Monday, January 28, 2013

Science Monday - Cholesterol and Insulin

One of the biggest arguments against this diet or lifestyle by most people are of two points. One, and first that eating such large amounts of meat, and other fatty products must raise your cholesterol to dangerous levels, will cause heart attacks and is very unhealthy. The second is that there is little chance you can lose fat while eating fat, and that any weight lost would most likely be attributed to a calorie shortfall, and so any low-calorie diet would work just as well.

The body produces cholesterol, and it is a needed requirement for the body to operate properly. Cholesterol has several uses, including having a high concentration in cell membranes, necessity for bile production, and is a hormone precursor. With that in mind, an abnormal level of any substance in the body whether produced or not is typically going to be bad, but diet has less of an effect on cholesterol production, and more of an effect on how that cholesterol affects us.

The danger with cholesterol lies with inflammation, which causes cholesterol to accumulate on the walls of blood vessels. The key here is to understand what causes the inflammation. This inflammation is caused by "the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods." Dr. Dwight Lundell

To defend the second point, the key here is to understand how insulin mechanisms work in our body. When insulin is released it is a trigger to store fat, rather than use it, to try and lower the blood sugar levels by having your body burn  carbohydrates for energy primarily. If you do not trigger a significant insulin response your body will have a harder time storing that fat, and will need to use that energy instead. Insulin release is the result of high blood sugars (or excess amounts of carbohydrates, especially simple, highly processed carbohydrates), though it can also be triggered by very high levels of proteins.

The point here is to realize that if we have low levels of insulin in our blood, our bodies cannot effectively store fat. This means eating a food or meal with high levels of carbohydrates, and fats is a very dangerous combination. Eating low carbohydrates every day will allow your body to more efficiently burn fats for energy (a longer burning energy source), and will help prevent inflammation in the blood vessels. Low carbohydrates does not mean you should ignore healthy sources, from fruits and vegetables, but rather to keep a watchful eye on where your sources are coming from  and to be vigilant on levels you are trying to maintain. (Keto - 20g, Keleo - 50g, Paleo - 100g)

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