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How low-carb keto diets cause heart diseases

By Chukwuma Muanya
28 March 2019   |   4:20 am
Trendy low-carb diets popular with celebrities raise the risk of a developing an irregular heartbeat linked to strokes, warns a new study.


*Weekly olive oil intake reduces blood clotting in obese adults
*Fasting-mimicking fad ‘cure’ for inflammatory bowel ailment
*Mediterranean foods improve athletes’ endurance after four days
*Eating nutritious meals on limited budget possible, researchers find

Trendy low-carb diets popular with celebrities raise the risk of a developing an irregular heartbeat linked to strokes, warns a new study.

The low-carb – or ‘keto’ – diet trend is all the rage, with a lot of celebrity devotees.

But new research suggests that cutting back on carbohydrates can spell trouble for your heart.

The findings show people getting a low proportion of their daily calories from carbs such as grains, fruits and starchy vegetables are ‘significantly more likely’ to develop an irregular heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation.

What is the Keto diet? The Ketogenic diet defines a low-carb, high-fat way of eating.

Following this eating plan forces the body into a metabolic state, known as ketosis, which starves the body of carbohydrates but not calories. Carbs are shunned in the keto diet as they cause the body to produce glucose, which is used as energy over fat.

Keto diets therefore lead to weight loss as they make the body burn fat as its primary energy source.

On the diet, followers can eat: Meat; Leafy greens and most vegetables; Full-fat dairy; Nuts and seeds; Avocadoes and berries; and Fats, such as coconut oil.

People cannot eat: Grains, including rice and wheat; Sugar, like honey and maple syrup; Most fruits; and White or sweet potatoes.

The study analyzed the health records of more than 13,000 people spanning more than two decades.

It is the first and largest to assess the relationship between carbohydrate intake and atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder.

The heart of people with the problem doesn’t always beat or keep pace the way it should, which can lead to palpitations, dizziness and fatigue.

People with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke than people without the condition. It can also lead to heart failure.

Restricting carbs has become a popular weight loss method in recent years.

While there are many different low-carb diets including the ketogenic, paleo and Atkins diets, most emphasize proteins while limiting intake of sugars, grains, legumes, fruits and starchy vegetables.

Study lead author Dr Xiaodong Zhuang, a cardiologist based at Sun Yat-Sen University in China, said: “The long-term effect of carbohydrate restriction is still controversial, especially with regard to its influence on cardiovascular disease.

“Considering the potential influence on arrhythmia, our study suggests this popular weight control method should be recommended cautiously.”

The findings complement previous studies, several of which have associated both low-carb and high-carb diets with an increased risk of death.

However, while previous studies suggested the nature of the non-carb component of the diet influenced the overall pattern observed, the new study did not.

Also, consuming olive oil at least once a week could help reduce the risk of blood clotting and blocked blood flow in obese adults. This is according to research from New York University’s School of Medicine which found that olive oil consumption decreases platelet activity in the blood. The study, however, does have some limitations as it involved only obese adults, but the researchers remain positive that its effects may be widely applicable.

The researchers followed “morbidly obese patients” and found that “a potential benefit of olive oil holds even in people who are severely obese and also produces a very clinically important message – that even in the setting of severe obesity and cardiovascular risk, that adhering to a ‘healthy diet,’ perhaps the Mediterranean diet, or one that contains olive oil, may still provide risk reduction,” Dr. Sean P. Heffron, Assistant Professor of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, tells NutritionInsight.

Also, fasting-mimicking diet holds promise for treating people with inflammatory bowel disease

Clinical trial shows reduction of inflammation in humans and diet appears to reverse Crohn’s and colitis pathology in mice.

University of Southern California (USC) researchers provided evidence that a low-calorie “fasting-mimicking” diet has the potential to do just that. Published in the March 5 edition of Cell Reports, the study reports on the health benefits of periodic cycles of the diet for people with inflammation and indicated that the diet reversed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) pathology in mice.

Results showed that fasting-mimicking diet caused a reduction in intestinal inflammation and an increase in intestinal stem cells in part by promoting the expansion of beneficial gut microbiota.

Study authors say the reversal of IBD pathology in mice, together with its anti-inflammatory effects demonstrated in a human clinical trial, indicate that the regimen has the potential to mitigate IBD.

In the study, one group of mice adhered to a four-day fasting-mimicking diet by consuming approximately 50 percent of their normal caloric intake on the first day and 10 percent of their normal caloric intake from the second through fourth days. Another group fasted with a water-only diet for 48 hours.

The study demonstrated that two cycles of a four-day fasting-mimicking diet followed by a normal diet appeared to be enough to mitigate some, and reverse other, IBD-associated pathologies or symptoms.

In contrast, water-only fasting came up short, indicating that certain nutrients in the fasting-mimicking diet contribute to the microbial and anti-inflammatory changes necessary to maximize the effects of the fasting regimen.

Meanwhile, researchers at Saint Louis University have found that eating a Mediterranean diet can improve athletes’ endurance exercise performance after just four days.

In a small study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, investigators found that participants ran a 5K six percent faster after eating a Mediterranean diet than after eating a Western diet. Researchers found no difference between the two diets in performance in anaerobic exercise tests.

The Mediterranean diet includes whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil and whole grains, and avoids red and processed meats, dairy, trans and saturated fats and refined sugars.

By comparison, the Western diet is characterized by low intake of fruit, vegetables and unrefined or minimally processed oils and high intakes of trans and saturated fats, dairy, refined sugars, refined and highly processed vegetable oils, sodium and processed foods.

Also, researchers have found that eating healthy on a limited budget is possible.

A new study found that with menu planning and access to stores selling items in bulk, the average daily cost for serving healthy meals to a family of four.

The affordability of healthy food is often cited as a barrier to low-income families eating nutritious meals.

A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that with menu planning and access to stores selling items in bulk, the average daily cost for serving healthy meals to a family of four was $25 in 2010 dollars. This cost was consistent with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) low-income cost of food meal plan, but higher than the cost of the USDA Thrifty Food Plan. The Thrifty Food Plan is the meal plan used by the USDA to determine food assistance benefits.

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