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Low-Protein Diet: Bad for Women?

Summary: With little or no protein, you might be at an increased risk of skeletal health issues.
Air Date: 10/30/15
Duration: 10
Host: Leigh Vinocur, MD
Guest Bio: Jessica Bihuniak, PhD, RD
Jessica BihuniakJessica Bihuniak, PhD, RD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Nutrition in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at NYU.

She received her MS in Health Promotion Sciences and PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut (UCONN) where she trained under the advisement of Jane Kerstetter, PhD, RD (UCONN) and Karl Insogna, MD (Yale University School of Medicine).

Dr. Bihuniak's clinical studies focus on nutritional interventions across the life span. She is interested in how different sources of dietary protein and amino acids affects skeletal health and body composition. She has shown specific effects of dietary protein on calcium absorption that do not support the concept that protein is detrimental to bone or musculoskeletal health in older adults. She is also actively pursuing studies evaluating the impact of a Mediterranean-Style diet on a variety of health outcomes, including bone and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Toward the other end of the life span, she is investigating behavioral weight loss interventions for emerging adults on college campuses.

She has several peer-reviewed publications in nutrition and endocrine journals, including The Journal of Nutrition and The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. She also has interviews published in Nutrition Action Healthletter and online by the American Society for Nutrition, EndocrineToday, and MedPage Today.
Low-Protein Diet: Bad for Women?
According to a recent study, a protein-restricted diet can decrease calcium absorption, which could later cause skeletal health issues.

In one study, researchers looked at 11 women with a mean age of 28, a normal weight, and who had regular menstrual cycles.

The first three weeks of the study was a dietary adjustment phase and the six-and-a-half weeks involved protein restriction.

Researchers found that by limiting dietary protein to 0.7 g/kg for the six-and-a-half weeks led to a decrease of -0.43% (95% CI -0.77 to -0.09, P=0.02) in intestinal calcium absorption.

What else did researchers find and why is protein in your diet so important?

Jessica Bihuniak, PhD, RD, joins Dr. Leigh to discuss this study and its implications for women's health.