Pass the cheese, please! Current studies are showing the significance of a protein-rich diet for cherished older adults, notably during occasions of anxiety, particularly when battling a chronic disease or acute illness, or getting ready for a surgical treatment or hospitalization, when protein is digested much less effectively. And even when older adults are healthy, the recommended protein intake for seniors is vital to sustaining muscle strength and mass, healthy bones and so much more.
Yet, as much as one third of all seniors aren’t eating adequate levels of protein, for a plethora of reasons, which can include:
- Taste impairments
- Difficulties with swallowing
- Monetary constraints
- Reduced appetite
- Dental issues
And, the less active lifestyle that numerous seniors lead further compounds the adverse effects of inadequate protein consumption, such as:
- Deteriorating mobility
- Decreased muscle mass and strength
- Extended recovery times when ill
- Eventual loss in independence
Thankfully, people who do consume suggested amounts of protein are more likely to continue to maintain independent functionality with tasks like getting dressed and attending to other personal hygiene needs, walking, and climbing stairs. According to Wayne Campbell, professor of nutrition science at Purdue University, “While eating an adequate amount of protein is not going to prevent age-associated loss of muscle altogether, not eating enough protein can be an exacerbating factor that causes older adults to lose muscle faster.”
The research report indicates that protein ought to be acquired from natural food sources, versus through protein shakes. Suggested protein levels are typically .8 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of body weight each day; so, for a 120-pound woman, that equates to 48 grams of protein/day. Having said that, for anyone being confronted with the stressors mentioned above, the recommendation grows to 1.2 – 1.5 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of body weight.
These protein-rich foods are wonderful choices:
- Chicken (28 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving)
- Yogurt (18 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving)
- Cottage cheese (14 grams of protein per ½-cup serving)
- Lentils (9 grams of protein per cup)
- Milk (8 grams of protein per cup)
Obviously, it is recommended to seek advice from the older adult’s health care provider prior to making any dietary changes. Once a dietary plan is approved, let Inspired Home Care’s Barrington home care team help by planning and cooking healthy, appetizing meals, picking up groceries and making certain the pantry and refrigerator are stocked with nourishing meal and snack options, providing motivation to maintain an engaged lifestyle, and so much more – all contributing to improved health and wellbeing.