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Mediterranean Diet May Help Protect Older Adults From Becoming Frail

An analysis of published studies indicates that following the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of frailty in older individuals. The findings, which are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, suggest that a diet emphasizing primarily plant-based foods — such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts — may help keep people healthy and independent as they age.

Frailty is common among older people and its prevalence is increasing as the population ages. Frail older adults may often feel low in energy and have weight loss and weak muscle strength. They are more likely to suffer from numerous health concerns, including falls, fractures, hospitalization, nursing home placement, disability, dementia, and premature death. Frailty is also associated with a lower quality of life.

Nutrition is thought to play a crucial role in developing frailty, a team led by Kate Walters, PhD and Gotaro Kojima, MD, of University College London, in the UK, looked to see if following a healthy diet might decrease one’s risk of frailty.

The researchers analyzed evidence from all published studies examining associations between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and development of frailty in older individuals. Their analysis included 5789 people in four studies in France, Spain, Italy, and China.

“We found the evidence was very consistent that older people who follow a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of becoming frail,” said Dr. Walters. “People who followed a Mediterranean diet the most were overall less than half as likely to become frail over a nearly four-year period compared with those who followed it the least.”

The investigators noted that the Mediterranean diet may help older individuals maintain muscle strength, activity, weight, and energy levels, according to their findings. “Our study supports the growing body of evidence on the potential health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, in our case for potentially helping older people to stay well as they age,” said Dr. Kojima.

Although older people who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of becoming frail, it’s unclear whether other characteristics of the people who followed this diet may have helped to protect them. “While the studies we included adjusted for many of the major factors that could be associated – for example, their age, gender, social class, smoking, alcohol, how much they exercised, and how many health conditions they had — there may be other factors that were not measured and we could not account for,” said Dr. Walters. “We now need large studies that look at whether increasing how much you follow a Mediterranean diet will reduce your risk of becoming frail.”

Story Source:
Materials provided by Wiley. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.    Date: January 11, 2018

Journal Reference:
Gotaro Kojima, Christina Avgerinou, Steve Iliffe, Kate Walters. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet Reduces Incident Frailty Risk: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15251


Dietary Protein – From Any Source – May Help Muscle Health

Diets high in protein from any source – animals or plants – may help keep muscles big and strong as people age, according to a new study.

People with higher overall protein intake had higher muscle mass and stronger quadriceps, the muscle in front of the thigh, said lead author Kelsey Mangano of the University of Massachusetts in Lowell.

Proteins are found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, vegetables, grains and nuts. The Institute of Medicine recommends adults get about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. That translates to about 56 grams (about 2 ounces) per day for a sedentary person who weighs 70 kg (about 154 pounds).

Protein is known to protect bone density, muscle mass and strength, but it’s been unclear whether the protein must come from specific food sources, the researchers write in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For example, do people who get their proteins from meat benefit more than people who get their proteins from non-animal food sources, or vice versa.

The researchers used data from 2,986 men and women, ages 19 to 72, who filled out questionnaires about their diets between 2002 and 2005.

Overall, about 82 percent of participants were getting the recommended daily amount of protein. Their diets fell into one of six patterns: fast food and full fat dairy, fish, red meat, chicken, low fat milk, and legumes.

The researchers then looked to see if the participants’ dietary patterns were tied to their muscle mass, muscle strength and bone density.


Unlike past studies, the researchers found no links between dietary protein consumption and bone density, although they did find that dietary protein was tied to muscle mass and strength.

Muscle mass and strength were higher among people who consumed the most protein, compared to those who consumed the least.

People with the highest amounts of protein in their diets were eating about 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (or about 0.03 ounces per pound of body weight), compared to 0.8 grams per kilogram (about 0.01 ounces per pound) among those eating the least.

The results did not change based on people’s dietary patterns. A person getting a large amount of protein from red meat was benefiting as much as a person getting it from legumes.

“High protein diets do benefit most individuals,” said Mangano, who did the research while at Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research. “It can be beneficial to maintaining muscle mass and strength – particularly as we age.”

She told Reuters Health it’s a positive message that people with dietary restrictions may still benefit from higher protein diets but cautioned the results are only one study with a group of mostly white participants.

