Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Declining Health Illustrated: The 'Disturbed Way Of Handling Carbohydrates' Tree

The original 1972 book that made Dr. Atkins famous!

Sometimes I don't even think we realize just how brilliant the late great Dr. Robert C. Atkins really was for espousing what he did during his amazing career. Sure, low-carb diets had been out there in the public eye for over a century (most notably from William Banting in 1864 with his Letter On Corpulence) before he came along. But it was the charisma and enthusiasm for the low-carb lifestyle that Dr. Atkins brought to the public arena that captured the attention of millions of people worldwide who were interested in learning more about how low-carb could help them shed the pounds and restore their good health.

When the original Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution was published in 1972, it ignited a firestorm of controversy that still lingers on to this day. Despite all the best efforts by those who have appointed themselves the "experts" in diet and health in the United States over the years, none of them have been able to slow down the momentum that the healthy Atkins low-carb nutritional approach has had in the United States and around the world. And if I have anything to say about it, we'll keep that ball rolling for many more years to come.

While his original book has since been updated several times since with Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, there were some incredible nuggets of truth shared in that original book that make it worth having a copy of for your low-carb library. ORDER A COPY and read it from cover to cover because you will learn more about livin' la vida low-carb in just that one book alone that was written nearly forty years ago. Like I said, we're only just beginning to realize what a genius Dr. Atkins really was.

One of my blog readers from Green Bay, Wisconsin named Dave Hatch wrote to me recently stating he had read Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories and that inspired him to go back to the original Atkins' Diet Revolution book from the 1970's and read it again. When he did, a light bulb moment happened for Dave when he saw the following quote from Dr. Atkins.

"A TREE WITH DEADLY BRANCHES. There is a's branches are called, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Overweight, Low Blood Sugar, Peptic Ulcer, Migraine, Allergy and half a dozen other diseases that are so common nowadays. The name of the tree might be, A Disturbed Way Of Handling Carbohydrates."

That quote appears on page 48 of Atkins' Diet Revolution and it got the wheels turning inside of Dave's head to recreate that image into the shape of a real tree illustration to vividly demonstrate these signs of failing health and their connection to carbohydrate intake. He did a masterful job of showing that carbs are the roots that feed all of these diseases that Dr. Atkins talked about in his book.

Click on the image below to see a larger version of Dave's tree:

Isn't this GREAT?! Dave did a yeoman's job of taking that quote from the 1972 book and illustrating it perfectly so that anyone and everyone will be able to see the carbohydrate connection to all of these conditions. And every single one of those health ailments have been documented in the research literature to be tied to the consumption of carbohydrates.

My favorite part of the tree analogy is the trunk itself. As I stated, the roots are the "intake of carbohydrates" and the branches are the negative health manifestations from eating all those carbs. But look right there in the middle of those two things at what is the real reason that most people should be livin' la vida low-carb--INSULIN!

Yes, this "flooding" of insulin into our bodies is a direct result of consuming carbohydrates, especially in the amounts that are being recommended by people supposedly in authority over matters concerning health. And don't even get me started on the diet diabetics are told is best for them by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). UGH! If a doctor or dietitian tries to convince a diabetic to include eating lots of "healthy" carbs, then they ought to have their medical and nutritional credentials revoked!

If you control the insulin, then you can prevent these diseases from happening in the first place. And the best way to control this insulin release is by following a significantly reduced-carbohydrate diet. There's just no bones about it, this way of eating that we talk about here is not just a healthy diet (which it is), but it is the ONLY way you can eat to prevent this insulin rush from happening. Try eating a low-fat diet and you'll find yourself trying to make up that lost fat intake with (surprise, surprise!) MORE carbohydrates. This in turn produces MORE insulin which leads to the vicious cycle of disease all over again. Why do that to yourself?

While low-carb is often dismissed by its critics for supposedly being too "high-protein" (it's not high in protein, but rather moderate in protein) and/or "high-fat" (which is not a negative factor for your health when you are reducing your carbohydrates and only the total caloric percentage of your fat actually goes up), the fact of the matter is neither of these other macronutrients have the instantaneous insulin response that carbohydrates do. Carbs equals insulin equals disease. Nobody can even dispute this fact.

It's impossible to ignore the indelible link between carbs which heavily increases insulin in the body which then manifests itself in all of these terrible health conditions. Dr. Atkins saw this coming decades ago and yet we still ignore all the warning signs and try to come up with a pharmaceutical answer to these health problems in 2008. Haven't we learned ANYTHING in the years since 1972 when Dr. Atkins wrote his book?

You very likely don't need a prescription drug to treat that medical condition you have. Just take a closer look at your diet and realize you are feeding your disease by the foods you are eating. Fix that and you'll very likely fix your health problem. Low-carb is not some "magic pill" for every health problem you will encounter. But it will certainly address MANY of the ones that are tied metabolically to carbs. And there's a bunch of 'em!

