According to results from a large study, low intake of carbs increases the threat of premature death and death from several chronic illnesses. Scientists are advising dieters to avoid low-carb diets as it could be damaging to their health.
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The novel study focuses on low-carb diets and explores the health risks that are linked with them. The researchers did not state the cause and effect, but examines the links between low-carb diets and the risk of untimely death and death from chronic diseases.
The new study was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, held in Munich, Germany, by Prof. Maciej Banach, of the Medical University of Lodz in Poland.
Low-carb diets and death risk
Prof. Lodz and his team of researchers examined the links between low-carb diets and the risk of death from any cause among 24,825 individuals who had partook in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 1999–2010.
Also, the researchers studied the associations between consumption of a low carb and the risk of death from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and cancer.
The study participants were 47.6 years old on average, and their carb consumption was calculated as a percentage. The participants were divided into four groups based on these percentages and they were observed for an average period of 6.4 years.
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Also, the participants were classified as obese and non-obese, according to their body mass index (BMI). The team examined the same associations in the second part of the study in a large meta-analysis of prospective studies that summed up almost 450,000 participants who were followed for an average period of 15.6 years.
Results from the survey found that those who consumed the least amount of carbs were 32 percent more likely to die prematurely from any cause as compared to participants who ate large quantity of carbs.
From the study, low carb consumers were 51 percent more likely to die from coronary heart disease, 50 percent more likely to die from cerebrovascular disease, and 35 percent more likely to die of cancer. The associations were strongest among older, non-obese people.
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 carbs, the risk of cardiovascular death was 13 percent higher, and that of dying of cancer was 8 percent higher.
Prof. Banach concluded that low-carb diets should be avoided, giving some possible causal explanations for the results.
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He says, “The low intake of fiber and fruits and increased intake of animal protein, cholesterol, and saturated fat with these diets may play a role. Differences in minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals might also be involved.”
“Low-carbohydrate diets might be useful in the short-term to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve blood glucose control, but our study suggests that in the long-term they are linked with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease.”