Friday, December 11, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Low-Carb Diets

A few weeks ago, while attending the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando, I met with my friend and colleague Steven Smith, who has just taken on the position of Executive Director of the Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes, Florida Hospital and Burnham Institute.

This week, Steven penned a most interesting essay for the New England Journal of Medicine, in which he discusses potential downsides of a low-carb diet. Most of his argument is based on a recent study that showed progresson of artherosclerotic plaques with a low-carb diet in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice, a model commonly used to study arteriosclerosis.

It turns out that the same article was recently also discussed on OBESITY PANACEA, an obesity blog run by Peter Janiszewski and Travis Saunders, two PhD students, who work in obesity research and are very active members of the Canadian Obesity Network.

As they point out, the two key possibilities that Steven presents in his article are that increased level of free fatty acids in the blood (released from insulin resistant fat cells and implicated in the initiation of inflammatory processes) or a reduced level of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (produced in bone marrow and help maintain the health of the blood vessels), both possible effects of a low-carb diet, could explain these detrimental effects, but I will leave it to OBESITY PANACEA to explain…

Toronto, Canada

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6 Responses to “The Ups and Downs of Low-Carb Diets”

  1. Drew Harvey says:

    … aside from the science, one sure way to make people feel even more like ‘not’ exercising is to put them on a low carb or no carb plan.

    Tired, irritable, lethargic… not the makings for getting more active!

    Thanks Arya!

  2. Travis says:

    Dr Sharma,

    Thanks for mentioning Peter’s post! As we’ve said before, this site was one of the main reasons we began blogging ourselves (and we continue to be avid readers), so it’s a real pleasure to know that you’re reading our work!

    Take care,


  3. Beth says:

    As you can tell from the comments over on Obesity Panacea, there is some skepticism about the research that Dr. Smith referenced in his editorial. The issue seems to be the usefulness of making any conclusions based on a high-fat diet and apoE-/- mice.

    Here are a couple of links that provide more detail:

  4. Sharon says:

    My concern is for those with undiagnosed kidney dysfunction. A high-protein diet could, I suspect, tip some marginal kidneys into failure.

  5. diet that works says:

    I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every bit of
    it. I have you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…

  6. Gabriella Kadar says:

    Sharon, recently there has been an update on the kidney failure diet. The previous low protein diet has been revised upwards significantly.

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