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Friday, September 30, 2005

Herbalist States Low-Carb Causes 'Irreversible Damage'


Gina Lindhardt argues that livin' la vida low-carb is "toxic" to your health

One of the more interesting aspects of this blog for me is reading what people think about the low-carb lifestyle from every angle possible. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I actually revel at the opportunity to read the incredibly ignorant comments from people who claim to have all the answers about what good nutrition should be. My enjoyment comes in breaking down the ludicrous assertions these people make by just sharing the truth about low-carb.

This Hurricane (UT) Valley Journal story by a woman named Gina Lindhardt certainly fits the bill. Bless her heart, Lindhardt thinks she has got the low-carb lifestyle pegged with her little op-ed column. I hate to burst her bubble, but she is probably one of the most extremist opposers to livin' la vida low-carb that I've seen with the lies and misinformation she communicates in this story.

Who is Gina Lindhardt? She's a Hurricane, Utah-based natural foods store owner who is a strong supporter of natural herbs for health and well-being. She obtained her Master's Herbalist degree and oftens shares with her customers about how eating organic food products can help them improve their quality of life.

With a background like that, you would think Lindhardt would be open to a lifestyle program that shuns processed foods and sugar. Instead, Lindhardt had some pretty harsh statements against livin' la vida low-carb that need to be addressed.

Declaring the "infatuation with low carbs and high protein" as being "finally over," Lindhardt wrote that the low-carb lifestyle has "fallen out of flavor" and that people should be glad that it is gone.

I hate to break the news to you Lindhardt, but low-carb is anything but gone. Have you checked out the latest numbers showing how many people are currently on a low-carb lifestyle? Tens of millions! MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS! Did I mention there were MILLIONS of people on low-carb?!

This belief that low-carb will -- POOF! -- go away just like that is silly. While I agree low-carb is indeed evolving since Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, this way of eating is anything but dead.

Lindhardt admits that for her and "a billion other people on this continent," losing weight is "always a constant struggle" and causes them to try any and every diet out there.

"Who hasn’t tried the high protein craze?  Too often we overlook the real cause of weight gain at the expense of our health, not being concerned about the long-term effects, because being skinny is healthy—no matter what the cost, right?  Wrong!"

If I hear Lindhardt correctly, is she asserting that someone who remains morbidly obese and continues to perpetuate their own health problems by remaining that way is somehow better off than someone who chooses to lose weight any way they can do it? Yikes! No wonder we get such twisted thinking as this!

Can we all agree with the premise that bringing your weight down with whatever method works best for you is better than staying overweight? I don't think there will be much of an argument on that point. Claims that weight loss programs such as low-carb, high-protein will somehow cause "irreversible damage," as Lindhardt contends, is an overzealous embellishment of reality. What's the alternative for someone who couldn't bear the thought of trying yet another hunger-producing low-fat/low-calorie/portion-controlled nasty-tasting diet plan all over again? Well, it's the latest trend in dieting: weight gain!

Is Lindhardt really trying to tell me and every other low-carber out there that eating doughnuts, french fries, pizza, sugary snacks and sodas, and more without any remorse is somehow a healthier way of living than controlling the number of carbohydrates you put in your mouth? Have we really forgotten how unhealthy our eating habits are when we eat "normal?" I know there is no way I'd ever be able to keep my weight down eating that way again. Livin' la vida low-carb has given me the freedom to eat a lot of the foods I love with only a few minor changes here and there. I AM healthier now because of the low-carb lifestyle and I resent the fact that someone would claim otherwise.

None of this seems to matter to Lindhardt. She says people may lose weight on low-carb initially, but a person quickly "runs out of carb fuel to burn." Huh? Your body doesn't need carbs to burn, it needs FAT to burn. That's why low-carb plans encourage participants to consume fat so your body can kickstart your fat-burning capacity into high gear. Low-fat, on the other hand, requires people to cut their fat and increase their carbs to lose weight. This is a clear difference in philosophy between low-fat diets and the low-carb lifestyle. You can lose weight on both, but which one is more sustainable over the long-term? If you've done them both, then the answer to that question is abundantly clear.

Arguing that ketosis, or the fat-burning mode when you restrict your carb intake, is dangerous to your health, Lindhardt said your lungs, kidneys, heart, and joints are all at risk when you are livin' la vida low-carb.

"These ketones escape through the lungs and out through the kidneys, which puts a terrible strain on them, resulting in irreversible damage.  Remember, there is no cure for kidney failure.  Consuming high amounts of animal protein is largely responsible for kidney stones and a high level of uric acid, which has been tied to cardiovascular disease.  The uric acid levels on a meat-centered diet might be forced so high that the acid could start crystallizing in one’s joints, triggering gout, an arthritic condition.

