The Longevity Diet: Protein
What is protein?
Before we dive into the health benefits of a lower protein diet, let's talk about the different types of proteins that we all may eat! Protein comes from both animal and plant sources. Animal sources include fish, poultry, beef, pork, processed meats, and dairy products. Plant sources include nuts, seeds, whole grains, certain vegetables such as artichokes and broccoli, and legumes, such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
Why do we need protein?
Our bodies require protein for many reasons. Protein helps our bodies function better by helping our bodies grow and heal. Protein helps the body to build and maintain muscle, bone, and skin health. Protein also plays a role in making new cells and repairing old ones.
Health benefits to a low protein diet and Nutrition for Longevity
Dr. Valter Longo, the founder of The Longevity Diet, explains that there is a link between the amount of protein we eat and our health. His findings show that eating too much protein affects the aging process. Dr. Longo found that high intakes of protein increase growth receptors, specifically the TOR-S6K and PKA genes. Dr. Longo has conducted multiple studies that compared protein intake and lifespan among animal models and human studies. The studies found that reducing protein intake has been shown to increase life expectancy significantly. Dr. Longo’s research also highlights the link between protein and the development of type 2 diabetes. High protein diets can increase insulin-like growth factors and insulin, which means that higher levels of insulin can, overtime, lead to type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Longo’s research recognizes the importance of protein in the diet and the amount of protein we need. Dr. Longo acknowledges the importance of eating adequate amounts of protein daily to build muscle and protect our bodies. He recommends that we should consume .31 to .36 g of protein per pound of body weight. This recommendation aligns with the Dietary Reference Intake of protein set by the USDA of .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or 10–35% of total calories for the day.
Dr. Longo’s research is not solely focused on the amount of protein but also the source of the protein. Multiple studies found that a primarily plant-based diet, such as a vegan or vegetarian diet, can help lower the risk of developing heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels compared to nonvegetarian diets. The type of protein we eat can also reduce our chances of developing type 2 diabetes.6 The Longevity Diet recommends eating plant-based protein sources and fish 2–3 times per week to create a well-rounded meal plan.
Here at Nutrition for Longevity, we follow the guidelines set forth by The Longevity Diet and Dr. Longo’s research. Our meal kits offer both vegan meal plans and pescatarian meal plans to accommodate dietary needs or preferences. If you have questions about our meal plans or in general, you can schedule a clarity call with one of our dietitians.