You may have read by now that the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has updated its nutritional guidelines, and the media’s going googly over what appears to be its embrace of low-carb diets, at last. But don’t get too excited. It’s not as if the ADA is admitting any faulty thinking in the past, or even clearly stating that eating low-carb might be the best way to keep blood sugars under control. Personally, I have to agree with Dr. Mary Vernon, who writes, “I’m underwhelmed.”
David points out the shortcomings of the ADA’s very limited endorsement of low-carb:
* they mention low-carb ONLY as a means to weight loss, not glucose control
* they recommend limiting a low-carb diet to just one year (?)
* they equate low-carb diets to low-fat in terms of weight loss (experts say the effect is NOT the same)
* they imply that low-carb is analogous a high-protein diet, which may be true, but “for most of us it is a high-fat diet” as well, which has different effects on the body (HDL, LDL, etc.)
Nevertheless, David believes we have reason to rejoice. The ADA’s new statement represents “a huge breakthrough,” he writes, because the organization “has finally budged from its single-minded devotion to high-carb diets.” He also lauds the change “because for the first time the leading American diabetes organization broke ranks with the other major health groups like the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to give any support to low-carb diets.”
This may be true, but is it too little, too late?
In a wonderfully frank article published in Diabetes Health magazine late last month, D-writer and activist Riva Greenberg takes on the great carb debate. She puts it bluntly:
“It’s common sense… that the fewer carbs you eat, the less your blood sugar will rise and the less medication you’ll need. I don’t understand how anyone can argue the logic of that. If we’re still being given diets with substantial carbs in them, it’s probably because the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and other authorities believe that the average diabetic would never stand for cutting carbs so drastically. Along the same lines, the ADA’s A1c recommendation is as high as 7%. That correlates with 170 on your meter, even though we’re advised to stay in a target blood sugar range of 80 to 120 mg/dl. Does something sound fishy?”
I can’t help but agree with her skepticism. The evidence remains: At the ADA web site, the recipe of the day is still pizza — veggie toppings notwithstanding (a recipe sponsored by Splenda, btw).
Also at that site today, I find no mention of the ADA’s supposedly significant new nutritional guidelines, and their food pyramid is still built upon gobs of carbs. Could this mean more bundt cakes on the cover of their monthly magazine? I don’t see any great reason to celebrate that.