“The majority of Americans are eating twice as much protein as they should,” according to a new study by Valter D. Longo a professor at the USC Davis School of Gerontology with a joint appointment in the department of Biological Sciences as well as serving as the director of the University of California’s Longevity Institute.
As an American biogerontologist and cell biologist, Longo is well- known for his reseach involving the role of starvation and nutrient response genes on cellular protection aging and diseases and for proposing that longevity is regulated by similar genes and mechanisms in many eukaryotes.
The study, which took a long-range look at the eating habits of over 6,300 adult (over the age of 50) in the US for 20 years, found that those who consumed large amounts of animal proteins, such as milk, meat and other dairy products such as cheese, etc., during middle age were “4 times more likely to die from cancer during the duration of the study, and 3 times more likely to die of diabetes than those who ate low-protein diets.”
However, Longo noted that people shouldn’t use these figures as an excuse to avoid proteins.
“It is important not to go from one extreme to the other,” he warned during an interview with Forbes.com.“While eating less protein is generally a good thing, cutting it out altogether can go from being protected to malnourished very quickly.”
In fact, some study results actually suggested that eating more proteins may actually “benefit those over 65 by protecting them from becoming too frail and help them maintain healthy weight.”
Standards for determining high-protein diets were set by the researches as receiving 20% of daily calories from protein, while low-protein diets were considered to be anywhere below 10%. Plant proteins (such as those found in beans) were not considered as much of a problem as animal proteins.