DO Low-Carb Diets Cause Kidney Stones?
Update: Read about when I had kidney stones!!!
A friend called who is eating low-carb and was concerned because someone told her that she is basically asking for kidney stones. She wants to know, “Is it true? Do low-carb diets cause kidney stones?”
After some nosing around I found this article, Dangers of Zero-Carb Diets, IV: Kidney Stones.
Keep a few things in mind:
- Zero carb diets and lowering your carbs like I recommend are two VERY different things.
- I’m sporadic myself in how well I lower carbs in my own life. Sometimes I’m on it, otherwise I’m totally not.
- And also no, I still haven’t figured out how the Taiwanese that my brother-in-law saw on his visit still eat pasta with sweet sauces for almost every meal and show no signs of obesity or health issues like we do here.
- All I do know is that there are way too many cases of people lowering their carbs and showing DRASTIC health improvements that it can’t be denied: They lose weight, they go off diabetic meds, they lower their blood pressure, they feel better, and on it goes. I’m convinced that part of it is because grains and sweets are hard on an already taxed immune system with improper nutrient absorption in the gut, so just lowering carbs/grains/sweets consumption helps a body overall to come back into line.
- Others need more than just lowering carbs if they have serious health issues, check out the GAPS Diet to heal from IBS, other digestive issues, ADHD, Autism, anxiety or depression, gluten intolerance or other food allergies, asthma, eczema, and much more.
- An important side note about low-carb diets that I don’t know if I’ve stressed enough: Since you are eating more meat, you owe it to yourself to buy the BEST quality healthy meat you can find and afford. Also, it goes without saying (if you’re a regular reader here anyway), that we should ALL be taking a daily dose of high quality fermented cod liver oil.
Update: How I lost 22# even after menopause!
SO, having said all that, I was still concerned about that article, even if it was talking about ZERO carb diets, so I looked around more…
I found this from Dr. Berg:
He says that fasting or Keto diets COULD create kidney stones because when your body is in ketosis it does get rid of more calcium in the urine than usual, here's his video on how to prevent this!
More you might like:
- Need some low carb meal/snack ideas?
- Need more help? Try these low-carb/grain-free meal plans where ALL the planning is done for you:
This is a great article outlining the dangers of low-carb diets, and explaining the biology better than I’m able to: https://180degreehealth.blogspot.com/2010/02/is-low-carb-diet-counterproductive.html
@Leah, Jimmy Moore and Tom Noughton are both examples of people whose blood sugar control have gotten worse on low-carb. Most people experience higher fasting blood sugar on low-carb – this is not a good thing. Common sense would dictate that the fact that Gary Taubes cannot eat blueberries without weight gain is not a good sign for the state of his body (I can eat anything short-term, including candy, tortilla chips fried in soybean oil, white bread and fatty steaks without gaining weight). Jimmy Moore gained weight on low-carb. Dr. Atkins admitted in his book that low-carb diets can lead to thyroid issues. There is all kind of evidence (mostly from looking at long-term low-carbers) that low-carb can be harmful in the long-run. It’s hard on the thyroid, blood sugar control and adrenal glands.
Eskimos were healthy and didn’t get diabetes, but they ate an extreme diet that was very different from the typical low-carbers’ diet today so I don’t really think you can compare the two. Besides they were known for having short lifespans.
Personally I am against low-carb because I think it’s unhealthy and unsustainable. You are more than welcome to disagree. I just want people to really look into the problems before they jump on the low-carb bandwagon. Once you go down the low-carb path, coming back is a tough recovery. It’s telling that the biggest proponents of the low-carb diet have issues with weight gain and blood sugar.
I think cutting out carbs is about as healthy as cutting out saturated fat: just not a good idea. Healthy societies throughout history have eaten plenty of carbs. The thinnest societies today (Japanese, French, Italians) eat lots of carbs. I take that as my guide.
Wow, thanks for referring back to this subject in your Monday Morning Mix-Up today, Kelly. I’m so busy trying to keep up with you and others I don’t try to keep up with future comments on previous posts. And this was VERY interesting and informative!
