Plant-based vs. Animal Protein

High in protein, low carb, vegan or clean eating - these types of nutrition are currently very much in vogue. If possible, it should be healthy and balanced, with lots of proteins. Eating high in protein has long since become the basis of daily food intake for athletes, but has also gained more and more attention in general. Many of them often use animal proteins such as quark, meat or eggs.


In a study published in 2016, researchers have now examined whether people live healthier and longer if they consume more vegetable than animal protein. Before we tell you about it, take a step back: Why are proteins so important and what makes the difference between animal and vegetable proteins?


# 1 Why exactly proteins are so vital

Proteins - or also known as proteins - are found in almost every cell structure in our body and are therefore an essential building block and material. They also perform different tasks, serve as a means of transport, support cell and vascular formation or prevent the formation of blood clots. The body itself carries around 14 kilograms of connective or supporting tissue, which consists of sugar protein complexes. Proteins are made up of various so-called amino acids, which the body can only partially produce itself. To avoid a deficiency, eight of these essential amino acids must be ingested through the diet.


# 2 The study

In the study published in 2016, researchers have followed more than 130,000 people with an average age of 49 over 32 years and observed their lifestyle and eating habits every two years. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of animal and vegetable protein intake on the risk of mortality. In order to make this comparison between vegetable and animal protein, the causes of death of the more than 36,000 deaths during these 32 years were examined and brought into connection.


Of these deaths, 8,851 died from cardiovascular disease, 13,159 from cancer and 14,105 from other causes. The two groups of test persons showed clear differences with regard to the causes of death. If the test subjects had consumed 10 percent of the daily recommended calorie intake from animal proteins, the risk of death rose by 2 percent and the risk of cardiovascular disease rose by as much as 8 percent.


With a diet of three percent more vegetable protein, the test subjects' death rate fell, and the risk of cardiovascular disease fell by as much as twelve percent. Participants who were already exposed to health risks due to obesity or smoking habits benefited from the advantage of this diet. During the evaluation, however, these health factors have been isolated in order not to distort the results.


As a result, the researchers found that the amount of protein may have a specific impact on health and risk of death. The type of protein source, however, is influenced by other components and can therefore also have a decisive influence on the overall health picture.


# 3 The cons of animal protein

The problem with most animal protein sources is hormone and antibiotic exposure. These can have a highly allergenic effect and cannot be completely broken down and metabolized by the body, as is the case, for example, with babies. Milk and chicken proteins in particular are ultimately stored in the liver, which can trigger various allergies or intestinal diseases.


Plant proteins are particularly important for the digestive performance of the internal organs in old age, as animal proteins are more difficult to digest. The protein deficiency in older people often manifests itself in the fact that they eat less and accordingly suffer from malnutrition with all the corresponding consequences.


The study shows that plant-based foods are an excellent source of protein and can also reduce the ecological problems of meat production. In addition, the researchers say that not only vegetable protein intake can have a particular benefit on our well-being and health. Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods on a regular basis can generally have a positive impact on our bodies. Whole grains, legumes, nuts and beans are listed as the most important vegetable sources of energy in the study.


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