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Medicine Science

Low-Protein Diet May Extend Lifespan 459

sciencehabit writes "A new theory about the foods that can extend life is taking shape, and it's sure to be a controversial one. Two studies out this week, one in mice (PDF) and another primarily in people (PDF), suggest that eating relatively little protein and lots of carbohydrates — the opposite of what's urged by many human diet plans, including the popular Atkins Diet — extends life and fortifies health."
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Low-Protein Diet May Extend Lifespan

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @06:41PM (#46402301)

    Fixed that for you....

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @06:43PM (#46402321) Journal
    Low Carb, High Fat...great...

    Low Fat, High Carb...okay...

    Low Fat, Low Carb...oooh...hardcore...(thats what I did)...nearly died from that one...

    Whatever diet you're on...make sure your body is ready for it, I ...myself...I lived on just about everything most of my life, including crappy processed food like cheetos, chocolates, refined sugars and whatnot...and it made me obese for over 40 years, then I changed. I decided to drop ALL processed foods...and I lost like 40 Pounds over 4 weight levels I've never seen before ever...

    Yeah. It does work, but you need to be disciplined. Low protein? Nah...make sure you get enough B12...and You'll be fine.
    • Congratulations on getting in shape. Making lifestyle changes that cause you to feel decades younger than you thought you could is an amazing experience.
      • Thanks, but you (and anyone others reading this) needs to be aware of the side-effects of this insane diet. Yes...I'm a very disciplined person, but I did get other problems after following this insane diet, I did end up with some B12 deficiency, and low beware, make sure your diet fits YOUR BODY, and always - listen to your body and don't become a fanatic.
        • In general, listening to your body is a good idea, but you have to bear in mind that our bodies are a result of evolution and as such our bodies will try to hoard as many calories as possible.

          Also, our bodies are very poor at judging when to stop eating foods that are 50% fat and 50% carbohydrate as that combination almost never happens in nature, yet we find it in ice-cream/donuts/chocolate etc.

          In addition, our bodies have no idea about long term health as once you get past reproduction age, evolution
    • by sycodon ( 149926 )

      Care to mention some foods you stayed with?

    • by xlv ( 125699 )

      I lost like 40 Pounds over 4 weight levels I've never seen before ever...

      Congratulation on the weight loss but I'm just curious, what was your weight at birth?

    • by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @08:35PM (#46403517)

      Low Fat, Low Carb...oooh...hardcore...(thats what I did)...nearly died from that one...

      Yep, it's long been known that extremely high protein diets are bad for humans. [] I actually RTFA, and in the mouse study, it was a 50% protein diet. Mice are herbivores, that much protein is effectively toxic for them.

      So the mouse study doesn't show that low protein diet extends lifespan as much as a ultra-high protein diet reduces lifespan, which is not really news.

      The second study was an observational study of humans, which joins a long list of such studies where you'll find something to support pretty much any nutritional hypothesis you can imagine.

  • by MobSwatter ( 2884921 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @06:44PM (#46402331)

    If this gets around to my girlfriends I'll sue...

    • Tell them (your girlfriends) that the Paleo diet is the way to go - steak, bacon, fried veggies - good stuff.

  • Old people (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @06:44PM (#46402341)

    Ron, an elderly man in Florida, owned a large farm for several years. He had a large pond in the back.
    It was properly shaped for swimming, so he fixed it up nice with picnic tables, horseshoe courts, and some orange and
    lime trees.
    One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he hadn't been there for a while, and look it over.
    He grabbed a five-gallon bucket to bring back some fruit. As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee.
    As he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in his pond.
    He made the women aware of his presence, and they all went to the deep end.
    One of the women shouted to him, "We're not coming out until you leave!"
    Ron frowned, "I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim naked or make you get out of the pond naked."
    Holding the bucket up Ron said, "I'm here to feed the alligator."

  • by digsbo ( 1292334 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @06:50PM (#46402397)
    Full article indicates the human study was based on a one-time interview with participants. Even then (FTFA): "as the NHANES cohort aged, protein became more important. In the over-65 crowd, those who ate lots of protein survived longer, on average, than those who ate less."

    So, sort of, maybe, but not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward


      It's silly science. A very small sample set and a snapshot of their diet via a one time questionnaire. It's on one day what the participants surveyed think their diet is which is probably a bit off from reality (quick what percentage of calories did you eat from protein last week?).

      You have to wonder what the point is?

      " 6381 adults over 50 years old who were interviewed once about their diet as part of NHANES, a national survey of health and nutrition"

    • And nobody knows anyways. Eggs are bad one decade and good the next. Carbs, Protein, HFCS, Red Dye #5, Gluten, etc., and on, and on....

      You are, in all likelihood, going to survive at least 50 years, and less than 80. Fuck it. Eat what you want. Look like what you want. Smoke dope. Have fun.
    • Any reasonable recommendations can only come from large, longitudinal studies, over multiple generations. You know, those that shape the food pyramid / WHO guidelines. And they do exist, and give pretty clear ideas. Such as that halving your meat intake is a good idea.