Your post reminded me of something I wanted to look up about diabetes…I came across this from the American Diabetes Association when I searched:
“Americans and Europeans eat too much fat and too little carbohydrate and fiber, and they get too little exercise. Type 2 diabetes is common in people with these habits.”
This information seems very outdated. Surely they know better by now?
Liz, interestingly enough, this is actually still the latest science. Diabetes is correlated with high-fat diets. My personal guess is, it’s the PUFAs. But in terms of dietary factors associated with the development of diabetes, studies have found links with high-fat diets, NOT high carb. It’s also linked to sedentary lifestyle.
Hm…I would like to see these studies. Are they association studies or clinical studies that controlled for other variables? What I find in most studies is a “healthy person” bias…in other words, someone who invests himself in health is interested in avoiding fats (because the USDA has told us they’re bad) would also probably avoid processed foods (because “everyone” knows they’re bad), and therefore would be eating less refined sugars and grains, and less HCFS. So, they would be less likely to be diabetic, and less likely to eat a lot of fats (bc the USDA tells us not to eat them, not because they are necessarily unhealthy in and of themselves).
I wonder, what is the basis of your theory that PUFAs would contribute to diabetes? I do think PUFAs cause inflammation, and contribute to heart disease and other modern ailments, but what do PUFAs have to do with diabetes? Just wondering.
From a common sense standpoint, why would a high fat diet contribute to diabetes? Why is diabetes on the rise when we (the US) as a culture, eat less fat (and way less saturated fat) than any other generation in recent history? Why were there no cases of diabetes in cultures like the Inuit who ate a diet of primarily fat and protein until the introduction of white flour and sugar? And Native Americans?
Finally, I think you have the causation wrong- I would venture to guess that people aren’t diabetic because they’re sedentary, they’re sedentary because they’re diabetic (or pre-diabetic, or insulin resistant).
Oh, one final point: why can some diabetics control their diabetes on a low carb diet without medication if fat is what aggravates/causes diabetes?
I hope Amy doesn’t mind me jumping in one more time. But I want to point out that she said PUFAs, not total fat. Most people controlling their diabetes with a low-carb diet are not guzzling bottles of vegetable oil, they are eating lots of meat and eggs and if they are more plugged in, things like coconut oil.
In addition to that point, you cannot extrapolate from the diabetic condition to a healthy one. Diabetes involves damage to the beta cells. once that happens, obviously blood sugar control goes out the window. That doesn’t mean that “carbs” caused the damage in the first place.
I think fructose is far more implicated in IR and diabetes than any type of fat (pretty much exonerates insulin, right?) The literature is somewhat mixed, but most of the latest stuff is coming down pretty hard on fructose, whereas glucose is usually found to have no or little effect. I picked a few that have full-text available if you’re interested:
Searching Pubmed on terms like “insulin resistance fructose” will yield a lot more.
Finally, I really doubt that diabetes somehow *causes* a sedentary lifestyle. How would that even work? I know diabetic people and there is nothing preventing them from getting up and taking a walk, or going to the gym- many of them do and successfully lose weight. I find it far more likely that the chain of causation goes the other way… sedentary lifestyle (caused by sitting in your cubicle all day instead of working out on the farm, etc) contributes to diabetes. I know people don’t like this idea because it seems to put the blame on the victim (the sloth and gluttony argument) but that is not what I am saying. It is just an unfortunate reality of modern life, and no doubt compounded by dietary factors like fructose, PUFAs, toxins, etc.
You didn’t really address anything that I actually said. The first comment was in regards to the blame on fat consumption by a diabetes association, to which Amy replied that diabetes is associated with a high fat diet. I don’t see how this would be explained in any kind of historical or evolutionary context.
Amy modified this by saying she thought it was the PUFAs. Ok, this fits into a historical context, because overconsumption of PUFAs is relatively new to human history. However, I don’t see how that can be explained from a standpoint of biology.