Another study of older participants may help confirm whether the source of protein matters later in life, Mangano said. Her team previously looked at bone density in older adults and found that “people who were consuming most of their protein from red meat and processed meat had the lowest bone mineral density than other groups,” she said.

By Andrew M. Seaman
SOURCE: bit.ly/2k4hbTV The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online February 8, 2017.

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How to stay strong in adulthood? Eat protein often, study says Diet

Graham Slaughter, CTVNews.ca    Published Thursday, April 21, 2016

A new study suggests that adults should eat significantly more protein than national guidelines currently recommend, and that portions should be split evenly throughout the day.

The high-protein diet, outlined in a joint study by the University of Mississippi and researchers at McMaster University, could help stave off muscle and strength loss in aging adults.

Researchers say the sweet spot is 30 grams to 45 grams of protein eaten one to two times per day – but one researcher suggests a person could see benefits with three to five meals at that amount. (For scale, an average chicken breast contains about 25 to 30 grams of protein.)

“That’s a pretty big dose of protein,” said researcher and professor Stuart Phillips, who studies protein and physical activity at McMaster University.

“But the more times people consume that dose, the greater their retention of muscle and the greater their strength that they measured using at least their legs, which is arguably the most important muscle that you want to preserve.”

The findings are based off information from 1,081 Americans between the ages of 50 and 85 collected from 1999 and 2002 by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES.

Researchers zeroed in on the relationships between participants’ leg strength and how much protein they consumed. From that, they found a positive relationship between protein consumed in multiple meals and overall leg lean mass and strength.

‘A big jump’ from the norm

The conclusion may sound obvious – more protein, more strength – but the amount of protein researchers recommend far exceeds today’s national guidelines.

For example, a man weighing 80 kilograms (176 lbs.) requires 64 grams of protein under the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), a common benchmark in the U.S. and Canada. But Phillips suggests that such a person would benefit by boosting that protein intake to between 90 grams and 135 grams across three meals.

That’s more than double the national standard, but Phillips insists the suggestion isn’t “radical.”

“I think that it might shock some people and it’s definitely a big jump from the RDA, but I think that … there’s enough science now that’s beginning to emerge that challenges the adequacy of the RDA for older persons,” he said.

A new study suggests that adults should eat significantly more protein
than national guidelines currently recommend,
and that portions should be split evenly throughout the day.

The study itself did not consider the type of protein consumed, but Phillips says the diet could be followed with either plant- or animal-sourced protein.

And the message isn’t simply that more protein is better, Phillips insists.

“It’s that you should probably distribute it in a balanced fashion. So take some of the protein that you’re eating at dinner and maybe consume a smaller portion there and consume more protein at breakfast and lunch time meals.”

The study did not specify the timing between meals, but Phillips suggested at least three hours.
He also point outs that the research is a step forward, but it’s not the final word on protein.

“This is a hypothesis generator rather than bona fide as fact,” he said.

Works for ‘anybody’

Phillips says the diet could work for “just about anybody,” and it becomes increasingly important for people to eat more protein in their forties and fifties when they may begin to lose muscle mass.
But people who don’t exercise often may experience muscle loss sooner in life and require a high-protein diet earlier.

“If you assume a fairly sedentary lifestyle and you have a fairly sedentary workplace, then you’re going to lose muscle mass at an earlier and probably more rapid rate than somebody else,” Phillips said.

Phillips compared muscle loss to bone mass loss in women going through menopause. Rather than fight the problem when it strikes, Phillips says it’s better to prepare with the appropriate diet.

“It’s definitely preventative. There’s no question,” he said.

Too much protein?

There are a couple “myths” associated with high-protein diets, Phillips says, including an increased likelihood of kidney failure or that it causes bones to “dissolve” by leeching calcium.

“Neither of those have any scientific basis,” says Phillips, whose research pertains particularly to protein. “I don’t see the smoking gun.”

But eating more protein could tip the scale on consumption of other nutrients, like carbohydrates and fiber, so Phillips says it’s important to keep a balanced diet and not “blindly” eat more protein.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is just as important as eating a balanced, protein-rich diet, Phillips says.

“I won’t say that one trumps the other … but I think you can cure a lot of evil from a disease and poor diet standpoint from a lot of good exercise,” he said.

The study will appear in the international journal Clinical Nutrition in the next few weeks.