Le high-protein diets they have been used extensively in recent decades, both as an individual choice and following the advice of numerous nutritionists. But now, thanks to recent scientific gains, we can discover better understanding the pros and cons of this controversial dietary approach.
There are some frequent situations in which the diet is enriched with more protein than usual, such as:
- High-protein diets due to the massive increase in muscle tissue
- High-protein diets aimed at rapid weight loss
- Simple carelessness compared to the excessive use of animal proteins
In these three common situations, you can spend months or years eating too much protein with protein foods and supplements.
Sometimes it is the doctor or nutritionist who suggests this approach which can alternatively follow the wave of paleo diet, of the diet ketogenetics or other extreme forms of high-protein diets.
While the patient loses weight rapidly, a weight that then promptly regains interest a few months later, something is silently weakening the foundations of his health.
As you will understand better in a little while, the most advanced research on nutrition at the molecular level shows that an excess of protein can cause major problems including increased tumor risk and the acceleration of theaging.
On the other hand, proteins are essential for numerous body functions and are essential for maintaining one muscle well formed, which in turn positively affects the extent and quality of life.
So what is the right equilibrium in the protein intake that can guarantee you the maximum benefit with the minimum risk?
PROTEIN, mTOR gene, IGF-1 hormone and MORTALITY
In summary, the cascade of metabolic events that links high protein consumption to an increased risk of death and a shortening of life is as follows:
The mTOR gene, hyperactivated by an excess of protein stimulates the synthesis of GH (growth hormone), which increases the levels of the hormone IGF-1, which in turn increases mortality.
So the cycle is: mTOR> GH> IGF-1> mortality.
mTOR (also called the aging gene) is a gene whose corresponding metabolic pathway (mTOR) is associated with the synthesis of various proteins and metabolic factors which, as we have seen, leads to aacceleration of the processes of aging and tumor disease when overexpressed.
Conversely, when activation is reduced, life extension is achieved in various organisms in vivo. So to protect ourselves we should eat less protein, but here comes a conflitto...
That is, to deactivate the aging genes (mTOR) we must reduce the protein intake and to increase or maintain the muscle (which brings numerous health benefits), on the contrary, we must increase the protein intake.
How to do? Is there a way to get both benefits?
BECAUSE CONSUMING TOO MANY PROTEINS MAKES US VULNERABLE
Specially IGF-1, increases cancer incidence because it is a powerful signal of growth at the cellular level and when there is genetic damage (mutations) then these are perpetuated and amplified.
THEapoptosis, which is a program for the intelligent suicide of diseased cells, serves precisely to avoid this, but if there is a lot of IGF-1 circulating then this growth signal "overwrites" that of apoptosis, causing the growth of cancer cells as well.
An increase in protein consumption coincides with an increase in IGF-1 levels. The proteins overexpress IGF-1. But IGF-1 also deactivates autophagy, deactivates stem cell duplication and other cell renewal mechanisms.
Basically this hormone, while deactivating all the most important mechanisms riparazione of cells, it also allows cells sick to survive and grow at will.
This is the potential recipe for disaster. And in the meantime, many people are engaged in a high-protein diet for one of the three reasons to indicate first:
- Lose weight quickly
- To increase muscle quickly
- Simple habit of excessive consumption of foods of animal origin such as meat, eggs, fish and dairy products
Of course, IGF-1 also has a pivotal function in the development phases in which growth processes must take place, as well as in muscle tissue repair and many studies show that good muscle mass reduces all causes of mortality.
IGF-1 also acts as an important growth factor on neurons by stimulating neurogenesis and also preventing the death of neurons.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: REPRESENTS THE ANSWER TO THE GROWTH FACTORS DILEMMA?
Several studies show that themoderately intense physical activity it causes the body to produce IGF-1 which goes directly into the brain to protect it and stimulate neurogenesis, and also into the muscles to preserve and develop them.
So also in this case everything is relative, and the IGF-1 also has some significant advantages. The fundamental discriminant against it, which determines its beneficial or negative effects, is the following ...
When you get an IGF-1 boost via physical activity, this goes straight to the brain and muscle where it generates powerful beneficial effects. Conversely, if it is the high protein intake that generates an increase in IGF-1 levels (without regular physical activity), then this also goes into the wrong tissues where it causes the aforementioned damage.
So physical activity is an extraordinarily important way to make sure this IGF-1 hormone ends up in the right places where it's good for us..
