Canadians Are Sick and Overweight
We are in the midst of a staggering nutritional disease epidemic. We have record numbers of people with diabetes, obesity, fatty liver, metabolic syndrome and other dietary diseases, mostly since we started telling Canadians to eat less fat and more carbohydrates. High carbohydrate filler foods such as refined starch and sugar are pushed as the foundation of the diet. For most people, these mostly empty filler foods add calories with minimal nutrition. Although this would probably come as a surprise to most Canadians, we now know that the current low fat guidelines were never supported by evidence.
Canada’s Food Guide is heavily influenced by the US Dietary Guidelines, which has been viewed as the ‘gold standard’ dietary policy according to Health Canada. However, the US Dietary Guidelines were recently deemed to “lack scientific rigour” in this report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, who conducted the first ever external and objective scientific review of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Since the low fat dietary guidelines were issued, our medical costs associated with treating these diseases have risen so much that they are expected to bankrupt our health care system. The Heart and Stroke Foundation predicts that just sugary drinks alone will cost our health-care system 50 billion dollars in the next 25 years. Why are we getting so excited about sugar? Well, it is because we now have good evidence that sugar, as opposed to fat, is the main driver of obesity and diabetes. We also used to think fat caused heart disease, but research now shows that sugar is actually one of the main culprits in heart disease.
Have You Struggled With Obesity or Type 2 Diabetes Despite Following the Guidelines?
Have you struggled with being overweight or obese despite years of trying to eat less and exercise more? Have you eaten as directed, choosing low fat products and eating abundant carbohydrates? We bet you’ve even been told that if you just continue to lower your calories and exercise more, that you’ll be successful. You may have felt like a failure because this advice hasn’t worked. Perhaps you have type 2 diabetes and cannot get your blood glucose under control despite taking your prescribed medications and following the recommended diabetic dietary advice.
Here's the Reason
We typically only know someone is diabetic when their blood glucose levels are abnormal, but there seems to be a long period leading up to overt diabetes, where there are high insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia) and impaired insulin function (insulin resistance). It is thought that even in people with normal blood sugars who don’t appear sick, about half of the adult population is already insulin resistant. This is a problem, because eventually this often leads to type 2 diabetes; but importantly, we can now show that insulin resistance is strongly related to cardiovascular disease.
Treat the Root Cause of Type 2 Diabetes and Nutritional Disease
For individuals who are insulin resistant, and especially for those with high blood sugars who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, we can keep trying to lower the sugar with medications, but this does not address the root cause of the raised blood sugar. If we simply reduce the input of sugar and starchy foods to a level our body can safely handle, then our blood sugars come down, our insulin levels come down, and in many cases, one is able to reduce or completely stop diabetes medications. It is like stopping the inflow of sugar into a bowl which is already overflowing.
Similarly, fatty liver disease is increasingly more common, and is related to insulin resistance and a high intake of sugar (especially fructose) and highly refined carbohydrates. Shockingly, Nonalcoholic Fatter Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the most rapidly increasing indication for liver transplant in young adults in the United States. We can actually reverse fatty liver disease by addressing the root cause, by reducing sugar and refined carbohydrates in the diet.
Diet and Type 2 Diabetes Reversal
Whole food eating, which has lower carbohydrates and higher natural fat than currently recommended in the dietary guidelines, has consistently been shown to lower the hemoglobin A1c (a measure of how high blood glucose has been) and to improve cardiovascular risk markers. If we had a drug that could do this someone would be very rich! Eating this way often results in weight loss, and in fact, low carbohydrate diets have beaten low fat diets in terms of weight loss when looking at the gold standard evidence of randomized controlled trials.
Watch this TED talk by Dr. Sarah Hallberg on reversing type 2 diabetes by ignoring the guidelines
There Is No 'One Size Fits All' Diet
Each person’s tolerance to carbohydrates is different, and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ dietary solution. Therapeutic nutrition takes into account the right way of eating for the individual, but by far the most important aspect is to reduce sugar and processed food. After that, carbohydrate levels (from good quality, whole food sources) can be tailored depending on the level of insulin resistance and carbohydrate tolerance.
The majority of people with nutritional diseases are insulin resistant, and respond very well to a reduced carbohydrate intake. When carbohydrates are lowered, healthy natural fats must be increased, and protein generally remains moderate. Individuals are also different when it comes to how much fat their bodies prefer, with some people thriving on a very low carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet, and others doing best with a more balanced approach.
Changing Your Health
Ready to change your diet, start improving your health, and eliminate your ‘hangry’ by getting off the sugar roller coaster? Start by watching this great video by the Swedish family physician, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, who has dedicated his career to helping improve health by providing a simple guide to whole food nutrition and how it can improve disease.
Visit the Diet Doctor website for a comprehensive, trusted guide to improve your own health, free of sponsorship or advertising. This is the source most often recommended to patients by doctors knowledgeable in therapeutic, lower carbohydrate nutrition. We have also included several other resources below to help you in your health journey.
If you have chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and are on medications, you should consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes, as rapid medication changes can be required.