      But I guess that's not exciting, news needs to either repackage (MyPlate) or go after highly fluctuating results from microstudies which is the latest research, but in the stage of formation (all these diet fads, X is bad for you, Y heals cancer, drink a glass of red wine a day [because a encyme in a petri dish did something], etc. ).

      By the way, why does there need to be one right way of nutrition? Why can't we accept that multiple ways to obtain the basic building blocks are possible.
      In the end, we can't be so off by so much: We have so many people living with such a big variety of foods, and they are doing pretty similarly well (i.e. get older than, and are healthy at, 65). The need to prove that everyones diet is completely wrong is ridiculous.

      • by judoguy ( 534886 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @10:25PM (#46404417) Homepage

        Any reasonable recommendations can only come from large, longitudinal studies, over multiple generations. You know, those that shape the food pyramid / WHO guidelines.

        Bullshit. Look at the actual science. Endocrinologists can tell you how your body processes nutrients based on hormones. Hormones COMPLETELY control fat storage and use. Diet dramatically affects hormone secretion. As one put it: "Carbohydrate drives insulin drives fat storage"

  • Misleading summary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Let's ignore the mouse study as that has little interest to human nutrition. From the second pdf: "our results show that among those
    ages 50 and above, the level of protein intake is associated with
    increased risk of diabetes mortality, but not associated with dif-
    ferencesinall-cause, cancer,orCVDmortality."

    Clearly people dying of diabetes are not on a low carb diet, so I dunno is this a desperate attempt from the corn farmers?

  • In South Korea only old people do Low-Protein Diet.
  • Note this little gem buried in the article:
    "All were allowed to eat as much as they wanted."

    I think that's a pretty big caveat.

  • Food Scientists: OK, you guys, we admit it, we really don't have a freaking clue. Sorry. Just go eat whatever seems sensible.

    • Food Scientists: OK, you guys, we admit it, we really don't have a freaking clue. Sorry. Just go eat whatever seems sensible.

      In a perfect world, that's what would be said. But in a world where money is on the line, we'll get the same old mix of conflicting recommendations based on how and by whom the various organizations get paid.

  • by organgtool ( 966989 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @07:11PM (#46402641)
    In the late 80's and early 90's, fat was the energy source of the devil that needed to be avoided at all costs. Then in the early 2000's, carbs were the new nutrient to avoid. And now, another decade later, they're telling us to avoid protein. I'll stick to eating a variety of foods in moderate portions supplemented by exercise, thank you very much.
    • by Rinikusu ( 28164 )

      What I find interesting is that both the vegans (Fuhrman, McDougall, Ornish) and the low-carbers (Atkins, etc) all get great results for their patients, and the common factor seems to be the elimination of SUGAR (a carb) in the diet.

      • I had a friend that became a vegan and lost a significant amount of weight. At the time, he attributed it to not eating meat, but I can't help but think that the fact that he no longer had the option of eating calorie-packed processed foods from fast food restaurants played the most significant part of his weight loss.

        However, regarding sugar: I have recently had to change my diet due to issues with digesting fatty foods. That has resulted in me eating foods with more carbs and sugar. I have lost abou
    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      So are eggs good or bad for us this month? I lost track...
  • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @07:13PM (#46402663) Homepage
    What good is it to live a long time if you can't eat what you like to eat?

    The four basic food groups are good enough for me - caffeine, nicotine, bacon, and pussy. Without those, life has very little meaning.
  • Bass O Matic meals extend life span -- but who wants to live extra years if that's what it takes?!?

  • High carbohydrate, low nutrient diet is going to boost cancer rates.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @07:17PM (#46402721)

    The cows []?

  • by ras ( 84108 ) <russell-slashdot&stuart,id,au> on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @07:20PM (#46402741) Homepage

    As others, the study was done on mice, who are herbivores in the wild. They say what happens to them will also happen to us, but we have been eating meat a long while now.

    I wonder if also applies to my cat? <scarcasm>I know cat's are predominately carnivores, but that shouldn't matter, right?</scarcasm>

    • I know you said that in jest, but I've seen a LOT of people make serious comments like that. Cats are acutally obligate carnivores, they can live entirely on protein and fat. They have absolutely no metabolic need for carbohydrates. Their digestive systems convert protein directly to glucose.
    • Yes what was the protein source- soybeans, meat, albumin, casein? It's hard to believe that all proteins are metabolically identical.

  • now i can continue my steady diet of breakfast cereal with a smug sense of satisfaction!
  • It doesn't work for older people in the first place, and we're only talking IGF-1 cancer.

    Look, want some useful science?

    Vitamin supplements are mostly a waste of time, if you're not about to get pregnant or participate in that, and you're far better off eating a varied diet low in meat with more fruits and vegetables, and getting mild to moderate exercise.

