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Study reveals youth-retaining foods accessible to all

Study reveals youth-retaining foods accessible to all Illustrative photo (Photo: Freepik)
Author: Daria Shekina

A new study has shown that plant-based protein food significantly slows down aging and helps middle-aged people stay younger for longer. Scientists evaluated data from nearly 50,000 women in their research, according to a post of dietitian Oleg Shvets on Facebook.

How protein food affects aging

"Plant-based protein-rich food, especially for middle-aged individuals, promotes better chances of healthy aging with improved physical and psychological well-being in later life, which is more reliably determined in older women. This was demonstrated by analyzing the health data of nurses," says the dietitian.

According to him, scientists evaluated the long-term impact of protein consumption in middle age on future health for the first time. The analysis was based on data from 48,762 nurses. Researchers took into account the lifestyle, demographic indicators, and health status of the participants. Their average age at the beginning of the study was 48.6 years.

Healthy aging was defined as the absence of 11 major chronic diseases, good mental health, and the absence of cognitive or physical function impairments.

"In the analysis of dietary protein source substitution, significant positive associations were observed with isocaloric substitution of animal or dairy protein, carbohydrates, or fat with plant protein - with an increased odds ratio for healthy aging of 1.22-1.58 for every 3% energy substitution," adds the doctor.

Calorie-equivalent substitution of other macronutrients with plant protein was associated with a 20%-60% increased likelihood of no physical function limitations. Plant protein was also associated with higher chances of good mental health.

"In another study conducted in Spain, consumption of plant protein was associated with a greater likelihood of achieving healthy aging, defined by changes in functional impairments, self-rated health/vitality, mental health, and medical service utilization," says Shvets.

Conversely, consumption of animal protein in middle and older age was associated with an increased risk of premature death from cardiovascular events.

The new study underscores the health benefits of protein consumption, especially plant-based, for middle-aged individuals. Protein is necessary for the formation and maintenance of bones and muscles. However, many people consume it insufficiently.

What other benefits does protein provide?

In studies involving older adults, low protein consumption was associated with loss of muscle mass.

Plant protein is associated with favorable levels of key cardiometabolic risk factors, such as lower bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure, better insulin sensitivity, and lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers.

"This study is the first step in assessing the long-term impact of protein consumption on health in middle age. However, additional research is needed to confirm its results for other population groups and to determine the underlying mechanisms of possible associations," adds Shvets.

How much protein should middle-aged people eat?

Middle-aged individuals should adhere to or even slightly exceed the recommended dietary protein intake of 0.8 g/kg per day. Plant protein should be a significant component of daily protein consumption.

"Increasing consumption of plant protein is not difficult. It is worth incorporating several meals per week with beans, peas, lentils, tofu, whole grains, nuts, or seeds. Plant protein contains health-promoting soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory polyphenols, and other phytochemicals," says the dietitian.

Earlier, we wrote about the 5 rules from a gynecologist to ensure women's health.

Read also about the exercises that support heart health.