Debbie Judd is a nurse for Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades —
authors of Protein Power. Debbie
writes for Body Trends, as well as with the Eades answering literally hundreds of emails, phone
calls and letters regarding the Protein Power plan.
Approximately 59 million consumers are controlling their carbohydrate intake,
according to a study done by The Valen Group, a strategy consulting firm. TJRF,
a company who manages LowCarbiz estimates the movement of the low carb enthusiasm
to be a 15 billion dollar industry, growing into a 25?30 billion dollar low carb
economy by the end of 2004. Last year there were on average, 3 new low carb products
developed each day. There are currently over 1500 specific low carb products on
the market and the numbers aren't slowing down.
Debbie Judd, RN
What are "low carb products"? What new ingredients are being used by manufacturers
to create these decadent chocolate bars, cakes, cookies and beverages so they can
be classified "low carb"? These are a few of many questions being asked by both
consumers and the medical community. Is a low carb diet going to be the answer to
our Gross National Girth problem? Or, is this just going to be another movement,
like the low-fat craze where we replace fat striped products with the counterparts
of our comfort foods and consume super sized portions of low carb breads, pastas,
candies, cookies, snacks and muffins? And, with the addition of these trend setting
products, are we trading the medical consequence of metabolic resistance syndrome
with new, yet to be defined health problems?
Boring and "difficult to follow" — A complaint of the past
It used to be that the lack of choices in following a low carb diet presented its
challenges to include variety, fiber and those foods we so love and rely on — comfort
foods. Not anymore!
With the advent of hundreds of low carb products, manufacturers are hopeful that consumers
will gobble up their production expenses to support the creation of yet another low carb
cookie, brownie, chip, candy or bar — made with ingredients such as vital wheat gluten, soy
flour, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, to mention a few. The flood gates are
open and while this may give consumers an endless variety of tastes, textures and
sweetness-to both allure and satisfy our senses, there seems to be both concern and
confusion regarding the "impact" and health effects these products will have on us long
The "impact" on our health
There's no doubt that the taste of low carb foods and snacks has improved immensely since
their birth, encouraging increased indulgence and ease of compliance to our low carb
commitment. No one is arguing that when we need our chocolate fix that a "sugar free"
Belgium dark chocolate bar is a better choice than a sugar laden dark chocolate treat to
keep our blood sugar levels from sky rocketing and then plummeting an hour later. But
are these low carb choices really working towards improving our health? Are these products
and ingredients the answer to our prayers?
Numerous studies support the fact that eating fewer carbohydrates in our diet will help
improve health conditions such as high blood sugar and insulin levels, high cholesterol and
lipid levels, high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian condition, not to mention help reduce
body fat. What is the goal for introducing low carb products to consumers? Is it to aid in
the improvement of the health of our nation or just to enable us to continue to feed our
craving for sweets and something to munch on?
Ask a type 2 diabetic who has just consumed a low carb protein bar made with sugar alcohols
if there isn't a significant rise in their blood sugar level. Why is it that many individuals
bloat up like a balloon after savoring a low carb brownie, cookie, cake or piece of candy,
disappearing into the bathroom wondering when it will be safe to come out? Why are "low carbers"
reaching plateaus so unexpectedly when eating under 20?30 grams of effective carbohydrates per
Are some of these low carb products really helping us improve our health or are we just brewing
yet another umbrella of symptoms to someday fit under the diagnosis of SAS Syndrome? Doubling
over with abdominal pain after a decadent low carb candy bar isn't my idea of a healthy
response, nor is having to increase insulin doses or diabetic oral medications to "cover" the
blood sugar rise after ingesting the low carb cheesecake that was served at your office
party. In ten years or less, will the headlines in medical journals be focused on the new
diseases created from the use of sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners? Does the future of our
health hold more inflammatory stomach and bowel diseases, a rise in colon cancer, intestinal flora
dysbiosis or GI related neurological disorders? Are these molecular compounds, bonded in the
chemical formulations they are, that pass through our GI tracts supposed to be there and are
these "foreign" structures polluting our body and upsetting our metabolic balance?
Where are the benefits?
While sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners have become popular ingredients in many low carb
snacks; adding sweetness, consistency, and texture to create solutions to a low carb addicts
cravings, there are unanswered questions as to the metabolic and Gastro-intestinal effects
these products have on our systems. How much do they change your blood sugar numbers and what
effect do they have long term on the intestines mucosal lining and gut flora? Do they trigger
an insulin response even though they aren't meant to be absorbed into the blood stream? The
answer: no one really knows at this time, and how long will it be before there are answers:
it's hard to tell. Until further testing is performed on each and every one of these artificial
sweeteners and particularly sugar alcohols, the message is to use them with caution. Often times
the use of these products is self limiting due to their effect on our body but if you are a
diabetic or know you have a metabolic disorder, small amounts may be in your best interest
until you know from your own experience how you are going to react.
The advent of low carb foods and snacks does serve a purpose in the low carb consumer's pantry.
On a busy day, which all of us can relate to, what a wonderful feeling knowing you do have quick
and convenient selections of low carb foods to enable us to stay within our "bank account" of
effective carbs. Why not enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made from low carb products.
The key: as long as we remember that many of these products are to be used as a convenience and
not a replacement for healthy, whole and natural foods they can fit into our low carb lifestyle.
Copyright © May 2004 Debbie Judd, RN and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright ? 2004 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury