a person leans on a walking stick Researchers reported that substituting animal protein for plant protein could lower the risk of frailty - Media Credit: Daisy-Daisy / Alamy

Plant Protein Could Lower Risk Of Frailty In Older Women, New Study Says

Researchers analyzed data from more than 85,000 women aged 60 and over.


3 Minutes Read

Switching from animal protein to plant protein may help to reduce frailty among older women, suggests a new study.

Frailty is a common condition in older adults and, as the population ages, its prevalence is increasing. People with frailty can often experience low energy levels and weak muscle strength. This is one of the reasons why they are at an increased risk of injury from knocks and falls. 

The study was published in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia, and Muscle. It found that a higher intake of plant protein was associated with a reduced risk of frailty in women aged over 60.

The findings also indicate that replacing animal protein with plant protein might help to avoid the development of frailty.

The research

Current literature indicates that older adults are at an increased need for protein. But it hasn’t been very clear whether getting enough protein can prevent frailty. It also hasn’t been clear whether different types of proteins have a different effect on this outcome.

In the large-scale cohort study, researchers analyzed data from more than 85,000 women aged 60 and over. The women participated in the Nurses’ Health Study, which is one of the largest studies investigating risk factors for chronic diseases in women. 

In the study, frailty was defined as having at least three of the following five criteria from the Fatigue, Resistance, Ambulation, Illnesses, and Loss of Weight (FRAIL) scale: fatigue, low strength, reduced aerobic capacity, five or more chronic conditions, and loss of weight of five percent or less.

The researchers assessed the occurrence of frailty every four years between 1992 to 2014. They measured dietary intake by using food frequency questionnaires on nine different occasions. 

When assessing protein intake, the main food sources of plant protein identified were bread, cereals, pasta, nuts, beans, and legumes. The main sources of animal protein included processed and unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, and dairy.

The results 

The researchers identified more than 13,000 cases of frailty.

Substituting five percent of animal protein, dairy protein, or non-dairy animal protein (including protein from meat and eggs) with plant protein was associated with reducing the risk of frailty by 38 percent, 32 percent, and 42 percent respectively.

The researchers also found that substituting dairy protein for non-dairy animal protein was associated with a 14 percent lower risk of frailty. They concluded that the substitution of animal protein, especially non-dairy animal protein, for plant protein was associated with a lower risk of frailty.

A previous study conducted in 2020 also analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study. It found that lower consumption of red and processed meat were associated with a lower risk of frailty. A lower sodium intake and a higher ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat were also factors.

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The Author

Riya Lakhani-Kanji

Riya Lakhani-Kanji is a writer and registered nutritionist. She has completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and has developed a passion for writing about all things plant-based

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Francesco Colotta
Francesco Colotta
23 days ago

Stop using farm land to raise and feed crops and grains to farmed animals, 85 % of it goes to them, plant more stuff to directly feed humans, a 100% plant -based diet is the future for at least most, helped by improving cultured meats to feed the ones that ”still think” they ”need” animal products to stay ”healthy and strong” !

Animal agriculture is extremely cruel and unnatural, no matter how they do it today or plant to do it tomorrow, it will always be problematic, it’s also the biggest cause for the human part caused for harder to eliminate bacteria and viruses, human illnesses/diseases, more people needing medications and surgeries, die earlier than they should do, the costs of medicare are getting staggeringly high, unreachable for most to afford it, and the worse part is, the ones than really need medicare are the true innocent, affected by the wrong doing of those that do not take what is mentioned into consideration, live and eat healthy on a plant-based diet, that most certainly will help anyone restore and stay healthy, and stay off the medicare system that wasn’t meant for them in the first place, they are only positives, absolutely no negatives being on a proper 100% plant-based diet !!

There’s also air, land and water pollution, erosion of the soil, all to be attributed to human negligence, we are dealing with a major aggravation due to inconsiderate human activities on the whole planet, climate change is accelerating due to what we’re doing, it can be slowed down if at least the biggest cause of all that ends right now, the rest all comes in second to last place, that’s animal agriculture !

The only true real TOP Environmentalists and Animal Activists are Vegan, again, because they just have to be that, and if they wish, do nothing else to help things get better, all the rest that call themselves Environmentalists and Animal Activists, all come in second to last place, depending what they think, say, do and consume, and to add, just to be clear, no one can ever be a top Environmentalists and Animal Activists if they use, exploit, kill and consume any creatures body-parts and secretions !

Many have to go through pain, suffering, loads of meds, surgeries and near death experiences, before, ”if on time?!”, realise that animal products are absolutely not healthy for a human body.
So switching immediately to a proper 100% plant-based diet, is good for the planets ecosystem, the animals, our loved ones, and of course ourselves, that’s the best thing anyone could ever do, to recover and stay heathy.

Environmental, human and non human animal rights, no matter where from in the entire universe, are all one concern ✨💫🌱