Low carb diets are unsafe and should be avoided

In a recent study, researchers found that low carbohydrate diets are unsafe and should be avoided.

The study is from the Medical University of Lodz, Poland.

The team 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.

Obesity is a major health issue worldwide and raises the risk of several chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

Different diets have been suggested for weight loss, such as diets low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat.

The long-term safety of these diets is controversial, with previous studies reporting conflicting results of their influence on the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and death.

This study prospectively examined the relationship between low carbohydrate diets, all-cause death, and deaths from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke), and cancer.

It had a nationally representative sample of 24,825 participants of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during 1999 to 2010.

Compared to participants with the highest carbohydrate consumption, those with the lowest intake had a 32% higher risk of all-cause death over an average 6.4-year follow-up.

In addition, risks of death from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer were increased by 51%, 50%, and 35%, respectively.

The results were confirmed in a meta-analysis of seven prospective cohort studies with 447,506 participants and an average follow-up 15.6 years.

The meta-analysis found 15%, 13%, and 8% increased risks in total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality with low (compared to high) carbohydrate diets (see figure for total mortality).

The team suggests that low carbohydrate diets might be useful in the short term to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve blood glucose control.

But their study suggests that in the long-term they are linked with an increased risk of death from any cause, and deaths due to cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer.

The researchers also examined the link between all-cause death and low carbohydrate diets for obese and non-obese participants in two age groups (55 years and older versus under 55) and found that the link was strongest in the non-obese older participants.

Regarding the mechanisms underlying the correlation between low carbohydrate diets and death, the team noted that animal protein, and specifically red and processed meat, has already been linked with an increased risk of cancer.

The reduced intake of fibre 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.

These findings suggest that low carbohydrate diets are unsafe and should not be recommended.

The large study was presented at ESC Congress 2018.

Source: European Society of Cardiology.