(Note from Erin: I’m sure if you are reading this you might feel like you have whiplash but I’m just trying to share the most up to date research with you. Eat meat or don’t (I eat plant-based) just remember ALL IN MODERATION. If you want to eat organic, grass-fed red meat, go for it, maybe just don’t eat it every day.)

Researchers reported today that middle-aged people who get roughly half their daily calories from carbohydrates live several years longer on average than those with low-carb diets. The findings, published in The Lancet, “challenge a trend in Europe and North America toward so-called Paleo diets that shun carbohydrates in favor of animal protein and fat.”1


However, according to lead author Sara Seidelmann, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston,

“Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy. However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets might be associated with shorter overall lifespan and should be discouraged.”2

Seidelmann and her team found that replacing meat with plant-based fats (think nuts and avocados)and proteins (such as soy products and lentils) actually reduced the risk of mortality. (And yes, we know, holistic doctors have differing opinions on the topic of soy.)


For the study:3

  • Seidelmann and her colleagues looked at the medical histories of nearly 15,500 men and women who were 45-64 when they enrolled, between 1987 and 1889, in a health survey from four locations in the United States.
  • Participants filled out detailed questionnaires about their dietary habits (what foods, how much, how often, etc)
  • Measures of metabolic health included blood pressure, good and bad cholesterol, and blood sugar levels
  • Over a 25-year follow-up period, more than 6,000 of the participants died
  • Those who got 50-55 percent of their calories from carbs outlived those with very low-carb diets, by an average of four years and by one year of those with high-carb diets
  • A review of medical records on an additional 432,000 people from earlier studies confirmed Seidelmann’s results, which are also in line with World Health Organization recommendations

Also of note, although a 70 percent or higher share of carbohydrates (like pasta, rice, cakes, sugary drinks) also reduced longevity, but by far less than those eating low-carb (under 40 percent of energy from carbs).


Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher at Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich, England, who was not a part of the research team said, “There is nothing to be gained from long-term adherence to low-carbohydrate diets rich in fats and proteins from animal origins.”4But he also said that carb quality was important, “Most should come from plant foods rich in dietary fiber and intact grains, rather than from sugary beverages or manufactured foods high in added sugar.” 5

We couldn’t agree more!


Sources and References

  1. Yahoo!, August 17, 2018.
  2. Yahoo!, August 17, 2018.
  3. Yahoo!, August 17, 2018.
  4. Yahoo!, August 17, 2018.
  5. Yahoo!, August 17, 2018.