Research from Denmark’s National Food Institute has concluded that eating too much protein causes early mortality and a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and possibly more kidney diseases.
The Denmark government researchers reviewed 5718 scientific research abstracts as well as 412 complete studies. They landed on 64 scientific studies that had clear and conclusive results regarding the consumption of high protein low carbohydrate diets. These studies included over 200,000 people from a number of health studies and large population studies.
The purpose of this study was to review the Norwegian nutritional recommendations for protein requirements and determine whether or not a low carbohydrate, high-protein diet was safe.
The high-protein diet was qualified by the parameter of one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. This would convert to about .45 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. This means a person who weighs 150 lbs would be eating more than about 67 g of protein per day. Many Americans eat upwards of 100 grams of protein a day, and high-protein diets can be as high as 150 grams per day.
The scientists systematically compared results of these 64 studies and concluded that a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet – those over 1 grams of protein per day per kilogram of body weight – had a direct correlation with early death, greater cardiovascular disease, and greater incidence of type II diabetes.
However, the research also concluded that diets high in vegetable protein had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and early death compared to those who had high-protein diets high in animal protein. And in some studies, high vegetable protein diets decreased the risk of early death and cardiovascular disease significantly.
In other words, those diets particularly high in animal protein had the greater of early death, cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.
While the study populations were two large to formulate clear statistics in terms of the exact amount of mortality in years or percentage increased risk, they could clearly identify the associations through the large population studies.
The researchers concluded that protein intake should not exceed 20 to 23% of one’s overall energy intake.
Diets that have particularly high protein intakes – often called “Low Carb Diets” – including the South Beach Diet, the Atkins Diet and others. These have also been known to produce ketosis, which can result in dizziness, mood issues and other side effects. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the National Cholesterol Education Program have all suggested our diets should include a lower percentage of protein.
Pedersen AN, Kondrup J, Børsheim E. Health effects of protein intake in healthy adults: a systematic literature review. Food Nutr Res. 2013 Jul 30;57.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.