Archive for August, 2012

High Protein-Low Carbohydrate Diets and Heart Disease

Graham Beaton BHSc, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Many individuals are turning to low carbohydrate-high protein diets for weight loss. While a number of studies have noted that these diets may be successful in promoting short term weight loss, there is concern over their overall safety.

A new study published in the June 26 edition of the BMJ (formerly titled the British Medical Journal) by Lagiou et al. (2012) looked to determine if eating a high protein/low carbohydrate diet was associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

In the study, the researchers selected 43,396 women aged 30-49 years and followed for an average of 15.7 years. Over the course of the study the women completed questionnaires that asked about lifestyle habits (smoking and alcohol consumption), health history (including cardiovascular events), physical activity, and diet. Participants were grouped according to their daily carbohydrate and protein intake. Results showed that women who consumed low carbohydrate-high protein diets were at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to the other participants. It should be noted that the researchers did appropriately note that this effect was seen in individuals who ate low carbohydrate high protein diets without considering their type or source.

While many continue to promote a low protein-high carbohydrate diet for weight loss, it is important to remember that they may only offer short term success, and without careful consideration of the type or source of the carbohydrates and protein, these diets also increase one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

If you are wanting to lose weight safely and effectively, have questions on what a successful weight loss program entails, or would like to know how naturopathic medicine can help you, please call Graham Beaton, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine at 613-290-6115. Graham is currently accepting new patients and his office is located in the Glebe neighbourhood of Ottawa.

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Work Stress and Cardiovascular Disease in Women

Graham Beaton BHSc, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

High levels of stress have long been associated with increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Specifically, stress has been linked with increased blood pressure (i.e. hypertension), heart attacks, atherosclerotic disease (a thickening of arterial walls) and stroke. To date most of the research examining stress and cardiovascular disease has focussed on men, with little attention paid to females. However, a recent study published in PLoS ONE by Slopen et al. (2012) sought to determine if the chance of developing cardiovascular disease in women was dependent on types of work related stress experienced.

For the study, the researchers identified 22,086 eligible women (mean age 57 years) and had them fill out questionnaires to determine the level of stress participants associated with their employment. The participants were assigned to 1 of 4 categories according to their job responses:

  • Category 1 – Passive: A job of low demand and low control (control was defined as a combination of authority to make decisions and skill utilization)
  • Category 2- Active: A job of high demand and high control
  • Category 3- Low strain: A job of low demand and high control
  • Category 4- High Strain: A job of high demand and low control

Participants’ health was tracked for 10 years, and researchers noted cardiovascular events (including non-fatal heart attacks, non-fatal ischemic strokes, revascularization procedures (coronary artery bypass grafting and/or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty)) and cardiovascular disease deaths.

Results of the study showed that women who were under higher levels of job related stress (i.e. those in the high strain and active categories), were 38% more likely to experience a cardiovascular disease as compared to women in the low strain category.

These results further reinforce the importance of monitoring and properly managing stress levels. To do so, it is important to be aware of one’s stress levels and find effective ways to cope (meditation/relaxation exercises, exercise, talking to others about stress, etc…). Furthermore, it is important to establish healthy habits, such as getting proper nutrition and enough sleep to be better equipped to face stress, and to ensure that cardiovascular risk factors (e.g. cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc…) are monitored to reduce risk.

If you are concerned about stress or your ability to handle stress, or if you would like to know how naturopathic medicine can help, please give Graham Beaton a call at 613-290-6115. Graham is a naturopath practicing in downtown Ottawa.

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