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Eating This Reduces Memory Loss By 39%

By on March 13, 2014
Want to prevent cognitive decline as you get older? A new study by the National Institute of Health and Nutrition says there may one to prevent it–by eating a high protein diet.

Reporting in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers say elderly people are less able to process protein efficiently–and therefore an increase in protein intake helps prevent memory loss and other cognitive-related problems.

“Identifying nutritional factors that contribute to maintaining higher-level functional capacity is important for prevention of future deterioration of activities of daily living,” says Megumi Tsubota-Utsugi, Ph.D, MPH, RD of the National Institute of Health and Nutrition, who participated in the study. “Along with other modifiable health behaviors, a diet rich in protein may help older adults maintain their functional capacity.”

Why Protein Matters

Recruiting a total of 1,007 elderly adults in Japan with an average age of 67.4 years, researcher Tsubota-Utsugi wanted to find out one thing: How protein intake affected the physical functioning of older adults. To do so, she asked the participants to fill out food questionnaires detailing what they ate on a daily basis.

Then, 7 years later, researchers asked them to fill out the same questionnaire. They then compared these results to their current level of functioning–such as their ability to carry out everyday tasks or memorize data, two components that can get more challenging as a person ages.

As it turns out, those who opted for a more protein-heavy diet–especially one higher in animal-derived proteins–experienced a significantly lower rate of cognitive decline than those who hadn’t. The effects were strong in male participants as well–for those who ate the highest amounts of animal protein, they were 39 percent less likely to experience functional decline.

“After adjustment for putative confounding factors, men in the highest quartile of animal protein intake had significantly lower risk of higher-level functional decline than those in the lowest quartile,” write researchers in the study. “Higher protein, particularly animal protein, was associated with lower risk of decline in higher-level functional capacity in older men. Animal protein intake may be a modifiable indicator for early detection and prevention of higher-level functional decline in elderly adults.”

On the contrary, however, eating more protein didn’t seem to benefit women as much–though it didn’t make their memories worse, there weren’t any significant improvements either. Perhaps this has to do with the higher need for protein in men; women don’t require as much due to their lower muscle mass.

Still, adding more protein to your diet may do some good regardless of your sex, according to this research.

“The findings of this new study support recommendations from several leading health agencies to consume about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day in middle age,” says Samantha Godowin, a contributor to Headlines & Global News.

Readers: Do you eat a lot of protein? Why or why not?

Sources:
Press Release: High Protein Intake Benefits Cognition in SeniorsAmericanGeriatrics.org
Study: Protein Intake Greatly Benefits Male Seniors and Reduces Functional DeclineWiley.com

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