Weighing In: Protein may be a deadly as smoking

Published on Saturday, 8 March 2014 20:07 - Written by By Coshandra Dillard cdillard@tylerpaper.com

How much meat, milk and cheese do you eat? Is it significantly more than vegetables and whole grains?

Researchers now believe that consuming too much meat and dairy during middle ages is as dangerous as smoking.

A study, published in Cell Metabolism, followed middle-aged adults’ response to a high-protein diet because “what’s good for you at one age may be damaging at another,” according to a news release.

Researchers said protein controls a growth hormone called IGF-O, which helps our bodies grow. However, it has been linked to a predisposition to cancer. That hormone level drops off after 65. Researchers say this means that a high-protein diet — derived from animal sources — is harmful in middle-aged adults yet protective in older age.

After tracking middle-aged adults for nearly two decades, they found that those who ate a diet rich in animal proteins were four times more likely to die of cancer than a person who ate a low-protein diet. That mortality risk is similar to smoking, researchers said.

High-protein diets in middle-aged adults also increased the risk of dying early and make them more like to die of diabetes, the study found.

Protein has been the buzzword for the past several years, and some diets, such as Atkins and Paleo, have emphasized that. The truth is, according to nutrition experts’ recommendation, we probably get more than enough protein without knowing it.

The suggestion is that we consume .8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight in middle age. For a 130-pound person, that’s 45 to 50 grams of protein each day.

If you are eating a portion of meat with each meal, along with milk or cheese, while also chugging protein shakes throughout the day, you’re probably exceeding the recommendation.

Researchers in this study said that even a moderate protein diet has its risks in middle-aged adults. A high-protein diet is considered at least 20 percent of calories from protein, researchers said. A moderate protein diet is 10 to 19 percent, while a low-protein diet equates less than 10 percent of protein.

Studies sometimes just scratch the surface. New information can be found years from now that conflict with what is being found today. But what strikes me about this study is that it is a reminder to go back to the basics. We can never go wrong with upping our consumption of vegetables.

Regardless of whether you agree with a plant-based diet or can’t live without meat, make a concerted effort to scale back on the animal protein and add just a little more of the green stuff.

At least we know it won’t hurt.

Read the study at tinyurl.com/p5sv6tx.