Senior Citizens Need Diet High in Animal Protein
Finds Two Studies: Better Function, Less Disease
Elderly improve their function physically,
psychologically, and socially; second study says it helps seniors stay
March 12, 2014 Two recent studies agree that
senior citizens should eat a diet high in protein, particularly animal
protein, which is considered by most to be harmful to younger people.
The study released today says the animal protein may help the elderly
function at higher levels and it follows the other out last week
suggesting seniors at about age 65 should switch to more protein for
increased protection from disease.
Due to increasing life expectancies in many
countries, increasing numbers of elderly people are living with
functional decline, such as declines in cognitive ability and activities
of daily living. Functional decline can have profound effects on health
and the economy.
Research suggests that aging may reduce the bodys
ability to absorb or process proteins, which could mean that protein
requirements increase with age.
Megumi Tsubota-Utsugi, PhD, MPH, RD, of the
National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Japan, and her colleagues
in Tohoku University and Teikyo University, Japan, wondered whether
protein intake might affect the functional capabilities of the elderly.
They designed a study to investigate the
relationship between protein intake and future decline in higher-level
functional capacity in older community-dwelling adults in the Japanese
general population. Their analysis included 1,007 individuals with an
average age of 67.4 years who completed food questionnaires at the start
of the study and seven years later.
Participants were divided into
quartiles according to intake levels of total, animal, and plant
protein. Tests of higher-level functional capacity included social and
intellectual aspects as well as measures related to activities of daily
Men in the highest quartile of animal protein
intake had a 39 percent decreased odds of experiencing higher-level
functional decline than those in the lowest quartile. These associations
were not seen in women. No consistent association was observed between
plant protein intake and future higher-level functional decline in
Identifying nutritional factors that contribute to
maintaining higher-level functional capacity is important for prevention
of future deterioration of activities of daily living, said Dr.
Tsubota-Utsugi. Along with other modifiable health behaviors, keeping
higher protein intake could contribute to maintain elderly functional
Protection from disease with animal protein
The research out last week points
out that we should not eat a diet rich in animal proteins during middle
age, because it makes your four times more likely to die from cancer
than those eating a low-protein diet. (See link to news report in
The study shows that while
high-protein intake during middle age is very harmful, it is protective
for older adults: those over 65 who ate a moderate- or high-protein diet
were less susceptible to disease.
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