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The dangers lurking behind zero-carb diets

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, December 4, 2019  /  01:32 pm
The dangers lurking behind zero-carb diets

No multivitamin can ever replace the health-protective nutrients contained in carbohydrates, which include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, prebioticsĀ and healthy fats. (Shutterstock/File)

Trying out the trending zero-carb diet might be tempting, especially if none of your previous diets seem to have worked. But eliminating the whole bottom part of the food triangle can cause you more harm than good.

For starters, a zero-carb diet can be more restrictive than a keto diet. Also, going for zero grams of carbohydrate intake means that you’ll need to refrain from consuming vegetables as well, which leads to the elimination of more health-protective foods than any other diet.

Here are the four reasons to avoid zero-carb diets, as written by dietitian and nutrition consultant Cynthia Sass for Health.com:

1. You could miss important nutrients

No multivitamin can ever replace the health-protective nutrients contained in carbohydrates, which include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, prebiotics and healthy fats. Indeed the lack of these nutrients might potentially affect immune functions, cognitive health and increase the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Fact is, in areas where people live longest (and healthiest), diets are mostly plant-based and high in carbs.

Read also: Eat meat and lose weight: What to know about the keto diet

2. Avoiding carbs can lead to poor digestive health

The best fibers are only found in whole foods that contain carbs. Fiber, of which humans need at least 25 grams per day, can significantly lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and other digestive diseases.

Fibers that contain prebiotics can even support immunity, anti-inflammation and mental health.

3. You could experience low carb flu

Similar to keto flu, low carb flu might occur when the brain is forced to adapt without its usual (and necessary) food, carbohydrates. The brain typically uses 60 percent of the overall carb intake, prompting symptoms like headaches, brain fog, irritability, dizziness, nausea and muscle soreness.

Also, adapting does not always mean it’s ideal for a long run.

4. Social and psychological side effects

In many cases, going on and off strict diets can lead to a disordered eating pattern, prompting a poor quality of life and mental health. One example is how dieters often avoid meeting friends or family for meals and become obsessive or fearful of food.

A plant-based diet, on the contrary, is known to improve emotional well-being and keep away depression.

Bottom line is, as tempting as it may sound, a zero-carb diet might not be ideal for weight loss or optimal health. Sass recommends a plant-based diet instead, as it is less risky, more beneficial and highly sustainable. (vel/kes)

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