October 15, 2018 | Katherine Adams
The association between a high-carbohydrate diet, sedentary lifestyle, and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity is overwhelmingly supported by research. Each year, the number of Americans diagnosed with one or more of these chronic diseases rises. University of Houston-Clear Lake and the new Exercise and Nutritional Health Institute is presenting the Low Carb Houston Conference Oct. 25-27 to address and examine ways in which nutritional interventions improve metabolic consequences during the event in the university’s Bayou Theater.
“The conference’s mission is to educate community members, physicians, policy makers, and others on the health benefits of a low carbohydrate, high fat diet (LCHF),” said conference organizer and Associate Professor of Exercise and Health Sciences William Amonette. “Along with great scientific and medical information, our speakers will also discuss practical ways to implement a LCHF diet and will help the community realize that this important lifestyle change is both healthy and enjoyable.”
Conference organizer and Webster-based cardiologist Dr. Nadir Mir Ali said that obesity in Texas is a serious health problem. “Today, 33-36 percent of all Texans are obese with a body mass index of over 30. Another 30 percent are overweight,” he said. “That means that for two out of three Texans, weight is a problem serious enough to affect their overall health.”
The goal of the conference, Ali said, is to stop “medicalizing” the cures for diseases like stroke, heart disease or diabetes. “The question for doctors has always been, ‘What pill can I give you for this?’ We need to change this paradigm. The optimal way to approach many of these diseases is through nutrition, exercise and fasting.”
Ali and an array of other physicians, scientists, nutritionists and other experts in the field will explore aspects of carbohydrate restriction to improve metabolic consequences and chronic diseases that result from the standard American diet, which is often over 50 percent carbohydrates.
“We are demonstrating that there is so much rich, high quality food that will help people become healthy and live longer without feeling that they’re giving something up,” Ali said.
Beyond the information presented at the conference, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator Ali Miller will be putting together a food-as-medicine dinner, curating a menu that features therapeutic foods and seasonal ingredients to support the body. The meal is one of the conference’s featured events and will be prepared by award-winning Houston chef, author and Top Chef 2010 finalist Monica Pope.
“We have been doing a ‘Food-as-Medicine’ dinner series since 2014 in which Monica prepares a four-course meal based on a list of health-specific topics,” Miller said. “I’ll be guiding everyone through the preparation of each dish with information about how to optimize the body’s function with diet and nutritional compounds. I’ll discuss issues like food sensitivity, inflammation, hormone imbalance, stress resilience and detoxification.”
Each course, Miller said, will emphasize a food-as-medicine topic. “I’ll be educating the diners on up-to-date research, mechanisms of nutritional compounds, and how each dish can heal,” she said. “Most importantly, we’ll be talking about the fact that the benefits of the low-carb way of eating are backed by sound science and clinical outcomes. It’s not a diet trend or shortcut.”
“On the low-carb diet, you can have so many things, including the best Texas barbecue,” Dr. Ali said. “It’s actually very healthy. Eat butter, lard, cream and cheese. But not bread or sweets. Our body is not designed for those foods, and that’s why we are not healthy. But at this conference, we will look at the richness of what is acceptable to eat and still be healthy. Enjoy the food as well as the health benefits.”
The conference will also feature the expertise of biochemical engineer Ivor Cummins and Family Medicine Specialist Dr. Jeffry Gerber, who have educated health professionals and community members for the past three years at a similar low-carb conference in Breckenridge, Colorado. Amonette, Ali, Cummins and Gerber have assembled a list of speakers offering presentations on insulin resistance, lipoprotein (cholesterol) metabolism, fasting, and nutritional ketosis. They will be available to speak individually to attendees during breaks and during Q&A sessions.
For more information and to register for the Low Carb Houston Conference, visit www.uhcl.edu/low-carb-houston.