What kind of disease it is when you can't eat carbohydrates? by Steven Fowkes
Answer by Steven Fowkes:
The “can’t eat carbohydrates” message is NOT literal. Even obligate carnivores get carbohydrates in their natural diet by eating meat. What eat-no-carbohydrates likely means is (1) avoiding refined carbohydrate-foods entirely, like bread, flour, beer, cookies, cakes, soda, etc. and (2) minimizing foods which have an especially high carbohydrate content, like grains, starchy vegetables, root vegetables and fruits. These treat diseases of energy metabolism, which can include epilepsy, dementias, chronic fatigue syndromes, chemical sensitivity syndromes, depressions, autoimmune diseases, diabetes and some neurodegenerative conditions.
Simple carbohydrate restriction induces beta-oxidation and ketosis. Beta-oxidation is the metabolic process of burning fat for energy. Our bodies can burn carbs and fat for energy, and some diseases are essentially linked to disorders of carb-burning systems (insulin resistance, syndrome X, pre-diabetes). Fat-burning systems are the back-up energy pathway, so restricting carbs is the traditional therapy for activating fat-burning energy pathways. This can be highly therapeutic. For example, there are countless reports of intractable seizures in infants and children which resolve completely when carbohydrate foods are restricted. Carbohydrate restriction is a long-established therapeutic modality with plenty of scientific and medical literature behind it—despite what you might read here from other authors.
Ketosis is the process of taking beta-oxidation to a systemic level. When carbohydrate is restricted to a certain “set point,” which is unique to every individual and can also change over time, the liver goes into beta-oxidation “overdrive.” The high-flux metabolism of fatty acids in the liver into “ketone bodies” or ketone fuels get exported to the rest of the body through the blood stream. This provides fuel to body tissues that is not restricted by insulin resistance. Ketone fuels are actually carbohydrates, but they are 4-carbon carbs instead of 6-carbon carbs (glucose) and there is no restriction on their absorption into cells, and into mitochondria. So all the myriad of diseases which develop from energy constraints (low ATP and low NADPH) can begin to resolve in as little as a week.
If you search online, you will see two popularized (and hyped), carb-restriction-based approaches to resolving type-II diabetes. One is the raw vegan diet. The other is the low-carb paleolithic diet. Although these seem disparate in first appraisal, they have carb-restriction in common. Both diets can produce ketosis on a sustained basis.
I think it likely that there is also a non-carb component to your female friend’s lifestyle changes. That would be food restrictions for minimizing allergic, hypersensitive and inflammatory responses. The avoidance of milk tips me off. Milk is one of the five most common foods that causes delayed hypersensitivities in western societies (along with wheat, corn, eggs and yeasts). And the wheat and corn are doubly implicated as allergens AND carb-rich foods.
Although there are certainly ways in which carb-restriction and dietary restrictions can be promoted and practiced as fads, such practices are fundamentally part of a strategy of a “return to nature.” Carb foods in nature are never refined. Carb foods in nature are rarely available year round, usually involving seasons of availability. Seasonal food eating is mimicked by intermittent and selective fasting, and dietary rotation protocols. Many dietary protocols now focus on changes to the microbiome, adverse alterations of which are now being widely connected to disease occurrence.
It may take you a while to digest all of this, and become more at ease with your friend’s chosen therapeutic path. But you have time to look more into some of these topics and understand some of the less well known advantages of naturopathic medicine and functional medicine.
Good luck to you. I hope my long-winded answer helps answer some of your questions.