A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that dietary protein intake in midlife can significantly increase the likelihood of healthy aging.
Study: Dietary protein intake in midlife in relation to healthy aging – results from the possible Nurses’ Health Study cohort. Image Credit: nadianb / Shutterstock
People’s life expectancy has increased significantly in recent many years. In the USA, the variety of adults aged 60 years and above is anticipated to extend by 2-fold in 2060. Nonetheless, a rise in lifespan isn’t necessarily related to a concomitant increase in disability-free lifespan due to age-related onset of chronic diseases and decline in physical and cognitive functions.
Weight loss plan plays a serious role in maintaining a healthy lifespan. On this context, evidence indicates that higher protein intake is related to improved physical functioning and reduced muscle loss amongst older adults. Protein intake may also prevent bone loss and fractures on this vulnerable population.
Amongst various protein sources, the next animal protein intake in middle maturity has been found to extend the danger of premature mortality from cardiovascular complications. In contrast, plant protein intake in older maturity has been found to be related to a lower risk of frailty.
On this study, scientists have investigated the association between protein intake and healthy aging in middle-aged nurses residing in the USA.
The study was conducted on a complete of 48,762 female nurses whose age was below 60 years in 1984. The participants were chosen from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), established in 1976, with 121,700 registered female nurses aged 30–55 years at enrollment. Lifestyle practices and medical history of the participants were recorded at baseline and each two years thereafter.
Information on total protein, animal protein, dairy protein, and plant protein intake was collected from the participants through food-frequency questionnaires. The healthy aging status of the participants was assessed in 2014 or 2016 through questionnaires. The definition of healthy aging included the absence of 11 major chronic diseases, good mental health, and the absence of any cognitive and physical decline.
Eleven major chronic diseases were cancer, type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass graft surgery or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, congestive heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The connection between protein intake and healthy aging was assessed after adjusting for lifestyle aspects, demographic characteristics, and health status of the participants.
Complete healthy aging was achieved by 7.6% of participants. As well as, about 31% of participants reported not having any of the eleven major chronic diseases, 47.6% reported not having memory impairments, 15% reported not having impairments in physical functioning, and 37.3% reported having good mental health status.
Association between protein intake and healthy aging
The comparison evaluation between various protein sources indicated that while animal protein intake can reduce the potential of healthy aging by 6%, consumption of plant protein can increase the potential of healthy aging by 46% for each 3%-energy increment.
The findings obtained after adjusting for the participant’s body mass index (BMI) revealed that total protein and plant protein intake could increase the likelihood of healthy aging by 5% and 31%, respectively, for each 3%-energy increment.
Regarding the foremost domains of healthy aging, the study found that the intake of total and animal proteins can significantly increase the danger of chronic diseases. In contrast, the intake of dairy and plant proteins was found to cut back the danger of chronic diseases. Moreover, the study found that animal protein and plant protein can reduce the potential of physical disabilities by 5% and 41%, respectively. Amongst all protein sources, only plant protein intake showed a major association with good mental health status.
The findings of substitution evaluation indicated that isocaloric substitution of animal or dairy protein, total or refined carbohydrate, total fat, or saturated fatty acid with plant protein could increase the likelihood of healthy aging, reduce the danger of chronic diseases, and improve physical and mental health.
The study finds that higher dietary protein intake, especially plant protein intake, in middle maturity can result in disease and disability-free healthy aging. Future studies are needed to establish the quantity of protein intake to advertise healthy aging.
Plants wealthy in protein
- Lentils: An excellent source of protein, also provides good amounts of fiber, iron, and potassium.
- Chickpeas: One other excellent source of protein and will be utilized in many dishes, including hummus and chana masala.
- Black Beans: Not only high in protein but in addition wealthy in fiber and antioxidants.
- Quinoa: An entire protein, also gluten-free.
- Almonds: A protein-rich nut, wealthy in healthy fats, vitamin E, and magnesium.
- Peanuts: High in protein and healthy fats.
- Chia Seeds: High in protein but in addition wealthy in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.
- Hemp Seeds: An entire protein source, wealthy in essential fatty acids.
- Spirulina: Blue-green algae protein that accommodates an excellent amount of B vitamins, iron, and other nutrients.