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Can we live longer on a low carb diet?

low carb down under

By Guy Lawrence

Guy: What should we be eating for a more healthy and prosperous life? Seems like the million dollar question these days. If this is a question you find yourself asking, then I highly recommend the Low Carb Living Downunder seminar series coming up this Nov/Dec. An awesome lineup of speakers that will be tackling issues and topics on:

  • Low-carb nutrition, eating healthy fats, sourcing and preparing healthy whole foods, exercise and eating, the paleo diet approach and also nourishing our food producing environment in a sustainable way.
  • Health issues including weight & obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, asthma, Alzheimer’s, and a range of other related health problems.

Dr Rod TaylorIn the meantime to whet your appetite, I’d like you to meet Dr Rod Taylor (pictured left), one of the guys that made these events happen. It truly makes for a fascinating read.

Can you explain what the low carb down under events are, what to expect if we attend, and who will be speaking?

These events are a getting together of people with an interest in low carb/paleo/primal eating and lifestyle with a whole range of fantastic speakers. We have the likes of Jimmy Moore who runs the hugely popular US-based Livin La Vida Low-Carb website and podcasts. Then there’s best selling author David Gillespie who wrote Sweet Poison and journalist/blogger Sarah Wilson who’s currently running an 8 week I Quit Sugar program. You can have a look at the range of topics and speakers for each event here.

How did the idea for these events originate?

I joined 270 other people on a Low Carb Cruise in the Caribbean in May this year, which is run by Jimmy Moore. All the presentations were very good. I met a great collection of researchers, medicos, allied health professionals, fitness people and many others with no particular background yet an amazing knowledge and experience of the science and great health benefits of eating low carb and eating more natural foods. I also met up with a couple of other Aussies there, Jamie and Ellen Hayes from Brisbane, and we hatched up a plan to get Jimmy to Australia for a speaking tour. Jamie came up with the name Low Carb Down Under (LCDU).

Have you always lived a low carb lifestyle, if not, what inspired you to change?

Until 4 years I thought I was a pretty healthy eater, having muesli, wholemeal bread, pasta and rice and maybe 5 pieces of fruit a day. I didn’t realize until I stopped that all that fruit was giving me bad irritable bowel symptoms.

I had been gaining weight over about 10 years up to 80kg (I’m 63 years old and 5’9”) which gave me a spare tyre that I wasn’t too keen on. I read David Gillespie’s Sweet Poison and immediately dropped sugar consumption. 7 kg just fell off. However over time my weight wanted to creep back on a little and I read more about reducing other refined carbs. I cut them and my weight dropped down to 71kg. With a bit more tweaking it is now around 69kg.

By eating a low carb lifestyle, have you noticed significant change in your eating habits and any effects on your own health?

For sure. I love the extra energy and clarity. I get a lot done in addition to my full time work as an anaesthetist, such as organizing seminars like LCDU as well being a home and family person, and some music interests.

Having been on a low carb, moderate protein higher fat diet for quite a while I just don’t seem to get hungry as much. I’ve recently been experimenting measuring my urinary and blood ketone levels. Jimmy Moore has been blogging about his positive experience of weight loss with nutritional ketosis and will be talking about it at the LCDU seminars. A number of people I respect do it like Dr Andreas Eenfeldt. Also Dr Jeff Volek has been doing it for years and is in great shape. For me, so far so good!

Personally, I think the effects on our eating habits and overall health are greatly underestimated. As a doctor what are your thoughts on the relationship between diet and ill health?

If you’d asked that 5 years ago I’d have said diet is related to about 50% of ill health. Now I’m thinking 90% plus. The flyers for the LCDU series mention depression, asthma, arthritis, ADD and more. These are now on the radar as having dietary factors causing or contributing to them. And the science seems to be increasingly supporting this view.

You mentioned you follow a paleo diet, what would you eat in a typical day?

Paleo diet does seem to mean different things to different people. I still have some dairy though I have cut my milk consumption.

Breakfast: bacon and cheese omelette (lots of chopped parsley/ baby spinach mixed through) cooked in plenty of butter. Maybe some full fat yoghurt with a slosh of cream on it with blended nut mix and a few blueberries.

Lunch: Last night’s meat leftovers with two good handfuls of salad vegetables, and some raw beans, capsicum. Maybe some nuts. I’ve got to watch the nuts as I can tuck a lot of them away pretty quickly without thinking.

Dinner: Meat and veggies, maybe more salad. I increased my salad veggies after watching Dr Terry Wahls Youtube “Minding Your Mitochondria”. 17 minutes of essential viewing.

And maybe some cheese and one or two pieces of 85% dark chocolate.

If someone is looking to improve their diet, what would be the things they should eliminate if they want better health?

Cut added sugar to almost none. The average Australian is having 30 plus teaspoons per day! The American Heart Association recommends a prudent upper level of 6 teaspoons for women and nine for men. I’d have less than 2 or 3 per day myself. I’ve put together a website called giveupsugar.com which has a calculator on it to inform you as to how much you are consuming per day.

Cut your bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. The average Aussie is having about 300 grams of carbs a day, and almost all of that is the more refined type. Try 50 gram per day mostly from non starchy vegetables. You may be OK with a bit more. You may need to cut to a lower allowance. Each of us has to figure this out for ourselves, to optimize our weight, our health markers and our general well-being. There is a fair bit of detail that ultimately we all need to get our heads around, so following great blogs, (like 180nutrition!), reading books, networking with others of like mind and coming along to seminars like LCDU all help. I listen to podcasts, mostly Jimmy’s.

Don’t overdo the protein, keep it to say 20% of total calories. Some amino acids feed into glucose production. Hyperglycaemia looks like the mechanism for a whole lot of bad stuff! Don’t have a whopping steak with a side salad. Have a modest steak with a whopping side of salad and non starchy vegetables.

Eat lots of animal fats. Saturated fat is good! The greatest health blunder of the last 100 years has been the advice to greatly reduce saturated fat. Don’t cut the tails off the chops. Great grandma didn’t and she was skinny. I like some coconut oil every day. For a great Aussie blog on fat see Anastasia Boulais Primalmeded.

A number of articles have been appearing in the medical literature questioning the old conventional wisdom around saturated fat.

Industrially produced polyunsaturated seed oils with higher omega levels have a big cloud over them. They are a major component of processed food. Avoid them like the plague!

Eat whole healthy foods like meat, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, modest amounts of fruit (too much sugar). When you are in good shape you can probably bend the rules a little without harm.

What are your thoughts on future health statistics?

These look bleak. I see an average of about 30 patients a week for preoperative anaesthesia assessments. Mostly they are not where they need to be for good long term health. And the deterioration over the past 10 years is alarming. I think the outlook is grim. Dementia and type 2 diabetes will be the fate for many of us on our current trajectory. The personnel not to mention the financial cost will be crippling.

We need to optimize our own health and our families and friends. And over time hopefully this will influence or work colleagues and the wider community. If we don’t the result will be disaster.

But on a cheerier note, it is do-able!

Guy, thanks for the opportunity to put my views on your blog. See you at LCDU.

Guy: Would love to hear your thought’s on low carb living? Do you agree? What should we be eating? Feel free to leave a comment below…

 

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    2 Replies to “Can we live longer on a low carb diet?”

    Nice Post! It’s always good to keep an eye on your carb intake.

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