Low-carb diet reduces inflammation and blood saturated fat in metabolic syndrome

Dec 03, 2007

Metabolic syndrome is a condition afflicting one quarter to one third of adult men and women and is an established pre-cursor to diabetes, coronary heart disease, and other serious illnesses. Patients have long been advised to eat a low-fat diet even though carbohydrate restriction has been found to be more effective at reducing specific markers, such as high triglycerides, characteristic of the syndrome.

Now, a new study indicates that a diet low in carbohydrates is also more effective than a diet low in fat in reducing saturated fatty acids in the blood and reducing markers of inflammation.

While there have been contradictory and confusing messages directed at health conscious consumers about dietary recommendations, most researchers agree on the need to limit inflammatory agents. In a report published in the on-line version of the journal Lipids, researchers at the University of Connecticut with co-authors from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, the University of Minnesota, and the University of California show much greater improvement in inflammatory markers in patients with metabolic syndrome on a very low carbohydrate approach compared to a low fat diet.

Lead researcher Jeff S. Volek, PhD, RD, associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut, describes the study as “adding to the evolving picture of improvement in general health beyond simple weight loss in keeping blood glucose and insulin under control.” The work is part of a larger study (currently under review) showing numerous improvements in blood lipids. The current work concludes that “lowering total and saturated fat only had a small effect on circulating inflammatory markers whereas reducing carbohydrate led to considerably greater reductions in a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules. These data implicate dietary carbohydrate rather than fat as a more significant nutritional factor contributing to inflammatory processes.”

Richard Feinman, PhD, professor of biochemistry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, adds, “The real importance of diets that lower carbohydrate content is that they are grounded in mechanism – carbohydrates stimulate insulin secretion which biases fat metabolism towards storage rather than oxidation. The inflammation results open a new aspect of the problem. From a practical standpoint, continued demonstrations that carbohydrate restriction is more beneficial than low fat could be good news to those wishing to forestall or manage the diseases associated with metabolic syndrome.”

One of the remarkable effects in the data presented that may have contributed to the results is that despite the three-fold greater saturated fat in the diet for the low carb group, saturated fat in the blood turned out to be higher in the low fat group due to the process known as carbohydrate-induced lipogenesis. Dr. Volek points out that “this clearly shows the limitations of the idea that ‘you are what you eat.’ Metabolism plays a big role. You are what your body does with what you eat.”

Source: SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Explore further: Restricting firearms access for people who misuse alcohol may prevent violence

Related Stories

Architects to hatch Ecocapsule as low-energy house

13 hours ago

Where people call home depends on varied factors, from poverty level to personal philosophy to vanity to community pressure. Ecocapsule appears to be the result of special factors, a team of architects applying ...

California farmers agree to drastically cut water use

17 hours ago

California farmers who hold some of the state's strongest water rights avoided the threat of deep mandatory cuts when the state accepted their proposal to voluntarily reduce consumption by 25 percent amid ...

Apple may deliver ways to rev up the iPad, report says

17 hours ago

MacRumors last month said that the latest numbers from market research firm IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker revealed Apple stayed on as the largest vendor in a declining tablet market. The iPad ...

Recommended for you

Food barometer measures a population’'s eating habits

1 hour ago

A survey by Taylor's-Toulouse University Centre (TTUC) is collecting data on the food habits of individuals and how their choices are related to modernisation and other social factors. Results show that almost ...

Who you gonna call? Beijing smokebusters to go on patrol

5 hours ago

China's capital seeks to snuff out smoking in indoor public places on Monday with a new ban, unprecedented fines and a hotline to report offenders, but enforcement is doubtful in one of the world's most tobacco-addicted countries.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.