In an earlier post on the Glycemic Index and NutriSystem we published some notes from Dr. Laurie Rothman on the subject. And we mentioned that we wanted to get Dr. Joel Fuhrman's take on it as well. We got it, and here it is. It is a dissenting view, and we work to present a wide array of views and approaches. This is also an interesting perspective on the dominant approach to fight metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Joel is essentially arguing against what most MD's are telling their patients. He also takes a swipe at our "Diet Fusion" idea- arguing that this is just "watering down" the ideal diet. We agree and just point out that "Diet Fusion" is methodology, not a diet. And this methodology leads to a very high level of micronutrient intake over time.
In diabetes research the glycemic index (GI) of carbohydrates has long been recognized as a favorable aid for diabetics to control blood sugar. The same is now often the case in lipid research as it has been demonstrated that high glycemic diets, rich in white flour, refined sweets and processed foods are unfavorable to both glucose levels and lipid parameters.
Authors and writers who advocate a high protein (meat-based) diet, hang their hat on the low glycemic index of animal products to explain the advantages of a diet rich in animal products and lower in vegetation. This view oversimplifies the multi-factorial nuances of nutrition and results in a distorted understanding of nutritional science.
Ranking food on glycemic index alone ignores many other factors that may make that food favorable or unfavorable. Because a carrot has a higher glycemic index than a slice of bacon does not make the bacon a better food for a diabetic or heart patient. There are other more important nutritional considerations besides the glycemic index, including the toxicity, micronutient density and fiber in the food. .
A good example of such nutritional nonsense is when Barry Sears of the Zone diet, warns against the consumption of lima beans, papayas and carrots because of their glycemic index and Atkin’s excludes or limits those carbohydrate containing fruits and vegetables with proven powerful anti-cancer benefits.
The studies that have looked at the negative effects of a higher glycemic diet are always diets that are low in nutrients and fiber, with lots of processed grains and sweets. Obviously this diet-style is not unhealthy merely because the diet has a high glycemic response. Processed foods are also low in fiber, phytonutrients and anti-oxidants and rich in those toxic acrlyamides; they are disease-promoting foods and one of their features is that they have a high glycemic index.
When a diet is rich in high nutrient containing, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits the disease-protective qualities of these foods and the weight-loss benefits overwhelm any insignificant drawback from the high glycemic index of the carrot. Even though the entire diet taken as a whole happens to have a low glycemic index, eating lot of high micronutrient containing vegetables is the most effective way and the healthiest way to lose weight because it removes food cravings and the drive to overeat. The high phytochemical index is the main factor curtailing overeating, not the glycemic index of this diet.
Recently, a systematic review was performed of published human intervention studies comparing the effects of high- and low-GI foods or diets on appetite, food intake, energy expenditure and body weight. In a total of 31 short-term studies. The conclusion was that there is no evidence that low-GI foods are superior to high-GI foods in regard to long-term body weight control. More carefully performed research done recently compared the exact same caloric diets one with a lower and one with a higher glycemic index and demonstrated that lowering the glycemic load and glycemic index of weight reduction diets does not provide any added benefit to energy restriction in promoting weight loss in obese subjects.
The important point to remember is that a diet with a high micronutrient density already has a favorable glycemic index, but it also is low in saturated fat, high in fiber, rich in phytochemicals, and naturally alkaline. In other words, instead of focusing on one aspect alone consider all the positive features of what makes a diet-style disease protective. When you do this all popular diets look just second-rate and this fusion idea is just watering down the healthiest and most effective diet-style to be politically correct. Eat For Health results in people losing weight more effectively than gastric bypass and it is the most effective weight loss methodology ever recorded in the medical literature.
Joel Fuhrman is a board certified family physician specializing in nutrition and the author of Eat To Live and Eat for Health. Visit him at www.drfuhrman.com
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