Dr Campbell's 'The Low Carb Fraud' - Book Review
Posted: 14th April 2014
Before we delve into Dr Campbell’s book describing why the science behind a low carbohydrate lifestyle is flawed, here is a little background on Dr Campbell’s research.
The data collected by Dr Campbell and his team is based on the data published in Diet, Life-Style, and Mortality in China: A Study of the Characteristics of 65 Chinese Counties. This study was a massive undertaking involving thousands of man hours collecting and analysing data. A feat to be reckoned with and a study which has yet to be rivalled within nutrition academic circles for sheer scope and size. The data presented in this study is the foundation upon which the bestselling ‘The China Study’ book is based on. The book claims that this study is the definitive proof that a plant based diet is key to prevent disease. He argues that the reason behind our current health issues is because we consume too much animal based products i.e. dairy and animal protein. There are a lot of critiques on the web as to why the conclusions reached by Dr Campbell in his book do not reflect the data that was presented in the study. Our aim here is not to criticise the China Study, but rather a response to the claims made in Dr Campbell’s book the Low Carb Fraud.
Throughout the book, Dr Campbell singles out Gary Taubes’s arguments as the ones that need correction (Gary Taubes is a science journalist, writer of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat. He is one of the mainstream advocates for the promotion of a low carb lifestyle to help prevent and manage the current obesity epidemic). Dr Campbell states that the science behind a low carbohydrate lifestyle is flawed.
However, upon reading his book, it seems to me that Dr Campbell is unaware of what a low carbohydrate diet is actually all about. Advocates of this lifestyle do not promote a zero carbohydrate lifestyle but rather a differentiation between simple, complex and dietary fibre carbohydrates due to their effect on blood sugar.
He goes on to say that carbohydrates are required to “facilitate the digestion and absorption of other nutrients in the gut” - carbohydrates, according to biochemical textbooks, are required as a bulking agent (dietary fibre) however starches and simple carbohydrates have little to no impact on mineral and vitamins. Rather, dietary fat is required to facilitate fat-soluble vitamin absorption, not to mention that the greatest nutritional profiles come from fruits and vegetables that contain a higher degree of dietary fibre rather than anything else.
Dr Campbell goes on to add that a diet low in carbohydrate is by definition a diet high in fat. This is not necessarily true. A dietary approach such as Natural Ketosis, allows the body to enter a state of nutritional ketosis through a low sugar, low starch, high protein, moderate fat approach. He goes on to explain that a low-fat diet, with this fat coming from plant based food items is good for health. By this I’m assuming he means the omega-3 & 6 found naturally in nuts and seeds - which funnily enough are also a main staple on a low carb diet.
Our bodies are also made up of cholesterol. In fact, if dietary cholesterol is not sufficient to meet the body’s demand, then the liver will have to produce cholesterol. A diet deficient in cholesterol leads to conditions such as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). One way of explaining why excess carbohydrate intake (from simple and starchy food items) is to understand how foie gras is made: ducks are fed a high carbohydrate, low fat diet to help fatten their livers up to produce this French delicacy. In humans, the same process is happening through the continuous health message to eat 50% of your total energy from grains and less fat. Studies have shown that when a low carbohydrate diet is followed, liver function is helped.
However, what was most unsettling about reading this book is that Dr Campbell describes and understands the dangers that too much or too little sugar in the blood can have on overall health. Yet a diet rich in fruits and plant based foods such as legumes (legumes are not starchy carbs but related to pulses which are still starchy), whilst they do have a level of other important micronutrients, will be digested into simple sugars which will reach the bloodstream. This latter outcomes far outweighs any nutritional benefits from consuming these items as a staple in one’s diet.
Eating starch whether in legumes or grains or root vegetables will raise insulin levels significantly in some people which leads to weight gain and other metabolic disorders.
Weight loss and health are not simply the results of calculating energy intake, but about maintaining your hormones balanced, especially insulin, and your inflammation markers low. For optimal benefits, it is important to ensure that real food is the core of your nutrition regimen. Here at Natural Ketosis we believe that real food is key to keeping healthy and slimmer forever.
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