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Restrictive Diets Can Shorten Your Life, Study Suggests — So Go Eat Some Carbs

A new study examining restrictive dieting’s effects suggests trendy fad diets like keto, paleo, Atkins, Whole30, and the Dukan diet come with some unintended consequences. Yes, these low-carb meal plans may help your whittle your middle, but they’re also shortening your lifespan. 

In an August 2018 study published in the journal The Lancet, the researchers’ goal was to determine whether there was a relationship between caloric intake and death. They observed 15,428 adults between the ages of 45 and 64 who consumed a moderate amount of calories and compared them to nearly 42,000 similar adults to determine whether calories consumed correlated to a higher or lower risk of death. 

The results showed that adults who followed high- or low-carb diets were at an increased risk of death. Conversely, those whose diets consisted of 50 to 55 percent carbs saw the lowest mortality risk. Of the people who adhered to low-carb diets, those who consumed animal proteins and fats had a higher death risk compared to other low-carb devotees who ate plant proteins and fats.

These findings are echoed by another August 2018 study presented at ESC Congress 2018. Study author Maciej Banach, MD, PhD, FAHA, FESC, FNLA, FASA wrote, “We found that people who consumed a low-carbohydrate diet were at greater risk of premature death. Risks were also increased for individual causes of death including coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer. These diets should be avoided.”

But before you tuck into a satisfying dinner of pasta, garlic bread, french fries, and pizza, remember that the researchers in the first study found that optimal carb intake levels hovered between 50 and 55 percent. That means you need to fill the rest of your diet with fruits, veggies, and other nourishing foods that are associated with healthy aging

The major takeaways of these studies are essentially that a well-balanced diet will keep your body in working order for many years to come. This, of course, isn’t news to us, but it is a nice reminder that you don’t have to ditch all of your favorite foods to live a long, healthy life.

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