The Guardian’s write-up of a study comparing the quality of carbohydrates, and claiming we all need to eat more dietary fibre, said the findings were “good news – but incompatible with fashionable low carb diets”.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a leading cardiologist, author of The Pioppi Diet and co-founder of Action Sugar, criticised the “agenda driven, not scientific” narrative of the article, and said “the truth will out eventually”.
Dr Malhotra has also asked The Guardian and the BBC for “immediate corrections that a low fibre diet does not equal a low carbohydrate diet”.
The study, led by Professor Jim Mann team at the University of Otago in New Zealand, sought to determine an evidence base for recommended intake of dietary fibre.
They conducted a series of review of studies between April 2017 and February 28, investigating carbohydrate quality and disease incidence, risk and mortality.
Their results indicated that “high intakes of dietary fibre and whole grains were complementary” and that not consuming enough healthy dietary fibre could raise disease risk.
The important element of The Guardian’s write-up is the claim that the findings were somehow a “blow to low carb”, but the researchers highlighted that it is the quality of carbohydrate rather than the quantity which could determine major health outcomes.
In fact, a diet low in carbs and a diet high in fibre are not mutually exclusive. Whole grains are by no means the only source of dietary fibre. Eating low carb enables dietary fibre to be consumed from a range of sources, particularly from non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, kale and cabbage.
Lou Walker, ambassador of the Public Health Collaboration, responded to The Guardians article by writing: “I eat very low carb, high fat and haven’t had a ‘healthy’ whole grain in four years. My gut is in fine fettle and cardiometabolic markers are tip top. [ ] there’s oodles of fibre in veg, nuts &seeds.”
Benedict Jephcote, Editor of Diabetes.co.uk, said: “Eating whole grains is a pattern associated with people living healthier lifestyles, and so it stands to reason that higher intake of grains would be associated with lower disease risks than people having refined grains. This does not rule low carb out from being associated with lower disease risks too.
“Both modes of eating typically involve consuming fewer refined grains, processed foods and sugary products, and both modes are likely to be healthier than average lifestyles.”
The study results have been published in The Lancet.