Thursday January 23, 2020

The Role Carbs Play in Our Diet

To help people lose weight, Li examines her patients' eating and physical activity routines to identify improvements people will be able to live with.

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Diet
A dish of steak and cheese pasta is ready to eat in Concord, N.H., June 9, 2014. Two major studies in 2018 provided more fuel for the debate around carbs and fats, yet failed to offer a resolution to the polarizing matter of the best way to lose weight. VOA

Bacon and black coffee for breakfast, or oatmeal and bananas?

If you’re planning to try to lose weight in 2019, you’re sure to find a fierce debate online and among friends and family about how best to do it. It seems like everyone has an opinion, and new fads emerge every year.

Two major studies last year provided more fuel for a particularly polarizing topic — the role carbs play in making us fat. The studies gave scientists some clues, but, like other nutrition studies, they can’t say which diet — if any — is best for everyone.

That’s not going to satisfy people who want black-and-white answers, but nutrition research is extremely difficult and even the most respected studies come with big caveats. People are so different that it’s all but impossible to conduct studies that show what really works over long periods of time.

Before embarking on a weight loss plan for the new year, here’s a look at some of what was learned last year.

Food , delivery, diet
There’s no better time to start diet than during the dark, gloomy days of winter. Flickr

Fewer carbs, fewer pounds?

It’s no longer called the Atkins Diet, but the low-carb school of dieting has been enjoying a comeback. The idea is that the refined carbohydrates in foods like white bread are quickly converted into sugar in our bodies, leading to energy swings and hunger.

By cutting carbs, the claim is that weight loss will be easier because your body will instead burn fat for fuel while feeling less hungry. A recent study seems to offer more support for low-carb proponents. But, like many studies, it tried to understand just one sliver of how the body works.

The study, co-led by an author of books promoting low-carb diets, looked at whether varying carb levels might affect how the body uses energy. Among 164 participants, it found those on low-carb diets burned more total calories than those on high-carb diets.

The study did not say people lost more weight on a low-carb diet — and didn’t try to measure that. Meals and snacks were tightly controlled and continually adjusted so everyone’s weights stayed stable.

David Ludwig, a lead author of the paper and researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, said it suggests limiting carbs could make it easier for people to keep weight off once they’ve lost it. He said the approach might work best for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

fibre, bipolar, diet
Foods rich in fibre was found to reduce this adverse effects of stress in mice. Pixabay

Ludwig noted the study wasn’t intended to test long-term health effects or real-world scenarios where people make their own food. The findings also need to be replicated to be validated, he said.

Caroline Apovian of Boston University’s School of Medicine said the findings are interesting fodder for the scientific community, but that they shouldn’t be taken as advice for the average person looking to lose weight.

Do I avoid fat to be skinny?

For years people were advised to curb fats, which are found in foods including meat, nuts, eggs, butter and oil. Cutting fat was seen as a way to control weight, since a gram of fat has twice as many calories than the same amount of carbs or protein.

Many say the advice had the opposite effect by inadvertently giving us license to gobble up fat-free cookies, cakes and other foods that were instead full of the refined carbs and sugars now blamed for our wider waistlines.

Nutrition experts gradually moved away from blanket recommendations to limit fats for weight loss. Fats are necessary for absorbing important nutrients and can help us feel full. That doesn’t mean you have to subsist on steak drizzled in butter to be healthy.

Diet
Eat more fruit and vegetables to lower blood pressure. Pixabay

Bruce Y. Lee, a professor of international health at Johns Hopkins, said the lessons learned from the anti-fat fad should be applied to the anti-carb fad: Don’t oversimplify advice.

“There’s a constant look for an easy way out,” Lee said.

Which is better?

Another big study this past year found low-carb diets and low-fat diets were about equally as effective for weight loss. Results varied by individual, but after a year, people in both groups shed an average of 12 to 13 pounds.

The author noted the findings don’t contradict Ludwig’s low-carb study. Instead, they suggest there may be some flexibility in the ways we can lose weight. Participants in both groups were encouraged to focus on minimally processed foods like produce and meat prepared at home. Everyone was advised to limit added sugar and refined flour.

“If you got that foundation right, for many, that would be an enormous change,” said Christopher Gardner of Stanford University and one of the study’s authors.

Limiting processed foods could improve most diets by cutting down overall calories, while still leaving wiggle room for people’s preferences. That’s important, because for a diet to be effective, a person has to be able to stick to it. A breakfast of fruit and oatmeal may be filling for one person, but leave another hungry soon after.

Diet
Junk Food is highly rich in Cholesterol, pixabay

Gardner notes the study had its limitations, too. Participants’ diets weren’t controlled. People were instead instructed on how to achieve eating a low-carb or low-fat in regular meetings with dietitians, which may have provided a support network most dieters don’t have.

What works?

In the short term you can probably lose weight by eating only raw foods, or going vegan, or cutting out gluten, or following another diet plan that catches your eye. But what will work for you over the long term is a different question.

Also Read: Improve Your Food Delivery Service this Crazy Winter Season

Zhaoping Li, director of clinical nutrition division at the University of California, Los Angeles, says there is no single set of guidelines that help everyone lose weight and keep it off. It’s why diets often fail — they don’t account for the many factors that drive us to eat what we do.

To help people lose weight, Li examines her patients’ eating and physical activity routines to identify improvements people will be able to live with.

“What sticks is what matters,” Li said. (VOA)

Next Story

Quality of Food Plays Key Role in Deciding Kids’ Behaviour: Study

Poor gut bacteria may turn your kid into a problem child

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Kids behviour
Parents, it is time to check the quality of their food as microbiome in the gut plays a key role in deciding kids' behaviour. Pixabay

Parents, according to a latest health news if your kids throw attitude and do not listen to you despite repeated warnings at home, it is time to check the quality of their food as microbiome in the gut plays a key role in deciding kids’ behaviour, a novel study has found.

The study of early school-aged children (in the age group of 5-7) showed a connection between the bacteria in their gut and their behaviour, said researchers, adding that parents play a key role in their kids’ microbiome beyond the food they provide.

“Childhood is a formative period of behavioural and biological development that can be modified, for better or worse, by caregivers and the environments they help determine,” said microbiology and statistics researcher Tom Sharpton Oregon State University.

The gut microbiota features more than 10 trillion microbial cells from about 1,000 different bacterial species.

Kids behviour
The study of early school-aged children (in the age group of 5-7) showed a connection between the bacteria in their gut and their behaviour. Pixabay

The researchers, which included scientists from Stanford University and University of Manitoba, surveyed the gut microbiomes of 40 school-aged children.

The scientists collected stool from the children and parents filled out questionnaires on socioeconomic risk, behavioural dysregulation, caregiver behavior, demography, gut-related history (like antibiotic use) and a week-long diet journal.

They used a technique known as shotgun metagenomics to apply whole-genome sequencing to all of the organisms found in the subjects’ stool.

The technique gives insight into which microbes live in the gut and their functions.

“One of the novel associations we found was between Type VI secretion systems and behaviour,” said Keaton Stagaman of the OSU College of Science.

The findings, published in the journal mBio, are important because microbiome can shed light on which children are heading toward mental health challenges.

“Future studies will hopefully show whether these secretion systems have direct or indirect effects on the gut-brain axis and which organisms carry these systems,” Sharpton said.

Also Read- India Registers an Uptick in Diabetes and Thyroid: Report

The gut-brain axis, the reciprocal communication between the enteric nervous system and mood or behaviour, is a rapidly growing and exciting body of research.

The researchers said that future work should also take a close look at the impacts of diet on the microbiome and behaviour. (IANS)