How might carb and fat consumption affect longevity in men vs women?

  • In terms of longevity, eating too much in the form of carbohydrates and fats could reduce one’s longevity, as per the findings of a recent Japanese research.
  • The study found that those who consume infrequently carbohydrates could increase the risk of dying, whereas women who consume a low amount of fat could do similar things.
  • The study focused on the population of Japan. The findings could or might not be applicable in the same way to Western people.

A new study conducted by the Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan found that extremes in fats and carbohydrates can reduce your life span. The risk of a shorter lifespan was different between women and men. All participants in the study were fit at the time of recruitment.

The study showed that those who consumed a low amount of carbohydrates had a significantly higher risk of dying from all causes. However, women who ate the least amount of fat were at an increased risk of cancer-related deaths and all causes.

The researchers behind the study draw a multi-layered image of healthy eating in regards to fats and carbohydrates in general, suggesting that eating at any level can negatively impact longevity.

The study is published in the journal Journal of Nutrition.

The effects of fats and carbs on longevity

In terms of carbohydrate intake, researchers discovered that within the study group, men who consumed less than 40 percent of their calories from carbohydrates had an increased risk of dying from all causes.

For women, on the other hand, those who derived more than 65 percent of their daily calories through carbohydrates had a greater risk of dying from all causes.

Researchers found no significant distinction in the effects of consuming carbohydrates that are minimally processed as compared to refined carbohydrates.

Concerning dietary fats, those who consumed greater than 35 percent of their daily calories through any form of fat had an increased risk of developing death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

When men were surveyed, the quality of intake of fat was assessed, and no distinct connection was found between saturated fat consumption. But, eating less unsaturated fat was linked with a higher chance of cancer-related death and all causes.

Women who consume more fats, particularly saturated fats, reduced the risk of developing all-cause cancer death.

The study included 34,893 males and 46,440 women in age between 35 and 69 years. The weight index (BMI) for males was 23.7, while for women, it was 22.2, in the healthy range of the Trusted Source.

Cautions on the study’s conclusions

As per cardiology dietetics Michelle Routhenstein, who was not part of the study, “[t]his study suggests that low carbohydrates in diet and low-fat weight loss diets for women can decrease longevity.”

The clinical nutrition epidemiologist Professor. Linda Van Horn, who was not part of the study, expressed her concern that Americans might get the wrong information from the study’s findings.

“It does not suggest anything about [fad diets],” said Dr. Van Horn, “nor should these studies [be] conducted using different methods across different populations and mostly not in the United States with its high rate of obesity, intake of ultra-processed foods and generally low nutrient adequacy.”

In the United States, nearly one in three, 30.7 percent, of adults are overweight, and two in five of them, or 42.4 percent, are classified as obese.

Dr. Van Horn added: “The U.S. Dietary Guidelines – Trusted Source takes all of these aspects into consideration and are much more reliable than attempts to find meaningful applications from this study of cohorts with an average BMI of 23.7 in males and 22.2 for women!”

Also, she expressed her concern that the deaths in the study might be indicative of “poverty and inadequate nutrient intake overall, and are unlike the U.S. population.”

Sources of unsaturated and saturated fats

“Some sources of saturated fat include red meat, coconut oil, butter, palm oil, and full-fat dairy,” said Rosenstein. Professor. Van Horn also notes that “saturated fats are derived from animal sources: butter, cream, bacon, processed meats.”

“Some sources of unsaturated fats,” Routhenstein mentioned, “include avocados, olives, pecans, and pumpkin seeds.” Prof. Van Horn added corn oil to the list, along with seeds and nuts in general.

The danger of having low carbohydrates in males

If men need 40 percent of their daily calories coming from carbohydrates in order to ensure their longevity, What could the reason be, and why would they have difficulty obtaining the required carbs?

Professor. Van Horn suggested that “[i]n this study, [this is] likely due to poor dietary quality, poverty-related lack of adequate healthy care, smoking, [and] alcohol.”

“Diets which are high in carbohydrates are deficient in fiber and nutrients like magnesium and potassium, vitamin C and B vitamins. These are necessary for the body to flourish. When we do not have these nutrients, it may increase the risk of certain cancers.”

– Michelle Routhenstein

The study suggests that a shortage in bioactive components found in dietary foods could be the reason. Particularly, the authors mention fiber, heme iron minerals, vitamins, branched-chain amino acids, fatty acids, and phytochemicals as scarce.

The researchers of the study further noted that a diet deficient in plant foods — especially where animal products comprise the majority of the calories is believed to increase inflammation pathways that can trigger more rapid biological aging and cause an increase in oxidative stress.


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