How balanced protein intake impacts metabolic health and aging

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The age-old saying “You are what you eat” rings truer than ever. It’s been proven that the type of food we eat impacts our health and lifespan.

Different nutritional needs change as we age, and meeting these needs can help us maintain metabolic health. This could increase the span of our lives during which we remain healthy and also extend our overall lifespan.

While studies have suggested that changing our intake of calories and proteins can improve health and lifespan, we don’t know the ideal amount of protein to consume.

Protein Power in the Aging Process

A recent study led by Assistant Professor Yoshitaka Kondo from Waseda University, Japan, and published in GeroScience on April 28, 2023, sheds new light on this issue.

The study sought to determine the optimal protein intake to maintain metabolic health in mice approaching old age.

They experimented with young (6 months old) and middle-aged (16 months old) male mice. The mice were fed diets with varying protein content, and the effects of these diets were evaluated over two months.

This evaluation included measurements of skeletal muscle weight, liver and plasma lipid profiles, and the analysis of plasma amino acid profiles.

Results and Implications

The researchers observed that when the mice were given a low-protein diet, the middle-aged mice developed a mild fatty liver, with higher levels of hepatic lipids than the young mice. However, a moderate-protein diet led to reduced blood glucose concentrations and lipid levels in both the liver and plasma.

This shows that a diet with moderate levels of protein (25% and 35%) kept both young and middle-aged mice metabolically healthier.

On studying the effect of the protein diets on plasma amino acid concentrations, the researchers found that these varied with age and the dietary protein content.

They also discovered a correlation between different protein intake levels and the amounts of hepatic triglycerides and cholesterol levels.

According to Kondo, this study indicates that protein requirements change throughout life, and that the same pattern is likely in humans.

This means that increasing daily protein intake in meals could promote better metabolic health. As Kondo puts it, “ideal dietary macronutrient balance at each life stage could also extend health span.”

In short, maintaining a balanced diet with moderate amounts of protein could be the key to a long and healthy life.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about berry that can prevent cancer, diabetes, and obesity, and natural blood pressure controllers: 12 foods that lower blood pressure.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about diet to fight diabetic eye damage, and results showing these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

The study was published in GeroScience.

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