Beware! Science Shows We Should Avoid Extreme Diets

Extreme Diets

If there’s one thing that determines our health and well-being, it’s the food we eat and the beverages we drink. That’s intuitive and should come as no surprise. But there are many approaches to eating, from healthful to less nutritious to downright unhealthy.

Now, a new study from Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine sheds light on the intricate relationship between extreme dietary habits, specifically those involving carbohydrates and fats, and their impact on life expectancy.

Led by Dr. Takashi Tamura, the research brings forward compelling evidence suggesting that striking a balance in our dietary intake, rather than opting for extreme restrictions, may be key to promoting living longer and feeling your best.

Carbohydrates: Striking the Right Balance

A new 9-year study of over 80,000 people in Japan has uncovered an important health finding for men when it comes to carbohydrates. The research showed that men who got less than 40% of their daily calories from carbs, whether refined or unrefined, had significantly higher risks of dying from any cause as well as from cancer specifically.

This large study highlights the potential dangers for men of severely restricting carbohydrate intake, contradicting some popular diet trends. The results suggest men should be mindful of getting enough healthy carbs in their diet for longevity.

 Women and High Carbohydrate Intake

In an interesting twist, the study revealed a different carbohydrate effect for women. While men faced higher mortality eating too few carbs, women saw the opposite. Those who got over 65% of calories from carbs – refined or not – had a greater risk of dying during the study.

This highlights a surprising carb caution for women too when it comes to longevity. Though the carbs’ source didn’t seem to matter much, ladies should be mindful not to overdo the pasta, bread, and sugar for long-term health.

Exactly why carbs impact the genders differently remains unclear – just another mystery about how food and health intertwine! But the findings make one thing clear: we should all keep an eye on our carb intake as it may sway our lifespan in unsuspected ways.

So, gents, don’t slash the carbs too drastically. And ladies, beware of carb overload. Moderation could be the ticket to stay lively longer.

Fats: The Intricacies Unveiled

Again, the study found some gender differences in the effect of fats on health and longevity.

The study also found risks for men tied to fat intake. Men whose diets consisted of more than 35% of calories from fat had a higher risk of dying from cancer during the study period. And men who ate diets low in unsaturated fats were more likely to die from any cause, as well as from cancer specifically.

So, for optimal health, the findings suggest men aim to cap fat intake around 35% of total calories while making sure to get enough healthy unsaturated fats in their diets. Once again, this large study points to the importance of men being aware of how their intake of major nutrients like fat may impact their longevity and cancer risk.

 Women and the Inverse Relationship

Surprisingly, the study found the opposite when it came to fat intake for women. Contrary to popular belief, women who ate diets higher in overall fat or in saturated fat specifically had lower risks of dying from any cause or from cancer during the study period. As Dr. Tamura noted, this unexpected inverse relationship hints that other factors beyond just fat content likely impact how fats affect health outcomes for women.

The findings challenge conventional wisdom and reveal the complicated, nuanced ways that nutrients may influence longevity differently across genders. More research is still needed to unravel the mysteries here, but the study suggests women may not need to be as wary of total or saturated fat intake for health and longevity as previously thought.

 Implications for Longevity

This large study calls into question some common beliefs about extreme diets. Low-carb and low-fat diets have surged in popularity for their ability to promote short-term weight loss. However, this research highlights their potential dangers for longevity over the long haul. The results suggest that instead of restricting entire food groups, a balanced approach focused on variety and moderation is best for long-term health.

Seeking diversity in energy sources, rather than eliminating them, appears to be the healthier path. So, while extreme diets can yield quick results, this study’s findings emphasize why balance and sustainability matter more in the big picture. Moderation, not deprivation, may be key to living both a longer and healthier life.


This large-scale study provides an important reminder of why we should be wary of following fad or overly restrictive diets, especially for the long term. The nuanced findings reveal how eliminating certain food groups like carbs or fats may inadvertently do more harm than good for longevity, particularly when taken to extremes.

Though low-carb or low-fat diets have surged in popularity for short-term weight loss benefits, this research highlights the potential risks of sustaining such rigid eating patterns for years on end. Instead, it advocates for a balanced approach focused on variety and moderation for all food groups.

The study’s authors speculate that embracing diversity in our diets, rather than restrictive regimens, may be key to unlocking a long and healthy life. This underscores why well-rounded nutrition, not deprivation, should be the goal.

Dietary extremes that promise quick results often fail to consider the bigger picture of how our bodies respond to nutrients in complex ways over decades. As fad diets come and go, this study stands as an important reminder to focus on balance, sustainability, and moderation when making dietary choices for lifelong well-being.

Sweeping restrictions may seem appealing for fast results, but lasting health and longevity depend most on developing balanced eating patterns tailored to our individual needs.


  • Nagoya University. “Extreme dietary habits for carbohydrates and fats affect life expectancy.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/08/230830131911.htm>.
  • “Underestimated health risks: Dietary restriction magnify the intestinal barrier dysfunction and liver injury in mice induced by polystyrene microplastics.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969723041256.
  • “Health Risks of a Poor Diet – Cleveland Clinic.” 19 May. 2021, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/a-poor-diet-increases-your-risk-of-dying-from-heart-disease-stroke-diabetes/.
  • “Poor Nutrition | CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/nutrition.htm.
  • Fechner E, Smeets ETHC, Schrauwen P, Mensink RP. The Effects of Different Degrees of Carbohydrate Restriction and Carbohydrate Replacement on Cardiometabolic Risk Markers in Humans-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 2;12(4):991. doi: 10.3390/nu12040991. PMID: 32252374; PMCID: PMC7230871.

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