Every three months I like to summarize the latest low-carb research and how it relates to the principles of Atkins and low-carb diets in general. In this edition of the Research Update, I highlight several recent studies that demonstrate the benefits of consuming adequate protein, healthy fats, how diet and lifestyle impact such conditions as Impaired Glucose Tolerance, Type 2 Diabetes, Epilepsy, Inflammation, and how lowering carbohydrate consumption can improve health markers.
Here’s what has happened in the last three months:
1. Quantitative Analysis of Dietary Protein Intake and Stroke Risk.
Authors: Z. Zhang, G. Xu, F. Yang, W. Zhu, X.
Neurology, June 2014
BACKGROUND: Stroke is a major cause of death and permanent disability worldwide. Therefore, primary prevention of stroke is of utmost importance. Lifestyle factors have important roles in stroke prevention, and dietary protein intake has received great interest.
METHODS: The meta-analysis included seven prospective studies involving 254,489 participants. The authors conducted the literature search on PubMed and Embase through November 2013 using the key words “protein intake” combined with “stroke,” “cerebrovascular disease,” “cerebrovascular disorder” and “cerebrovascular accident.”
CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that moderate dietary protein intake may lower the risk of stroke.
What does this mean to you? Consuming adequate levels of protein is one of the main nutritional principles of the Atkins Diet and Lifestyle approach. Protein provides satiety, keeps blood sugar levels consistent, preserves and builds muscle, and it helps the body burn more calories. And as this study shows, protein intake may also lower your risk of stroke.
2. Retrospective Study on the Efficacy of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Impaired Glucose Tolerance
S. Maekwa, T. Kawahara, R. Nomura, et al. http://www.dovepress.com/retrospective-study-on-the-efficacy-of-a-low-carbohydrate-diet-for-imp-a17206
Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy; June 13, 2014
BACKGROUND: In recent years, the number of people with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) has increased steadily worldwide. It is clear that diabetes prevention is important from the perspective of public health, medical care and economics. It was recently reported that a low-carbohydrate diet (LCD) is useful for achieving weight loss and glycemic control, but there is no information about the effects of the LCD on IGT (impaired glucose tolerance).
METHODS: Researchers designed a seven-day in-hospital educational program focused on the LCD for IGT. The subjects were 72 patients with IGT who were enrolled from April 2007 through March 2012, and they were followed for 12 months.
CONCLUSION: The LCD is effective for normalizing blood glucose and preventing progression to type-2 diabetes in patients with IGT.
What does this means to you? Even with conservative reduction of carbohydrates (approximately 100 grams per day), you can stabilize blood glucose levels and prevent the progression into type-2 diabetes.
3. Advice to Follow a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Has a Favourable Impact on Low-Grade Inflammation in Type 2 Diabetes Compared With Advice to Follow a Low-Fat Diet.
Authors: Lena Jonasson, Hans Guldbrand, Anna K. Lundberg & Fredrik H. Nystrom
Ann Med. May 2014
BACKGROUND: Inflammation may play an important role in type-2 diabetes. It has been proposed that dietary strategies can help control inflammation, which can increase the risk of many conditions, such as heart disease.
METHODS: The authors investigated the effects of diet on type-2 diabetes patients, who followed either a traditional low-fat diet (LFD) or a low-carbohydrate diet (LCD). The authors studied the impact on inflammation by tracking various biomarkers.
CONCLUSION: The effect on weight loss was the same for the patients following the LCD or LFD. However, only the LCD was found to significantly improve inflammation in type-2 diabetes patients.
What does this mean to you? This study shows that following a low-carbohydrate diet can have other beneficial health benefits beyond weight loss such as reducing inflammation in the body.
4. A Randomized Pilot Trial of a Moderate Carbohydrate Diet Compared to a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet in Overweight or Obese Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus or Prediabetes.
Authors: Laura R. Saslow, Sarah Kim, Jennifer J. Daubenmier, Judith T. Moskowitz, Stephen D. Phinney, et al.
PLOSOne, April 2014
BACKGROUND: Research has shown that cutting back on carbs may help control symptoms of diabetes.
METHODS: The authors compared the effects of moderate carbohydrate diet (MCD) and very low carbohydrate Diet (VLCD) on health-related outcomes in overweight or obese adults with type-2 diabetes or prediabetes. Participants were also taught diet information and psychological skills to promote behavior change and maintenance.
CONCLUSION: The VLCD participants had improved blood glucose biomarker (HbA1c), and 44% of them discontinued one or more diabetes medications. In the MCD group, 11% of participants discontinued one or more diabetes medications. The VLCD group also lost more weight than the MCD group.
What does this mean to you? These results suggest that a very-low-carbohydrate diet, plus learning skills to promote behavior change, may improve glycemic control in type-2 diabetes and decrease the use of diabetes medications.
5. Use of the Modified Atkins Diet in Lennox Gastaut Syndrome.
Authors: S. Sharma, P. Jain, S. Guloti, et al.
J. Child Neruol., March 2014
BACKGROUND: There is scanty data regarding the efficacy and tolerability of the Modified Atkins Diet in children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
METHODS: This study was a retrospective review of children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome treated with the Modified Atkins Diet from May 2009 to March 2011.
CONCLUSION: The Modified Atkins Diet was found to be effective and well tolerated in children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. All nine children studied had a >50% reduction in seizure frequency.
What does this mean to you? The Modified Atkins Diet can be used as a therapeutic diet for patients suffering from epilepsy and other related illnesses, such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. (a rare and often debilitating form of childhood-onset epilepsy)
6. The Modified Atkins Diet in Refractory Epilepsy.
Authors: S. Sharma, P. Jain
Epilepsy Res. Treat., January 2014
BACKGROUND: Recent studies have shown good efficacy and tolerability of the Modified Atkins Diet (MAD) in the treatment of refractory epilepsy.
METHODS: In this review, authors discuss the use of the MAD in refractory epilepsy.
CONCLUSION: MAD is an effective therapy for patients with refractory epilepsy. It is less restrictive and more palatable than the classic ketogenic diet. MAD is a prudent therapeutic option, especially for older children and adolescents, as it is a more “liberalized” diet as compared to classic ketogenic diet.
What does this mean to you? The Modified Atkins Diet can be used as a therapeutic diet for patients suffering from epilepsy and other related illnesses.