The New Food Rules For Your Health (Part 2)

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Is a high protein diet harmful?

We all know smoking’s bad for us, but recently the news headlines warned us that eating a high-protein diet could carry a similar cancer risk to a 20-cigarettesa-day habit. The assertion came from new research from the University of Southern California and was published in the journal Cell Metabolism. It suggests a ‘high-protein diet’ – defined as eating at least 20 per cent of daily calories from protein – is associated with an increased risk of dying in people aged 50-65.

University of Southern California  suggests a ‘high-protein diet’ – defined as eating at least 20 per cent of daily calories from protein – is associated with an increased risk of dying in people aged 50-65.

University of Southern California suggests a ‘high-protein diet’ – defined as eating at least 20 per cent of daily calories from protein – is associated with an increased risk of dying in people aged 50-65.

However, interestingly, the same study found that there was a reduced risk for those aged over 65. The study suggests that eating a low-protein diet during middle age, then a moderate to high protein diet over the age of 65 may be best for health and help you live longer. The researchers looked at the diets for Americans over a single 24-hour period but didn’t take into account lifestyle factors such as exercise or how their diet might change over time. Those eating lots of protein may be eating a lot of processed and red meat, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, especially bowel cancer. Also, relying on a single type of energy source in your diet could mean you’re eating fewer fruit and vegetables for example, so you’re not getting as large a range of nutrients. With regards to older people, the ‘survival bias’ may come into play here – where those who’ve survived longer are generally healthier, and perhaps they eat less refined forms of protein.

 

 

Those eating lots of protein may be eating a lot of processed and red meat, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, especially bowel cancer.

Those eating lots of protein may be eating a lot of processed and red meat, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, especially bowel cancer.

The Verdict

Dr Marilyn Glenville: ‘This is a question of balance because we do need to eat protein and it should be good quality, such as animal protein in the form of fish and eggs and vegetable protein such as nuts, seeds, beans and quinoa. But if the protein content is excessive, your diet becomes acidic. Your skeleton acts like a buffer and the more acidic your diet becomes, the more calcium you’ll lose to neutralise that acid. You’ll then be at risk of osteoporosis and could damage your kidneys.’ Gaynor Bussell: ‘A higher-protein diet has gained favour of late for helping us to stay fuller for longer and it’s also supposed to help the elderly lose less muscle mass as they age. I think the evidence on protein can be mixed; it certainly isn’t as bad as smoking, but perhaps not eating lots of meat protein is beneficial to health.

If the protein content is excessive, your diet becomes acidic.

If the protein content is excessive, your diet becomes acidic.

 

 

 
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