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19 August 2018, 02:33 | Melissa Porter
Scientists are zeroing in on the right amount of carbs to eat for a long life — here's how much should be in your diet
The new study published in The Lancet, however, suggests that people ought to be more careful and shouldn't jump on the latest diet fad before doing proper research. Low carb diets where the fats and proteins primarily come from plant sources were found to have lower morality risk than low carb diets that rely heavily on animal proteins and fats.
"When carbohydrate intake is reduced in the diet, there are benefits when this is replaced with plant-origin fat and protein food sources, but not when replaced with animal-origin sources such as meats".
To address this uncertainty, researchers began by studying 15,428 adults aged 45-64 years from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds from four United States communities (Forsyth County, NC; Jackson, MS; Minneapolis, MN; and Washington County, MD) enrolled in the ARIC cohort between 1987 and 1989.
People who got 50 to 55 per cent of their calories from carbohydrates outlived those with very low-carb diets, on average, by four years, and those with high-carb diets by one year.
"However, our data suggests that animal-based, low-carbohydrate diets might be associated with shorter overall lifespan and should be discouraged".
Still, Seidelmann said that "if one chooses to follow a low carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term".
He led a study published in the Lancet previous year, which found that extremely low-fat diets could also do more harm than good. Scientists from this study were able to calculate the calories which people were taking from their diet plan.
The results showed low and high intake of carbs were associated with a higher risk of mortality, compared with moderate intake.
Participants with a high carb intake (more than 70% of daily calories) had an average life expectancy of 82 years, slightly lower than the moderate carbs intake group. Diets that involved replacing carbs with proteins and fats from animal sources, including beef, lamb, pork, chicken and cheese, were linked with a greater risk of death.
These results were pooled with seven other observational studies carried out across the world, involving a total of more than 430,000 people.
Pasta is a high-carb dish.
The report also found that a high-carb diet, which The Guardian reports is "common in Asian and poorer nations where people eat a lot of refined carbohydrates such as white rice", has similiarly adverse effects.
Despite these limitations, a U-shaped link between diet and health outcomes seems logical, because "essential nutrients should be consumed above a minimal level to avoid deficiency, and below a maximal level to avoid toxicity", Dr. Andrew Mente and Dr. Salim Yusuf, both of McMaster University and the Population Health Research Institute in Hamilton, Canada, wrote in a commentary accompanying the study.
'Too much and too little carbohydrate can be harmful but what counts most is the type of fat, protein and carbohydrate'.
Researchers also found during a meta-analysis of studies covering more than 20 countries and 432,000 people that some low carb diets are less healthy than others.
But the researchers recognize that their findings are purely observational at this stage and can not prove a cause and effect of eating too little or too many carbohydrates. The global research shows that your mortality risk could be lowered if you follow a low-carb diet featuring plant-based proteins and fat.
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