Of mice and mankind : why dietary studies on mice have less than zero relevance to humans.

There have been quite a few studies on the effect of low carb diets on mice recently, and there has been quite a fuss with some (extremely stupid) journalists and researchers extrapolating that what is bad for mice is bad for people. There are a few things I should point out about mice and humans.

Mice eat a grain and seed based diet. They always have, and have done so for millions of generations. They do not, ever naturally, eat a high fat or protein diet. Humans however, evolved for the past few million years as stamina hunters, scavengers and foragers. Their diets were mainly made up of (drumroll) fat and protein. Hunter gatherers to this day eat a diet that is roughly two-thirds animal (see the work of Cordain on this). The swap over to an agrarian lifestyle high in carbs/grains is extremely recent for our species. It started about 20,000 years ago in the Levant when foragers swapped over to gathering wild grains as their main food source (the Kebaran Ohalo site), and didn’t start spreading to other populations until about 10,000 years ago. Northern Europe started eating a large amount of grains as little as 5,000 years ago, and other modern hunter gathers have never, ever, ever in their entire evolutionary history eaten a grain/carb based diet.

In fact, different human populations respond differently to different diets. East Asians and many others can’t digest milk, Pima Indians are massively insulin resistant and all almost entirely obese and diabetic in adulthood.

Which really demands the question; why the hell does anyone think the biological response of another species that evolved to eat a completely different diet to humans will be anything like our own?

Some prime examples of stupidity… all mouse based.

Atkins ‘affects conception chances’

Eating a high protein diet – such as Atkins – could reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving, researchers suggest.

I’d like to point out that low carb diets are well recognised as a treatment for Poly-Cystic Ovaries Syndrome, a common cause of fertility problems in women. This item is scientific crap.

High protein diets casue Alzheimer’s

Researchers found that mice fed meals similar to those of the original Atkin’s Diet had brains five per cent lighter than all the others.

Low-carbohydrate Atkins-style diets could increase risk of heart disease and stroke

Atkins diet potentially unhealthy, study finds.

And just for a laugh.

A High Fat, Low Carbohydrate Diet Improves Alzheimer’s Disease In Mice

ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2005) — Mice with the mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease show improvements in their condition when treated with a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet

Anyone curious about how HUMANS respond to low carb diets should check out the links below.

The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: A pilot study

In this pilot study, a LCKD led to significant improvement in weight, percent free testosterone, LH/FSH ratio, and fasting insulin in women with obesity and PCOS over a 24 week period.

Low-Carbohydrate-Diet Score and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women

Our findings suggest that diets lower in carbohydrate and higher in protein and fat are not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in women. When vegetable sources of fat and protein are chosen, these diets may moderately reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Low-Carb Diets and Heart Disease

Low-carb diets are better at boosting ‘good’ cholesterol than low-fat diets and the weight loss is the same, according to a new study.

The low-carb group had a substantially greater decrease in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number that measures the heart at rest, in between heartbeats) than did the low-fat group at three and six months.The difference still remained after two years.The low-carb group also had greater increases in HDL cholesterol than the low-fat group throughout the study.

Restricted-carbohydrate diets in patients with type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis.


Many current popular weight-loss diets advocate restricting carbohydrates, but risks and benefits of these diets for patients with diabetes is unclear. We searched for articles published in English between 1980 and April 2006 regarding carbohydrate-restricted diets that included and reported separate results for adult, nonpregnant patients with type 2 diabetes. Articles were limited to studies completed in the United States and Canada. Available data on study design; carbohydrate composition of diet; duration of diet; and the outcomes of weight, lipid levels (total, low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides), hemoglobin A1c percent and/or fasting glucose were extracted. A total of 56 studies or reviews were evaluated. Thirteen studies met our inclusion criteria. Meta-regression analyses show that hemoglobin A1c, fasting glucose, and some lipid fractions (triglycerides) improved with lower carbohydrate-content diets. Overall effect on weight was equivocal among the studies evaluated in this meta-analysis. Randomized, controlled studies of restricted-carbohydrate diets in patients with diabetes need to be conducted in order to evaluate the overall sustainability of outcomes and long-term safety.

So there you go. The studies on the mice actually seem to be the reverse of what you’d find in humans on the same diet. Less than zero relevance.


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