Low Carbohydrate Diets and Inflammation

In my previous post about The Candida (Yeast) Diet I mentioned that while following this diet I came across a larger, more important potential diet therapy for Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This diet can be referred to a low carbohydrate diet.

Low Carbohydrate Diets

The benefits of a low carbohydrate (or carb) diet have already been discovered but its potential has mostly been centered around weight loss. The potential of this diet to ease the symptoms of IC and IBS is exciting but new. Finding this probable connection between too many carbohydrates and these health issues brought up the more important question of, “Can IC and IBS be the result of too much inflammation in our bodies?”.

A Photo By Tina Phillips

Carbohydrates and Inflammation

Eating too many carbohydrates (any and all grains) can cause or increase inflammation in the body. Today’s most popular anti-inflammatory diet ideas are centered around the fact that refined and processed carbohydrates such as bread, cereals, pasta, white rice, and sugars are some of the most pro-inflammatory foods to avoid. They unnecessarily increase your insulin response  and have little to no nutritional value. Also, recorded sensitivities to glutenous grains such as, wheat, rye, barley, spelt and kamut are on the rise as patients and their doctor’s begin to realize the cause of some health issues could be due to a gluten allergy. An allergy is just another form of inflammation. (See the references section below for more information)

Chronic Health Problems and Inflammation

Medical research on the adverse affects of chronic  inflammation is ongoing, but possible links to many illnesses and health problems including IC, IBS, autoimmune diseases, allergies, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, cancer and more, have been theorized. If IC and IBS are potentially related to chronic inflammation caused by consuming a diet too rich in grains (which most of today’s diets are), then these health issues should be easy to fix with a diet. Or so you think…

Reducing Daily Carbohydrate Intake

In light of these discoveries as well as advice from some nutrition books and blogs which I am currently reading, I began dramatically reducing my daily carbohydrate intake. Here is a list of some of the carbohydrate rich foods I stopped eating or stopped eating regularly (some of these I had already cut out of my diet from experimenting with the yeast diet mentioned in my last post):

  1. Any and all breads
  2. All sugars and anything with added sugar including honey, agave, stevia etc.
  3. All rice
  4. All pasta
  5. Most potatoes
  6. Corn
  7. Breakfast cereals
  8. Crackers
  9. Chips
  10. Tortillas

One of the books I am reading is called “The Inflammation Syndrome” by Jack Challem. If you are interested you can find it on Amazon here:

Results of Testing the Low Carb Diet

I’ve been testing the low to no carb diet for about three months now and I have to say that the frequency of my IC symptoms has reduced. It has also helped reduce bloating and gas. This success could also be attributed to the dietary supplements I was taking at the same time but I noticed that during my summer travels this year, my intake of carbohydrates increased due to eating out in restaurants, and consequently my bladder became irritated more frequently than it had been before all of the eating out began.

Conclusion

I’m not going to lie, reducing your daily carbohydrate intake is very difficult. Today’s society is basically built of off eating some kind of grain or starch (which also has a high carbohydrate content). Almost every meal we eat, whether in your own home or in a restaurant, includes carbohydrates as a major calorie source. Just take a walk down a grocery store aisles and almost every packaged product contains some sort of refined or unrefined carbohydrate. Even our own government recommends eating a daily dose of 6-8 ounces of grains a day. Apparently the government has been using information that is outdated or inadequate when it comes to proper nutrition.

One of the other books I am currently reading, “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson, states that to become a healthy and happy human being we need to revert our diets back to the diets of our pre-agricultural primal ancestors. We need to forget the ease and simplicity of using grains as a major staple in our daily diet and go back to eating fresh and nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, pasture fed meats, fish, nuts and seeds. Once I finish the book I will definitely write a more thorough review. If you’re interested in also reading this book, I bought mine from Amazon here (you can also  buy it in e-book format):

Even though this diet takes a while to get used to, the health benefits of it seem to be endless and though you may not notice an immediate change in your health, the long term benefits could be significant. That is why I’m sticking with it.

Important Note: Always be sure to ask your doctor if changing your diet is right for you.

For More Information and For Other Very Interesting Blogs See the Following:

Mark’s Daily Apple: Primal Living in a Modern World, “What’s All This Talk About Inflammation?”

Cooling Inflammation: “Inflammation Causes Diseases”

Melissa Diane Smith: “Passing Up The Bread Basket”

The Nutrition Reporter: Jack Challem’s “The Inflammation Syndrome”

Women To Women: “Inflammation”

Brigham and Women’s Hospital: “Defending Against Disease With and Anti-Inflammation Lifestyle”


8 Responses to Low Carbohydrate Diets and Inflammation
  1. Saskia
    March 28, 2011 | 1:34 am

    How are you doing today with this diet and your IC ?

    • Lene
      April 7, 2011 | 7:52 pm

      Hi Saskia,
      It is actually helping a lot! Right now I’m following a similar diet but instead of avoiding all starches, I’m now eating safer starches, like white rice, sweet potatoes etc. and more saturated fats. I’m going to write a new post about it soon but my overall experience with low carb, no wheat and no sugar has been very beneficial. My bladder pain has calmed significantly (but I also attribute that to this herbal regiment I’m now on thanks to my new accupunture/herbal medicine doctor).

  2. Bev
    August 28, 2012 | 10:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’m struggling with abdominal distress. I had infections for 2 years and had surgery to remove 9″ of my colon. It was rough. I had, finally, been doing better. Then I started eating more foods and got really bad pains like before the surgery.

    The health foods I was eating all had hickory root/ inulin. I can’t tolerate it and it is being added to a majority of prepared foods like: all ice creams, most cookies, most kefirs, Stone Field yogurt, etc.

    This is a disaster for health. Oh, Benefiber is all inulin and causes me dramatic gas.

    I’m sharing this to help people see choices.

    • Lene
      September 5, 2012 | 3:32 pm

      Hi Bev, so sorry to hear about your health troubles. My heart goes out to you. But, I’m certainly glad you found a trigger for your symptoms. Those are the best moments in this journey to be symptom free, in my opinion. Inunlin is hard on my digestion as well! Have you ever heard of or tried something called the FODMAP diet?

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    January 30, 2013 | 1:53 am

    Unhealthy food additives like preservatives don’t have a very place in a healthy diet. Once you adopt the nutritious diet plans you can start consuming farm fresh vegetables and fruit that do not have any toxic chemicals and observe an excellent change in your skin layer texture.

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    • Lene
      May 16, 2013 | 7:03 pm

      That’s totally fine. Credit and sources are always a good idea, so thanks.

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