News Flash: Low-Carb Diet and Shorter Life Span, Salty Foods Not So Bad, Muscle Drives Motivation

Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at interesting new research on the long-term effects of carb cutting, why salty foods might be OK in moderation, and why lifting weights could help keep you on track.

Cut carbs, cut years?

Keto. Paleo. Atkins. Low-carb diets have been a popular weight-management tool for decades. But new peer-reviewed research published in the medical journal Lancet Public Health and reviewed in USA Today suggests that these diets could cut more than pounds—they could actually cut life span by up to four years.

The study found that low- and high-carb diets were associated with decreased longevity and that diets that included a moderate amount of carbs promoted a healthy life span. The moderate-carb group lived, on average, four years longer than the low-carb group that ate less than 40 percent of their calories from carbs and one year longer than the high-carb consumers who ate more than 70 percent of their calories from carbs.

The study analyzed self-reported carbohydrate intake from 15,400 middle-aged Americans and compared it with additional studies of 432,000 people in more than 20 countries.

The results suggest that animal-based, low-carbohydrate diets rich in meats and cheese might be associated with a shorter life span and should be discouraged, said lead author Dr. Sara Seidelmann, a fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in a statement.

Replacing carbohydrates with more plant-based protein and fats from foods such as vegetables, beans and nuts, however, was linked to lower mortality rates.

Pass the popcorn: Some salty foods probably won’t hurt you

Good news for those who can’t quite quit the shaker. New research contradicts years of low-sodium advice, suggesting that only very high levels are bad for your health.

The results are at odds with years of public health messages that have advised people to go low-sodium to help decrease blood pressure and reduce their risk of stroke and other serious health problems.

The study, outlined here in Healthline, looked at average sodium intake by more than 90,000 people in 300 communities in 18 countries over eight years.

The harmful effects of sodium—increased blood pressure and stroke—only showed up in communities that consumed more than 5 grams of sodium, or 2.5 teaspoons, a day on average.

The World Health Organization recommends people lower their intake below 2 grams per day, and the American Heart Association sets its upper end at 2.3 grams per day.

Muscle keeps you moving

Sure, just the simple feel-good effect of moving can spark some people to begin a regular exercise routine. But building muscle may be what gets more people to actually stick to a program.

Research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports and summarized on found that when a group of 104 inactive older adults started strength training, their motivation to stick to a training routine soared. Those who did between one and three supervised resistance-training routines a week felt more motivated to work out, started planning for more exercise and started working out more on their own. One year later, nearly half were still doing strength training on their own.

Photo credit: Mc Jefferson Agloro, Unsplash