Why Not Keto? October 11, 2018 08:21

The keto diet is everywhere right now.  Marianne and I (Annette) have some strong opinions about this fact, and I’ve decided to share my thoughts…

What is the optimal diet for humans?  Different answers to this question have been used to justify diets and eating styles of all kinds.  We can be certain that humans are highly adaptable and can survive on lots of different diets, even French fries and Twinkies.

Given the high incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, it’s imperative that we figure out the best way to fight these diseases – and if food plays a large role.  Well, there is only one diet that has been shown to greatly impact all of these “diseases of affluence.”  Yes, these are diseases of societies that have access to a lot of food, but most importantly, a lot of processed food with very low nutrient density.

And yes, you’ve probably figured out that a whole food, plant-based diet is the one associated with the biggest impact on these conditions.

Every day, there is more research to support this.  But on to the topic at hand and why keto is getting so much attention.

Confused and Conflicted.  We’re being intentionally misled and confused as part of an effort to sell products.  And those products are foods with high margins & money-making capacity.  Foods like eggs, dairy, meat, and processed snacks.  The underlying reasons why these foods are money-makers get into things like government subsidies and factory farming, topics for another day. But for now, we can probably agree that the margins on organic broccoli and brown rice can’t compare.

It’s so bad that even our government will no longer let the egg council use the word “healthy” when describing eggs, but many people are still convinced eggs are healthy based on the “incredible, edible egg” campaign and the repetition of the word “protein.”  This is just one example.

Who should we listen to?  Plenty of scientists, doctors, and other experts are giving us balanced, reasonable advice, but they are not always the most glamorous or famous ones.  Examples include:

  • Kim A. Williams, former president of the American College of Cardiology has been advising patients to eat plant-based for years. He has said “There are two kinds of cardiologists: vegans and those who haven’t read the data.”
  • Michael Greger runs nutritiondata.org, a non-profit, science-based storehouse of studies and facts related to health and nutrition. He has poured countless hours into making videos and writing papers summarizing scientific studies for all of us.
  • Locally, we have Dr. Riz Bukhari, a vascular surgeon, who has started PlantbasedDFW along with his wife, Maya.
  • And SO MANY MORE, locally and nationally!

Bottom line: consider the source, and the commercial interests, of those sources when you hear nutrition advice.  And yes, I am a co-owner of Nature’s Plate, so please consider that as well and do your own reading and research.  (In my defense, I was plant-based for over 15 years before Nature’s Plate, and our motivation to form the company grew out of our belief in and experience with the healing effects of plant-based food, not the other way around.  And, there’s just not much money in plant-based food, believe me. 😊  My earning capacity was much higher before I decided to pursue my passions.)

Use your own common sense –

  • Vegetables are the original health food – we all know they are packed with health-sustaining, disease fighting phyto-chemicals.
  • Whole foods, high in complex carbs provide plenty of protein (is protein deficiency really a problem in our society?), plenty of nutrients, and most importantly plenty of fiber (and we do have a serious fiber deficiency).
  • Low carb diets are NOT new. People have been using the quick weight loss story to sell books, programs, and all kinds of supplements for a long time: think Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, etc.
  • Sustained, healthy weight loss beats quick results. Yes, people lose weight on low carb diets, including Keto, and rapid weight loss is exciting.  But what’s really important?  Which foods are best for our internal organs and overall health?  Which foods make us feel best?
  • Which diet is most highly correlated with long-term health, low rates of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes?
  • The keto diet was created as a treatment for a very serious medical condition – it was not meant as diet for weight loss. The weight loss is a side effect.  The state of ketosis is not a normal, healthy state.
  • If you haven’t already done so, please try plant-based (or largely plant-based) for 30 days and just see how you feel! Get your bloodwork done.  Check your blood pressure before and after.

A few closing thoughts:

1. Carbs have gotten a bad rap.  All carbs provide energy and fuel for our bodies, including our brain, but carbs come in different packages.  Whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, are all great sources of complex carbs combined with lots of other things we need, namely nutrients and fiber.  White sugar and flour are also sources of carbs but with nothing our bodies need.  Let’s not group Oreos with carrots.

2. Foods do not equal macro-nutrients.  Most foods are some combination of carbs, fat, and protein.  Most animal products contain more fat than protein.  Whole plant foods contain protein along with varying amounts of carbs and fat. 

3. Animal foods have ZERO fiber!

4. Plant foods have ZERO cholesterol!  Always, no exceptions.

5. The Lancet Public Health Journal’s publication about the study showing that low-carb diets are correlated with higher rates of mortality has been widely shared in the last month.  One additional note of interest from this study – the rate of mortality (as in death) was much higher when the carbs were replaced with animal-based fat and protein as compared to plant-based fat and protein.  That’s not a sound bite, but it’s very important.

And I’d like to end with this quote from T. Colin Campbell, one of the pioneers in plant-based nutrition research:

"How healthy is the WFPB (whole food, plant-based) diet? It's hard to imagine anything healthier--or anything more effective at addressing our biggest health issues. Not only is the WFPB diet the healthiest way of eating that has ever been studied, but it’s far more effective in promoting heath and preventing disease than prescription drugs, surgery, vitamin and herbal supplementation, and genetic manipulation. If the WFPB diet were a pill, its inventor would be the wealthiest person on earth. Since it isn't a pill, no market forces conspire to advocate for it. " --Dr. T. Colin Campbell, "Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition"