Experts warn public on ‘fad diets’

Low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet can paradoxically increase weight gain, risk of diabetes

The Journal Nutrition and Diabetes has recently warned the public to take precautionary measures on undergoing fad diets suchlike the popularly known as Paleo diet.

Researchers said that eight weeks on the “Paleo” diet can give extra weight and raise the risk of health problems, rather than what it has already promise of weight loss and leaner body.

Paleo refers to the low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet that has been endorsed by celebrity chefs and the mainstream media recently. Last year, it was even dubbed as the “most researched diet in the internet”.

It also copies our ancestors’ “stone-age” or “caveman” ways of consuming only foods that were available such like grass-produced meats, fish or seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthful oils such as olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, and coconut.

Foods that are not suggested in this diet include cereal grains, legumes, including peanuts, dairy products, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt, and refined vegetable oils.

Though noting that switching from processed foods and refined sugars to more fruit and vegetables can help achieve weight loss, investigators said that this can also cause high dietary fat, regardless of body weight, can cause lipids to accumulate in the liver, limiting the ability of insulin to deal with hepatic glucose production.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne said that they are concerned about the hazards of the fad diet, as they stressed that it can give a negative impact on those who are already overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle and for individuals with pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Two groups of overweight mice with symptoms of pre-diabetes underwent a study where the first group consumed an LCHF diet for eight weeks. About 60 percent of which was fat, compared with their usual three percent fat intake.

Their carbohydrates intake was made up of 20 percent; while the other group ate their usual food. Eight weeks after, the first group increased in weight by about 15 percent, with higher rate of glucose intolerance and insulin. Their fat mass had also doubled from two percent to almost four percent.

The experts said that the weight gain can be compared to a person who weighs 200 pounds gaining 30 pounds in two months.

Therefore, they concluded that the Paleo diet increases the risk of high blood pressure, bone problems, arthritis, anxiety, and depression, and potentially high blood sugar, elevated insulin levels and ultimately diabetes.

“There is a very important public health message here,” lead researcher Assoc. Prof. Sof Andrikopoulos said. “You need to be very careful with fad diets, always seek professional advice for weight management, and always aim for diets backed by evidence.”

Prof. Andrikopoulos, who is also the president for the Australian Diabetes Society, recommended the Mediterranean diet for people with pre-diabetes or diabetes.

“It is backed by evidence and is a low-refined sugar diet with healthy oils and fats from fish and extra virgin olive oil, legumes and protein,” he explained. Gelyka Ruth R. Dumaraos

Vital Signs August 2016