A large study concludes that a low carbohydrate intake increases the risk of premature mortality, as well as mortality from several chronic diseases. Therefore, scientists urge dieters to avoid low carb diets. Recent estimates have suggested that in the United States alone up to 45 million people die each year. In addition, US people reportedly spend around $ 33 billion annually on weight loss products.
“Two thirds of the population who are overweight or obese have a plethora of diets to choose from”.
From low-fat to high-fat diets, keto diets and intermittent fasting, fashions are numerous, but what are the consequences for our health?
A new study focuses on low carb diets and explores the health risks that are associated with them. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for most living organisms, so how does a diet low in these molecules affect health? The new research does not offer a causal answer to this question, but it does examine the links between low carb diets and the risk of premature mortality, as well as mortality from specific chronic diseases. The new study was presented at the Congress of the European Society of Cardiology, held in Munich, Germany, by Prof. Maciej Banach, from the Medical University of Lodz in Poland.
Study Low Carb Diets and the Risk of Death:
Prof. Lodz and his colleagues examined the links between low carb diets and the risk of death from any cause among 24,825 people who had participated in the National Survey of Health and Nutrition Examination in 1999-2010. In addition, the researchers examined the associations between low carbohydrate intake and the risk of death from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease – which includes stroke – and cancer. On average, the study participants were 47.6 years old, and their carbohydrate intake was calculated as a percentage. Then, based on these percentages, the participants were divided into quarters. Professor Banach and his colleagues followed the participants for an average period of 6.4 years. Participants were also classified as obese and non-obese, according to their body mass index (BMI).
In the second part of the study, the team examined the same associations in a large meta-analysis of prospective studies that summarized nearly 450,000 participants who were followed for an average period of 15.6 years.
Why Low Carb Diets Should be Avoided?
Overall, the analysis that used survey data found that those who consumed the least amount of carbohydrates were 32 percent more likely to die prematurely from any cause. This was compared to the participants who ate the most carbohydrates. In addition, low-carb consumers were 51 percent more likely to die of coronary heart disease, 50 percent more likely to die of cerebrovascular disease and 35 percent more likely to die of cancer. The associations were stronger among the elderly, not obese. These results were replicated in the meta-analysis, which found that the overall risk of death from any cause was 15 percent higher in people who consumed the least amount of carbohydrates, the risk of cardiovascular death was 13 percent higher, and the to die of cancer was eight percent higher. Low carb diets should be avoided concludes Prof. Banach, who also ventured some possible causal explanations of the links found.
He says: “Reducing the intake of fiber and fruits and increasing the intake of animal proteins, cholesterol and saturated fats with these diets can play a role. Differences in minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals could also be involved.” Low carb diets may be useful in the short term to lose weight, reduce blood pressure and improve blood glucose control, but our study suggests that in the long term they are associated with an increased risk of death from any cause, and deaths from cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular diseases and cancer.