I wasn’t arguing that fructose doesn’t contribute to diabetes, I was arguing that I doubt it fat consumption of any kind does. I wouldn’t be surprised if fructose played a role.
And finally, you’re free to believe whatever you’d like about the way the causation goes. I’m not the best at explaining the nuances of “you eat because you’re fat” versus “you’re fat because you eat”, Tom Naughton explains it pretty well, if you want to look into it (though he uses a comedic twist).
I don’t think it makes any sense to believe that all of the sudden, after millenia of having the will power to maintain appropriate weights, we are suddenly a bunch of sloths and gluttons who don’t know how to control our portion sizes. It’s interesting that in Dr. Lustig’s practice, when he gave overweight cancer patients an insulin suppressing drug they spontaneously ate less and moved more, though. Guess they suddenly managed to summon up the will power to lose weight. And now the incidence of “obese” six month olds is on the rise, I guess that must be because they sit at a cubicle all day and don’t get out and move enough.
I agree with you- I said I DON’T think it’s sloth and gluttony. I just don’t think that diabetes *causes* sedentarism and I’m not even sure how that would work.
I’ll be more clear- I think sedentary lifestyle is caused by modern life. I think obesity/diabetes is caused by sedentarism AND overeating, which is a result of a surplus of empty calories and probably hormonal disregulation from something like fructose or other toxins. It has nothing to do with “willpower.”
I mentioned fructose in the context of this whole thread, especially the insulin discussion. I find it quite interesting that fructose is the only carb ever implicated in IR, when it provokes no insulin response.
Saying obesity is caused by overeating is like saying alcoholism is caused by drinking too much…it explains nothing. It’s a tautology. The question is why are we overeating? And why, other than difficulty w/ adherence, would you believe a low carb diet wouldn’t solve the problem of overeating and therefore obesity?
Also, my point is that obesity would cause sedentary lifestyle and a cycle of overeating, not that diabetes would. Sorry if that was unclear.
Yes, I realize it explains nothing, which is why I provided a couple of examples of why we might be eating too much.
After you say that the question is “why are we overeating”, you turn around and say overeating is caused by obesity! So which one is it? By the way that is just as meaningless as it is the other way around. You haven’t answered why we become obese in the first place.
oh wait don’t tell me- “insulin,” am I right?
Clearly, a low-carb diet does work for a lot of people in terms of weight loss, although I think you can’t discount compliance as one of the biggest factors in the success of a diet. I am not against low-carb diets per se… I am against the pseudo-science being propagated by a lot of low-carbers with respect to insulin, obesity, diabetes etc. Then again a lot of people find that low-carb fails them after some time. Gary Taubes says he can’t eat more than a handful of blueberries without gaining weight. Does that sound normal?? I see the low-carb dogma as just the flip side of the low-fat dogma, not a new healthy view of food. It is just another way for people to punish their bodies and deny their natural instincts. But if you find it freeing to never be able to eat fruit, or rice, or milk, or potatoes, or yams, or beans, or enjoy a dessert from time to time, then perhaps I am wrong. That is just how I see it.
OK, we’re clearly going around in circles and not listening to what the other is saying. If you don’t like the idea of a low carb diet, that’s fine. I still see no evidence from you that it’s ineffective and dangerous, so I guess that’s where my confusion is about your strong opinion on the matter and your dislike for Gary Taubes. We’ll just have to agree to disagree because I haven’t seen anything here that changes my views, and you clearly haven’t either.
