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20.11.2014


Animal study: low-carb diet with lots of saturated fats cuts life expectancy

Not all nutritionists are happy with the idea, but it does look as though a low-carb diet can be healthy. Take a look in our archives. But that low-carb diet must not contain too much saturated fatty acids, write researchers at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Longevity & Healthspan. The Brazilians did experiments on mice.


Animal study: low-carb diet with lots of saturated fats cuts life expectancy


Saturated fatty acids
After a number of epidemiological studies, now generally recognised as classics, showed that a high intake of saturated fatty acids was associated with a high risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases, traditional nutritional scientists sent saturated fatty acids to the back of the class. A number of critical and more refined scientific studies since then claim this was not necessary and that the correlations were not as strong as suggested.

When weighed up against other factors such as the amount of body fat, lack of physical exercise, smoking and drinking, the negative health effects of saturated fats in the diet are not so great. The critics suggest that the classic studies may have reported quasi correlations, and that people who eat high amounts of saturated fat also consume large amounts of sugar. Or they were fatter. Or...


Animal study: low-carb diet with lots of saturated fats cuts life expectancy


On top of that, the body can't do an awful lot with saturated fatty acids except for burn them. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, which regular scientists say are healthier than saturated fatty acids, can also function as a raw material for all sorts of compounds and hormone-like factors that are definitely unhealthy. Say the critics.

Study
Animal study: low-carb diet with lots of saturated fats cuts life expectancy
The Brazilians tried to find out more about the effects of a low-carb diet, in which the carbohydrates had been replaced by a relatively large amount of saturated fatty acids. They fed C57BL/6 mice a diet for two years in which 60 percent of the energy was derived from fats. The main source of fat was lard. A control group was given a standard diet, in which 60 percent of the energy was derived from starch.

Half of the mice that ate a low-carb diet put on weight [DIO], the other half did not [DR].


Animal study: low-carb diet with lots of saturated fats cuts life expectancy


Results
The researchers discovered that the saturated fat diet caused both the thin and the fat mice to die sooner than the standard diet did.


Animal study: low-carb diet with lots of saturated fats cuts life expectancy


After the mice had been on the high-fat diet for nearly eighteen months the Brazilians tested their memory function. They put the mice in a cage in which there were places that would give them an electric shock. Then the researchers waited a while, and put the animals back in the cage on the danger spot, and measured how long it was before the animals moved away of their own accord. The faster that happened, the better their memory.

The figure below shows that the high-fat diet reduced the mice's memory function.


Animal study: low-carb diet with lots of saturated fats cuts life expectancy


Conclusion
"We were not able to explain the exact mechanism by which a high fat diet increased mortality", the Brazilians write. "However, the high energy source from saturated fat over 27 months could be implicated in increased reactive oxygen species production and oxidative stress, which is the main process responsible for aging and also a contributory factor for neurodegeneration."

"Also, activation of inflammatory and immunological response induced by a high fat diet and/or aging may exert a negative impact and be implicated in the differences in life expectancy observed in our study."

"In conclusion, C57BL/6 mice fed a high fat diet may develop an obese phenotype or not compared to mice fed a control diet. A high fat diet decreased the survival rate independent of body weight gain."

Source:
Longev Healthspan. 2013 Jun 3;2(1):10.

More:
Saturated fat may make low-carb diet unhealthy 21.04.2012