How I approached a paper on protein


Whenever we see a headline about diet and health in the news, we should ask ourselves ‘does it make sense?’ For example, “Red meat causes diabetes” makes no sense because diabetes is related to glucose metabolism and red meat contains no glucose. Things that might be consumed with red meat (fries, burger bun, fizzy drink) contain glucose and might cause diabetes, but red meat should not be blamed for what the fries and cola did.

We have reviewed a number of papers that have claimed that plant protein is better than animal protein. This also makes no sense since animal protein is complete – providing all the essential amino acids that we need and in the right form and ratios – and plant protein isn’t. This week’s note will focus on a paper called “Animal and vegetable protein intake and malnutrition in older adults: a multicohort study” by Carballo-Casla et al (Ref 1).

I’m going to do something different with this week’s note. It was sent to me by Ulrike, a German nutritionist, who has sent me a number of papers to review over the years. Ulrike emailed me with the link and the comment “It makes absolutely no sense and I wonder where the ‘trick’ is.” Ulrike had taken the first correct step, therefore. Her intuition told her that it didn’t make sense. She wanted to know what had been done (the ‘trick’).

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