[email protected] says
Kel, I can simply answer this question for you because my father is a physician and he completely cured himself of kidney stones many years ago and he had them chronically. Some people have a certain body chemistry that allows excess calcium to be precipitated out of solution (aka blood and lymph) when they have low levels of magnesium in the body. Calcium and magnesium need to be in balance to allow both to control the calcium pump in the muscles. Without calcium your muscles cannot contract and without magnesium your muscles cannot relax. If you take in too much calcium in any form and you have low levels of magnesium you can get muscle cramping, osteoporosis (yes, you cant deposit calcium in your bones without magnesium), kidney, tonsil and bladder stones. Simply taking one magnesium oxide supplement daily or eating a high level of magnesium rich foods like dark greens will help to alleviate stone formation in the body. Most folks who are on a “diet” usually take calcium supplements and this excess calcium, in the absence of magnesium will be deposited in the form of stones. Some folks have uric acid stone formation which generally happens in the presence of high levels of carbolhydrates and pyruvate, not low levels. Uric acid stone formation and gout can be easily controlled by drinking diluted black cherry juice every day. Hope that clears up the argument. You can check it out online. The science is indisputable, and I know my dad, who takes a small daily magnesium tablet has not had another stone in over 38 years. 🙂 Alex
Bent P West says
The diet is not the cause, it is the result.
Low-carb diets probably don’t cause kidney stones, but they will screw up your metabolism and increase insulin resistance. Low carb is a short-term solution that leads to long-term problems. I’m not Asian (I’m of northern European decent) and I eat a ton of carbs. I’m a size 0 or 2 in all my clothes. Clearly it’s not because I have some kind of large pancreas that I can do this. Carbs fuel the metabolism. (If you’ve been low-carb, then eating carbs will cause weight gain, but this is because you’ve damaged your metabolism, not because carbs are inherently fattening or bad). Weston A. Price reported on lots of healthy cultures eating carbs. I would argue they are essential for good health, and I can’t understand why WAPF followers seem to demonize them. Sure, you don’t need to load up on wonder bread, but things like potatoes, yams, sourdough bread, rice and fruit are very healthy.
I would be very wary of cutting carbs (even to “moderate” levels) because the health consequences are real, and the weight gain when you add them back will feel very real. Just don’t even start down that path.
I so agree with you. I have also moved away from eating lard and nuts, especially, and I have spontaneously lowered my fat intake overall, upped my carbs, and feel great.
Actually my philosophy is that it’s dumb to worry too much about macronutrient ratios. People who have read WAP should know that better than anyone- the human body seems to be able to run well on vastly different ratios. I am getting a bit distressed by this low-carb fervor in WAPF.
By the way if anyone doubts that high-carb can increase insulin sensitivity, that is exactly how you are told to “fool” an OGTT when you are pregnant. FWIW.
Hm, I don’t necessarily eat low carb, but I do avoid gluten grains and most legumes. They’re not the body’s preferred fuel. I think the reason low-carb has so many followers is because it makes sense from biological, historical and anthropological perspectives. Studies can be tweaked to prove whatever the researcher wants (hence all the conflicting article titles from week to week on nutrition and health), but common sense is common sense.
Your argument that low carbing increases insulin sensitivity is moot for those who prefers to lead a low carb LIFESTYLE rather than being on a short term low carb DIET. ALL diets will fail to maintain results if one does not make transition from diet to lifestyle.
I don’t necessarily think all carbs are created equal or that they’re “evils” to our metabolisms. However, I do think SOMETHING in our culture has impacted out insulin sensitivity. Maybe HCFS, maybe frankenfats, maybe white bread…who knows. But once we have damaged our metabolisms, I do think reverting to a “paleo” lifestyle is a reasonable way to lose weight and “cure” some health problems. As long as someone understands that it is a lifestyle change and not a crash diet.
Just my 2 cents.
Oops I meant “low carbing increases insulin resistance”
I agree, if someone likes to eat low-carb and spontaneously eats that way anyway, then insulin sensitivity is a moot point. I would not be that person though! I would rather avoid and/or resolve insulin resistance, and low-carb is not the way to go about that. If one ever goes back to eating carbs, the low-carb stint will have made the situation worse.
I disagree that low-carb is common sense from a biological, historical or anthropological perspective… I already gave my reasons for those. No one on this thread has addressed those issues. Anyway, I think people like low-carb because they lose weight on it, due to a spontaneous reduction in calories. However it seems that a lot of people stall out in weight loss and/or regain, including Jimmy Moore if I’m not mistaken. That right there shows you that low-carb does not “fix” insulin resistance.
