Is a high-carb diet better with age?

A diet that is high in carbohydrates and light on protein may be beneficial as you age, a recent mice study suggests.

Is a high-carb diet better with age?

Having meals that are heavy on carbohydrates has a bad reputation – but doing so in mid-late life could help you live longer, a new study suggests.

A study by the University of Sydney found that consuming proteins and carbohydrates in a ratio of 1:10 may be optimum for those aged 50 and above.

To arrive at these findings, researchers tested the diet in older mice and discovered that it activated the FGF21 hormone. They found that increased production of the hormone extended the life of mice.

“These mice were old animals. That’s important, because a high-protein diet is better for reproduction – testosterone levels and a healthy menstrual cycle. But a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet is better in late life,” said lead author Dr Samantha Solon-Biet.

“What is really cool is that this ratio is strikingly similar to the ratio of the Okinawan people of Japan, who are the longest-lived people in the world,” she told NZ Herald.

To replicate these effects, Dr Solon-Biet said one’s diet should include complex carbohydrates that are good for the gut. These include brown rice, oats and wholegrains.

“The work also shows why some popular diets that are designed to avoid carb intake… might in the long term be doing tremendous harm – for example the paleo diet,” said Professor David Raubenheimer, who was also involved in the study.

Critics pointed out that FGF21 was just one of the many hormones in the body, and that the study did not involve human participants.

Health and fitness commentator Lee-Ann Wann cautioned against a rush to include more carbohydrates.

“It’s great that they are looking at it. We’ve looked at other things like leptin which help manage our appetite, we are always finding new things,” she said.

Still, “one diet does not fit all, so let’s not jump on the boat too quickly,” she added.

Read NZ Herald for more.

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