As individuals age, a gradual loss of muscle mass and strength becomes a common concern. A recent study published in the Nutrients journal suggests that incorporating plant-based proteins, such as soy, could be beneficial in slowing down this process among seniors.
Positive Effects of Soy on Senior Muscle Mass: Researchers from the University of Newcastle in Australia reviewed data from 13 studies conducted over the past twenty years in various countries including the United States, the Netherlands, Japan, Brazil, Iran, and China. These studies involved 806 participants who had included soy in their diet. The results revealed an increase in muscle mass among seniors who had consumed soy.
Comparison with Other Interventions: The authors of the article highlight that plant-based proteins proved to be equally effective as other controlled interventions, such as animal proteins, physical activity alone, or a combination of exercise with animal proteins, in maintaining muscle mass in the elderly. However, they emphasize the need for further research, focusing on even older adults, testing other sources of plant-based proteins like peas and microalgae, and evaluating potential differences between men and women.
Positive Impact on Fat Loss: In addition to increasing muscle mass, plant-based proteins also appear to promote fat loss, a particularly relevant aspect for seniors who tend to accumulate more body fat. This is associated with a more pronounced decline in muscle mass, insulin resistance, and an elevated risk of health complications and mortality.
Conclusion: The authors underscore the importance of finding lifestyle-related interventions, such as increasing the intake of plant-based proteins, which can help reduce body fat in high-risk populations like the elderly.
Where to Find Plant-Based Proteins: Plant-based proteins are found in a variety of foods, including legumes (lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas, soy), nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts), grains, and quinoa. These products are not only rich in proteins, but also in essential nutrients like polyphenols, fiber, and unsaturated fats, all of which are beneficial for health by reducing inflammation and improving heart health.