Wellness fads come and go. While a plant-based diet was once dismissed as a trend, in recent years grocery stores, restaurants, and even major corporations whose business is based on animal agriculture have realized that it may be here to stay. Some diets, however, tote a host of health-related benefits, but might not be as healthy as they seem on the surface. According to the renowned vegan cardiologist and former president of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Kim Williams, the Keto diet may negatively impact your health in the long run.
Why Is the Keto Diet Unhealthy?
The keto diet is a low-carb diet intended to induce rapid weight loss by restricting carbohydrates. The goal is to induce “ketosis,” or a metabolic state in which the body must draw energy from secondary sources, such as fat. While this may lead to short-term weight loss, members of the medical community say that it comes with both long-term and short-term side effects.
In a study published last month in The Lancet Public Health, it was found that low-carb diets such as the keto and paleo diets can reduce life expectancy. However, this is likely due to the fact that users typically replace carb-rich foods with meat and dairy products. A diet heavy in animal-based foods, particularly red and processed meats, is known by the medical community to increase one’s risk of certain chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, and more.
In response to a question about a 2013 review of low-carb diet studies, Dr. Williams said that the keto diet can dramatically increase the risk of death by heart attack: “So I was talking about that and making sure everyone was hearing about that, and then there was one the ‘Journal of the American Heart Association’ published a few years later that isolated the people who had had a heart attack in the past, the cardiology population that we’re seeing, and they were doing a ketogenic diet,” he said. “It was a 53 percent increase in mortality. No one should be doing this.”
What is a healthy diet?
In contrast to meat and dairy-heavy low-carb diets, a plant-based diet rich in whole foods has been celebrated as being among the healthiest diets out there. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggested that elderly women can significantly reduce their risk of heart attack by adopting a vegetable-centric vegan diet.
Research released by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) shows that ditching animal-derived foods, avoiding alcohol and sugary drinks, and engaging in regular exercise can reduce one’s risk of cancer (and by proxy, other chronic conditions) by as much as 40 percent. Vegan cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn also recommends avoiding meat altogether due to these severe health risks.