Saturday, March 15, 2008

Focus on Calorie Restriction - from the “Heart of Women’s Health”

According to a presentation from the Second Annual “Heart of Women’s Health”, a low fat diet is still the best for prevention of heart disease, but in the past instructions for a low fat diet neglected to include emphasis on calorie restriction. It seems we’ve cut the fat, but started eating more carbohydrates, resulting in weight gain, higher triglyceride levels and low HDL levels – all of which are bad for heart health.

The news comes from the American College of Cardiology per Dr. Katherine Tuttle, MD, FASN, FACP. Speaking on the CardioSource Video Network, Dr. Tuttle says that recommending a low fat diet simply is not enough. She points out that “we have to become much more aware of calorie control, portion control, and normal body weight”. The problem she says is “overeating”.

In order to maintain good heart health, the focus must remain not only on the type and amounts of food we eat. Dr. Tuttle also discusses the importance of physical activity and exercise, making the message loud and clear that there is no one thing that can protect us from the ravages of poor cardiovascular health.

Consumer advocacy groups, with support from the American College of Cardiology, are also voicing their disdain for processed foods with high sodium content - an issue that greatly needs to be addressed. Dr. Tuttle, who is a Nephrologist by training, is very concerned about hypertension. She says that “even people who want to follow diets don’t have foods that they can choose that are low in salt” and she strongly supports the notion that societal and cultural changes are needed to allow people to make healthy dietary choices. She points out that poor eating is not just a medical problem – it is a social and cultural problem that cannot be addressed at medical conferences alone.

For healthy adults, a high protein, low carbohydrate diet is recommended for weight control and cardiovascular health. Due to the high incidence of obesity, many people have undiagnosed diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease. Those who think they are healthy simply are not. Medical screening before going on a diet would be ideal, but this is something that is not routinely performed. The problem is that many health issues appear over time, making prudence the safest approach to weight loss and good overall health. Dr. Tuttle's best advice for safety is “not too much of anything”. Moderation is still the best recipe for a healthy lifestyle.

Now if we can just get those “biggie”, “supersized” portions out of our sight, perhaps we’d have a fighting chance.