The NHANES diet study/health study is the gift that keeps on giving. This large, long term study found that, in addition to the link between aging skin and vitamin C and linoleic acid, women with low protein intake had an increase in aging and wrinkled skin.
The RDA for protein for adults is about 50grams a day– an amount easily met with a large broiled chicken breast. Inadequate protein levels are pretty rare in the US and Europe and at first it was hard to see how this low protein issues applied to me ( Given that I practically live on broiled chicken breasts). But then I spent the weekend with a vegan friend and by Sunday night I realized that these types of restrictive diets can be very low in protein. Here’s what Trudy ate:
Breakfast: Cream of wheat cereal, 1 glass orange juice
Lunch: Avocodo, tomato and onion sandwich on pita bread, 1 Granny Smith apple
Snack: 1 large latte with almond milk, big slice vegan chocolate cake
Dinner: pasta with tomatoes, spinach, and olives, tri-colore salad, bread, a glass of Pinot Grigio and a dish of raspberries
Trudy took in six servings of anti-oxidant packed fruits and vegetables, but less than 20 grams of proteins. Soy milk and products are an excellent source of non-animal protein for vegan meal plans, but Trudy is concerned about estrogen links with soy– and I agree with her. Trudy has soy only a few times of a week, a safe and reasonable option.
Vegan and vegetarian diets are awesomely high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and are low in salt, fat and colesterol– but they can be seriously low in protein. On paper combining foods like rice and beans or nuts and grains can supply complete proteins, but you have to eat fairly large portions to get the protein you need. I saw that my vegan friends ate doll size portions to avoid piling on pounds from the high carb vegan diets. I wouldn’t be surprised if a nutritional profile would show low protein blood levels.
Keep in mind that vegan diets are different from vegetarian diets which include protein rich eggs and dairy. For example, just 2 eggs and 2 oz of cheese deliver a payoad of 28 grams of protein. Getting enough beauty nutrients (eg vitamin C, linoleic acid, and protein) on a vegan diet without a heavy dose of calories takes a bit of discipline. Every item on the menu needs to deliver nutrition and I’m going to have to face the fact that Walker’s shortbread cookies are not a beauty food.