I also disagree that many people are permanently metabolically damaged. I think the solution to it is just kind of murky.
Can you tell me where raw milk falls in the whole low-carb realm? I’m having a really tough time with just the idea of giving up my beloved sweets and bread and potatoes and…and… But, I could probably tough it out if I could continue having all the raw milk I want (which is usually somewhere between 1-2 quarts a day).
Jennifer, don’t even go down that path. There’s a reason you don’t want to “tough it out.” Your body needs carbs. If you want to lose weight, I would keep the carbs (up them, even) and just try to keep your fats moderate, and saturated only (decent servings of butter, coconut oil and cheese, but not entire sticks of butter or anything; just use what your grandmother or great grandmother would have). Maybe instead of lots of refined sweets you can try to go for sweet fruits like bananas, mangoes and oranges. I’ll probably be crucified for saying this, but I think lard is fattening. I use ghee for cooking and it serves my body much better. I don’t use much olive oil, either. Nuts only sometimes and in small quantities – they are very fattening for me.
If your body wants raw milk, I personally say keep giving it to your body. If you’re taking in all that good fat from 1-2 quarts, you don’t need as much in the rest of your diet.
This is just my 2 cents. I’m sure people may jump all over it, but it works for me. I’m thin and healthy. The more you can make peace with the diet that makes you happy, the happier and thinner you’ll be.
Please don’t take this as judgemental, but you seem to be one of the lucky people with a good metabolism and good genes. The last time I saw a single-digit clothing number was pre-puberty, and ever since then I’ve been fighting a losing battle with my weight. Unless you’ve personally fought this battle, you probably can’t really understand where I’m coming from, but I’ll try to explain:
The science is not on your side when it comes to low carb, unfortunately (check out Good Calories, Bad Calories – it’s eye-opening; I’ve probably read 100 books on diet in the last 15 years and this one has more backed-up, long-term, CREDIBLE research than the other 99 combined!). My body is not happy or healthy when I eat 95% of the carbs out there, even the unrefined ones. I now have several signs of insulin resistance, also known as metabolic syndrome or “pre-diabetes”.
I’m 35, 230 lbs, wear a size 20W, and I’m embarrassed to leave my house. Just the other day my 7 year old daughter commented that my LEG is “bigger around than daddy’s whole body.” 15 years ago I was 150 lbs, wore a size 12, and despite the fact that I was “denying” myself things like raspberry-chocolate cheesecake and chocolate fudge brownies with a big dollop of ice cream on top, I was healthy and I was happy.
I “fell off the wagon” so to speak, when I got married to a man who grew up on Stouffer’s and Pop-Tarts, and over the past 15 years the only time I’ve felt okay, both inside and out, was 3 years ago when I had to go on a strict candida diet after 3 rounds of Cipro completely screwed up my gut, and was only able to eat meat, fruits, vegetables and brown rice. But I went into that thinking that I’d eventually be able to get back to “regular” food, and all the weight I lost on that 16 week diet (60 lbs) came back with friends when I went back to the carbs. By the carbs I mean desserts, yes, but also bread/toast, potatoes, crackers, etc. Even the whole-grain, soaked/sprouted, homemade versions. I follow a WAP diet and have been since we started moving in this direction about 6 years ago (thankfully, my husband and kids are on board 100% with this). My BRAIN loves carbs (and the nice little serotonin boost carbs give it) but eating them has slowed my metabolism and caused my body to store fat in some obnoxious places.
If you read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration closely, you will see that while many of the non-modern civilizations Dr. Price studied ate SOME carbs, but very few of them ate any majority of their diet in carbs. In addition, your assertion that low-carb diets “will screw up your metabolism and increase insulin resistance” is backwards. They can actually fix what the carbs screwed up in the first place. If you don’t want to spend the 20 or so hours it’ll take to read Good Calories, Bad Calories, take a look at Gary Taube’s Why We Get Fat (and what to do about it), which sums up the same research.
