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Meat and fish plan for brain health

Wednesday March 12th, 2014

The brains of elderly men may benefit from diets rich in meat or fish, researchers say today.

Japanese researchers say a study of more than a thousand pensioners has backed their theory that high protein diets could help the elderly.

The researchers embarked on their project because of evidence that elderly people have a reduced ability to absorb and process protein.

But their study only found that high animal protein diets seemed to protect male brains.

For the research, reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the researchers asked more than 1,000 people with an average age of 67 about their diet and then asked them seven years later.

They also tested their mental capacity, studying social and intellectual abilities together with daily living.

They found that men who ate the most animal protein had a 39% less chance of suffering from functional decline than those who ate the least.

Although the findings suggest that a diet rich in meat might protect the brain, they may reflect the Japanese diet - as other research has tended to link diets high in animal fat to diseases of the brain.

Researcher Dr Megumi Tsubota-Utsugi, of the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Japan, said: "Identifying nutritional factors that contribute to maintaining higher-level functional capacity is important for prevention of future deterioration of activities of daily living.

“Along with other modifiable health behaviours, a diet rich in protein may help older adults maintain their functional capacity.”

Animal Protein Intake Is Associated with Higher-Level Functional Capacity in Elderly Adults: The Ohasama Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 12 March 2014; doi:10.1111/jgs.12690 [abstract]

Tags: Asia | Brain & Neurology | Diet & Food | Elderly Health | Menís Health

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