The idea that metabolic disease is associated with high insulin is clear. The solution is also straightforward; stop eating processed carbs to bring the insulin down. Intermittent fasting also helps bring insulin down.
The fact that this has worked for many thousands of patients does not seem to impress the nutritional powers. Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard continues to recommend a very high carbohydrate diet of whole grains as seen in the recent EAT-Lancet report. He even allows for a pinch of table sugar along with the fruit and vegetables.
The argument against the insulin hypothesis goes like this: “I wish it were so simple, but (fill in the blank).” The cause of metabolic disease, according to the current nutrition authorities, is a complex of factors including genetics, food palatability, lack of exercise, and other stressors.
This came up recently when Gary Taubes was debating Stephan Guyenet. Gary Taubes is a well known reporter who advances the idea that the main cause of obesity is high insulin caused by carbohydrates. Guyenet takes the traditional view that puts much more emphasis on the brain and genetics.
They were talking about the Pima Indians and how the Pima on the US indian reservation had more obesity than those still eating their traditional diet off the reservation. Gary’s argument is that it was the reservation food that was leading to obesity where as Guyenet was arguing that there were many other factors such as exercise and lifestyle to consider. Of course, Guyenet is right that the Pima example resides in empirical observation and it does not prove the insulin hypothesis.
The observational evidence mounts, however, if we look at clinics that place people on low-carb diets. For example, Virta health has a 94% success rate in reducing medications for those with type 2 diabetes by lowering carb intake. Many of Virta’s patients have completely reversed their diabetes – something that almost never happens in mainstream clinics.
Real life evidence should speak louder then the prevailing "medical wisdom". Those doctors treating their patients with low carb diets are often reversing metabolic disease, while most people eating the “low fat” diet are continuing to become sicker.
Of course we do need to deepen our understanding of the mechanism behind metabolic disease. How does insulin react with the liver, fat cells and even the brain? What genes are turned on by sugar or fats in the blood stream and so on? But research into this mechanism should not stop the treatments that we know already work, such as intermittent fasting and going keto. Overwhelming observational evidence shows that reducing carbohydrates is a first line treatment for people with metabolic disease.
Controversy in disease prevention and treatment is nothing new. But it's now time to move past the logjam in incorrect thinking and make low carb a mainstream treatment for obesity and metabolic disease.
If you are overweight or insulin resistant it's important to get help. If you would like coaching on nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle feel free to contact Geoff's Personal Training.