Science & Technology

Consuming more carbohydrates than fats linked to mortality risk

According to a study from the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, there is a correlation between the nutrition factors of various food sources such as fruits, vegetables and meat between cardiovascular diseases and mortality rates. The study focuses on how a moderate consumption of fats and carbohydrates can benefit human health. Individuals with higher carbohydrate intakes have a higher risk of death. However, they do not have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, a higher consumption of fat is linked to a lower risk of death.

To understand the basics of nutrition, one must know that the human body requires a large amount of energy. Calories are units of energy which are absorbed through food consumption and are usually displayed on the food’s packaging. This energy content is broken down from calories into macronutrients such as proteins, fat, carbohydrates and alcohol. These macronutrients fuel the human body with energy. A gram of fats provides nine calories and a gram of carbohydrates provides four calories.

With fats and carbohydrates, there is still a proportion of moderate consumption best suited for good health. The average human body has low muscle mass and high fat mass, which can be calculated through body fat percentage, a measure of body composition. To gain weight, the human body must intake more calories from food than the body expends.

Studies have shown that higher carbohydrate intake has been associated with a higher risk of total mortality. Total mortality is a measure of the rate of death in a population, and can be calculated for annual or instantaneous death.

Total fat in a serving and individual types of fats were related to lower total mortality, but were not directly associated with cardiovascular diseases, myocardial infarction or cardiovascular disease mortality. However, there are studies in which saturated fats had an inverse correlation with stroke possibilities.

To elaborate more on carbohydrates, there needs to be an understanding of insulin because it facilitates growth within the human body. Having higher levels of insulin will catalyze the body’s need for carbohydrates, but insulin also stores fat. That does not mean that eating carbohydrates can increase  the amount of muscle mass, because the body will store any excess carbohydrates as fats. This known as the “cycling” of carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are consumed by the human body for energy and are found in most foods. These break down into sugars such as glucose or fructose, which are energy dense and become quickly metabolized.

Moderate consumption of carbohydrates has shown to create fiber which cleans the blood tubes, but because carbohydrates are broken down so quickly, blood sugar levels in the body spike up and can stress the pancreas.

The study at McMaster University has shown that consuming a higher amount of fat is associated with a lower risk of death.

However, people with a diet that is high in carbohydrates have more than a 60 percent risk of higher mortality. They do not have a risk of cardiovascular disease.

International studies have also shown that with populations in South Asia, a decrease in fat intake automatically led to an increase in carbohydrate consumption.

This explains why consuming more carbohydrates than fat leads to higher mortality rates, as the South Asian population consumes less fruits and vegetables than Western countries due to high prices.

According to researchers, the fruit, vegetable and legume intake in 14 different countries was between three to four servings per day, whereas most nutritionists recommend a minimum of five daily servings.

This daily required serving is difficult for families to meet financially in Africa, China, South Asia and Southeast Asia, so the daily servings of fruits and vegetables are consistently lower. Interpretations of high carbohydrate intake is associated with a higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fats are related to lower total mortality. The higher amounts of saturated fats in the human body studied had lower rates of stroke.

These new mortality rate dependencies on nutritional values, such as fats and carbohydrates, could change global dietary guidelines.

September 25, 2017

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