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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Study: Low-Carb Improves Reproductive Health

This NutraIngredients story about an exciting new study suggests that women, specifically those suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCIS), who are livin' la vida low-carb can see marked improvements in their reproductive health and endocrine outcomes.

Led by Dr. Crystal C. Douglas, a clinical researcher from the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the study attempted to find the optimal diet for women with PCOS. They found 15 healthy women 19-42 years old with PCOS and elevated BMIs to observe.

Eleven of the 15 women who were available for follow-up were split up and placed into one of three 16-day diets consisting of the same caloric intake and followed by a 3-week "washout" period between each diet:

1. The Standard American Diet (SAD) - 56% carbohydrates/31% fat/16% protein
2. Enriched Monounsaturated Fatty Acid Diet (MUFA) - 55% carbohydrates/33% fat/12% protein
3. Low Carbohydrate Diet (Low CHO) - 43% carbohydrates/45% fat/12% protein

What Dr. Douglas found at the conclusion of her study was fascinating -- the Low CHO diet lowered fasting insulin and slowed insulin response time to glucose in comparison with the SAD and the MUFA diets. Are we REALLY surprised?

"Our results suggest that a moderate reduction in dietary carbohydrate may decrease insulin, and over time, this dietary modification may lead to improvements in the metabolic and reproductive outcomes in women with PCOS, independent of weight loss," Dr. Douglas explained.

These findings were published in the March 2006 issue of the scientific journal Fertility and Sterility.

These hormone irregularities in women with PCOS are greatly improved by the low-carb diet, the study found. Some of the manifestations of PCOS include the growth of cysts, high levels of male hormones called androgens, excessive hair, obesity, irregular menstrual cycles, diabetes and infertility.

It is thought that the higher insulin levels in patients with PCOS leads to these hormone abnormalities, so finding a nutritional approach that can lower insulin levels such as livin' la vida low-carb actually stabilizes the hormones and thus serves as an excellent treatment for PCOS.

About 5-10 percent of all women who are childbearing age have PCOS and it is the leading cause of infertility in the U.S. Insulin resistance is considered a very strong factor in this condition and researchers are hopeful that simple dietary changes can bring about vast improvements in this mysterious condition.

This is excellent news regarding yet ANOTHER healthy benefit of the low-carb lifestyle. And actually, this plan is fairly high in carbohydrates, yet still produced phenomenal improvements. Can you imagine how well PCOS patients would do with an even LOWER carb diet than 43%?! If they are overweight or obese, as many of them in this study were with high BMIs, then they could kill two birds with one stone by following a program such as the Atkins diet. Not only would their PCOS condition get better, but they'd also shed some unnecessary pounds.

Have you heard about this study widespread in the major media? Probably not. We should be asking ourselves this question, though: WHY NOT?! If they can pounce on silly studies like this one and make it front-page health news within just a few hours of being released, why can't they produce the same vigor and enthusiasm for a study showing a POSITIVE benefit of low-carb living? Hmmm? This is yet another glaring example of why you can't trust what the media is saying about low-carb because their bias against it is as clear as a bell.

Be sure to send a note of thanks to Dr. Crystal C. Douglas and her fellow researchers for proving yet again there are many healthy benefits of low-carb living by e-mailing them at shnet@uab.edu.

4-24-06 UPDATE: One of my readers pointed me to this Dana Carpender article from August 2004 on the same subject that adds more to this conversation. ENJOY! Leave it to Dana to provide clarity on a topic like this one. :)

5 Comments:

Blogger Newbirth said...

Since when is 43% carbs "low carb"?!? Egad. Try 15%.

4/23/2006 11:26 PM  
Blogger TESS said...

DID YOU READ DR. EADES BLOG, 20 APRIL? DR SAMAHA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE AHA, DIED OF A HEART ATTACK AT AGE 63. HE WAS A LONG TIME BELIEVER IN EXERCISE AND A LOW FAT DIET. KINDA THINK I WILL STICK WITH LOW CARB.

4/24/2006 6:48 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

15% carbs/day is a better ketogenic diet than 43%, but just imagine what would happen to their health if they did a REAL low-carb diet. The possibilities are awesome to think about!

4/24/2006 8:16 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Right, but I agree with newbirth. Labeling a 43% carb diet "low-carb" is misleading.

4/24/2006 9:15 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

The high carb cat food I fed my cats was 46% carbs. Not so different from this study's idea of low carb. When it's gone I'm switching them to a low carb cat food (7% carbs) that should be healthier. I fed it to them once and they did eat it, so that's what they'll get.

(I have two cats who will eat just about anything provided it's cat food, though Abby likes dry food better than wet (go figure) and Xena likes wet food better than dry (which is normal).

4/24/2006 11:14 PM  

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