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Higher Protein Intake Associated with Slower Onset of Disability in Old People

Lower protein intake is suspected of being a contributing cause of a number of age-related conditions, such as sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and strength. Researchers here find an association between lower protein intake and a faster pace of decline with age, but it is easy to argue over the direction of causation. After all, older people may eat less protein because of a metabolism that offers hunger prompts less frequently, or because of age-related conditions that make eating more of a challenge. The degeneration may be the cause rather than the result.

To live successfully and independently, older adults need to be able to manage two different levels of life skills: basic daily care and basic housekeeping activities. People 85-years-old and older form the fastest-growing age group in our society and are at higher risk for becoming less able to perform these life skills. For this reason, researchers are seeking ways to help older adults stay independent for longer. Recently, a research team focused their attention on learning whether eating more protein could contribute to helping people maintain independence.

Protein is known to slow the loss of muscle mass. Having enough muscle mass can help preserve the ability to perform daily activities and prevent disability. Older adults tend to have a lower protein intake than younger adults due to poorer health, reduced physical activity, and changes in the mouth and teeth. To learn more about protein intake and disability in older adults, the research team used data from the Newcastle 85+ Study. This study's researchers approached all people turning 85 in 2006 in two cities in the UK for participation. At the beginning of the study in 2006-2007, there were 722 participants, 60 percent of whom were women. The participants provided researchers with information about what they ate every day, their body weight and height measurements, their overall health assessment (including any level of disability), and their medical records.

The researchers learned that more than one-quarter (28 percent) of very old adults had protein intakes below the recommended dietary allowance. The researchers noted that older adults who have more chronic health conditions may also have different protein requirements. To learn more about the health benefits of adequate protein intake in older adults, the researchers examined the impact of protein intake on the increase of disability over five years. The researchers' theory was that eating more protein would be associated with slower disability development in very old adults, depending on their muscle mass and muscle strength. As it turned out, they were correct. Participants who ate more protein at the beginning of the study were less likely to become disabled when compared to people who ate less protein.

Link: http://www.healthinaging.org/blog/for-older-adults-does-eating-enough-protein-help-delay-disability/

Comments

When reading blanket recommendations like these, I think it a good idea to keep in mind individual circumstances.

I've cut back on my protein intake since I suspect that increases in plasma ammonia worsen my sensory neuropathy and dyautonomia symptoms. So far my worst episode of postural orthostatic hyoptension (faintness on standing) occurred when cleaning cat pans that smelled strongly of ammonia at the rescue shelter and almost resulted in me doing a face plant in five very well-used cat pans; I now wear a half-respirator when volunteering. I also take ornithine before exercising and am supplementing with fairly high doses of biotin (though not as high as those used by multiple sclerosis patients); biotin upregulates ornithine transcarbamylase (I have the rs5963409 variant that is associated with increased risk of Alzheimer's). I've also just started a probiotic supplement (Lactobacillus plantarum). My symptoms have lessened for the most part over the past month.

There's also this article on Alzheimer's to consider:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5167378/
They found that lower protein intake reduced risk for AD in late age (earlier for alcohol consumers). I've often wondered if the sundowning phenomenon is related to plasma ammonia levels (the urea cycle exhibits diurnal fluctuations).

Posted by: CD at November 8th, 2018 1:00 PM

There might a selection bias here. Anyway the diets have to be personalized. High protein intake has its own problems... Having protein deficiency is bad, but overrating proteins might be as bad. I would wait for a follow up study, though

Posted by: Cuberat at November 8th, 2018 7:01 PM

Collagens , bone marrow and ligaments are uniquely high in amino acids Proline and Glycine. For a modest amount of additional effort the authors could have included an analysis as to whether those taking collagen supplements or a diet high in collagens showed varied health outcomes.

Posted by: JohnD at November 8th, 2018 9:05 PM

I've also dropped glycine supplementation since I came across this article that showed some evidence that it promotes demyelination:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20623529
This is concerning since Multiple Sclerosis patients are sometimes told to consume collagen/gelatin/bone broth. I liked glycine; it is sweet and tastes especially good mixed with peanut butter powder in hot cereal. It may have been helping with muscle growth and my old knees... oh well... It's probably quite beneficial for most people. I wish the personalized medicine/genomic medicine revolution would get real, real soon.

Posted by: CD at November 9th, 2018 9:13 AM

I should probably mention that the ornithine supplementation may have caused me to get a cold sore - and I hadn't had one in many years despite a high arginine diet (lots of peanuts and walnuts). Ornithine competes with lysine for intestinal absorption, so that may have thrown off my lysine/arginine ratio (ornithine may also elevate arginine by decreasing arginase activity, but I'm not sure on the biochemistry). It seems like activating HSV-I would be a very bad idea for AD patients, so that's something to keep in mind if considering ornithine supplementation. I took some lysine and it's now all better. I haven't decided if I will continue with ornithine or just rely on the biotin and probiotic (Lactobacillus plantarum).

On the plus side, both ornithine and lysine increase intestinal motility, an issue I had been really struggling with for over 2 years. MitoQ also seems to improve my gut motility, though it has made me terribly gassy, but the probiotic is helping with that side effect.

Ornithine also downregulates arginase activity, which is elevated in microglia in Parkinson's Disease (1). Arginase inhibition was found to be beneficial in a mouse model of Alzheimer's (2). So, lots to think about...

1 - https://youtu.be/vZCn4BNfOzI?t=1656
2 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4397598/

Posted by: CD at November 10th, 2018 11:56 AM

I'm taking 5 G of 8-9 essential aminos per day (99% utilized?) and also at least 2 rounded TBS of hydrolyzed gelatin / day.

Also 1 G lysine (viral protection?)...1 G taurine...1 G carnosine....

I'm going to live forever and join the circus as a strongman...in my dreams...due to a melatonin sublingal spray.

I've reduced DHEA to 25 mg / day and eventually to 15 mg / day due to issues of cancer telemeres being over-stimulated at 25-50 mg per day.

Don't try this at home....

Posted by: bob at November 14th, 2018 7:18 AM

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