This morning, I came across an interesting article in ScienceDaily which talked about recent research showing that:
Mice with many of the pathologies of Alzheimer’s Disease showed fewer signs of the disease when given a protein-restricted diet supplemented with specific amino acids every other week for four months.
So what exactly does this mean? Here’s the best I could do to pull out the easy to understand parts of the article:
Dietary protein is the major dietary regulator of a growth hormone known as IGF-1, which has been associated with aging and diseases in mice and several diseases in older adults.
“We had previously shown that humans deficient in Growth Hormone receptor and IGF-I displayed reduced incidence of cancer and diabetes. Although the new study is in mice, it raises the possibility that low protein intake and low IGF-I may also protect from age-dependent neurodegeneration,” said [USC Professor Valter] Longo, who directs the Longevity Institute of the USC Davis School of Gerontology and has a joint appointment the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
I think the findings are somewhat corollary to research done on the the Ketogenic Diet, a diet in which carbohydrates are restricted and the body burns ketones from dietary fat for energy. In the Ketogenic Diet, most of the calories people consume are from fat, with moderate calories from proteins and minimal calories from carbs, and studies have shown that it can help to improve symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients. Again, corollary, not one in the same.
I think this is really interesting stuff, to some degree because I’m a nerd, in large part because I’m deathly afraid of getting Alzheimer’s when I age, but mainly because non-Paleo people will likely point to research like this to try to debunk Paleo as healthy eating.
What I mean by the last statement is that a vast majority of people who know very little about the Paleo diet assume that it’s nothing but a carnivorous diet in that we just eat meat with a little bit of vegetables as garnishments. This simply is not the case.
Furthermore, personally, as I continue down my “Paleo journey,” I’m starting to believe that we might not need to have animal-based protein every day, or, at the very least, not with every meal. Before you go all Primal on me, let me explain myself:
If I think about it in purely the hunter-gatherer sense, it’s hard for me to believe that the hunters:
- Went out and hunted every single day.
- Were successful every time they hunted.
Yes, I’m sure they did eat their fair share of meat when it was available, but surely there were times when either game was not plentiful or, for whatever reason, they couldn’t catch their prey. Sine they didn’t drop dead, my educated guess would have to be that they were able to consume plenty of other foods to keep them going until their next successful hunt.
That’s just my two cents, and is my explanation for why I have tried to cut back large sources of animal-based protein to no more than two meals per day.
(PLEASE NOTE – as I’ve stated many times on this site, I believe “eating Paleo” means you’re following a template, so this is just an experiment I’m doing. Maybe it’ll stick, maybe it won’t. But, at the very least, it’s worth trying.)
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think this research has any merit? Do you think we should base our meals around a healthy animal-based protein source? Leave your comment below and share with the community!