06 March 2013

My Meeting with an Expert in Biochemistry and Nutrition

On 5th March 2013, I had a meeting at the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC) with a wonderful man, Professor Kishore Bhakoo, PhDHead of Translational Molecular Imaging Group, he is also Lead for Biological Chemistry, Metabolism and Nutrition at Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (NTU), Singapore.

I wanted to see him because I have so many questions about nutrition, metabolism and the mismatch between what research says and the current dietary guideline advocated by health authorities.

Professor Bhakoo confimed that a high protein and fat diet leads to weight loss. We discussed the hormonal malfunction in obese patients. Insulin is high in people who put on weight. The more weight on the body, the more circulating insulin can be found in the bloodstream. Insulin is responsible for fat deposition in the fat tissues. High insulin levels cause an imbalance in other hormones. So, it is important to see which other hormones are affected and work accordingly, in order to restore hormonal balance in the body.

In my opinion, it is important to see first what happens to the other hormones when we lower insulin levels by cutting our carbohydrates, and give a hormonal treatment accordingly.

Two examples:
1. Growth Hormones
"Does Too Much Carbohydrate Stunt Growth? Carbohydrate is important in a healthy diet but excessive amounts of this energy-building nutrient could slow down growth. Carbohydrates raise insulin levels in the body and prevent it from effectively using human growth hormone. People in Asian countries, where the staple diet has traditionally been built around rice, are on average shorter than in countries like the United States."
If high insulin levels are the cause for the growth hormone to malfunction, then it is important to see what happens if we give less bread and coke to children. Maybe growth hormone function will be restored to normal.

2. Sex Hormones
Healthy sex hormone function is necessary for fertility, thus regular menstruation (I'll write about it later). But, if reducing insulin, results in normal sex hormone function (as it happened to my Japanese friend), then the therapy should start maybe with bringing back insulin to normal levels, and see how other hormones react to this new insulin level. Research shows that obese and undernourished have more difficulties reproducing that normal-weight people.

Chronic Diseases
Weight gain leads to insulin resistance (inability for the muscles to burn glucose as fuel, thus the storage of this fuel in the fat tissues), in turn this leads to the twin diseases of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and These are risk factors for other chronic diseases.

I told Professor Bhakoo about my mum's experience: she reversed high blood pressure and diabetes, and she even lost weight with diet. His answer was: "Yes, it is very easy to reverse these conditions with diet."

I was so happy to hear that! This means that many people suffering from diabetes an heart disease could improve their health with diet. BUT, he also mentioned that doctors might not know very well about the biochemical reactions going on in the body. Doctors are trained to prescribe medicine. It is much easier to prescribe a pill to lower blood pressure, blood sugar etc. than to tell these people what to eat and monitor them, if they really do so.

We discussed about the genetic differences between populations: For example, Europeans who had been consuming grains and sugars for a longer period of time, might be more adapted to a higher carbohydrate diet, than, for instance Aborigines, who were primarily hunters. In fact, diabetes is higher among these people than among the "white" population in Australia.

But to me, in both population the problem is still the same: high sugar levels in the blood. Then, it is another problem if a certain population reaches diabetes in a shorter period of time than another. Both are on the same path for diabetes and heart disease.

Health Authorities
Why biochemical research shows that a diet lower in sugar and refined carbohydrates is healthier for humans, yet health authorities advocate the opposite? It might be that health authorities do not really keep up with current research. I would like to go deeper into this subject. I will keep you posted as I meet other fantastic experts.

1 comment:

  1. It all makes sense to me!! In fact it is all so logical, I'm stunned that people are still being told to do the very opposite!