.
- Medication that may need reducing.
1. What is low carb?
Following a low carb lifestyle means eating low carb unprocessed real foods, naturally occurring healthy fats and moderate protein. It is not a short term diet, it is a lifelong way of eating.
2. Why eat low carb?
A low carb diet with no sugar, no grains and no processed oils reduces the risk of developing many diet related diseases:
- Type 2-diabetes
- Heart disease
- Metabolic syndrome
There are other numerous health benefits from following a low carb lifestyle:
- Reduced symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome
- Controlled appetite
- Increased energy
- Improved mental clarity
- Improved mood
- A sense of calm
- Improved sleep
- Clearer skin
- Reduced symptoms from PCOS
- Reduced joint pain from chronic inflammation
3. How low carb works
By reducing carbohydrate intake, insulin requirement is lowered. Blood sugar control becomes stable and inflammation is decreased.
Lower levels of circulating insulin, lower blood sugar levels, lower oxidative stress and lower inflammation has the following benefits
- Obesity – insulin is the primary regulator of appetite and fat metabolism. Appetite will be controlled and fat metabolism increase.
- T2 diabetes – the chronic state of insulin resistance that causes T2 diabetes will be reduced and T2 can be reversed in many cases.
- Cancer risk – a low carb whole food diet and staying within a healthy weight range, decreases your risk of numerous cancers such as breast, colon, prostate and pancreas. Conversely a high carb diet, high insulin levels and IGF-1 (insulin growth factor) is shown to enhance tumour cell growth and may also interfere with cancer therapy.
- Heart disease – eating low carb and healthy fats will reduce insulin levels, reduce inflammation, lower triglycerides and produce buoyant large LDL particles. These are all potent indicators of a low heart disease risk.
- Alzheimers – this is now considered by many as T3 diabetes. Evidence shows Alzheimer’s is a neuroendocrine disease caused by faulty insulin sensitivity and production.
- Metabolic syndrome – every facet of metabolic syndrome is improved when following a low carb lifestyle. Triglycerides are lowered, HDL is increased, hypertension is reduced, insulin sensitivity is corrected, blood sugar is stable and abdominal fat reduced.
Many doctors think that by increasing saturated (stable) fat and cholesterol in our diet, we are clogging up our arteries. It is imperative to understand that cholesterol is not dangerous, it is made in almost every cell in our body. Cholesterol is the basis of our sex hormones and cell membranes. It is our cholesterol carriers (LDL and HDL) which give us a clearer picture of heart health and longevity. The type and size of cholesterol carriers we produce is diet dependant.
Cholesterol carriers are dangerous and atherogenic when they are small in size, dense and oxidised. Oxidised small dense LDL particles easily adhere to the endothelium (lining) of blood vessels which is the beginning of atherosclerosis.
AGE (advanced glycation end products) are proteins and lipids which have been exposed to constant high blood sugars. They cause micro and macro vascular damage through further endothelial damage.
Low cholesterol is also of concern. Low cholesterol is linked with depression, Alzheimer’s, aggression, memory loss and low immunity.
By reducing our intake of unhealthy fats, especially polyunsaturated oils, we reduce pro inflammatory omega 6 and oxidative stress.
4. How low carb improves test results
Improvements you may see in test results when eating low carb real food and healthy fats:
- Improved blood glucose control.
- Lowered HbA1c.
- Lowering of raised blood pressure.
- Reduced triglycerides – remember, this is a reflection of blood glucose control and is a more accurate predictor of heart disease than cholesterol.
- Increase in HDL – this used to be referred to as ‘healthy’ cholesterol as it transports cholesterol back to the liver.
- LDL – size really does matter. Reduced TG indicates you are more than likely to have large fluffy harmless LDL and reduced production of atherogenic small dense LDL.
- Lowering of raised liver enzymes.
- Improved insulin sensitivity.
- Reduced abdominal visceral fat.
Do not rely solely on the results of a glucose tolerance test. Insulin toxicity and insulin resistance can be present for almost 10 years before there is a change in glucose tolerance.
5. Medications that may need reducing
Low carb diets are incredible and naturally powerful. With your physician, medications will need to be monitored and adjusted according to your improvements. Blood pressure medication and some diabetes medication may need to be lowered immediately.
- If blood pressure drops too low too quickly you will faint.
- If diabetes medication is not adjusted according to your blood sugar levels immediately, you may have a hypoglycaemic episode and collapse.
Both of these situations can be avoided if medication is adjusted accordingly. You must discuss your medication with your doctor.
In time, you may need to adjust your medications for gout, acid reflux, eczema, erectile dysfunction, migraine, tinnitus, constipation, IBS, PCOS and depression. You may also wish to discuss with your doctor stopping your cholesterol lowering medication.
Eating a high carb diet (currently recommended by the ADA) results in chronic elevated blood sugars, chronic elevated circulating insulin which leads to hyperinsulinaemia and insulin resistance. Hyperinsulinaemia and chronic inflammation are the primary driving factors for metabolic syndrome and vascular disease.
A low carb diet is anti inflammatory – oxidative stress is reduced and all inflammatory markers are reduced. Almost all modern diseases are the result of, or triggered by, oxidation and inflammation resulting from a modern highly processed high-carb diet.
Many doctors still consider low carb to be controversial yet low carb reduces all major disease risk factors. The research continues to support low carb, only the outdated advice and treatments have not caught up. It is up to us to educate our doctors, our friends and family about the low carb lifestyle.
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