Some Carbs To Live Longer

Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer for Live Science, gives some information that eating some carbs, but not too many, could help us live longer according to a new study.    We hear of high carbs and low carbs, but medium carbs is something new!

A large study is suggesting that eating carbohydrates in moderation may be best for boosting longevity.  The study included more than 15,000 Americans that were tracked for a quarter of a century.  Those who ate a low-carb diet or a high-carb diet were more likely to die during the study period compared to those who ate a moderate carb diet.  About 50 to 55% of their calories were coming from carbs.

They estimated that from age 50, those who consumed a moderate carb diet would have about four years longer in life expectancy than those consuming a very low carb diet.  The study was published in the journal The Lancet Public Health.  The researchers examined the difference of replacing carbs with animal-based or plant-based proteins and fats and found that low-carb diets involving people consuming animal-based proteins and fats were linked with a greater risk of early death.  The low-carb diets, however, that involved those consuming plant-based proteins and fats were linked with a reduced risk of early death.

Lead study author Dr. Sara Seidelmann, a research fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston believes their data suggests that animal-based low carb diets might be associated with shorter overall life span.  Exchanging carbs for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy aging in the long term.

Losing weight in the short term can be obtained through low-carb diets, but the long-term health effects are less clear.  They examined information from 15,500 adults aged 45 to 64 from four areas in North Carolina, Mississippi, Minnesota and Maryland.  Beginning in the late 1980s and again six years later, participants completed surveys about the types of foods they ate and how often.  They were followed for 25 years in which time 6,283 people died.

They found the link between carb intake and life expectancy was U-shaped, or both low and high carb diets were linked with a greater risk of death.  Moderate carb diets were linked with a lower risk of death.  They then performed an analysis involving more than 432,000 people in 20 countries using data from seven other studies.  This analysis confirmed their original findings.

They found that with low carb diets the source of proteins and fats was what mattered.  Those diets that involve replacing carbs with proteins and fats from animal sources were linked with a greater risk of death.  Replacing carbs with proteins and fats from plant sources were tied to a lower risk of death.

Their belief is that essential nutrients should be consumed above a minimal level to avoid deficiency and below a maximal level to avoid toxicity.  Based on these principles, moderate intake of carbs is likely to be more appropriate for the general population for a balanced diet that includes fruit, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts, fish, dairy and unprocessed meats, all taken in moderation.

Dr Fredda Branyon