Nutrition research is undoubtedly quite imperative to the success or decline of the human population. The content can be tedious, striking and sometimes boring but one thing is sure, its applicability is undeniable as all human beings need to eat for survival. In a new study, protein source was found to be important, where the intake of plant protein was found to be associated with lower mortality when juxtaposed with animal protein.
It has been said by dieticians and other nutritionists that a diet, both macro-nutritionally and micro-nutritionally balanced, is a good diet. However, a comprehensive elaboration of what that diet specifically constitutes has eluded us. Clinical research has shown time and time again that a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is critical to healthy cardiovascular state, blood pressure and weight management. Here is the underlining point though, the amount and type of protein counts and therefore should be factored, as the effects of both animal and plant protein are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
In an original investigation by JAMA Internal Medicine, the study, ‘Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality’, the objective was to answer one essential question; “What is the association of animal and plant protein intake with mortality in adults living in the USA?” The study involved 131,342 participants of the US health care professionals from the Nurses’ Health Study (1980-2012) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2012). 64.7% were women and 35.3% men with a mean age of 49. The assessment process was done through recurrently updated and validated food frequency questionnaires with the analysis being done from June 20, 2014 to January 18, 2016. Moreover, adjustments were made for lifestyle and dietary risk factors.
The median protein intakes were 14% for animal and 4% for plant sources. After the necessary adjustments, it was found that animal protein was imperceptibly associated with higher mortality, especially cardiovascular mortality, while plant protein was associated with lower mortality. The associations were confined to participants who were facing at least one unhealthy lifestyle dynamic. The results mean that due to animal protein being directly associated with higher mortality, and plant protein being inversely related, the substitution of meat with the latter is the best option to increase lifespan.
Written By: Tarique Plummer, BSc Hons Biochemistry & Biotechnology