Most of you following these conversations are already on some form of low-carb lifestyle. You may call it Wheat Belly, Undoctored, Dr. Davis’ Infinite Health, Super Gut, or even paleo, ketogenic, carnivorous, etc., all variations on limiting intake of carbs and sugars. We know with confidence that limiting dietary fat is a fool’s errand that does not reduce cardiovascular risk, is less effective in achieving weight loss, and introduces numerous metabolic distortions that include increased triglycerides, reduction in HDL cholesterol, provocation of small LDL particles that cause heart disease, adds to fatty liver among other unhealthy effects, despite agencies like the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans stubbornly sticking to their outdated low-fat message, unlikely to admit their huge blunder any time soon. Low-carb lifestyles, of course, achieve benefits across all these phenomena, as documented in numerous clinical studies, as well as in real world experiences.
One of the strategies I emphasize in my new book, Super Gut: A Four-Week Plan to Reprogram Your Microbiome, Restore Health, and Lose Weight, is to include fermented foods in your diet several times per day, ideally something fermented with every meal. Beyond the considerable microbiome benefits, fermentation, i.e., the process bacteria perform to convert sugars to energy–is also a low-carb lifestyle’s friend. Think about it–fermentation results in:
- Reduction in sugars and starches in foods—Because microbes “consume” them, sugar and starch content are dramatically reduced. If you ferment kombucha or kefir, for example, and allow fermentation to proceed fully (over at least several days or longer), sugar content is reduced dramatically. You can use your own built-in sugar detecting device, i.e., your tongue, to gauge residual sweetness, or you can familiarize yourself with a hydrometer (available for a few dollars at home brewing supply stores). (If there is enough interest, I can do a demonstration in how to use a hydrometer to measure residual sugar content.) This explains, for example, how most people who have lactose intolerance can consume the yogurts that we ferment for 36 hours that maximally ferment out the lactose to lactic acid without experiencing gas or bloating.
- Ingestion of probiotic bacterial species that increase insulin sensitivity—and thereby reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, fatty liver, and endotoxemia. This is because fermented foods provide microbial species with beneficial effects, species such as Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Pediococcus pentosaceus, and Lactobacillus brevis, among my favorites in the microbe world. Through a number of mechanisms (reduced endotoxemia, increased production of butyrate, etc.), these microbes increase your ability to metabolize carbohydrates and make your organs more responsive to insulin. This leads to lower levels of insulin, e.g., 1-4 mIU/L, rather than the 30, 60, or 100 mIU/L of insulin-resistant people. Recall that high levels of insulin not only block weight loss and cause weight gain, but also lead to numerous other health problems. You reverse these abnormal health phenomena by obtaining these beneficial microbes.
In other words, fermenting foods such as cabbage, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and other foods amplifies the benefits of your low-carb lifestyle and is probably one of the most important strategies you can follow for overall health. So we limit exposure to carbs and sugars, but we amplify low-carb benefits by including plenty of fermented foods in our lifestyle.