These vegan health articles are presented to assist you in taking a pro-active part in your own health.
“The Atkins Diet Does Not Increase Heart Disease” – So They Say
Studies comparing the effects of the Atkins Diet and a relatively high-cholesterol, 30% fat, calorie-restricted diet show, on average, the Atkins Diet increases total cholesterol by about 2%, and LDL-cholesterol by 3% -- whereas, the “low-fat” diet lowers these values by 6 % and 9%, respectively. You may wonder why doubling the saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet by switching to Atkins doesn’t make even a worse impact on the blood lipids (cholesterol). There are two important reasons for these unexpected findings.
First, the body has tremendous capacity to adapt to extraordinary living conditions in order to survive. When the fat intake becomes extreme, as it does with the Atkins Diet, the excess fat interferes with the intestinal absorption of cholesterol in some, but not all, individuals.61 Also, the first 200 to 400 mg of cholesterol consumed completely saturates the capacity of the gut to absorb cholesterol, so any additional is left behind in the intestine, to be excreted.62 When subjects are already consuming 30% fat, and 300 mg to 500 mg of cholesterol, as they are on their pre-Atkins, typical American diet, then little additional impact is caused by further increases when switching to the Atkins Diet. Obviously, meaningful information cannot be gained about the true impact of the Atkins Diet on the body by comparing it with a calorie-reduced version of a diet that kills more than two-thirds of its followers prematurely in the first place, the rich Western diet.
Second, the Atkins Diet works by making people sick. As mentioned above, followers of this kind of diet complain of reduced appetite, nausea, and fatigue – all symptoms of illness, which result in a natural reduction in daily food intake. Expected consequences of eating smaller amounts of red meat, poultry, fish, and cheese – basic components of these low-carbohydrate diets – are that people consume less saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, animal protein, and fewer calories. Signs of improved health seem to appear because risk factors, like cholesterol, triglycerides, uric acid, glucose, blood pressure, and body weight decrease – and the patient is declared healthier. Not necessarily so. Similar benefits, for similar reasons, are seen when patients are placed on cancer chemotherapy – and doctors don’t brag about these results.
Confirmation of this “semi-starvation” mechanism of the Atkins Diet for improved risk factors comes from the results of research on young people with seizure disorders, treated with a ketogenic diet (like Atkins), who are encouraged to eat sufficient calories to maintain their body weight. Under these circumstances, all risk factors – including cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides – increase dramatically (and HDL-cholesterol decreases).
In simplest terms, low-carbohydrate diets exaggerate consumption of the unhealthiest components of the Western diet (animal protein and fat) to a level that makes people sufficiently ill to lose their desire to eat – and expected changes follow. The alternative is to encourage people to eat foods that promote both ideal body weight and health – those from a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet.[33,34]
Finally, this entire subject of risk factors must be placed in proper perspective. Risk factors, like the level of cholesterol in the blood, are not diseases, but rather bits of information that help to foretell one’s future health. No one dies of high-cholesterol – rather, they die of diseased arteries – but because the same foods that raise cholesterol also damage the arteries, the two are commonly associated. Therefore, because this is an association, rather than a cause-and-effect relationship, it is important to realize that improving the values of risk factors may not necessarily translate into improved health – this is obviously true if the means for changing these values is inherently unhealthy, like feeding a diet of pork rinds, fried hamburger patties, and lobster dripping in butter to people; i.e. the Atkins Diet.
We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.