Large 20-year study shows that a high-protein diet rich in fibre-less animal products, is deadly: Part 1
Of course, none of this information is new; just check through my last few years of blogs on the research. This is why I am a fan of the plant-based wholefood diet approach as this is what the longest-lived World Champion centenarians have always eaten.
“We have shown explicitly why it is that calories aren’t all the same. We need to look at where the calories come from and how they interact. This research has enormous implications for how much food we eat, our body fat, our heart and metabolic health, and ultimately the duration of our lives. It is an enormous leap in our understanding of the impact of diet quality and diet balance on food intake, health, ageing and longevity”
Senior author professor Steve Simpson, a researcher at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, March 2014.
“Popular diets in many cases have high proteins and low sugars. They may make you lose some weight, but that’s not a good diet to increase life span. There’s a misconception that because we all eat, understanding nutrition is simple. But the question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days, but can it help you survive to be 100? Almost everyone is going to have a cancer cell or pre-cancer cell in them at some point. The question is: Does it progress? Turns out one of the major factors in determining if it does, is protein intake. People need to switch to a diet where only around 9%-10% of their calories come from protein, and the ideal sources are plant-based. We provide convincing evidence that a high-protein diet, particularly if the proteins are derived from animals, is nearly as bad as smoking. We’re not at all making human claims based on mice, but using a focus on human evolution and human data demonstrated through the specific research from Ecuador alongside mouse data to show our hypothesis is strongly supported”
Corresponding Author Dr Valter Longo, the Edna M. Jones Professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute, March 2014.
What is the study and what has it told us?
The study was published worldwide on March 4 in Cell Metabolism, and tracked a large sample of adults for almost 20 years, giving 83,308 person years’ worth of data. It found:
- Eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you 300% more likely to die of cancer than someone on a plant-based wholefood diet
- This is almost the same mortality risk as if you were a smoker
- Middle-aged people on a high protein diet were 74% more likely to die of any cause than someone on a plant-based wholefood diet
- Middle-aged people on a high protein diet were THREE TIMES more likely to die of diabetes than someone on a plant-based wholefood diet
- People in their fifties who stick to a high-protein diet were nearly TWICE as likely to die of any cause compared to those on a plant-based wholefood diet
- The researchers found that plant-based proteins, such as those from nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, wholegrains, vegetable seeds such as quinoa or buckwheat, and avocados, did not have the same mortality effects as animal proteins
- The overall harmful effects seen in the study were almost completely wiped out when the protein came from plant sources, such as beans and legumes
- Rates of cancer and death did not seem to be affected by carbohydrate or fat consumption - suggesting that animal protein is the cause
- The study suggests that the plant-based Mediterranean diet - low in animal protein, may be best for extending life span
- Of all 6,318 adults over the age of 50 in the study (represented across ethnicity, education and health background), average protein intake was about 16% percent of total daily calories with 60% from animal protein
- People who ate a moderate amount of protein were still three times more likely to die of cancer than those who ate a low-protein diet
- Overall, even a small change of decreasing protein intake from moderate levels to low levels reduced likelihood of early death by 21%
- Interestingly, the study also found that the elderly were often in need of more protein, rather than less, and we know that older people do benefit from a healthy moderate intake of protein