IS IT MORE BAD TO DRINK AND SMOKE OR EAT TOO MANY PROTEINS?
There are studies that have compared people with a low protein intake but subjected to the most common risk factors such as: obesity, smoking, alcohol, etc. and people with a high protein intake but without the most common risk factors: non-obese, non-smokers, non-drinkers, etc.
The latter demonstrate the same level of risk for all causes of mortality and cancer risk as the former group. In other words, consuming too much protein is as bad as being exposed to the most common health risk factors: smoking, drinking alcohol and being sedentary.
The only thing that can minimize the risks associated with increased protein consumption is to do strenuous physical activity - possibly every day.
If you stimulate the synthesis of IGF-1 through a high consumption of proteins, but also exercise, you are able to exploit more benefits of IGF-1 while at the same time reducing its negative effects.
If you have this IGF-1 fuel circulating, you must "force" your body to use it for the purposes for which it was designed: muscle growth e neuronal protection.
FASTING AND IGF-1
Il short fast o fasting-mimicking diet, thanks to calorie reduction for a limited period, IGF-1 drops to low levels and damaged cells undergo autophagocytosis, and stem cells begin to actively duplicate at higher rates.
The moment you reintroduce a normal calorie intake, the IGF-1 also returns to higher levels, but in this case it is welcome because it serves to support the repopulation of new healthy cells (duplication and growth).
But fasting is extremely challenging to deal with. So let's see the other options easier...
THE IDEAL LEVEL OF IGF-1 TO MAXIMIZE ITS BENEFITS WITHOUT SIDE EFFECTS
Over the years, the production of GH and IGF-1 decreases, causing muscle wasting and massive loss of neurons. Of course, for these reasons we want to keep the levels of GH and IGF-1 high enough to preserve the muscles and the brain (ie to maintain good psychophysical performance), but ...
In mice, worms and flies one reduction in GH and IGF-1 levels are associated with a + 50% life extension. It is an amazing result!
Conversely, if we overexpress or increase the level of GH and IGF-1 between 100 and 1000 times we get a reduction of life span in mice by -50%, so the lifespan is even halved!
Something quite similar happens in human beings. In some populations where a genetic polymorphism is expressed that results in a reduction in the level of IGF-1, an extension of life is observed with an increase in the presence of over a hundred years old in health.
Why does this happen? Here is the specific mechanism ...
It has been seen that the reduction of IGF-1 causes the activation of a series of genes involved in the production of endogenous antioxidants. If you can promote the activation of these genes, all tissues in the body will be more resistant to attack by free radicals (including DNA) and the result will be a healthy life extension.
The downsides of calorie restriction with the aim of reducing GH and IGF-1 are: reduced tissue growth, muscle atrophy, brain atrophy, and decreased sexual desire.
HORMS: A SECRET TO ACTIVATE THE GENES OF LONGEVITY
Now, there are other natural ways to increase the expression of longevity genes (or antioxidant genes) without having to deprive yourself of nutrients.HORMESIS.
Hormesis enhances the expression of antioxidant genes through exposure to agents that would otherwise be toxic (but in that new organic context and at normal dosages they are extremely healthy and protective).
Catechins e polyphenols they act exactly like this. They are hormetic molecules.
Both do not act as classic (direct) antioxidants but as indirect antioxidants because they stimulate the production of much more powerful endogenous antioxidants by acting on our antioxidant genes of longevity.
Green tea, black chocolate (cocoa), turmeric, blueberries and other vegetables rich in purple pigments (such as purple potatoes).
Hence, high GH and IGF-1 stimulate muscle and neuronal growth, while when low they allow the expression of genes involved in stress resistance (longevity genes or antioxidant genes) extending longevity in health.
THE FINAL SOLUTION TO PROTEIN AND GROWTH FACTORS PROBLEM (GH AND IGF-1)
And finally we have arrived at the smartest solution to exploit the advantages of proteins (including the growth factors GH and IGF-1 that they increase) while maintaining our potential for longevity in health.
Here is the answer:
- Increase your muscle mass and neurogenesis with a vigorous physical training
- Activate longevity genes by consuming foods rich in polyphenols in association with a healthy and balanced diet
In this way you will be able to avoid the extreme psychophysical commitment that caloric restriction would require of you, while you can aspire to a healthy longevity and obtain a fit, toned body, with a performing brain even in old age.
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