Protein: The key to healthy ageing

It is extremely common for an individual to devour lesser amount of food as one starts to age. The aspects causative to this can be fluctuations to smell and taste, absence of hunger, residing without help, no or little interest in cooking, or finding it tough to eat because of weaker teeth, denture or gum snags. Consuming lesser amount of food or eating sub-optimally leads to older adults often missing out on getting adequate quantity of essential micro and macro nutrients, despite their prerequisite for many nutrients being a slight higher.

It is stated by numerous studies that ageing individuals have a tendency to consume a lesser amount of protein than recommended on a daily basis. Inadequate protein consumption is thoroughly linked to loss of muscle function and strength.

With a worldwide gush in older populations, a current and forthcoming imperative challenge is to improve health expectancy. It is well recognized that standard ageing is related to muscle mass loss (sarcopenia), with linked increased danger of falls, loss of muscle function, condensed ability to perform day-to-day tasks and subsequent abbreviated quality of life. Hence, a steady and optimal protein-energy homeostasis (stability) is considered as a topmost dietary-related component of healthy ageing.

What are proteins?

After water, our body is largely composed of proteins. Undoubtedly, proteins are the main component of cells and are essential to life. Being named as the building blocks of life, proteins have multi-layered structures: They comprise several smaller units named amino acids. These are allied together in a chemical bond, thus creating a long chain. Some of these amino acids are labelled "essential", which means they are crucial for life, but cannot be produced by the human body and must be gained through one’s diet. These crucial nutrients can be found in meat, dairy products, eggs and fish, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables and specific dietary supplements.

Daily protein requirement for an ageing adult

The suggested protein consumption for adults is 0.83 gm of protein per kilogram of their bodyweight on a daily basis. It has been recommended that elderly people should upsurge their protein ingesting as compared to younger adults. It is advisable for seniors to take 1.0 gm to 1.2 gm of protein per kilogram of their body weight on a daily basis.

A vital and noteworthy component for life, protein is actively involved in the imperative biochemical functions of the human body. Along with carbohydrates and fats, protein is one of the chief macro-nutrients presiding our body. It's primarily a domineering factor essential for development, growth and reparation of the tissue. So, intake of sufficient quantity of protein daily is required to stave off malnutrition along with conserving muscle strength and mass as we continue to age.

Taking these aspects into contemplation, one can receive upto 46 gms/day of protein in one portion of low-fat Greek yogurt, a four oz. portion of lean chicken breast and a bowl comprising of skimmed milk with cereal. For an individual weighing about 140 pounds, the consumption of protein each day must be approximately 51 gms.

Though people who are trying to shape muscle mass may need more protein. On the basis of percent of calories, for an active grown-up, about 10% of calories must come from proteins. Restricting the volume of red meat consumed and as an alternative including healthier sources of protein in our food such as low-fat dairy foods, salmon, beans or yogurt will benefit in balancing protein consumption. A high protein diet for elders should include eggs, nuts, protein shakes, meat and salads.

Elder groups must eat more quantity of protein-rich nutrients when trying to shack kilos, dealing with a persistent or severe disease. This is for the reason that through distressing stages, ageing bodies tend to process protein less proficiently and entail more of it to support bone health, muscle strength and mass, and other important physical functions.

Alongside, even elders who are in good physical shape require more quantity of proteins than when they were younger to enable in conserving muscle mass. Yet, it has been premeditated that upto one-third of grown-ups fail to include satisfactory amount of protein in their diet. Pooled with a tendency to become more indolent, this puts them at augmented risk of weakening muscles, bargained flexibility, sluggish recovery from bouts of disease and the loss of individuality.

Safeguarding that your diet includes sufficient volume of protein can keep you fit and healthy. One may end up having improved energy and our bones and muscles will be tougher.

(Dr Siddhant Bhargava is Fitness & Nutritional Scientist, Co-Founder, Food Darzee)

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