While gains might be at the top of your list, it’s easy to forget how your diet might be affecting the rest of your body. And with a focus on protein-heavy foods, it begs the question whether your nutritional choices are doing more harm than good.
According to new research on worms and fruit flies conducted by scientists at the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute ( SAHMRI), a diet rich in protein was associated with more errors and shorter lifespans.
They also found that a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet could lead to longer, healthier lives – with improved brain function.
“Science has known for some time that eating too much, in particular protein, reduces lifespan; and now we know why,” says SAHMRI Nutrition and Metabolism Theme Leader Professor Christopher Proud, speaking to The Lead South Australia.
“Our team demonstrated that increased nutrient levels speed up protein synthesis within cells. The faster this process occurs the more errors are made.
“It’s similar to everyday activities like driving – the faster you go, the more likely you are to make a mistake.
“The resulting build-up of faulty proteins within cells compromises health and shortens lifespan.”
“Carbohydrates get a lot of bad press, especially in relation to dieting, but the key is balance and knowing the difference between ‘good’ carbs and ‘bad’ carbs,” Professor Proud continues.
“Eating high-fibre carbohydrates like those found in fruit, vegetables and unprocessed grains and seeds will produce the healthiest benefits. This is similar to the traditional Mediterranean diet which has well-established links to longevity.”
“We already knew that lower food intake extends lifespan,” adds Professor Proud.
“But in our study this effect was lost when we removed the link by which nutrition affects the accuracy of protein synthesis, therefore revealing how overnutrition can shorten lifespan.
“Since this link also operates in humans, our findings show how lower protein consumption could promote longevity in people.”
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