Sigh. What do you say about such nonsensical reasoning as this? I will respond with my own experience since I started livin' la vida low-carb. When I weighed 410 pounds, my breathing was extremely shallow and getting worse. Guess what? I don't have any problems with that anymore. As for my kidneys, it's funny how drinking 1-2 gallons of water per day helps keep them functioning just fine thank you very much. I am not worried about them failing me because of low-carb. Regarding meat consumption, GET OVER IT ALREADY! Low-carbers can eat meat. Period. End of story.

Why aren't people like Lindhardt standing in front of their local steakhouse or around the meat counter at their grocery store if they are so opposed to meat? They act like people on low-carb are the only ones who eat meat. No, we're just the only ones who don't eat a big fat baked potato and dinner bread with our meat. Instead, we enjoy a nice salad and green beans as we sink our teeth into a tender and juicy piece of God's greatest food -- STEAK! I had the best prime rib steak last night that I'm still thinking about today. Mmmmmm. But I digress. If you don't like people eating meat, then maybe you can join these PETA idiots who think we're all a bunch of "cannibals."

Getting in another snide remark about low-carb, Lindhardt said it is "so seriously deficient in nutrition" that you have to take vitamins. Does a natural foods expert like Lindhardt believe vitamins are not a vital part of a healthy weight maintenance program? Really? WOW! She laments that low-carb does not allow "the healthiest foods like fruit and starch-based vegetables," but there are plenty of both of these food items that you can enjoy when you are livin' la vida low-carb. Claims to the contrary are just not true.

Let's take a look at the top 10 ways Lindhardt recommends people get "thin, healthy and feel well":

1. "cut calories"

Calorie reduction will help you lose weight, but frankly you don't have to worry with counting calories when you are livin' la vida low-carb. I have not paid any attention to my caloric intake over the past two years and don't plan on starting. Sure, my calories have been reduced from what I used to eat, but there has not been a conscious effort to doing it. I've eaten the low-carb foods that I want in the quanties I want without any of the guilt that comes from low-calories diet plans.

2. "exercise more"

I can't disagree with exercise being a part of a healthy low-carb lifestyle.

3. "eat less fat"

Why would I do this? Fat restriction has been found to make you fatter and your satiety is nonexistent. Eating fat is not the enemy it has been made out to be for the past three decades. We must overcome our fat phobia if we are ever going to move forward in this debate over what is healthy and what is not. We really need to be looking at lowering and/or eliminating our sugar consumption instead of anguishing over fat.

4. "eat more fruits and vegetables"

A low-carb eater can have lots of great fruits and vegetables, including cauliflower, green beans, salads, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and much, much more. The argument that livin' la vida low-carb is devoid of fruits and vegetables is unfounded. So why is it that they keep repeating the same lie over and over again?

5. "eat more whole grain breads and even whole grain pastas"

Whole grains are great, but you have to watch your carb content in these foods. Overconsuming foods with whole grains in them can be just as damaging to your weight loss and weight maintenance efforts as eating an ice cream sundae! Don't overdo it!

6. "stop eating all that processed, canned food"

Amen, amen and amen! Your body doesn't need it!

7. "decrease your meat consumption"

Why would I do that? Meat has unnecessarily gotten a bad rap because of low-carb. What do people like Lindhardt have against meat unless she and others are vegetarians who oppose anybody eating meat anytime? You're not gonna change my mind because I'll keep eating all the chicken, fish, pork, turkey and beef that I want to. My weight and health are not adversely affected by this decision one iota!

8. "eat starchy potatoes and green leafy vegetables"

I'll eat the green leafy veggies, but I think I'll skip the starchy potatoes. Your body will only convert the starchy foods into sugar which will cause a spike in your blood sugar and you begin the endless cycle of spike and crash that leads to physical and emotional issues that are only corrected when you eliminate those foods from your diet. Don't put your body through that!

9. "cut your consumption of cheeses and high-fat dairy products"

While dairy products such as milk are good to reduce your consumption of because of their high-carb content, I would actually recommend people eat MORE cheese. It is a healthy product for people who are livin' la vida low-carb and by all means don't get the low-fat versions. The full-fat cheeses are the most succulent and lip-smacking products to complement your low-carb lifestyle. In fact, melt a big chunk of cheese on top of that burger with bacon on top and dip it in real mayonaisse. Now we're talking!

10. "try butter instead of margarine"

Again, you get no arguments out of me on this point. Butter just tastes better, too!

While her advice is not all bad, there are some areas where Lindhardt could stand to learn a little more about the healthy benefits the low-carb lifestyle offers the millions of us who have chosen this way of life for ourselves. Unless these negative premises are challenged, people will begin to believe they are the truth. We'll keep holding their feet to the fire and correcting the lies and misinformation that continues to pervade in the media and from self-proclaimed "experts" like Lindhardt.

You can e-mail your comments about what Gina Lindhardt wrote in her column by writing to publisher@hvjournal.com.

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