When it comes to dietary dos and don’ts and making sense of health advice it’s hard not to avoid a feeling of nausea, there is just too much of it. Add to that, the flood of new research we receive every year and it is easy to be confused. Many people probably block out all the reports and stick to their ‘regular diet’. Something they know and most likely trust.
But one area where there is no dispute (honest) is when it comes to protein. Put simply, as you get older you need more in your daily diet.
Seniors, in general, are likely to have more illnesses than younger people. Inadequate protein intake is a major factor that contributes towards a weaker immune system, poorer healing, and longer recuperation from illness. You may have noticed as you age your skin becomes less elastic and more fragile.
To give you a clearer picture, protein is a vital component of every cell in your body. Protein, fat and carbohydrates are macro-nutrients meaning the body needs a large amount, in relative terms, of them. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, you cannot store protein so you need to replenish daily.
For a variety of reasons, including poor health, decreased physical activity, and dental issues, aging adults tend to eat less protein than younger adults even though the opposite should be the case.
Researchers in the UK found, seniors whose diets included more protein when the study began were less likely to face mobility issues compared to those that had a lower intake of protein.
Not having sufficient protein is closely linked to the loss of muscle strength and functionality. Some studies have found, roughly half of all seniors are consuming less than
their daily recommended amount of protein.
The loss of muscle mass, strength and function is known as sarcopenia. As we age, the essential amino acids in protein that help our muscle health do not work as well, therefore it is necessary to boost our protein intake to overcome the lack of responsiveness.
While there is no magic cure against aging, a diet that includes a high protein intake can slow down the process. While a decline in strength is normal, it does not have to be inevitable.
Protein-rich foods are even more important when you are trying to lose weight, recovering from an illness, or about to go into hospital. Researchers found that during those highly stressful periods, seniors are less protein efficient and need to compensate.
It is important not to compare your protein intake with a younger person. You need to take more.
The accepted standard for an average person is based on the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight per day. But for seniors, it is recommended it should be 1 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. That translates to 69 to 81 grams for a 150-pound woman, and 81 to 98 grams for a 180-pound man.
It is also important for older adults to spread the consumption of their protein throughout the day because seniors are less efficient at processing protein.
Medical experts stress, the higher levels of protein are also necessary for seniors who are healthy.
A lack of protein and an increase in a sedentary lifestyle (a regular occurrence for seniors) are major factors that contribute to a senior having to deal with failing health and a loss of independence.
There are a number of meals offered by Heart to Home Meals that are packed with protein. The Traditional Pot Roast has 21 grams of protein and was number four on the most popular meals of 2018. And, the new menu published this month offers a unique coding system that easily identifies certain types of foods. One of those is ProteinAssist™ – meals that have at least 20g of protein in each serving.
Seniors who make protein paramount are likely to see and feel the benefits.
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