Health News

Study Finds Low Carb and High Carb Diets Both Increase Risk of Mortality

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A new study published in The Lancet on August 16, 2018 shows that both low carbohydrate diets and high carbohydrates are associated with increased risk of death, where a moderate carbohydrate diet provides the greatest benefit to longevity.

The study looked at death from all causes in a study group of 15,000 people between the ages of 45 years and 64 years (midlife) from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in four communities in the United States.  These study participants completed surveys related to their dietary habits and were then followed by researchers for 25 years.  

From age 50 on, the researchers found that those study participants who ate a diet with moderate carbohydrate intake, defined as 50-55% of their daily energy provided by carbohydrates, lived an average additional 33 years.

Study participants who ate a low carbohydrate diet, with less than 40% of their energy coming from carbohydrates, lived an average additional 29 years.  Participants who ate a high carbohydrate diet of over 70% of their diet consisting of carbohydrate, lived an additional 32 years.

The researchers also found that all low carbohydrate diets are not created equal.  Those low carbohydrate diets that were high in animal protein and fat had a higher risk of death.  Low carbohydrate diets that were high in plant based proteins and fats had a lower risk of death, as well as a lower risk of death specifically from cardiovascular disease.  The study states:

Long-term effects of a low carbohydrate diet with typically low plant and increased animal protein and fat consumption have been hypothesised to stimulate inflammatory pathways, biological ageing, and oxidative stress
— Seidelmann, et al

The researchers compared their results from this study to results from seven other studies conducted in North America, Europe, and Asia, with similar results.  The study concludes that a diet consisting of moderate carbohydrate intake is best for healthy aging.

While the study did not examine the quality of carbohydrates consumed by study participants, other studies have shown that complex carbohydrates with higher fiber and nutrient content are part of a healthy diet.  This study does lend weight to the idea that going to extremes with low-carb dieting is not the best long-term answer to improving your health any more than carbohydrate overloading is healthy.

Here at Yes I Can Health, I advocate safe, proven strategies to improve your lifelong wellness through changing habits and creating balance.

One habit to develop is simply eating more vegetables and fruits in your daily diet.  This study did indeed show that those participants who ate more plant based foods, whether low carb, moderate carb, or high carb, had longer lifespans and lower risk of death, as well as lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.  

If you would like to learn how to add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet, I encourage you to sign up for the Bunny Trail Virtual Challenge!

Researchers Found a Problem with the Research Supporting the Mediterranean Diet - What Does This Mean For You?

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You may have seen articles in the news this week that a major study supporting the Mediterranean Diet has been retracted.  And you may have questions about what this means and whether or not you should consider following the Mediterranean Diet.

First of all, let's start with a little background.

Over 50 years ago, a research study by Ancel Keys, PhD, the Seven Countries Study, found that middle-aged men living in the Mediterranean region of the world, specifically the island of Crete, experienced lower cardiovascular disease rates than middle-aged men in other parts of the world.  This outcomes was attributed to their diet - specifically a traditional diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fish.

Subsequent studies found that people in the Mediterranean region following this diet experienced an array of health benefits, including increased lifespan, less obesity, lower cholesterol, lower rates of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, improved brain function and lower rates of Alzheimer's disease.

In 2013, results from a landmark study called the PREDIMED trial were published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.  This large multi-site trial was touted as a randomized study comparing the Mediterranean Diet against the low-fat diet promoted by the American Heart Association.  The results were impressive:  A Mediterranean diet that included nuts reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 30% and risk of stroke by 49% when compared to the American Heart Association low-fat diet.

This week, the researchers acknowledged that there were serious problems with their methodology in the PREDIMED study - specifically, not all of the supposedly randomized participants were, in fact, separated into groups randomly.  The researchers re-analyzed their results, retracted the original study, and replaced the study with the new results - which came to the same conclusion as the original study.

In other words, even though the original study design was flawed, once the data were corrected to account for the flaws, the results were the same.  The Mediterranean Diet does lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  In addition to all the benefits noted in other studies of the diet.

So, if you follow, or are considering following, the Mediterranean Diet as your way of eating, should you throw it out?  Absolutely not!

The Mediterranean Diet with its emphasis on plant-based, locally sourced, whole and natural foods remains a very healthy way of eating with many health benefits. 

The Mediterranean Diet with its emphasis on plant-based, locally sourced, whole and natural foods remains a very healthy way of eating with many health benefits.  When you are eating the Mediterranean way, your diet will focus on a variety of fruits and vegetables, legumes, lean protein, nuts, healthy fats, and whole grains, all in moderation, and washed down with a bit of red wine if you so choose.  It is a diet that is loaded with the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants your body needs, with little of the highly processed, low-nutrition foods so common in the standard American diet.  And it is a way of eating that is reasonably easy to follow, filled as it is with a tasty variety of mostly easy to find foods.  So eat up with a clear conscience - and don't forget the red wine!