Are you eating too many carbs? It’s a question that you may have asked yourself before now. When you’re embarking on a journey towards a healthier lifestyle, it’s quite normal to question some of your dietary habits. Plus, let’s face it, carbohydrates get a bad rap. So, do we need them in our diet and how much is too much? Let’s take a look at the results of a new study that deal with just that question.
How much is too much?
There’s a lot of hype surrounding low-carb diets. The short-term benefits of this type of diet have been widely reported. Skipping carbolicious foods can lead to weight loss and a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even stroke over a short period. However, it’s important to realise that the long-term effects of this diet may be quite different.
The latest research, published in The Lancet, suggests that skipping carbs altogether could have a dangerous effect on your health. Researchers worked with 15,400 people over a matter of decades to find out how their daily diets affected their chances of early mortality. Participants were asked to fill out surveys about their eating habits.
After gathering this information, the researchers looked at the percentage of carbs people ate along with all-cause mortalities over the course of 25 years. The results showed that both eating too many and too few carbohydrates resulted in higher risks of mortality. The takeaway was that people should aim to eat a balanced level of carbs in their diet.
Of course, when you cut down on your carb intake, you naturally have to replace the foods with something else. The research also revealed the importance of the substitutes you make. While some diets (such as the infamous Carnivore Diet) promote feasting on animal-based products and meats in the place of carbs, the experts warn that this may lead to a whole host of troubling health concerns.
Want to boost your health? Eat more plants!
“We need to look really carefully at what are the healthy compounds in diets that provide protection,” explains Dr. Sara Seidelmann, Lead Researcher and Clinical and Research Fellow in Cardiovascular Medicine from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. “Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy.”
Despite being on trend, choosing to follow a diet like this one could be more dangerous than most of us imagine. That’s why when it comes to substituting carbs for other products, we need to be picky and consider what nutritional value each ingredient offers. As Dr. Seidelmann puts it, those looking to eat fewer carbs should look to plant-based alternatives which also help to boost our health levels over a long period.
“However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets might be associated with shorter overall lifespan and should be discouraged,” she continues. “Instead, if one chooses to follow a low carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy aging in the long term.”
Creating a healthy balanced diet is not merely about cutting things out. Instead, you should consider what you replace these food groups with and ensure that you’re getting the nutritional benefits you need. With that in mind, the results of this study found that switching carbohydrates for plant-based alternatives such as vegetables, legumes, and nuts were linked to lower mortality. In short, we should all be eating more plants.