High-protein, low-carb fad diets are popular among those wanting to drop the pounds.
But for one 25-year-old mum from Perth, the protein-rich diet, taken together with protein shakes and supplements, actually contributed to her sudden death.
According to media reports, the Australian mother-of-two and bodybuilder was unaware that she suffered from urea cycle disorder, which means her body was unable to properly digest protein.
This leads to the build-up of ammonia in the bloodstream which poisons the brain, resulting in the loss of brain function.
According to Daily Mail, Meegan Hefford complained to her mother about feeling lethargic and ‘weird’ leading up to her death, which her mother brushed off as exhaustion from working too hard at the gym.
Hefford had been going to the gym up to twice a day to prepare for an upcoming bodybuilding competition.
However on June 19, Hefford was taken to hospital after she was found unconscious in her apartment with rapidly failing brain function.
It was only two days later on June 21 that doctors diagnosed her with urea cycle disorder. Sadly, the paramedicine undergraduate at Edith Cowan University died the following day.
Her cause of death was listed as “intake of bodybuilding supplements”, as well as the previously-undiagnosed disorder.
Her mother, Michelle White, told Perth Now she couldn’t believe it when doctors said her daughter was dying. “She didn’t look sick, she looked beautiful,” said the heartbroken mother.
She was not aware that her daughter had been taking protein supplements until about half a dozen containers’ worth were found in Hefford’s kitchen after her death, along with a detailed diet plan.
Her mum now wants the tragedy to serve as a warning about the dangers of food supplements, and as a wake-up call to those in the supplements industry.
“I know there are people other than Meegan who have ended up in hospital because they’ve overloaded on supplements,” White said.
“The sale of these products needs to to more regulated.”
Speaking to Perth Now, Australian Medical Association WA president Dr Omar Khorshid said people should stick to eating a balanced diet rather than trying to “trick your body” into building muscle mass.
Hefford leaves behind two young children aged seven and five. Although her liver “was shot”, White says her daughter managed to save four lives after her lungs, kidneys and heart were donated. – AsiaOne