I have been writing more lately about subjects that are of interest to anyone on a ZERO CARB diet, but not directly related to this way of eating, so I decided to come back to the basic. So today, I will do the exercise to concentrate ON THE SUBJECT OF THIS BLOG and explore the virtues of this incredible carbohydrate-free diet.
What still amazes me is how a diet void of plant food items, rich of protein and high in animal fats, help folks to enjoy good health, impressive lab profiles according to today’s medical standard and, let say it loudly, all this going against today’s official nutrition recommendations…
The question I want to ask here is why is this happening? How come if someone eats a diet totally to the opposite of what we were told in the last 50 years, this same person, even if sick with many pathologies like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases or even “inflammatory related health problems” like arthritis or fibromyalgia, will RECOVER, STOP MEDICATIONS AND BEGIN TO LIVE A FULL AND ENJOYABLE LIFE?
To answer the question, it would be nice to cite specific studies but, even if they DO exist, they do not always explain WHY IS THIS PHENOMENON HAPPENING…
Of course, we know if someone suffers diabetes and cannot properly metabolize carbohydrates, cutting back on the said carbohydrates seems a logical way AND actually do help to solve the problem. It is easily understandable, even if a large group of health professionals still believe “we need carbohydrates” and still recommend to diabetes to get many g of them in their daily diet…
But this is not what interest us here, as we are must more ahead in our thinking about modified-carb diets. What we want to know is WHY a diet like Zero Carb, supposingly not providing all the essentials nutrients (if you get it analyzed by any nutritionist or any “computerized diet analyzer”), brings in so much health gain?
The only way to understand what is happening is going back to basic physiology, assemble pieces of knowledge together and understand how the human body is adjusting to a Zero Carb diet. Of course, we do already know this way of eating is the way our ancestors used to eat and enjoyed good health but why and how is it working???
After reviewing some physiology and doing some research, I understood the best way was to concentrate on how the body gets its nutrients and how it deals with the said nutrients once it incorporates them in its diverse systems.
There are 3 ways the body reacts positively to a Zero Carb diet:
1- A diet based on animal products facilitates the absorption of nutrients compare to a plant based diet.
2- The absence of a “diet source” of glucose in one’s daily menu pushes the body in a recycling mode of nutrients.
3- The same absence of glucose from a “diet source” decreases the excretion of nutrients, compare to a glucose-rich diet.
It is all there; you do not have to look elsewhere. Let me explain.
For example, minerals from animal sources are fully absorbed, much better than those from plant sources. The reason beings minerals in meat are present in forms that are READILY absorbed and also because meat do NOT contain the binders founded in plant material, binders inhibiting absorption, such as phytates, lectins, ect. This is why vegans are so often lacking iron, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin D, name them.
But we must not on only consider “large nutrients” like vitamins but also “micro elements” that even if needed in small quantities, are still very important. A good example is ZINC. Diets in Middle Eastern countries are typically high in FIBER and PHYTATE, which inhibit zinc absorption and so zinc deficiencies are common in these countries. But nowadays, we are even beginning to see zinc deficiency in the United States. The same is true with COPPER. I am only talking about ZINC and COPPER because I could find studies confirming deficiencies for these two, which do not mean the same phenomenon is not happening with many others micro elements.
Talking more about “nutrient absorption”, an interesting research has recently documented the presence of increasing quantities of sugar in the small intestine PREVENTS absorption of vitamin C. So when someone drinks a big glass of sugary orange juice thinking to get some vitamin C, the larger the glass is, the smaller the absorbed quantity of vitamin C will be…
So even if a quantity of meat contains LESS of a nutrient compare to a source of this same nutrient of plant origin, the said nutrient will be better-absorbed making, meat a more nutritious food item. Adding this to the fact that refined carbs – empty calories foods – do actually provide nearly NO nutrients…
Let’s move now to what the body does when on a diet with NO diet source of glucose. First, let me say our body is excellent at recycling nutrients; it was designed this way; it is our “recommended increased intake of carbohydrate” that are changing these recycling mechanisms, thus pushing UP even more the “daily nutrients recommendations”.
For example, we well know vitamins are recycle over and over in cells so, in reality, we only need small quantities in our diet. But again, the presence of glucose changes the rule.
Our kidneys filtrate 180 liters of plasma fluids per day and so, they have a big job to do in recycling of nutrients. The way it works is easy: it filtrate a lot of stuff in the first parts then reabsorb what it needs, including minerals, trace minerals, vitamins, amino acids, hormones, glucose and water in the last loops of the kidneys according to the body’s needs.
But again, the high intake of sugar does compete for reuptake of many nutrients. The best and most common example is MAGNESIUM. Anyone of you that ever “overdid’ sugar, must have experienced afterward cramps (especially in the legs) due to an increase excretion of magnesium. It is also documented diets high in simple sugars cause in increased urinary CHROMIUM excretion in adults.
The same happens with vitamin C: the kidney uses the same channels for reuptake of glucose and vitamin C, but it gives priority to glucose. So, again, anytime someone drink a glass of orange juice, aside slowing down absorption because of the presence of sugar in the intestine, the kidney will prefer to reabsorb glucose and flush out the vitamin C.
Sadly, other common and important situations do interact with nutrients homeostasis. These are: smoking, drinking, excessive sunlight or excessive exercise, stress, lack of sleep, many medications, as all of them do increase our needs for vitamins by interacting on nutrients absorption, excretion or recycling.
At the end, as you can see, the positive health effects of a Zero Carb diet is not always about what we do actually eat, but also about what we DO NOT EAT as many sources of one nutrient, which are considered “excellent for health” do, in fact, reduce the availability of the said nutrient in the body.
Stick to meat, as meat is what nature has created for us to nourish our body. Plant food items are for “emergencies” and even if they are “nutritionally dense”, our body does not deal so well when it comes to absorb, metabolize, recycle and excrete the nutrients of such origin.