Carbohydrates & depression 1

Recently I learned of a dietary theory propounded, apparently, by the Dr. Richard Heller & Dr. Rachael Heller, authors of the The 7-day Low-Carb Rescue and Recovery Plan & various titles related to their diet known as the “Carbohydrate Addict’s LifeSpan Program.” As elucidated on a discussion list by a low-carber of my acquaintance, who is a fan of their work, the Hellers’ diet is based on a research claim that each time you eat foods high in carbohydrate (e.g., grains, pastas, starchy vegetables like potatoes), your pancreas secretes more insulin for the same amount of carbohydrate than it did in earlier meals on the same day. This can lead to hyperinsulemia — that is, high blood insulin (which the Hellers have dubbed “Profactor H”) — which, of course, contributes to insulin resistance & eventually Type 2 diabetes, as well as to conversion of carbohydrate foods into body fat.

The Hellers’ dietary advice is thus to eat foods high in carbohydrate in only one meal per day. Other meals should comprise only proteins, fats, & low-starch veggies.

I don’t know if the low-carber of my acquaintance gave a faithful interpretation of the Hellers’ claims, or if the claim about a higher amount of insulin per carb in successive meals holds any water. What concerns me more is this: for me to eat my high-carb foods in only one meal per day would mean that I would be eating 100-125 grams of carb (my normal daily ration) all in one meal. The effect of that wouldn’t be good: it would cause my blood glucose to go way to high, & would probably result (when the insulin kicked in to control all the glucose) in hypoglycemia. Not something that would be very good for me: spacing my carbs out across several meals, as I do, makes much better sense.

Unless the Hellers’ “more insulin excreted in successive meals containing high-carb foods” theory is true. (But again… how much more insulin?)

My other option would be to drastically lower the amount of carbohydrate I eat each day, to no more than 20-25 grams (or, as the low-carber pointed out, double that if I were to exercise immediately after eating to burn off the excess blood glucose).

But I will never go a low-carb route. Reason: I discovered some months ago, since learning to eat as I eat, that if I go too low in the daily carbohydrate consumption, I experience problems with mood. Irritability. But worse, depression. Which is a beast I’ve had a fair number of battles with over most of my life.

Based on my reading, depression, irritability, & other such mood problems are pretty common to people who embark upon low-carb diets. Other people, however, seem to be able to do low-carb without any problems with mood. Chalk it down to differences in heredity, metabolism, life history — who knows. All I know is, even if the Hellers’ theory is true, low-carb is not safe for me. I’ve been in the black hole, & I will not willingly go back: it has the potential to kill me a lot more quickly than insulin resistance would.

I don’t think I buy the Hellers’ theory anyway. According to the low-carber of my acquaintance, eating as many carbs as I’m eating should have me storing lots more fat than I in fact am. In fact I’ve lost 14 pounds since late December, & probably even more than that in body fat (replacing it with muscle), given the fit of my clothes nowadays. Moderate-carb, as I’ve been eating for months, seems to be working just fine to control my blood glucose, hence my blood insulin.

And also supports me against the slide into the pit.

More on carbohydrates & depression to come.

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