Thanks for your opinion, but I’ve done my research. Just because I don’t WANT to give up most carbs doesn’t mean I SHOULDN’T. In fact, I’m certain that being around to see my grandkids is going to depend on doing so.
Most people here have had a revelation at some point that not all fat is created equal, and that there are some types of fat to avoid and some to embrace. Fats that traditional people ate, or that our grandparents ate, are probably health-promoting. Fats that are modern industrial inventions are likely not health-promoting.
Somehow the same people who have loudly (and correctly) championed this idea have completely lost the same perspective on carbs.* It’s like they were so brainwashed by the mainstream ideas on fats, they can’t break free from the idea of SOME macronutrient being the devil. They just switched the macro. Suddenly foods like raw milk and fruit and beans- some of the best stuff you can eat- are equivalent to a snickers bar.
*Yes, I am absolutely talking about Taubes, who has to ignore so much contrary data to believe his theory, his head must be spinning.
And there ARE plenty of cultures that eat very high carb. Pima, Zulu, Kitavans, Andean Indians spring to mind first.
You might find this article on the insulin/weight response of dairy interesting:
Also there is a study showing dairy decreases risk for diabetes:
I hope you still are reading the thread because I think it would be a shame for you to give up your yummy milk.
Thanks, Tierny, you sum it up very well.
Jennifer, I really feel your pain about your weight. It’s a tough situation, I can imagine. It is fine with me for you to eat however you want. However, I would urge you to look thoroughly at both sides and not only base it on reading arguments from the low-carb camp. I have not won some genetic lottery. Both of my parents are overweight (though not obese). I come from an eating disorder background. Years of a restricting-binging-overexercising cycle are not kind to your metabolism. I put on a lot of weight coming out of that, and it took 4 years for my metabolism to recover. I finally think it mostly has. Not dieting was really important, and it’s how I learned to eat intuitively, eating whatever my body wants. That plus eating real food is honestly the way to a healthy waistline (though it takes time). It means listening when your body craves carbs. The unfortunate thing is, after a low-carb diet you will put on weight if you eat carbs again (I did after a thankfully short lowish carb stint). But eventually it can come off.
I just want to put the other side out there. There’s so much promotion of low-carb among WAPF followers, but in my experience it is not the right way. And it just is not sustainable. I don’t pretend to understand your situation and body, and I’m not a doctor, but there is a lot of evidence out there to suggest that low-carb harms thyroid health and insulin sensitivity in a real way. People at least need to look at both sides before embarking on a path that can end up causing more harm in the long run.
I don’t know if I agree that there’s “so much promotion of low-carb among WAPF followers”. That’s not really so much a WAPF thing, although Sally Fallon has said in the past that butter isn’t the problem (referring to weight issues) but instead what you’re putting the butter ON. WAPF does promote the GAPS Diet for healing health issues (and that’s definitely low-carb along with many other aspects to it), but it’s not for the long term. WAPF promotes the benefits of soaked grains and raw milk, and those aren’t exactly low-carb!
Yeah, I think WAPF is more “pro carb” than I would like. With all the soaking and sprouting grains, I feel like most blogs I read that align w/ WAPF philosophy are mostly grains (like whole wheat pastas, soaked grain breads/desserts, etc) and legumes (like soaked beans).
In my opinion (just my opinion), the answer to your question about raw milk, or ANY of the good carbs (fruits & veggies, sweet potatoes, etc.), is that it all depends on YOU. If you have a lot of weight to lose or blood sugar issues or some other good reason for lowering carbs, then you’ll want to decrease (or eliminate for a while) your consumption of those. Otherwise, if you feel good, then keep doing what you’re doing!
Link to an interesting discussion about kidney (renal) stones and diet:
There’s a plausible theory that lots of people eating typical industrial food diets (esp with high seed oil/imbalanced with low or no omega-3 FA and high refined fructose intake) are walking around with asymptomatic stones in their kidneys; they just don’t know it because the stones are too big go go anywhere or cause symptoms that would prompt a medical investigation. When they go on a Low Carb diet, their systemic inflammation is reduced, and so the large asymptomatic stones start to shrink, and if small enough, start to shift and “pass”, causing symptoms to flare up, with resulting pain.
