Optimal Protein Levels in Diet Associated with Healthy Aging

by Ella

New insights from a study conducted on mice point toward the potential benefits of maintaining moderate protein intake to enhance longevity and overall health, with potential implications for humans as well.

Protein, a critical macronutrient sourced from animal products like meat, cheese, and eggs, as well as plant-based foods such as beans, nuts, and seeds, serves a fundamental role in building muscle, organ tissues, and ensuring the proper functioning of various bodily systems.


Furthermore, scientific research has highlighted how protein can contribute to weight management by preserving muscle mass, curbing appetite, and bolstering metabolism.


In a comprehensive study published in GeroScience, a team of researchers affiliated with Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, delved into the potential link between moderate protein consumption and the maintenance of robust metabolic health during the aging process, potentially leading to extended longevity and enhanced quality of life.


The study involved administering diets with varying protein levels, ranging from 5% to 45%, to young and middle-aged mice. After a two-month period, the researchers conducted a thorough assessment of the mice’s metabolic health through an analysis of tissue and plasma samples, alongside other pertinent health metrics.


Results indicated that mice following a low protein diet, consisting of 5% to 20% protein content, exhibited mild fatty liver conditions. Notably, middle-aged mice displayed a higher accumulation of liver fat compared to their younger counterparts.

Conversely, mice adhering to a moderate protein diet, encompassing protein levels between 25% and 35%, showcased reduced lipid levels in both liver tissue and blood, alongside a decline in blood sugar levels.

Additionally, the researchers observed distinctive variations in plasma amino acid concentrations among the mice, influenced by both age and the protein content in their diets.

The study’s outcomes led to the conclusion that a protein intake ranging from 25% to 35% could be optimal for sustaining metabolic health among both young and middle-aged mice.

Yoshitaka Kondo, the lead researcher and an assistant professor at Waseda University, emphasized, “Protein requirements change through the course of life, being higher in younger reproductive mice, reducing through middle age, and rising again in older mice as protein efficiency declines. The same pattern is likely to be observed in humans.”

Kondo further posited, “Therefore, it could be assumed that increasing daily protein intake in meals could promote metabolic health of people. Moreover, ideal dietary macronutrient balance at each life stage could also extend health span.”

Importantly, it’s worth noting that one researcher affiliated with the study holds ties to Nichirei Foods Corporation, focusing on the functional assessment of food. However, the remainder of the study’s authors have confirmed no conflicts of interest in relation to their involvement.



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