    There, free of charge.

    Most of the rest is just noise.

    Now, go get enough sleep and stop doing binge diets and binge drunks and stuff that stresses you out.

    • noise? you make assertions without proof, and if you're referencing the much-bandied study led by Dr. G Lamas, that one was only looking at cognitive function and heart heath.

        And even he admits vitamins of benefit in targeted populations with various malnutritions.

      in short, cheap insurance at least. and at most could be some major benefits in other areas of health.

  • "High-Protein Diet May Get You To Heaven Faster"

    See? Whatever you eat, it's win-win!

    • I know you joke, but that is actually something to explain when you evangelize. Getting to Heaven faster is not the plan. Maximizing your time on Earth of loving people and serving the poor is more important. Sure getting to Heaven is good for oneself, but helping others out more is better for their well being. Paul talks about this in his letters.
  • But I get the distinct impression that what diet is "good for you" is determined by what foodstuff the agricultural commodity markets feel is undervalued this year.
  • Seriously, I don't see how the study could be right. My experience is that I lost 63 lbs. in 4 months by eating a low carb, high protein, high vegetable diet. The fastest and physically easy technique was to just ditch the sugar drinks, candy, fries stuff.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      Low carbohydrate diets have been misleadingly labeled "high protein" because they generally feature high amounts of meat. But really, total protein is flat from a 'normal' diet to a low carb one.

      They should be actually renamed high fat diets, since carbohydrates are replaced with fat vs. protein. Excessive protein diets can lead to what's called rabbit starvation as a result of eating too little fat.

      I have also lost weight this way and agree that eliminating sugary foods was easiest, followed by pastas an

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @07:55PM (#46403101)

    More important is exercise and vitamins.

    The thing is that the body can and does create its own protein, fat, and sugar. If it has to convert it is less efficient. However, our problem is not a lack of protein or carbohydrates. Our problem is a sedentary population that doesn't move enough to stimulate their metabolisms.

    What is more, there are a great many fat people that are also malnourished due to specific vitamin deficiencies. Much of that is due to not having enough fruit and vegetables in the diet.

    The problem with including more fruits and veg is that they're expensive especially for urban dwellers that are both farther from food sources and unable to produce their own.

    What is more the cost of these foods has gone up faster then inflation in recent years. This forces people to rely more and more on cheap staple carbohydrate food sources. These sources are FINE. I am not arguing against them at all. However, they are not sufficient without supplements or additional food sources.

    If you wish to improve the health of people living in modern countries... improve exercise... outdoor activities of any kind... ideally during the day. And lower the cost and increase the availability of fruits and vegetables.

    For example... farmers in California are getting their water cut off. These same farmers produce a disproportionate amount of the nation's fruits and vegetables. Thus, any problem they run into will increase the cost and reduce the availability of those goods. Consider building the poor guys a dam or aqueduct so they can sustain production despite the golden state's continuing chronic mismanagement. Further, encourage people to grow their own gardens. There are backyards throughout the suburbs that are entirely sufficient to grow small gardens that can supplement their diets. That takes further pressure off the farms to provide produce to urban centers.

    The idea is to just make produce cheaper and more readily available.

  • Car analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @08:02PM (#46403181) Journal

    Focusing on diet for human lifespan is like focusing on gasoline for car lifespan.

    Studies have been done of places where people tend to live longer. Some common threads are: genetics, happiness, close community ties, everyday physical labor, low stress, diet and maybe a few other things.

    Yeah sure, diet is in there; but if your Daddy died at 40, you're pissed off all the time, you don't know your neighbors and you spend 60 hours a day stressing in a cube-farm then the quinoa salad you ate probably won't help much. Go ahead though. It probably won't hurt; just don't expect miracles. Look at *all* the factors.

  • by n3r0.m4dski11z ( 447312 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @09:31PM (#46404073) Homepage Journal

    Twin doctors, one eats nothing but fats and the other eats nothing but carbs, for a month. They document it, they work out, they do tests. []

    The result (spoiler alert), either is not great. Eating only fat cannibalizes your muscles, and makes you not get any enjoyment out of food. Whereas eating only carbs makes you feel hungrier all the time.

    But their conclusion had a twist, the main problem is processed foods that have a 50/50 mix of fat and carbs. An excellent example is whipped cream. Your body would reject you drinking pure cream, and also pure sugar. But mix them together, and you cant stop eating it! Same with many of our favourite foods, ice cream, doughnuts. All have the 50/50 mix that vendors long ago realized was the most addictive mix. Your body basically never gets the signal to stop eating.

    Anyone who is interested should check it out. []

  • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@ p o> on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @12:34AM (#46405085)

    "opposite of what's urged by many human diet plans, including the popular Atkins Diet"

    Even Atkins followers seem to forget that it's not protein but FAT that is important in their diet. He clearly advised that excess protein will cause glucose to be created in your body and counteract the purpose of the diet.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors