Does Protein Reduce Your Lifespan?

A new study on more than 48,000 people helps clarify the curious relationship between protein intake and longevity.

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • From the village: does an acidic diet cause cancer?

  • Does protein help or harm aging?

  • Arnold Q&A

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From the Village: Does An Acidic Diet Cause Cancer?

The internet is filled with myths, and this is a big one. Research suggests that eating acidic foods does not cause cancer.

The idea comes from the fear that acidic foods support cancer growth. But, as we’ve covered before, the causes of cancer are not the same as the struggles of someone fighting cancer.

You don’t need to start testing the pH of your meals because food cannot change the pH of your blood. 

There are many systems in place to prevent that from happening. When you eat more acidic foods, you might see the pH of your urine change, but that’s not necessarily a reason to worry. That’s because your stomach is acidic and helps break down food. So, if you eat acidic food, your body will get rid of excess acid after it passes through your stomach. This does not mean your body is in danger or out of balance.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, "Altering the cell environment of the human body to create a less-acidic, less-cancer-friendly environment is virtually impossible.”

If you want to eat more “alkaline (basic) foods,” many are incredibly healthy, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Eating those foods is a good idea, but that doesn’t mean avoiding acidic foods (like eggs or citrus fruits) or buying expensive water with a higher pH. Water is water, no matter what someone is trying to sell you.

Does Protein Help or Harm Aging?

Some health experts will charge you an arm and a leg to buy their anti-aging potions. However, research suggests strolling down the right aisle of the grocery store might be more than good enough. 

A 30-year review of more than 48,000 people found that prioritizing protein improves aging. 

Protein has many benefits, such as building muscle, supporting fat loss, strengthening immunity, and controlling hunger. However, some scientists have hypothesized that too much protein increases mTOR, which is a mechanism that influences aging. However, there’s not much research showing direct cause and effect.

The most recent study found that those who ate more protein experienced healthier aging. According to the scientists, those who prioritized protein experienced fewer incidences of 11 major chronic diseases and showed stronger cognitive, physical, and mental health.

While eating protein from any source had health benefits — including animal protein — adding more plant-based proteins offered the biggest longevity boost. Those who eat more beans, nuts, legumes, and seeds (or even a good plant-based protein powder) were 46 percent more likely to age well. This is likely because people who eat more protein tend to have more muscle and less body fat than those who don’t. 

In fairness, this study was observational — so you can’t assume cause and effect. However, newer research suggests that our bodies might need more protein as we age. As your muscles age, they become less efficient at using protein to maintain and create new muscles. This can lead to muscle loss, which is associated with various health problems, frailty, and breakdown. If you’re unsure how much to eat, aim for at least 20 grams of protein per meal as a general rule.

Arnold Q&A

We haven’t shared a Q&A from The Pump in a while, but on Tuesday, Arnold completed his 30th Q&A in the app. Here are a few highlights.

Arnold’s Favorite Book

Arnold on Staying Motivated

Arnold on Learning New Skills

Arnold on Overcoming Plateaus

Arnold on His Foundation

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Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell