THE BLOG
19/02/2017 04:59 SAST | Updated 19/02/2017 04:59 SAST

Here Are The Downsides To A LCHF Diet That You Have To Consider

There's a real price to pay for trying to lose weight using this now-popular method.

Tennis star Andre Agassi (R) of the U.S. looks on as Hungarian fitness guru Norbert Schobert is handed a basket of bakery products during a photo shoot for an advertisement campaign in Budapest, September 11, 2014. Schobert, a former Hungarian policeman who built up a chain of 112 stores selling his low-carbohydrate food, has signed up Agassi to be the face of an expansion into Europe, which he plans to finance with an $8.3 million share offer.
Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
Tennis star Andre Agassi (R) of the U.S. looks on as Hungarian fitness guru Norbert Schobert is handed a basket of bakery products during a photo shoot for an advertisement campaign in Budapest, September 11, 2014. Schobert, a former Hungarian policeman who built up a chain of 112 stores selling his low-carbohydrate food, has signed up Agassi to be the face of an expansion into Europe, which he plans to finance with an $8.3 million share offer.

Many people follow low-carbohydrate-high-fat (LCHF) diets in a bid to lose weight or fix different health problems. Even though such diets are popular and seem to deliver speedy results, the serious health consequences that accompany LCHF eating plans cannot be ignored.

A LCHF diet restricts the amount of starchy food like grains and potatoes while encouraging high amounts of meat. Some LCHF eating plans also limit legumes and sweet fruit. However, eating less starch and sugar than the body needs has severe health consequences and some of them only become evident after a long time.

The number one flaw with the whole low-carbohydrate notion is failure to distinguish between healthy unprocessed starches and unhealthy processed starches. Also, there is no differentiation between naturally sweet healthy foods and sugar-sweetened foods. Starchy and naturally sweet foods eaten in their unprocessed or naturally existing edible state are immensely healthy. Unprocessed foods contain all edible parts of a food as it comes naturally. Examples include whole grains, banana, and unpeeled butternuts and potatoes.

By contrast, heavily processed starchy foods like white pasta, processed maize meal, and peeled potatoes are unhealthy. So are sweetened foods like cake and soft drinks. Unfortunately, on LCHF diets, all starch and sugar, good or bad, is restricted. The following are some of many health consequences tied to LCHF diets.

Inflammation

Being high in meat, a LCHF diet is a perfect recipe for systemic inflammation, a term implying redness, heat, pain, and swelling experienced in different areas throughout the body due to cell damage. Research has identified systemic inflammation as an underlying cause of chronic illnesses including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes. Heme iron, which comes from meat, is a major culprit and red meat has the highest known concentration. The body cannot shed excess heme iron like it does iron from plant sources.

When meat is eaten excessively, heme iron may easily buildup to toxic levels, causing what is known as oxidative stress. This is when the body has more harmful radicals than it can neutralize. Oxidative stress injures body cells, resulting in systemic inflammation.

Insulin resistance

LCHF diets also tend to promote insulin resistance or impaired insulin function. For people with diabetes, this is really bad news. What is even more concerning is that LCHF dieting can be misleading because when people with diabetes are on such an eating plan, they may experience reduced blood sugar levels. But this happens due to low starch intake and has very little to do with insulin controlling blood sugar. Poor insulin performance is masked by low blood sugar levels resulting from low starch intake rather than potency of insulin.

Managing diabetes sustainably entails boosting insulin function, not depriving the body of starch and sugar from healthy sources like unprocessed starchy foods and fruits. There is evidence showing that unprocessed plant foods including starchy foods and sweet fruits actually improve insulin performance, making them ideal for preventing and managing diabetes.

Depression, mood swings

A LCHF diet increases susceptibility to depression and mood swings. Starch is needed for production of mood-boosting hormone serotonin. Therefore, restricting starch leads to low levels of serotonin, significantly increasing likelihood of depression, mood swings, and other mental disorders. For this reason, people battling depression may want to steer clear of LCHF diets.

Poor digestive health

With excessive meat and inadequate fiber, LCHF diets are incompatible with the human digestive system and pose tremendous harm to digestive health. Constipation, heartburn, and bloating are some of the problems experienced and overtime, more serious problems are likely to emerge. These include piles and cancers affecting the digestive tract like stomach, throat, and colon cancer. And since LCHF diets destroy healthy gut bacteria, there is increased likelihood of diabetes, mental disorders, and allergies in addition to colon cancer and other digestive problems.

Low phyto-nutrient intake

Unprocessed plant foods contain thousands of antioxidants and chemicals immensely beneficial to health. Characteristically high in meat and low on quantity and variety of unprocessed plant foods, LCHF diets severely lack antioxidants. Such diets age you quicker. Therefore, following a LCHF diet may help you lose weight but you also end up looking dramatically older. Diets lacking antioxidants also increase susceptibility to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune conditions.

Meat associated with premature death

Meat is a prime aspect of LCHF dieting. However, studies are linking a multitude of serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, hypertension, and autoimmune diseases, and subsequently premature death, to consuming too much meat especially red meat and processed meat like bacon, ham, and hot dog.

A recent World Health Organization study classified processed meat as a confirmed cause of cancer and red meat a probable cause of the disease. The connection between high meat diets and premature death is a key reason we are yet to know a human population where people have experienced longevity and good health following LCHF diets.

Conclusion

LCHF dieting is a narrow and short-sighted approach because it lacks a holistic or broad view of wellness. For instance, there is no benefit from enlisting LCHF dieting for weight-loss only to have that same approach put you at risk of cancer, depression, and other diseases. It does not mean that anything that makes you weigh less is healthy.

Sound nutrition has a holistic and long-lasting positive impact on health; it helps address the condition in question so as to reduce the overall scale of a person's health risks. LCHF dieting at best only temporarily fixes one problem while also attracting other issues. There is a huge possibility that the very condition targeted for treatment by LCHF dieting may only get worse overtime. Ultimately, LCHF diets fail to make you a healthier person; they simply change the name of your disease or add more names to your health problems.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.