Low-carb diets might shorten life, study finds

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This might be because eating large amounts of animal fat and protein but few fresh plant-based foods can increase inflammation in the body.

Popular diets like Atkins swear by cutting out the starchy goodness altogether for effective weight loss. Instead, her team carried out observational research with more than 15,400 people, aged 45 to 64, from diverse socio-economic backgrounds from four USA communities who were enrolled in the atherosclerosis risk in communities study.

People with low carb diets (meaning less than 40% of their calories came from carbohydrates) and high carb diets (more than 70% of their calories came from carbs) had a higher risk of mortality than those with a moderate carb intake (50-55% of calories).

"These data also provide further evidence that animal-based low carbohydrate diets should be discouraged".

Lead researcher of the study, Sara Seidelmann, a cardiologist and nutrition researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, revealed to Business Insider that the results of the study indicate a diet should be "rich in plant based whole foods, such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts is associated with healthy aging". In the second part of the study, published today (Aug. 16) in the journal The Lancet Public Health, the researchers examined the effect of replacing carbs with either animal-based or plant-based proteins and fats.

A study which found consuming a diet that is either very high or very low in carbohydrates is associated with a shorter life expectancy has sparked the latest chapter in the debate between scientists over healthy lifestyles.

It also showed that low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fats from plant sources associated with lower risk of mortality compared to those that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fat from animal sources.

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By carbohydrates they meant, such as potatoes, rice and bread etc.

Of the original group, 6,283 people died over the study period. But a new study suggests it might make it more likely that you will die earlier. Therefore, the results of the study may not be relevant to people who are following stricter low carb or ketogenic diets.

Despite these limitations, a U-shaped link between diet and health outcomes seems logical, because "essential nutrients should be consumed above a minimal level to avoid deficiency, and below a maximal level to avoid toxicity", Dr. Andrew Mente and Dr. Salim Yusuf, both of McMaster University and the Population Health Research Institute in Hamilton, Canada, wrote in a commentary accompanying the study.

The researchers also analyzed data from more than 432,000 people in more than 20 countries and found that those with high and low carbohydrate intake had shorter life expectancy than those with moderate carbohydrate intake.

'Too much and too little carbohydrate can be harmful but what counts most is the type of fat, protein, and carbohydrate.' And researcher Professor Scott Solomon of Harvard Medical School said: 'This work provides the most comprehensive study of carbohydrate intake that has been done to date, and helps us better understand the relationship between the specific components of diet and long term health.

But the researchers recognize that their findings are purely observational at this stage and can not prove a cause and effect of eating too little or too many carbohydrates.

'This figure is close to the average carbohydrate consumption by the United Kingdom population observed in dietary surveys.

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