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Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements for Seniors

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 healthy

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.

The latest study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, says older people eating increased animal protein improve their function physically, psychologically, and socially.

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.

 

Related Archive Stories

 
 

Live Longer: Don’t Eat Animal Proteins in Middle Age, Wait Until You are Senior Citizen

Middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources - including meat, milk and cheese - more susceptible to early death in general

March 5, 2014 – Okay, here is the latest research pointing the way to a longer life. Read more...


Read more on Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements

 

Research suggests that aging may reduce the body’s 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 living.

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 either sex.

“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 capacity.”

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 sidebar.)

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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