An excessive amount of carbohydrates (carbs) in your diet reduces your life expectancy. While I’ll often talk about the ill effects of excessive carbs, a study published in The Lancet shows a direct link to mortality. It’s one of the motivations for my own low-carb diet, and why I’ll focus on low-carb recipes here at Edaqa’s Kitchen. I want you to live a long healthy life full of delicious food.
We measure the amount of carbs in a diet as the percentage of your energy (calories) coming from carbs compared to other food sources (mainly fat and protein). The study shows that as you exceed 50% calories from carbs, your mortality, or risk level, increases. 50% may seem like a lot, but if your diet consists of a lot of bread, pasta, rice, desserts, and processed sauces, it’s easy to exceed that level. Coming down to 50% is a worthy initial goal.
Health and diet are of course tricky topics. Latching on the results of one study would be ill-advised. This study gives us a fascinating overall view, and definitely a warning, but isn’t the whole story. I’d like to understand the reasons, not just the outcomes. It’s why I’ll continue to look at more studies, and at how the body works. I want to find a balance in the food we eat.
This study itself shows an interesting reason why digging further is essential. The numbers show a U-curve in mortality. As carb intake dropped below 50%, mortality appeared to increase again! The effect, as concluded in the study itself, is not the carbs themselves, but the nutrients that were replacing them. Replacing the carbs with animal-derived fats and proteins increased mortality. Replace the carbs with plant sources, and mortality continued to decrease below 50%.
That is the motivation for a lot of the recipes on my site. How do we find food that is low in carbs, not high in animal products, and still delicious? It’s silly to believe that you’ll accept food that doesn’t taste good. Though, yes you’ll have to live with it tasting different. There’s no way around that.
I won’t harp on people for enjoying the occasional donut. I’m certainly never going to give up my salt and vinegar potato chips. I’m against strict diets. If you need to make exceptions all the time, you’ll end up ignoring the good food. Fortunately, the graphs in the study, are curves. This indicates that any reduction in carbs will improve your health. This is a trend that continues across many studies. You don’t need to make drastic changes overnight. Every step in the right direction is a good one. This gives you a lot of time to adjust, and slowly wean yourself of the bad foods.
Giving you an alternative to excessive foods is also part of my goal. It’s why I’ll create ginger bread recipes. It’s not a low-carb recipe, and even has refined sugar in it! But, it’s lower in carbs than classic recipes. Any meal, or snack, where you lower carbs, is one where you’ve increased your lifespan. The more we can improve every recipe, the better we’ll be. My focus will, of course, be on recipes to go far in the direction of low-carb. This gives you a better chance to build your own balance.
There’s another reason why strictness is problematic: people are individuals. We have variations in our lifestyle and body. When looking at those graphs again, we see the confidence intervals show that some people get away with eating more carbs than others. We also know that after intense sports, your muscles love carbs, along with some protein. It’s unfortunately never a simple story. Hopefully, over time, we’ll discover more of the reasons why foods are good for some people and not others.
Excess carbs are bad for you. If you want a simple takeaway, it’s that. Diets with over 50% of energy from carbs are known to increase mortality. Diets going lower than that, with non-animal sources, will increase life expectancy. I’m happy this is an actively researched field. Lots of new information to turn over the old. And if something appears, that contradicts what I say, then great. I’m willing to adapt.