This post is for the more mature/senior generation, so a big shout out to my parents and all the aunties (especially the very youthful Auntie Ann who has just become a granny for the 6th and 7th time with twin girls) 🙂
In recent years, scientists are becoming much more aware of the importance of protein intake for stalling the ageing process and muscle wasting.
Foods high in protein such as fish, chicken, beef, eggs, cheese, milk, nuts and seeds, should be included in an anti ageing diet to help to prevent muscle loss and a condition called sarcopenia.
What is sarcopenia?
Sarcopenia is a disease associated with loss of muscles as we get older. Loss of muscle often leads to less strength and decreased activity levels. This can contribute to mobility issues, osteoporosis, falls and fractures, frailty, and loss of physical function and independence.
Scientists have long believed muscle loss and others signs associated with aging are an inevitable process. However, researchers are looking for ways in which we can slow the aging process, specifically in relation to loss of muscle mass and strength.
Do I need to worry about Sarcopenia? It’s estimated that sarcopenia affects 30% of people over the age of 60 and more than 50% of those over the age of 80. After the age of 70, muscle loss accelerates to 15% per decade.
How do I keep my muscles? Several studies illustrate the importance of eating protein for keeping muscle mass and preventing sarcopenia. One protein in particular, called leucine, seems to be the most beneficial. Leucine is found in most high protein foods including chicken, beef, pork, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.
Studies also indicate that older people need to eat more protein than the younger generations to get the same positive effect on muscles. This new research prompted an expert panel to recommend a total protein intake of 1 to 1.5 g/kg/day with equal amounts of protein eaten at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is almost double previous recommendations.
How much protein should I eat? For someone weighing 75kg (12 stone) this equates to needing about 75-110g protein per day. For a lighter 8 stone (50kg) the amount of protein recommended is 50-75g. As well as helping to maintain muscles, protein is also excellent for keeping you feeling full up for longer which is great if you are watching your weight.
Here are some examples of high protein meals and snacks:
Breakfast: 1 wholegrain toast with 2 eggs (15g protein); Lunch: salad made with half tin tuna or small tub of cottage cheese with 1/2 a tub of lentil soup (25g protein); Dinner: 1 salmon fillet in a stir fry with rice (35g protein); Snacks: handful of nuts (5g protein); a yogurt (5g protein); latte coffee (8g protein)
And finally: Exercise that puts ‘stress’ on your muscles is also important. Nearly all older adults can benefit from resistance and strength training to increase muscle strength, improve functional ability, or prevent further decline. Strength Exercises