This statement has probably done more health damage then one can think. Of course, if you compare the “Mediterranean diet” to the “Western diet” full of processed food saturated with sugar, bad quality, taste enhancer ect, you may get good results. But if you compare the Med Diet to a low-carb diet, your results will be different…
The world famous Med-Diet became known when Dr. Ancel Keys did his “7 countries study” with, as you may know, not including the statistics of the 22 countries he had with him at this time. Since then, luckily, the trick results he got became public. More recently, a doctor form Barcelona redid his observational studies on the island of Crete to discover Keys visited the island after World-War 2 when inhabitants where recovering from a period of famine, which had created a situation of “calorie restriction” with the positive health effect we know today.
More interestingly, he also discovered Keys did some of his observations during Lent which is, again, another period of fast. And as Lent is in spring, which is the season for salads in Europe (differently from today’s all-year-round salad availability…), and as the Cretans were eating the said salad because this is one of the rare thing they could get in this season from their gardens, he said they were healthy people because they were eating… salads! Soo much for a scientific approach. Anyway, our Barcelone doctor conclusion are Dr. Keys didn’t collect well his data, misinterpreted them, and trick them when necessary (we must not forget this was back in the 60’s and computers were not available as of today…).
Finally, Keys, to be sure nobody could find the said data to reinterpret them, he published them in an obscure German magazine… while he could have made them available - in English - in the most prestigious American Medical Reviews…
Historically, we know the inhabitants of the Mediterranean islands had a diet based on meat and NOT on fish, as everyone think. The reason being these islands where frequently invaded by conquerors arriving by boat and so, the islanders knew the danger came “from the sea”. So, for most of them, they lived “inland” where they could easily escape and hide in the mountains until the danger was over. The consequences being they would farm in summer and then for the rest of the year, they would survive on goat meat and cheese “soaked in olive oil”, making their diet 70 % fat!!!
And we must not suppose their diet was “carbohydrate rich” because they were farming: they were only getting fresh vegetables from small gardens, a few “sour” fruits that would come from wild plants and very occasional honey when they were lucky to find some. On these mountainous islands, there was rarely place for huge “fields of wheat or other cereals” as we can find them today.
More interestingly, in the last few decades, each time the Med Diet was studied and used in “another location”, it showed no health benefit. For example, Italian doctors tried the Med Diet on patients in Rome, and they discovered it was useless as a preventive tool.
Anyway, EVERY studies done in the last 10 years comparing the “Med Diet” to a “Western World” diet AND to a “LC diet”, the conclusions were the LC diets are providing the best health outcome, including weight loss and maintenance, lipid profile, diabetes control, and all the components of the Metabolic Syndrome.
“AN OCCASIONAL SWEET TREAT IS OK”
I am sure your have heard of a grandmother giving the advice “not to overdo sweets” but adding that an “occasional sweet treat cannot do harm”. I do not like to argue with “old grandmothers” but recent studies have show they may be wrong…
The explications may be complicated but I will try to make it simple.
Inside all cells, our genes are arranged along twisted molecules of DNA called chromosomes. At the ends of the chromosomes are structures called “telomeres”, which protect our genetic data AS each time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. This shortening is associated with aging, cancer, and a higher risk of death. In other words, without “telomeres”, the main part of the chromosome would get shorter each time a cell divides.
All this being said, shorter telomeres are associated with shorter lives. When testing the DNA of older folks, the ones with shorter telomeres are 3 times more likely to die from heart disease and eight times more likely to die from an infection.
Two factors are responsible for damaging our DNA and these are “oxidation” and “glycation”.
“Oxidation” is caused by oxidants which are highly reactive substances containing oxygen. They are produced when we breathe but also are a result from things like inflammation, infection, and consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. They bind to our DNA, proteins and lipids leaving them unable to do their jobs.
“Glycation” is about the same: it happens when glucose, the main sugar used as energy when on a high carb diet, binds to our DNA, proteins, and lipids.
Which brings us to the “occasional sweet treat” suggested by grandma.
