There are two studies that just concluded that low protein diet is the key to a healthy long life, at least until you hit old age. The research also stressed the need to evaluate calories when deciding what really is a healthy diet, but also it stresses the need to know where the calories came from, such as if it is animal protein or plant-based protein.
Another surprising discovery is the whole high-protein diet may actually help people lose weight and body fat in the short term aspect, but when it comes to the long term aspect it can actually reduce one’s life span.
Can Too Much Protein Be Harmful?
YES, too much protein can be bad for you. As with most things in life, if you have too much to eat or drink there may be some negative effects. For example, if you eat a lot of protein your kidneys will work harder to filter the excess protein from your blood. If this pressure is too great in your kidneys, they can leak proteins into the urine and eventually be reabsorbed into the body. This could lead to kidney failure. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance of protein in our diet so that the kidneys can continue to function.
About the Studies
Both of the studies can be found in the journal Cell Metabolism.
Valter Longo, professor at the University of Southern California, lead the first study that had to do with the longevity and cell biology. Both he and his colleagues discovered a high protein diet is related to a higher risk of cancer, death in middle-aged adults, and diabetes. However, this was not always the case for adults older than middle age, as some benefited from a balanced protein consumption. Nevertheless, the study also showed that the effects were greatly reduced when the protein came from plants and not animals.
Stephan Simpson, a professor at the University of Sydney in Australia conducted the second study. This study conducted diets with low protein and high carbohydrates. This study concluded with a low protein, but high carbohydrate diet it is known for longer lifespans.
First Study Discovery
In Professor Longo study, they study data over 6,000 American adults. These adults took the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. This survey assessed their diet and health.
The survey discovered:
- Burgers are popular.
- A high-protein diet in middle age adults can lead to an early death of cancer and diabetes.
- Test subjects over the age of 50 who consumed a high-protein diet were increased their chances of dying from diabetes and cancer four times, within the next 18 years.
- Test subjects who ate a moderate amount of protein had a three-fold higher risk of an early death by cancer.
- Test subjects who got their protein from plants, reduced the effects.
- Researchers take on a high-protein diet consisted of 20% of the calories being protein.
Second Study Discovery
Professor Simpson and his colleagues used about 25 different diets on a few hundred mice to see how the type and amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats affected the mice energy, aging, metabolic health, and lifespan.
The study concluded:
- Mice who had the low carb, but high protein had less body fat, but they had a shorter lifespan. This was due to their poor cardiometabolic health.
- Mice that were fed high-fat, but low-protein had the worse health out of all of them. Not to mention, they also had the shortest lifespan.
- Mice who had high carb, but low protein had the healthiest, yet longest lifespan.
- However, a calorie-restricted diet had no effect on the lifespan.
Therefore, the two studies did not just count calories. They also monitored the diet composition— mainly the amount of protein and if it was from animals or plants—this is how they determined the length and health of the lifespan.