Dr. Atkins, you were indeed a bona fide genius and your legacy will continue to live on strong for many years to come! Special thanks to my reader Dave Hatch for sharing his tree illustration with us and I think he'd appreciate hearing what you have to say about it in the comments section. Do you think he encapsulated what Dr. Atkins was talking about in the quote? Or does that illustration lack essential part of the equation? Share your thoughts about it below.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first read Atkins' New Diet Revolution when I was 17. Haven't read the original yet, but want to. I was going through a big depression and he literally saved my life. I think adopting this lifestyle is one of the most important things I've ever done.

3 cheers for Atkins!!

6/26/2008 8:53 AM  
Blogger Tom Bunnell said...

I think Dr. Atkins nailed this thing the first time through in 1972 and then over the years slowly caved in to the seventeen mountains of pressure from all of the carbohydrate and stimulant and alcohol addicts. -- His original findings were nearly perfect although he had already caved in somewhat to the world of conventional wisdom's and arguments! -- Had he not he probably wouldn't have been able to sail this thing! -- Too, too, difficult! -- Addictions are powerful forces!

6/26/2008 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't appreciate it when low carb diets are criticized yet you talk smack about low fat, complex carbohydrate based diets that DO work, such as McDougall.

6/26/2008 1:16 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS anonymous! I do take exception to people who trash the low-carb diet as if it doesn't help the weight and health of anyone. That's what usually happens.

But I've said it many times here at my blog that I have absolutely no problem with someone getting on a low-fat, high-carb plan if that's the way of eating they feel is gonna work best for them over the long-term to lose weight and be healthy. Any regular reader of my blog knows this.

However, this same courtesy is NOT extended by people who oppose low-carb diets like Dr. Dean Ornish or even your cherished Dr. McDougall. That's what separates them from me.

And yes I'm gonna be critical of high-carb, low-fat diets because the science is showing what a dismal failure they have been and continue to be despite the fact our health leaders have been pushing it hard for decades. It's time we as a nation get with the program and start allowing people to CHOOSE the diet that's right for them. For some, that'll be low-fat, but for others it's low-carb.

I've been very consistent on this point for years.

6/26/2008 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jimmy,

I strenuously object to you characterizing Atkins as a man of "charisma and enthusiasm". I'll readily grant that the man had integrity and spunk. However, when I lived in New Jersey in the 90s I used to listen to Atkins' radio show on WOR out of NYC, and the man came across as severely cranky. I liked him for it, don't get me wrong. It was a charming kind of crankyness. And perhaps it was a natural consequence of the vituperation and slander thrown in his direction since 1970.

I think this character trait might have hurt the low-carb cause. If he had been more of a smooth, evangelistic kind of man, things might be different today. His low-fat opponents had a kind of religious fervour that I didn't sense in Atkins.

This takes me on a tangent, but in fact, I have a theory: low-fat is hard to follow, detrimental, and involves a kind of asceticism and monastic ethos. It demands that you avoid all the foods that the rich and powerful could afford (meat and fat), and eat what the poor ate (starch). It's the kind of diet that someone doing penance for his sins might follow, in order to deliberately increase his bodily suffering.

Those attributes have helped to make low-fat popular, paradoxically enough. Religion is on the wane, and we all need some way to fulfill our spiritual needs, and to atone for sin. The asceticism of low-fat diets appeals to this need.

I bring this up because there has always been lots of scientific evidence in favour of low-carb, and yet this irrational low-fat approach has taken hold of people's imaginations. We could always whine that the bureaucratic powers-that-be or the corporations are behind it, but that doesn't really persuade me. No matter how powerful a bureaucracy asserts that objects released in mid-air will tend to rise, the truth will prevail. Something else, a kind of quasi-religious motivation, must be working to make people disbelieve what their instinct and rational though tells them: you should eat like a warrior.

6/27/2008 10:56 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I never knew Dr. Atkins personally so I am going on what I have heard from those people who worked with and knew him most intimately in my description of him. He was certain a renaissance man and that's what gave him a certain appeal that he otherwise would not have had. I see the same "cranky" behavior from Dr. Richard Bernstein today although people love and revere him for his low-carb work with diabetes.

Your theory about the "religious fervor" of low-fat diets is worth a closer look. There are many people who think that going on a diet means you have to suffer, feel deprived and hungry, and hurry up and get it done so you can get back to the way you used to eat. That's why low-fat diets have failed.

Unlike religion (which I disagree is "on the wane," but that's another discussion), though, the belief in low-fat diets is based on a lie--promotes long-term health, is the ONLY way to effectively lose weight, yadda yadda yadda. We know there is an alternative solution that is far superior in low-carb.

