Efficacy of High Protein Low Carbohydrate Diets With Diabetics
Diseases like diabetes depend on the nutritional intake of the patient for its control. In particular patients have been advised to reduce the direct intake of sugar since the disease renders the body incapable of controlling the free sugar levels in the blood stream. Since direct sugars are to be avoided, many dieticians have recommended a diet pattern that is less in carbohydrates and rich in proteins, vitamins and fiber rich foods that would help the patient to feel satiated but at the same time would reduce the intake of carbohydrates. However recent studies have been accusing protein rich / low carbohydrate foods either of aggravating the condition of the diabetic patients or causing secondary medical problems in patients. This paper will examine the issue in greater detail.
The Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the world especially in people who have passed the middle ages. However, the disease is seen even in young children these days. Even in youngsters the disease occurs due to sedentary habits and genetic causes. In the U.S., the role of the disease in causing mortality is significant. In addition diabetes can also act as a precursor for many other diseases and may lead to serious conditions like the failure of vital organs like kidneys, eyes, liver etc. [Author not known 1, 2002]. Depending on the amount of insulin that is produced in the body, Diabetes can be divided into two main classes. Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the patient's body does not produce any insulin. On the contrary, in Type 2 diabetes, the patient produces insulin, but the levels that are produced by the body is far less than what is required by the body. In some cases, even though the insulin production may be sufficient, it may not be put to efficient use by the body. Type 2 diabetes is the most common variant of the disease and almost 90% of the cases of diabetes are of the Type 2 variety.
Other than the most common effects that lead to an increased level of sugar in the blood stream, Type 2 diabetes also causes some serious physiological changes in the body. Scientists believe that the disease can progress in three common ways.
1. In the onset oft he disease patients, due to their sedentary habits acquire calorie balance and then a positive imbalance so that the body is left with more energy than it normally requires. This extra carbohydrate is converted to fat and the patient becomes obese.
2. The fat that is stored in the muscles often causes hormone signals that cause insulin resistance.
3. The insulin production, which may be deteriorated by medications may become severely blocked that the vital organs in the body like the kidney and liver are finally affected.
Scientists have found that the lesser the amount of fat in the body, the lesser will be the resistance to insulin Hence the best approach to counter the effects of Type 2 diabetes will be to reduce fat in the body.
Prevention of type 2 diabetes requires arrest of the progressive [beta]-cell dysfunction and stabilization of glucose concentrations at nondiabetic levels. Anything short of this arrest and stabilization will only delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Theoretically, type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed by three types of interventions: 1) interventions that limit fat accumulation in the body (less obesity = less insulin resistance); 2) interventions that uncouple obesity from insulin resistance (less insulin resistance = less [beta]-cell failure); and 3) interventions that directly preserve [beta]-cell mass and/or function, despite the high secretory demands imposed by insulin resistance (better [beta]-cell function less diabetes)" [Author not known 2, 2003]
The treatment of Type 2 diabetes does not follow a common approach for all patients because doctors may wish to administer different treatments for different diabetes types. Even though there is much research going on to enquire the role of diet in the control of type 2 diabetes, the results arising out of the results reveal different facts, often conflicting ones. For example it was found that micronutrient levels were not affected or did not affect type 2 diabetes in most populations. However, doctors agree that this is a grey area and more research needs to be done before any conclusions can be drawn on the subject [Osei, 2001]. However, on the other hand it was found out that high fat content in the diet, especially saturated fats can cause impaired insulin action in the body. [Author not known 3, 2002]
The term syndrome X is used to denote a cluster of disease causing conditions or symptoms, including high blood pressure, high triglycerides, decreased HDL and obesity, which tend to appear together in some individuals and increase their risk to diabetes and heart diseases. It can also mean insulin resistance, which actually causes an increase in the triglyceride levels in the blood.
Low Carbohydrate / High Protein diet
The enormous amounts of available literature that points to the fact that fats increase the chance for insulin resistance have prompted scientists to try foods that are low on carbohydrate and more in proteins to try and control the deleterious effects of type 2 diabetes. This is because the metabolic pathways in the body convert excess sugars to fat. It is believed that since the carbohydrate content is kept lesser in the modern diabetic diet, the diet in itself would not contribute to higher sugar levels in the blood. Much research has been undertaken to prove that a low carbohydrate food is more important than a low fat diet. For example the amount of literature that has been centered on the famous Atkins diet indicates that low carbohydrate content id preferable to even slightly higher fat levels in food. The research on Atkins diet is important because the popularity and subsequent research into the diet helped the creation of two formidable schools of thought regarding diabetes. While the supporters of the Atkins diet vouched that the reduction of carbohydrates in the diet is necessary and is medically safe, the opposing group maintained that drastic reduction in carbohydrates would give rise to serious health problems. More that the commercial interests that went into the research of the product, the research outcomes from the studies conducted on Atkins diet are important as far as this paper is concerned.
The high-fat, low carbohydrate diet, commonly referred to as Atkins Diet, was until recently dumped off by medical establishments and seen as a hazard to cardiac health due to the presumed adverse effects the diet was supposed to have on the cholesterol, blood pressure, tri-glycerides levels, and ominous bloodstream inflammation that would impair the cardio-vascular system. However reports on the recent researches and experimental observation conducted on the effects of Atkins diet in weight loss programs offer a different picture. The studies indicate that instead of worsening, the cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, and ominous bloodstream inflammation was found to improve than even the standard diet at times. People lost about twice weight as would be lost by administering normal low-fat, high-carbohydrate recipe suggested by most health professional, in a few months of following Atkins diet and the weight loss was also not at the expense of any cardiovascular risks. Though the studies were spread across half a dozen short and small experiments, the consistency of the results are raising the eyebrows of even the mainstream medical professional who had been continually disregarding the dietary prescription as ruinous to heart.
Other researchers in the area has also identified and documented that low carbohydrate dieting increases weight loss and have no risky cardiovascular side effects in obese adolescents [Sondike, Copperman, and Jacobson, 2000]. Atkins diet caused people to lose more weight even while actually consuming more calories than people on a so-called healthy diet. Until recently the medical world held a unanimous view that any diet that stresses on meat, eggs and cheese and discourages bread, rice and fruit is absurd and disastrous. The American Medical Association had in 1972, dismissed the diet as "potentially dangerous" as about two-thirds of calories in Atkins diet would be from fat, which was more than double the usual recommendation for healthy eating. Carbohydrates were considered the essentials of good diet and fat was thought as perilous. Conventional scientists rejected the contention by Atkins side that saturated fat is bad only if eaten with large amounts of carbohydrates.
However, Atkins diet was widely accepted among obese people and reports from all over the world proved contrary to the medical elite's claim. There are many University researches also that suggest that factors contributing to cardiovascular risk get better than worsening.
The North American Association for the Study of Obesity, a premier professional group in the field has also undertaken a study in the area, essentially to prove Atkins wrong. However, Foster, the leader of the research team states that after three months of the study, the…