Low-Carb, High-Protein Diets: What the Elderly Should Know

Low-carbohydrate diets, such as the ketogenic diet, have become more popular due to claims they may aid in weight loss, improve cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure and increase energy. In relation to seniors, low-carb diets have also been linked to a decrease in the prevalence or progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Here, the aging-in-place home care providers at Avila Home Care detail the potential benefits and risks of low-carb, high-protein diets for seniors.

Low-Carb, High Protein Diets Have Gained Popularity

A low-carb diet limits the consumption of carbohydrates—specifically, foods such as grains, fruit and starchy vegetables. As this diet greatly reduces or even eliminates an entire macronutrient from one’s daily food intake, it is usually suggested that consumption of protein and healthy fat be increased as to maintain a normal caloric intake. As it is becoming more common for individuals to consider reducing their carbohydrate intake in order to improve their health, more high-protein and low-carb products, such as protein-rich pasta and low-carb bread, have begun populating grocery aisles.

Example foods to avoid on a low-carb diet would be grains such as bread, pasta, rice and cereal; high-sugar fruits such as bananas, apples and watermelon; and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, squash and yams.

Low-Carb, High-Protein Diets May Have Several Health Benefits

 Many individuals reduce carbohydrates in their diet, and subsequently increase their consumption of protein, as a way to lose weight, reduce their risk of diabetes, prevent stroke and more. It is also believed that over-consumption of grains and other carbohydrate-heavy products may lead to large spikes in insulin, which leads to weight gain. Avoiding grains, therefore, can alleviate the symptoms of an insulin-spike and provide steady energy throughout the day.

Recent scientific literature has shown that low-carb diets have also been used as an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive ailments, as diets high in healthy fat have been shown to prevent or alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease—a study conducted by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that a dietary pattern high in carbohydrate-rich foods and low in dietary fat and protein may increase the risk of dementia or other neurological diseases in elderly persons. Ultimately, low-carb, high-protein diets may be beneficial for seniors, as they may decrease the risk of life-threatening neurological and cognitive disorders.

Low-Carb, High-Protein Diets May Not Be as Beneficial as Advertised

 While many advocates of low-carb, high-protein diets praise their ability to reduce the risk of a wide variety of diseases, including cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, others claim that removing carbohydrates from one’s diet can have adverse effects on metabolism and energy. For example, low-carbohydrate diets may alter metabolic and digestive functions, potentially leading to fatigue, nausea and constipation, and increasing the amount of protein in one’s diet could lead to overworking of the kidneys. Additionally, removing carbohydrates for an extended period of time may prove harmful to one’s health due to its restrictive nature—therefore, it is advised to follow a low-carb diet as a temporary protocol and consult a medical professional whenever making changes to your diet.

Our Aging-in-Place Home Care Staff Can Help You Prepare Nutritious Meals

 While diets high in protein and low in carbohydrates may alleviate a variety of ailments that can plague seniors, it is important to consult with a medical professional when considering a drastic change in your diet. Our dedicated home care professionals at Avila Home Care are happy to help you consider a wide variety of diet plans and create healthy, delicious meals for you. Contact your aging-in-place home care professionals for more information.

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