When someone “rarely use sugar” or is on a “LC diet” (all depending on the individual carbohydrate tolerance), the mechanisms controlling blood sugar are switch “off”. The consequence being it may take up to 3 days to normalize blood sugar in this situation (meaning 3 days with hyperglycaemia), an undesirable situation.
The consequences of this bein,g during these 3 days, there will be some extra “glycation” and some “telomeres” damages. In a few words, our telomeres will become shorter and will offer less protection to our DNA. This may be translated in early aging, more risk for diseases in general and an higher chances for developing cancer.
Which brings us to a VERY important rule for any one doing a modified carb diet and especially a Zero Carb diet: there is NO PLACE for an occasional “sweet treat”, even if it was prepared by your adorable grandmother…
Some LC folks sometimes do recommend “carb reloading one day per week”, thinking they can avoid this “3 days situation”. Personality, I do not agree with this suggestion, as there are no reasons to keep the mechanism switch “on” as, theoretically, they will not eat other carbohydrates the other 6 days of the week and so, it would be useless.
Anyway, it takes often so much time to get into “nutritional ketosis” AND just a few grams of carbohydrates to get “out of nutritional ketosis”, a day per week of carb reloading would simply just be a step backward…
We must never forget today’s living grandmothers are, in majority, grandmothers born by the end of the 50’s, early 60’s, a generation having adopted the low-fat recommendations. I am not sure they are the best to give nutrition advice….
“CHOCOLATE OFFERS POSITIVE HEALTH BENEFITS”
I may have lost some “friends”, (luckily, no readers…), after my recent “alcohol advice”, so why not be brave again and lost some more talking about chocolate?
So let me say it right now: chocolate is an addictive substance, it is a stimulant of the nervous system and when eaten as “milk chocolate”, it comes full of sugar which makes it a bomb of “carbohydrate and fats”… maybe excellent for palatability and pleasure… but with eventual health consequences, especially if you are at any level of carb intolerance.
What made chocolate “famous” for health purpose, is it contains RESVERATROL. Some studies ON LABORATORY ANIMALS have SUGGESTED that consumption of resveratrol (drinking red wine and eating chocolate) MAY help you live longer and reduce risks like cancer and cardiovascular disease. BUT data are mixed in human studies. And…
And a recent study published in the JAMA Internal Medecine reported about some reseach done in Italy (in 2 small towns of Tuscany) on RESVARATOL. The study was well done, covers 9 years and includes older men and women. The searches have measured the level of resveratrol in urine samples, which is a reflection of dietary resveratrol intake from food sources (red wine, chocolate, fruits and berries). The study group was put into four groups, from the highest to lowest self-reported dietary resveratrol intake.
There were NO significant differences in the percentage of people dying among any of the resveratrol intake groups. There were also NO clear differences in markers of cellular inflammation, OR the rate of cardiovascular disease and cancer development among people across all resveratrol groups. Statistical analyses adjusted for age, sex, BMI, chronic diseases, and other variables.
These data suggest that the “HEALTH HALO” of dietary sources of resveratrol may NOT be justified and it do NOT appear to impact health risk or longevity. The study concluded: “These data argue against adding red wine or chocolate to a diet for health reasons alone”.
Interestingly, while resveratrol supplements are marketed to promote a myriad of health benefits, conflicting data in both animals and humans about direct health impact are well documented. As with many other food components translated to a supplement form by the industry, even in much higher amounts than ever naturally seen by the body, more may not always be better.
And do not forget: while one bar (1.55 oz) of MILK CHOCOLATE contains 40 g of carbohydrate, one bar of DARK CHOCOLATED still contains 25 g carbohydrates and MOST of it is pure sugar. Not forgetting chocolate presents a poor vitamin content.
So as you can see, antioxidant RESVERATROL is not showing as much glory as it us to.
Anyway, to be objective, I must add one last comment: did you know that the “concept of antioxidants and its pretended protection effects on the human body” is just a THEORY? Ok, it is probably a GOOD theory and has a lot of chances to be true but, as anyone on a LC diet has experienced in his life, health is much more about what you DO NOT EAT then about what YOU ACTUALLY EAT.