Healthy Aging

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

Moderate Carbohydrate Diets Associated with Lower Risk of Death.png

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!