By Audrey Laganas Jenkins
We often hear that consuming protein may benefit people hoping to lose weight or build muscle mass. Now Tufts researchers have found that protein intake may also be associated with slower progression of age-related inflammation.
Building on their previous studies on the role of protein in preserving health and function, epidemiologists Adela Hruby and Paul F. Jacques, researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, found that adults around sixty years old, whose diets on average included adequate protein—and in particular protein from plants—showed fewer signs of “inflammaging.” Inflammaging is a low-grade, age-related chronic inflammation associated with frailty and illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
As part of their research, Hruby and Jacques categorized inflammaging by combining nine common biomarkers of inflammaging and oxidative stress to create a composite score. Like inflammaging, oxidative stress is associated with the aging process and its related illnesses.
The data for their study, which was recently published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition, came from 2,106 participants of the Framingham Heart Study’s Offspring Cohort, adults participating in a long-term study of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers compared the participants’ composite inflammation scores against their protein intake, using the results of food questionnaires filled out as part of their Framingham study exams.
Tufts Now recently talked to Jacques and Hruby about their study, and what it might mean for the health of older adults.