Thursday, May 25, 2006

Study: Very High-Fat, Nearly Zero Carb Diet Effectively Treats Neurological Diseases

Dr. Theodore VanItallie shows a very low-carb diet does a lot of good

This USA Today story underscores yet new evidence demonstrating several amazingly positive benefits of a very low-carb, high-fat diet including in the treatment of Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease, epilepsy and even brain cancer.

Lead researcher Dr. Theodore B. VanItallie, from the St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, believed that a "hyperketogenic" diet would serve as an excellent natural remedy for Parkinson's disease because the excess ketones in such a diet consisting almost entirely of fat would trick the body into healing itself without the use of drug therapy.

If you think the Atkins diet is restrictive having at the bare minimum a 20/40/40 ratio of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, then this ultra-low-carb diet used by Dr. VanItallie that he had his study patients on was insane because it contained -- hold on to your hats -- a 2/90/8 diet! You heard me right...NINETY PERCENT FAT!!!

Five Parkinson's disease patients followed this unorthodoxed diet plan for just four weeks and guess what? Their balance improved, their tremors and shaking ceased, their overall mood was much happier and low-carb supporters are sticking their tongues out at all those radical low-fat lunatics (like THIS ONE!) who believe fat is the great enemy in our diet today! NOT!

The study which was published last year in the journal Neurology.

The once-sacred hard-nosed belief that fat can play no role in a healthy diet is clearly out the window now. Several trials and other recent studies looking at dietary treatment of medical conditions has found that people suffering from neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease can see unbelievable improvements in their condition just from something as simple as virtually eliminating their intake of carbs and protein.

High-fat diets are suspected to benefit people with brain tumors by stalling them from growing bigger. But this isn't a new treatment option. A severe ketogenic diet has been used for nearly 90 years to treat epilepsy patients, mostly children, to reduce the number of seizures they have.

Not surprisingly, the medical community isn't so quick to embrace this "extreme" of a low-carb diet. It kinda puts all the negative comments about such mainstream diet plans as the Atkins, South Beach, Protein Power, and even the Zone diets in perspective, though, doesn't it?

If these diets are as supposedly "dangerous" and "unhealthy" because of their lack of carbohydrates at levels between 20-30 percent of caloric intake, then what are these naysayers gonna say about a diet with just 2 percent carbs?! LOL! I would have loved to have seen the look on their faces when they read about this study! :D

So why does this kind of diet help with these awful diseases? It's elementary really. The body goes from metabolizing sugar to a much better fuel source -- ketone bodies. In the process of gluconeogenesis, as we have discussed several times previously at this blog, the body makes its own carbs or glucose to use as fuel from the fat and protein that is consumed.

The health "experts" in the story believe a ketogenic diet is unfeasible for people because they can't stick to it. Try telling that to THIS GUY who is eating the ultimate ketogenic diet -- ZERO CARBS!

And, of course, a dietician in the story is so concerned about all that fat causing heart-related health issues and that eating so much fat is so unhealthy and undesirable for people to stick with. So I suppose this dietician would prefer these patients gorge themselves on a 55/25/20 known as the Standard American Diet (SAD). Riiiiight! All those carbs can't possibly do any harm to the health of those people. Ha!

What about just putting these patients on the Atkins diet to see how they would react? Dr. VanItallie actually said the Atkins diet does not produce ENOUGH ketone bodies to adequately treat the diseases. Did you hear that media and health "experts?" THE ATKINS DIET DIDN'T MAKE ENOUGH KETONES BECAUSE IT ALLOWS TOO MANY CARBS! ROTFL! All this business about the Atkins diet being NO carbs and you have to have carbs to survive mumbo jumbo yadda yadda yadda crap has been exposed for all the world to see now.

Enough of the propaganda about livin' la vida low-carb, it's time to take a serious look at some of these therapeutic aspects of this amazing dietary approach. In a non-diabetic person, excessive ketone levels are perfectly harmless and even beneficial in a lot of ways.

Lab studies have found ketone bodies preserve organs during blood loss and creates neurological changes in mice regarding Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Lou Gehrig's disease. Studies are still ongoing and it will be exciting to see the results as they continue proving yet again how the low-carb lifestyle has been given a premature bad rap. Scientific research is once again leading the revival of low-carb living and will continue to do so in the years to come.

Regarding brain tumors, it seems the cells in these tumors are starved of blood sugar on a ketogenic diet and can't use ketone bodies for energy. What that means is the growth of these tumors stops and the ketone bodies actually provide nourishment for the health cells in the brain. How cool is that?!

