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How does the low-carb diet affect life expectancy?
A so-called low-carb diet has been used by many people in recent years to lose weight and achieve a healthy body weight. Researchers have now found that a low-carb diet can shorten life expectancy by up to four years.
The scientists at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found in their current study that a low-carb diet can significantly shorten life expectancy. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "The Lancet Public Health".
Study had 15,400 subjects
Low-carb diets have become increasingly popular for weight loss in recent times. However, a moderate reduction in carbohydrate consumption or the switch from meat to vegetable proteins and fats appears to be healthier than a low-carb diet, the current US study found. 15,400 participants filled out questionnaires about the food and beverages they had consumed, as well as portion sizes. The scientists then estimated the percentage of calories that the participants ingested from carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
What were the sources of the carbohydrates?
The researchers found that those who obtained 50 to 55 percent of their energy from carbohydrates (moderate intake) had a slightly lower risk of death than participants from groups who consumed very little or many carbohydrates. The subjects obtained their carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and sugar, but the main source was starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals.
How does a moderate consumption of carbohydrates work?
The researchers estimated that from the age of 50, the group's moderate-carbohydrate group would live an average of another 33 years. This was four years more than people who obtained 30 percent or less of their energy from carbohydrates. They also lived two to three years longer than the participants who consumed 30 to 40 percent of their carbohydrate diet and 1.1 years longer than those with 65 percent or more carbohydrates.
Replace carbohydrates with vegetable proteins and fats
The scientists then compared a low-carbohydrate diet rich in animal proteins and fats with a diet high in vegetable protein and fat. They found that eating more beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and cheese instead of carbohydrates was associated with a slightly increased risk of death. Replacing carbohydrates with more vegetable proteins and fats such as legumes and nuts slightly reduces the risk of mortality.
Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are becoming increasingly popular, explains Dr. Study author Dr. Sara Seidelmann from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. However, the data suggest that an animal-based low-carbohydrate diet is associated with a shorter overall lifespan. Therefore, this should be discouraged, the expert emphasizes. The exchange of carbohydrates for more vegetable fats and proteins, on the other hand, promotes healthy aging in the long term.
Western-style carbohydrate-rich diet is unhealthy
The authors assume that the high-carbohydrate diet based on the Western model often leads to a lower intake of vegetables, fruits and cereals and also includes a higher consumption of animal proteins and fats, which is associated with inflammation and aging processes in the body.
It is important to note where our nutrients come from
A really important message of this study is that it is not enough to concentrate on the nutrients, but it must also be taken into account whether they come from animal or vegetable sources. If the carbohydrate intake in the diet is reduced and replaced by vegetable sources of fat and protein, this leads to health benefits. However, these benefits are not seen when replaced by sources of animal origin such as meat. (as)