Meat-heavy low-carb diets can 'shorten lifespan'

Published 17 Aug 2018

Meat-heavy low-carb diets can 'shorten lifespan'

Paris, Aug 17, 2018 (AFP) - Middle-aged people who get roughly half their 
daily calories from carbohydrates live several years longer on average than 
those with meat-heavy low-carb diets, researchers reported Friday.


The findings, published in The Lancet medical journal, challenge a trend in Europe and North America toward so-called Paleo diets that shun carbohydrates in favour of animal protein and fat.

Proponents of these "Stone Age" diets argue that the rapid shift 10,000 years ago - with the advent of agriculture - to grains, dairy and legumes has not allowed the human body enough time to adapt to these high-carb foods.

For the study, receiving less than 40 percent of total energy intake from carbohydrates qualified as a low-carb regimen, though many such diets reduce the share to 20 percent or less.

At the other extreme, a 70 percent or higher share of carbohydrates - such as pasta, rice, cakes, sugary drinks - can also reduce longevity, but by far less, the scientists found.

"Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy," said lead author Sara Seidelmann, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets might be associated with shorter overall lifespan and should be discouraged."

Replacing meat with plant-based fats (such as avocados and nuts) and proteins (such as soy products and lentils) reduces the risk of mortality, Seidelmann and her team found.

The optimal balance of food groups for longevity remains hotly debated. Many studies have concluded that eating carbohydrates in moderation - 45 to 55 percent of total calorie intake - is best, but others report improved 
short-term, cardio-metabolic health with high-protein, high-fat diets. Measures of metabolic health include blood pressure, good and bad cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.  

   - Plant vs animal protein -

"Low carbohydrate dietary patterns favouring animal-derived protein and fat sources, from sources such as lamb, beef, pork, and chicken, were associated with higher mortality," the study said. "Those that favoured plant-derived protein and fat intake, from sources such as vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, and whole-grain breads, were associated with lower mortality," it said, adding that this suggested "the source of food notably modifies the association between carbohydrate intake and mortality."

Seidelmann and colleagues poured over the medical histories of nearly 15,500 men and women who were 45-64 when they enrolled - between 1987 and 1989 - in a health survey spread across four locations in the United States. Participants filled out detailed questionnaires about their dietary habits - what foods, how much, how often, etc.

Over a 25-year follow up period, more than 6,000 of the men and women died. People who got 50-55 percent of their calories from carbohydrates outlived those with very low-carb diets, on average, by four years, and those with 
high-carb diets by one year.

A review of medical records for an additional 432,000 people from earlier studies confirmed the results, which are also in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

"There is nothing to be gained from long-term adherence to low-carbohydrate diets rich in fats and proteins from animal origins," said Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher at Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich, England, commenting on the research, in which he did not take part.

But carb quality, not just quantity, is crucial he added."Most should come from plant foods rich in dietary fibre and intact grains, rather than from sugary beverages or manufactured foods high in added sugar." Fibres also help maintain a healthy gut flora, now considered to be a major factor in health and disease.



lesmal • Ambassador
on 22/08/2018

An interesting article and makes one think! 

As a child we were always brought up on rich-fibre foods and advised drinking sugary drinks was not the way to go! 

Fast foods also cause problems as it is far too easy to 'pop in & collect' fast food than cook a proper meal! 

on 07/09/2018

I have been following low carb high fat diet (LCHF) since last November, and have ditched 2st 4lb, in that time, which might not seem a lot but I have multiple health condition which slow down my ability to exercise, and a couple of times I have (like most people) I've fallen off the wagon!, However, my gastroenterologist is happy for me to continue following a low carb diet as I have a fatty liver ( non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)), and a low carb diet is advised for this condition.

In addition, having done my own research into the diet, I now that it is based on the low GI diet which was originally designed to help epileptics and then diabetics, and over the last 50 years it has been proven time and time again to prevent heart disease, diabetes, improve memory, reduce obesity and many more conditions caused by the western diet.

I would rather take my chances of living a year or two less and feel healthy on my journey, than be unhealthy, fat and have multiple health conditions, and be a burden to my family. Did I say that I have already rid myself of one of my health conditions since being on the LCHF way of eating!

on 14/01/2019

Very interesting Publication. I do eat healthy, adn don't have any alcohol. I seldom have red meat, may be just once a week. I do have chicken but not often and I always remove the skin and cook it in a stew  or curry rather than fried. I eat more fish, greens lentils and pulses, all grain bread rather than white bread, Avocado pears, nuts and seeds and only use high quality of Olive oil in cooking.  I have high fiber and low carb in my diet and I do not indulge in sweets, puddings, fizzy drinks, sugar and salt. My weight remains stable between 42 and 44 kg. What I suffer mostly is with skeletal system related ailments such as Arthritis. I am glad I read the article, as now I know that my diet is right

You will also like

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

Read the article
What should we eat to feed our brains?

What should we eat to feed our brains?

Read the article
Everything there is to know about the keto diet (concept, benefits and drawbacks)!

Everything there is to know about the keto diet (concept, benefits and drawbacks)!

Read the article
Nutrition and Food to Live Better?

Nutrition and Food to Live Better?

Read the article