Next up for Dr. VanItallie is yet another new Parkinson's disease study that takes the best elements of the 90 percent fat diet and mixes it with a modified version of the Atkins diet. The same five Parkinson's disease patients who participated in last year's study have been asked again to participate in this new upcoming study. We'll let you know when details of the study are released to the public.

You can e-mail Dr. Theodore VanItallie to thank him for sharing his study on low-carb at


Blogger Newbirth said...

Atkins is not 20/40/40 at a bare minimum. I NEVER get 20% of calories from carbs even on Maintenance. The bare minimum for Atkins is about 5/70/25.

5/26/2006 1:16 AM  
Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...


With all these studies proving low carb produces wondeful benefits for humans, what are the detrators going to do ?

They will have to put out some lies and propaganda,

oh wait, that's what they do now!


5/26/2006 4:20 AM  
Blogger Paul Bowers said...

assuming a 2000kcal/day diet, 20% CHO would be about 100 grams. that is probably not abnormal for someone at atkins maintenance levels. 5% would only be about 25g, which would be rather low for someone following atkins for extended periods.

of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with getting only 5% (or less) of your calories from carbs.

5/26/2006 6:30 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Yep...that's why, for example, The Masai, the Inuit, the Samburus, the residents of the Pacific islands of Pakupaku, and for example the Tokeluau have been found to be completely free of CHD, cancers, heart deceases, osteoporosis, arterosclerosis, high cholesterol, and many other degenerative diseases.

All these (different) people have one thing in common: a natural low-carb ("Paleolithic") diet with a, by "modern wisdom standards" extremely high saturated fat intake - up to a whopping 400 grams of saturated fat per day!

Perhaps you are thinking that the Masai, Samburu and Pacific islanders are blessed with some sort of genetic protection against the allegedly harmful effects of saturated fat. Hardly. Studies show that when the Masai migrate to Nairobi where they are exposed to a more "refined" diet and sedentary lifestyle, their cholesterol levels rise, discounting the proffered notion that their low cholesterol levels were a manifestation of some sort of advantageous genetic aberration. When Pukapuka and Tokeluau residents moved to New Zealand, where they were similarly exposed to processed foods and a more sedentary lifestyle, they experienced a marked increase of gout, diabetes and other degenerative disorders.

So YES: it has been known for many decades, in fact for hundreds of thousands of years, that a diet, low in refined carbohydrates, high in quality proteins and (very) high in saturated animal fat is EXTREMELY healthy.

5/26/2006 7:05 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Newbirth and Paul Bowers,

I agree there is certainly NOTHING wrong with CHO levels at 5%. But when you are talking about the reality of the mainstream of low-carbers and the perception that people on low-carb don't eat ANY carbs, it is certainly the exception and NOT the rule. :)

THANKS as always for your comments!

5/26/2006 7:05 AM  
Blogger Kent said...

My only worry with the diet described above is that 8% for Protein is woefully short, or about 40g per day (2000Cal/day). The only macro-nutriet the body can not make short of scavenging itself is protein. If you aren't eating it, it has come from your body. That may be enough protein for a 100# sedentary person, but it certainly is not enough for an active person.

5/26/2006 8:21 AM  
Blogger Viking Dan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/26/2006 11:59 AM  
Blogger Viking Dan said...

To be fair, we don't know what her calories were. Ketosis is also supposed to be muscle sparing. As this is a state of super ketosis. Maybe its even more so.

Also, The Optimal Diet from Poland is awful similar to this. It can be up to 80% fat and he claims it cures just about anything you care to name.

5/26/2006 12:03 PM  
Blogger Invisible Blogger said...

I really wish my father had know about this. until he passed away last year, he suffered a number of Parkinson's symptoms, making his last years less than they could have been.

5/26/2006 1:00 PM  
Blogger Gerard said...

Great story

5/26/2006 5:13 PM  
Blogger Leigh said...

"The health "experts" in the story believe a ketogenic diet is unfeasible for people because they can't stick to it."

It wouldn't be unfeasible to stick to the ketogenic diet if every package food wasn't filled with corn syrup, if restaurants served unadulterated vegetables with meals instead of potatoes and corn and schools and work places didn't have machines filled with high carb junk. If we left meth, smack and cocaine lying around, we wouldn't be surprised to have a nation of junkies. Our national approach to diet (thanks to these "experts") is no different, and not really any less dangerous.

5/26/2006 9:38 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I'm just saying that the bare minimum Atkins is 5/70/25. I know most people don't follow that, but that's Induction level and the "bare minimum." :)

5/29/2006 9:37 PM  

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