Eating plenty of fish could be the key to keeping elderly people active.
Researchers from the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Japan asked more 1,000 men and women to fill out a questionnaire designed to assess their mental and physical fitness.
Questions included how easy they found it to carry out certain activities like using public transport or paying bills as well as how much they visited friends and were asked for advice.
They were also quizzed about diet. Those who ate the most animal protein were 39% less likely to have failed mentally or physically seven years later.
Protein is vital for building muscle, which protects against falls and fractures. But as we get older the body finds it more difficult to absorb and process protein – so we need to up our intake.
Fish may also be particularly good because of the other nutrients it contains, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 acids are credited with health benefits ranging from easing arthritis pain to staving off dementia.
The research comes in the wake of a high-profile study released last week. It found that eating lots of animal protein, like meat and cheese, in middle-age can be as deadly as smoking. However, it concluded that protein is beneficial in old age.