Yes, the science is there for livin' la vida low-carb and it CONTINUES to mount up. But those on the low-fat side say it's not good enough because they're not long-term studies. This isn't flying well with most people nowadays because they realize what an abysmal failure low-fat diets have been.

It does take some appeal to people's emotions as well as their intellect to get them to respond well to the low-carb message. That's what I try to do with my blog intertwining research and facts about low-carb with stories and illustrations from the real world. The change is coming sooner or later.

But this low-fat religion theory of yours isn't unprecedented. Look at what those who believe in global warming have done to bamboozle the world into thinking the Earth is burning up because of man despite the fact there is no scientific evidence for it. Persuasion is a very strong tool, but it is only made stronger when you have the truth and facts on YOUR side. And low-carb living does.

6/27/2008 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jimmy!
I really enjoy your blog and often ready it to re-motivate myself. I would love to do low-carb %100 but I always fall off the wagon at some point (life time addictions and bad habits are HARD to break) and your blog helps refocus me each time. Someday I hope to be a perfect low-carber but until then, I will keep plugging away. Thank you for all the valuable information you share with all of us. God bless you!

Susan in Seattle

6/27/2008 6:19 PM  
Blogger Alejo Hausner said...

Hi again Jimmy,

I just posted anonymously (temporary brain-lock) about the low-fat "religion". Religion is a touchy subject to discuss, and as a polite atheist I don't want to offend others, so I won't insist that it's on the wane.

But my theory still stands, in a way. The point I'm trying to make is that truth is not enough. The facts of metabolism are actually very well established. They have been well established for almost 100 years. The low-fat hypothesis ignores all those well-established facts. Why?

After all, Gary Taubes points out that German researchers in the 1920s and 30s already established all those "counterintuitive" facts: calorie restriction doesn't lead to weight loss, exercise doesn't lead to weight loss, eating fat doesn't cause body fat. The Germans did really good experiments, and proved all that stuff. As "The X-Files" would say, "the truth was out there".

I'm trying to say that there are forces stronger than truth. Otherwise, people wouldn't believe untruths. The truth is actually a very feeble thing. It needs lots of support, because many emotional forces conspire against it.

Would you consider running for office, Jimmy? It may sound like a joke, but I'm kinda serious. Maybe someone with your strength of personality, your ability to express yourself, and your passion, could help persuade people to actually pay attention to the science. People listen to authorities, more than they listen to bookish scientists.


6/27/2008 7:32 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for your follow-up Alejo! I don't believe in religion anyway--I believe in God. :) I can respect someone else who chooses to be an atheist, so we'll leave it at that.

I wasn't necessarily discounting your theory at all. In fact, I was talking with my wife Christine about it and it is certainly an intriguing intellectual exercise. Is it possible for trumped up emotion and feelings to overshadow facts, truth and science? You bet it can and we've seen it with global warming and even in modern-day presidential politics (again, we'll leave that one right there!).

Speaking of politics and running for office, I probably would NOT choose to do that for a variety of reasons. Before I lost my weight, I was very active in politics, but the landscape has changed dramatically in the past few years. This nastiness that exists between the two major parties is a huge turnoff. And I have a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's in public policy. This is what I wanted to do with my life at one point.

Not anymore. I'm happy being able to help people through my blog and other entities. To me, government has become irrelevant in bringing about improvements in most people's lives and the real positive impact is happening on the grassroots level with people who are blogging about real issues. I am in a better position with what I am doing now to help people understand the science better than I EVER would be on Capitol Hill.

Is being a blogger "authority" enough? :)

6/28/2008 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so believe that dieting is a religious phenomenon. Salvation by works.

I think that he basis of the diet religion is the idea that being overweight is the result of lack of willpower rather than the result of enforced ignorance. Lack of willpower is, these days, the most heinous moral failure one can be accused of. (I was turned on to this concept by Jean Antonello's book, Naturally Thin.)

In order to save oneself from the shame of this moral failure, the answer is to prove one's strength of will by enduring torture over and over in various forms. The saddest example of this was a comment I overheard at work: "You can train your body to function on twelve hundred calories a day."

The road to salvation is, essentially, the road of grace. :-)

Simply accept the way the human body functions. It has nothing to do with my willpower. It has to do with recognizing and acting according to a reality that has been functioning long before I ever decided to do something about losing weight.

I think that low carb itself can become a bit of a zealot's game if people get hung up on Fear of Carbs. Repent, for thou hast eaten of the Dorito.

No food is bad for you if you you have a taste. It's when you have a hundred tastes that you have problems. But going low-carb, eating more, feeling better, losing weight, and feeling free is a great thing. Hallelujah, can I get a witness?

6/28/2008 6:50 PM  

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