Feb. 19 (UPI) -- A nutrient once thought to be healthy if eaten in abundance may actually cut life short, a new study says.
A low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet has been linked to living longer and maintaining brain health, according to a study published this month in Current Biology.
"We already knew that lower food intake extends lifespan," Christopher Proud, a researcher at South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute and study corresponding author, said in a news release. "Science has known for some time that eating too much, in particular protein, reduces lifespan; and now we know why."
Eating too much protein, Proud says, can speed up protein synthesis, which quickly causes a build-up of "faulty protein" -- leading to a likelihood of early death. The researchers tested this theory by feeding high protein diets to fruit flies and worms.
"Since this link also operates in humans, our findings show how lower protein consumption could promote longevity in people," Proud said.
However, Proud not only recommends eating less protein but also more carbohydrates, which many have long-associated with an unhealthy diet.
"Carbohydrates get a lot of bad press, especially in relation to dieting, but the key is balance and knowing the difference between 'good' carbs and 'bad' carbs," Proud said.
A study published in January in The Lancet reported that diets a lot of "good" carbs, complete with high-fiber foods, can cut the risk of colorectal cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 24 percent.
"Eating high-fiber carbohydrates like those found in fruit, vegetables and unprocessed grains and seeds will produce the healthiest benefits," Proud said. "This is similar to the traditional Mediterranean diet which has well-established links to longevity."