What’s healthiest for people and planet?

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It’s well understood that diet makes a significant contribution to global warming and climate change. The number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled since 2006, meaning that there are around 600,000 vegans in Great Britain​. And while we know plant-based diets are beneficial for the environment, we don’t actually know how healthy these diets are for keeping muscles strong in elderly people.

Dr Oliver Witard, senior lecturer in exercise metabolism and nutrition at King’s College London, gave NutraIngredients a preview to a presentation he will give as part of The Physiological Society’s Future Physiology 2020 event for early career researchers this week in which he will discuss which protein sources are the most effective for maintaining and building muscle mass and what are the best options in terms of sustainability in the future.

He explains there are three factors that determine the potential of a protein source to stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults.

 “First, the digestibility of the protein source determines the bioavailability of amino acids as substrate for the synthesis of new muscle protein.

“Second, the protein source must constitute a complete profile of all nine essential amino acids of which a high leucine content is necessary for a maximal muscle building response.”

The brick wall analogy

Often a brick wall analogy is used to explain the importance of the amino acid profile and leucine content of a protein source for rebuilding muscle protein.

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