What Does Your Body NEED?
Low-carb diets have taken America by storm. There are several books on the subject, restaurants that offer low-carb menus, and many food products that proclaim "Low-Carb!" on the label. It's a fact: low-carb diets can help a person lose weight. What is of concern are the long-term adverse health effects of such a diet. There are ways to help mitigate some of those concerns.
A diet high in fat has been associated with increased risks of many forms of cancer and has also been shown to promote cardiovascular disease. A high-protein diet encourages the depletion of the body's calcium supply, increasing a person's risk for osteoporosis and kidney stones. In addition, both diets may cause elevated levels of uric acid in the body—leading to gout or kidney stones. Because these diets also are frequently low in fiber, constipation is commonplace. While cholesterol levels for some low-carb dieters are not affected, others will experience an increase to unhealthy levels.
Most low-carb dieters are told they can consume unlimited amounts of fat and protein and to significantly reduce or eliminate their intake of fruits and vegetables. In most cases, there is no mention made of the quality of fat and protein, and of the nutrients lost by not eating many fruits and vegetables.
Too Much Fat
Consuming a large amount of fat may cause the fats to become oxidized, potentially leading to blood vessel and tissue damage. Fat soluble antioxidants, such as vitamin E and CoQ10 can help inhibit this oxidation and subsequent damage. In addition, there are many other nutrients and extremely potent antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables that many lowcarb dieters are missing. For this reason, I recommend everyone on a low-carb diet include a daily multivitamin and additional antioxidants in their regimen.
Large amounts of fat in the diet can also increase inflammation. Although fish and flax oils are fat, they are different types of fats than those found in most low-carb diet protocols. Both oils have been shown to decrease inflammation and the symptoms associated with it.
High protein in the diet has been shown to create acidity in the blood and cause a loss of calcium. This may be mitigated, to a large extent, by taking magnesium, which helps to alkalize the blood and positively affect calcium-balancing hormones—500-700 mg per day would be appropriate.
Low-carb meals, which ultimately mean a diet containing significant amounts of fat and protein, along with a lack of fiber, can lead to digestive disorders. Such disorders can produce constipation or increased flatulence, or a feeling that food is sitting in the stomach for too long. Digestive enzymes and a quality fiber product can help remedy these issues. Fiber is also necessary for maintaining a balance of good bacteria in our intestines and for helping carry cholesterol out of the body.
Although the nutrition labels on fiber products claim they are high in carbohydrates, fiber is a carbohydrate our bodies do not use as a fuel source and is not converted to energy or fat.
Reducing weight to healthy levels will go a long way to help prevent disease. Low-carb diets do promote weight loss. However, we don't know the long-term consequences of such a diet. Avoiding fried foods, increasing consumption of vegetables, taking in good fats, and supplementing with a quality multivitamin, antioxidants, and fiber may help to slow some of the negative effects a low-carb diet can create.