“Asian-Americans have an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Do their pancreas shrink when they emigrate?”
It’s possible. Studies show that while Japanese living in their native country have a low rate of breast cancer, when they move to the US their breast cancer rates become as high as ours within 2 generations. Seems just as possible for the pancreas to “adapt”.
That is not “adaptation” (in either case). They are at an INCREASED risk for diabetes and breast cancer.
Nit-picking my word choice does not change the facts, though. The risk increases here. Even I tend to doubt the “larger pancreas” theory, but clearly it is possible to become very high risk for several diseases by living here. I’m sure the in-depth studies would show many lifestyle changes between native Japanese and Japanese-Americans, so I’m not suggesting that the only change would be the size of the pancreas. I guess what I’m trying to say is that calling her understanding a “low-carber myth” comes across as a knee-jerk reaction from someone who is clearly anti-low-carb.
Despite all that, I’d be curious to know your specific reasons for being against low-carb? You’ve already poo-pooed Taubes, who “has to ignore so much contrary data to believe his theory, his head must be spinning.” in your opinions. I’m curious where your contrary data is coming from. Like I mentioned previously, I’ve been reading the research, the studies, the books about just about every diet you could throw at me for over 15 years. I’ve never come upon any research that’s even close to as compelling and well-laid-out as Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories. His documentation is thorough, goes back over a century, and is corroborated again and again by study after study. Have you even read it?
I’d be very interested in seeing some documentation, too, as most of what I’ve seen recently backs up the “low to moderate carb intake” as being preferable.
I’m sorry if my skepticism comes across as a knee-jerk reaction. I already said I’d be quite happy to admit I was wrong if someone puts up some evidence.
I read GCBC when it came out a few years ago. I then had a brief flirtation with low-carb and decided it didn’t make sense for me. I feel better eating high-carb- lots of milk, rice, beans, fruit, potatoes etc. Since then I have read a lot of critical reviews of GCBC and understood what he got wrong. But I make up my own mind based on a chain of reasoning most of which I have already mentioned:
the biological facts seem as if we are adapted for a reasonable carb intake- certainly they do not support a VLC hypothesis
the presence of healthy native peoples eating high-carb diets
studies showing increased insulin sensitivity to carb overfeeding (abstracts are freely available on Pubmed)- one of the best case studies here is the potato diet guy, who ate only potatoes for two months and saw good improvement in insulin sensitivity… he also lost weight
friends’ experiments with low-carb- no one likes to stay on it, and everyone gains the weight back… in other words not a successful diet.
But I really believe you should do what works for you, if you like to eat low-carb and that makes you feel good, then you should. If I come across as “anti” low-carb it’s only because I see it as another mode of deprivation to our bodies, when what we need is nourishment.
Amanda Y. says
I know they’ve shown asians absorb the nutrients in seaweed better than asian-americans, so it is possible that with the environmental/dietary changes, their genetics mutate.
this is one of those areas where ya gotta go into your intuition about evolutionary diets/paleo and see if any studies can answer really answer this question better than just looking at our ancestral diets. i get a bit weary of the constant dragging out of the studies which are pretty much researcher-biased anyway.
does it make any sense that eating a diet consisting of what we evolved eating (low carb, higher protein, higher fat) would cause us such health-threatening difficulties if we will just STOP the modern food-like trash we eat/drink and drink lots of spring-like fresh water?
this is really NOT rocket (or nutritional)science – it’s more in the realm of common sense-
Hey! I’m new to your blog. Just wanted to put in my 2 cents.
After reading the Protein Power Life Plan, I’ve decided to embark on a low carb diet. AND, I’ve yielded GREAT results! 28 pounds and counting! I’ve never felt better, but I HAVE noticed that LOTS of water is really key to keeping everything running well. I’ll certainly be back for more visits!
