When it comes to dietary dos and don’ts and making sense of health advice, it’s hard to not feel overwhelmed — there's just so much information to go around! Add to that, the flood of new research we receive every year makes it 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 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 to 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 larger amounts of them to function. However, unlike fat and carbohydrates, you cannot store protein, so you need to replenish your intake 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 have found that seniors whose diets included more protein are less likely to face mobility issues compared to those who 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 that 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 doesn't have to be inevitable.
Protein-rich foods are even more important when you are trying to lose weight, recovering from an illness, or are about to go into the 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. More is neccesary!
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 to be 1 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. This 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 also stress that higher levels of protein are still 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 plenty of meals offered by Heart to Home Meals that are packed with protein. The Hearty Beef Stew packs the most with a whopping 36g of Protein. Close behind is the Hearty Hunters Chicken with 33g. If you'd rather a regular portion size then why not try the Chicken Breast with Gravy and Stuffing which contains 28g protein. Or if chicken's not your thing, the Macaroni, Meat and Cheese is also protein loaded with 27g.
Seniors who make protein a paramount part of their diet are likely to see and feel the benefits.