Dangers of High-Protein, Low-Carb Diets

From the January 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

Proponents of high-protein diets such as the Atkins diet have brought dangerous fad-dieting to new heights, in spite of mounting reports of deaths attributed to them. High protein diets—those in which calories come predominantly from animal foods—increase the risk of cancer and heart attack and have been linked to cardiomyopathies, electrolyte imbalances, and kidney damage. Dr. Robert Atkins himself had a heart attack from a cardiomyopathy a year before his death, and his autopsy results still remain hidden from the public.

In addition to increased risk of disease from Atkins and other animal-food-heavy diets, research has shown that these faddish eating plans are not very effective—most adherents do not achieve long-term, permanent weight loss. Unfortunately, this has not lessened the popularity of these diets. Well-funded publicity campaigns have succeeded in getting the media to “report”glossed-over, one-sided information. Until news outlets begin to report more accurately, more and more tragedies are going to occur.

Girl dies while dieting

Most recently, a sixteen-year-old girl who had no history of medical problems died after two weeks on the Atkins diet. When the paramedics arrived, she was pulse-less, and the electrocardiogram revealed ventricular fibrillation (a usually fatal loss of normal heart rhythm). Her emergency room evaluation showed electrolyte imbalances that occurred as a result of eating a diet of meat, cheese, and salads for two weeks. She was doing the diet together with her mother.

An ongoing tragedy
Sadly, even as additional dangers are revealed and reported, more and more people misled by one-sided advertising and publicity—are being put at needless risk. At the same time, proven healthful weight loss recommendations are being ignored. Unless Americans quickly learn the facts about these harmful diets, many pointless deaths will continue to occur.

For more on the Atkins Diet check out DiseaseProof's week-long investigation:

Also, be sure to visit AtkinsExposed.org for studies discounting the merits of the Atkins Diet.

Big Problems with Meat-Based Diets for Diabetics

From the September 2003 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

So-called “high-protein,” animal-based diets are particularly dangerous for diabetics. Many diabetes “experts” and authors recommend that diabetics limit their intake of refined grains and simple sugars. As a result, most people have accepted the faulty logic that if sugar and refined grains and other high-glycemic foods raise blood sugar and triglycerides, we should eat more protein instead of carbohydrate. They attempt to overcome the triglyceride-raising problems seen in those eating typical high-carbohydrate diets by recommending a diet based on animal products.

Short-term benefits

Carbohydrate-restricted diets rich in animal products, often called “high-protein diets,” offer some short-term improvement in glucose control and weight loss. The problem with them is the increased protein intake promotes the progression of diabetic kidney disease, and the higher saturated fat intake raises cholesterol and promotes heart disease. I have observed numerous diabetic patients over the years who caused significant damage to their kidneys attempting to improve diabetic control with such high-protein, carbohydrate-restricted diets.

Long-term dangers
High-protein, carbohydrate-restricted diets also are heart unfriendly. One comprehensive study on the Atkins’ approach showed that after one year on the diet, blood flow to the heart diminished by an average of 40 percent and inflammatory markers that predict heart attacks increased.1 The low levels of plant fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidant nutrients on these unbalanced, low produce diets expose the diabetic patient to additional risks. So-called “high-protein diets” may be short-term diabetic-favorable, but they are long-term dangerous.

Long-term benefits

The low-glycemic benefits of “high-protein” diets are achieved by the high-fiber, vegetable/bean/ nut-based Eat to Live (ETL) approach that I recommend, without the health problems linked to eating so many animal products. In addition, because the overall ETL diet contains high levels of fiber and micronutrients that cause triglycerides and blood sugars to fall dramatically, diabetics on this program can consume small portions of fruit safely, allowing them to enjoy the nutritional benefits of these healthful foods. The ETL program is the healthiest way to reverse diabetes.

For more of Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts about
meat-based diets and diabetes, check out these previous posts:

 

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