Lose weight, feel great:
In our ongoing series on the weight loss/ better health revolution happening here in Jefferson County, another meeting was held last Thursday evening at the Clarion Hotel with a low carb buffet and information on the health benefits of a diet low in carbohydrates.
With success stories increasing, attendance is also on the rise at each event, with this one topping off at over 150 people. In fact, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella stated that this is the largest low-carbohydrate support group in the country.
People who were there from the last meeting on Jan. 21 stood up and shared their success stories of how much weight they have lost, with numbers ranging from 6 pounds to 35 pounds gone. Several also shared that they have been able to reduce or eliminate medications for diabetes and/ or high blood pressure.
Melissa Robinson from Leesburg, Virginia, said, “I have two small children and I used to love it when I got an opportunity to sleep in, but since starting this low carb lifestyle, I have so much energy. I wake up at 6:30 every morning. I want to sleep in, but I can’t. I’m ready to go and get stuff done. This program has monumentally changed my family’s life.”
Kathy Ganoe, an RN for 35 years and a Certified Diabetes Educator for 22 years gave her written testimony saying, “In Dec of 2010 I had a botched neck surgery that left me with severe pain and a syndrome called CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). The CRPS has controlled my life – limiting my activity and quality of life and causing weight gain. Numerous narcotics, spinal cord stimulators – nothing helped the pain. This affected my professional and personal life.”
Ganoe continued, “In December 2015 when I was not able to stand up from the Christmas dinner table, I felt a nudge from God to investigate diets for pain control. What I discovered was that a ketogenic, low carb, diet was recommended. I spoke with my niece who is a dietitian and she helped me start on the diet Jan 4th. Within 4 days my pain level had improved dramatically. After 4 weeks the pain had improved so much that we halved the dose of my Fentanyl patches and I was down 21 lbs. At Christmas I could barely walk, I’m now doing Zumba, spinning, weights and jogging on a treadmill! After 10 weeks I am down 38 lbs. But more importantly, I feel great! I have more energy than I’ve ever had before and I have such mental clarity!”
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, with known benefits of reducing symptoms of brain disorders such as epilepsy, and is being studied as an inhibitor of Alzheimers and Parkinson’s diseases. A low-carbohydrate diet is also proven to reduce blood sugar levels and insulin dependence in patients with type 2 diabetes, as well as raising the “good”, or HDL cholesterol and improving the pattern of “bad”, or LDL cholesterol. The ketogenic diet reduces blood pressure and triglyceride levels. The reason that most people embark on a low-carbohydrate diet, however, is for the weight loss component.
Those who have had success at the low carb meetings are primarily following the eating plan laid out by Dr. Eric Westman in the book, “A New Atkins for a New You.” The induction period of the diet mandates no sugar and no starch for at least two weeks. Many people change their lifestyle and continue with no sugar, no starch way of living, and affirm the notion that cravings for junk food and carbohydrates disappear after a couple of weeks. Since some carbohydrates are necessary for a functioning system, in the induction phase of theWestman diet, the only carbs are found in select vegetables and some dairy.
In the past, critics of the ketogenic, low-carbohydrate diet say that consuming fats will raise cholesterol levels and cause a heart attack, but evidence points to the contrary.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the top three hospitals in the country for diabetes are The Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General, and The Cleveland Clinic, respectively. Two of the three hospitals provide general dietary guidelines for a diabetic diet which includes eating fruits and vegetables, low fat, low calorie foods, and whole grains.
When contacted, the Mayo Clinic said it could not provide a general diabetic diet for its patients since every case is different, but their website did say the following: “Rather than a restrictive diet, a diabetes diet or MNT is a healthy-eating plan that’s naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In fact, a diabetes diet is the best eating plan for most everyone.”
However, as Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, one of the co-founders of these low carb revolution meetings explains, “Insulin resistance is the most common medical condition present in a majority of the world’s populations (over half the population in the US has diabetes or pre-Diabetes). Those with insulin resistance who eat high carbohydrate diets develop persistently elevated blood insulin concentrations. Higher insulin levels promote more resistance. So it is a doom loop unless you reverse it. Why do people fail on Weight Watchers? Look up the Zero Point list. If you are insulin resistant and eat bananas and mango all day it is a disaster.”
“People who are insulin resistant (when they consume carbohydrates), burn the carbs as fuel and then want to replenish with more carbs later,” said Cucuzzella. “The fat stores are never reached to be burned as fuel. The fat keeps accumulating. Simply put, if you eat carbs you burn carbs, if you eat fat you burn fat.”
Dr. Cucuzzella wasn’t the only doctor to speak. Dr. Dave Didden, Physician Director of the Jefferson County Health Department and family practitioner in Shepherdstown, and Dr. Rosemarie Cannarella-Lorenzetti, a family practitioner in Harpers Ferry also shared information.
Dr. Didden praised event attendees for being part of a grassroots movement to make a difference in health, saying that real change comes at the individual level, not from the ‘golden tower’ of medicine. He also pointed out that extra insulin blocks the brain’s ability to recognize when the body has had enough to eat, subsequently causing people to eat more and more of the carbohydrate-rich foods. This becomes circular because the more carbs that are ingested, the more one wants to eat the carbs.
“At the Jefferson County Department of Health, we’re partnering with Dr. Mark and Melanie (Miller) to bring this message into the community,” said Didden. “We’re developing a small version of this at Jefferson County Community Ministries, so all of you can get the word out and keep working to be the best ‘you’ that you can be.”
Drs. Cucuzzella and Cannarella-Lorenzetti are partnering to bring nutrition information to students in medical school because they get virtually no nutritional training.
Lorenzetti said after she had been practicing medicine for over 20 years, she took a course called “Nutrition and Chronic Disease.” She said it was the first time she learned a lot about nutrition, even though she had been a practicing physician for a long time.
“This is a very important concept of insulin resistance,” said Lorenzetti. “About 70 percent of adults right now in West Virginia are insulin resistant, and the thing is, we can do something about it.”
Dr. Eric Westman will be coming to our area on May 21 to speak with attendees of the low carb meetings. For more information, visit Melanie Miller’s Facebook page, Melanie’s Low Carb Journey.