The muscle-freak gobbles up can after can of the protein shake or piles upon the red meat dish. Proteins are highly complex substances needed by our cells to function properly. They are one of the primary building blocks of bones, muscles, skin and blood. Most of us are aware of the importance of this nutrient group but don’t do enough to equip our body with the required amounts of this macronutrient. The latest news is that older adults need to incorporate more of proteins in their diet while trying to lose weight.
Are We Lagging Behind?
A study published in the American Journal of Physiology a couple of years back showed that the current dietary guidelines recommended for protein intake are not sufficient to keep an individual healthy- especially those above the age of 50. If you seriously doubt whether 50-year-old individuals fall into the ‘older’ category researchers generally mean those people above the age of 50 as older adults. This study actually split the study participants into four groups where two groups followed recommended daily values of protein (one group split the values into all three meals while the other group fulfilled all requirements during dinner) and the other two groups doubled their RDA values. At the end of research, they found that more the protein participants ate better were their bodies in responding to muscle building irrespective of the meal timings. All the participants were between the age group of 52 and 75 years.
Another recent story comes up with the fact that older adults need to consume more proteins while on a weight loss mission. Its general that aging bodies take time processing proteins in times of stress and also need more proteins to maintain muscle mass and strength, bone health and other functions of the body. It’s the expert’s opinion that every older adult needs more protein than what was consumed during his/her younger years but almost a third of them don’t consume adequate quantities owing to several reasons such as decreased appetite, tooth-related problems, swallowing difficulties, changes in the sense of taste and financial troubles. This, along with a sedentary lifestyle puts the elder adults at an increased risk of compromised mobility, muscle frailty and delayed recovery from illnesses. When the same adult eats the designated protein quantity, he/she is at a minimal risk of succumbing to failure in performing activities such as getting out of bed, walking inside the house or climbing a flight of stairs. Those who ate more proteins were 30% at a reduced risk of becoming functionally impaired.
Controversy Surrounding a High Protein Diet
There have been studies warning that high protein intake could impair renal function or increase toxicity or affect renal functioning but latest studies just convey the opposite message that high protein intake is necessary for nitrogen balance and compensating for age-related lower energy. For instant, a group of patients with sarcopenia who were followed-up for three years exhibited least amount of lost muscle mass when they consumed the highest quantity of proteins. When loss of muscle mass is greater there are high chances of increased fat mass and metabolic imbalances. This also increases the risk of falling. Hence, when this muscle mass is maintained with improved protein intake it is a great step towards better health in adults.
The normal RDAs for protein intake include 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and if the woman is around 70 kilograms the recommended protein levels include 56 grams of protein per day. For an idea, a glass of milk contains 8 grams of protein, a cup of lentils has 18 grams and a half-cup of Greek yogurt has 18 grams. But recently nutrition experts and researchers have recommended older adults to consume 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. But the same elderly population who suffer from kidney disease must refrain from increasing their protein intake. Any type of protein, both animal and plant proteins are good for the body. While animal proteins contain all essential amino acids one needs to work smartly to balance protein intake with plant proteins. It is better that older adults discuss with nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com on the quantity of proteins that can be consumed for their health before coming to any conclusions.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.