My comment is not about kidney stones, per se, but you mentioned that you didn’t understand how the Taiwanese folks could eat so many carbs without ill effects. It’s my understand that may people of Asian descent have a larger pancreas that is better able to cope with what, for others, would be excess carbs.
That’s interesting, I’ve never heard that before. Do you remember where you read that?
Not offhand, and of course I can’t find it now. I’m sure it was in something discussing low carb diets.
To address Tierney’s comment, yes, I have read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. I’ve also read a fair amount about genetics, and about the history of civilization and farming in Asia (read “Farmers of 40 Centuries” – amazing). Look an any information about organ donation. They’ll tell you that transplants tend to be lower risk between members of the same race, especially on certain organs. While are genetic differences are minor on the grand scheme of things, they can make a difference.
As for the increased risk of type-2 diabetes, I’ll take your word on it. I would assume it’s linked to more exposure to “junk” food, not just carbohydrates. Regardless of race, we are all individuals, and each person responds differently.
I have a degree in genetics and molecular biology, so I do understand human variation. However I do not believe that Asians have a “bigger pancreas.” It just sets off my BS detector. If you come up with some evidence for it, I’d be happy to change my mind.
Your point about exposure to junk food is exactly what I am saying. It is about JUNK FOOD, not carbs.
The only person I ever knew who had kidney stones ate lots of processed crap. He thinks getting the oatmeal breakfast at McDonald’s is health food.
Thanks for the useful information!
I haven’t ever had kidney stones (praise God!), but my husband’s stepfather has. A lot. And he drinks soda. A lot. And not enough water. ‘nough said. I don’t remember if the book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water discusses dehydration being linked to kidney stones, but I can’t sing enough praises for the wonderful benefits of adequate water intake, with a pinch (or two, or three…) of unrefined sea salt.
Have you read Lights Out by TS Wiley. Great book about how the length of the day whether winter or summer determines how many cards we should be eating. I just finished eat and plan on eating my carbs in the summer when they are in season.
Joyful Mama says
I was a bit concerned about this, too, when I read an article about ketogenic diets and kidney problems. I am taking Dr. Thomas Cowan’s on-line course and asked him if I needed to be concerned about this while on GAPS. His answer was that a true ketogenic diet which is high fat and very low carbs will not cause kidney problems. I don’t remember his exact words, but I do believe that he said a high protein diet without the fat can cause problems.
Krista Arias says
I consulted with Dr. Cowan while he was treating my aunt for Alzheimer’s and he said that zero and low carb diets are NOT healthy diets for most people most of the time. He has an article in Wise Traditions that talks about increased grain consumption marking an evolutionary leap in human consciousness – where we went from total group mind to individuality. Do we really want to return to THAT???
Any chance he said which edition that article is in? I’d like to feature some of that in a post, but didn’t find it in a Google search. Thanks for your help!
We made the leap to a completely individualised consciousness long before agriculture came a long, most anthropological books concur with this. Even with the introduction of agriculture the diet would have been still predominantly protein with the still restricted carbs often partly fermented.
Just because a Doctor wrote a paper on the evolutionary jump caused by the introduction of carbs, does not mean “There was an evolutionary jump upon the introduction of carbs.” If fact moving to an agricultural system would have required this mental process to have already occurred, and thus couldn’t have resulted from it.
I know this is a somewhat chicken and egg response, however the evidence is within our bodies and many people still struggle with different types of carbs, particularly lactose and gluten (a protein associated with carbs). Whatever affect carbs will eventually have on our genome is yet to be fully observed.
of course it should be noted that the sugars in soda without any kind of nutrition attached to them do require minerals to be processed by the body anyway and can pull minerals out of our bones for this reason without the pasteurized homogenized skim milk intake. but the poor quality milk just makes it that much worse.
especially soda drinkers who also drink pasturized, homogenized, skim milk (and of course avoid all sunlight unless they slather on huge amounts of sunscreen) because their body can’t do anything with the calcium (because of no vit D or vit K to tell the calcium where to go) and the calcium gets bound up with the phosphates in the soda causing kidney stones…