(Natural News) Do you get enough protein in your diet? According to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, older Americans simply aren’t consuming enough of this important macronutrient, putting them at risk of poor health.
The study, which involved the data of more than 11,000 adults aged 51 and older, explored how many adults meet the protein recommendation of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. They also looked at people’s overall diet quality using the Healthy Eating Index.
One big component of the study was a physical functioning assessment. This looked at factors that included fine motor limitations such as trouble using a fork, drinking from cups, or grasping a small object, along with gross motor limitations (for example, walking or standing for long periods of time or preparing meals) and social limitations. They also assessed people’s grip strength using a hand grip dynamometer.
They discovered that as many as 46 percent of the oldest adults studied failed to meet the recommended level of protein intake. Women, non-Hispanic blacks, and people who were unmarried were the least likely to be getting enough protein.
Meanwhile, across all age groups, those who failed to get enough protein also had diets that were significantly poorer in quality overall than those who do get enough protein, and they were more likely to also be failing to get enough of other nutrients in their diet. Some of the specific nutrients this group tended to lack include fiber, niacin, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium.
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Those who did not get enough protein also had more functional limitations than those who did.
For example, they were more likely to be limited when standing for long periods, crouching, kneeling, walking, and preparing meals. In those above the age of 70, those who didn’t get enough protein had significantly lower hand grip strength as well.
Your body needs protein for optimal functioning
That’s not surprising when you consider the crucial role that dietary protein plays in preventing sarcopenia, the gradual decline in strength, endurance and muscle mass that starts in middle age and eventually causes the loss of half of a person’s muscle strength. It’s this problem that is often responsible for the higher risk of fractures and falls and the lower quality of life in general experienced by older people. Getting enough protein and other nutrients is essential for preserving your functioning and strength as you age.
Thankfully, there are lots of foods that can provide you with the protein your body needs, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find options you’ll enjoy consuming regularly. Best of all, eating protein helps you to feel full, which can prevent overeating and help with weight management. Here’s a quick look at some of the best natural sources of protein.
Meats: Choose chicken and turkey breasts and leaner cuts of beef
Fish and Seafood: Salmon, haddock, flounder and shrimp are all good sources
Dairy: Consume foods like eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese and cow’s milk
Nuts: Almonds, peanuts and pumpkin seeds are excellent choices
Beans and Pulses: Garbanzos, black beans and lentils pack a generous protein punch
Vegetables: Eat plenty of spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts
When you don’t get enough protein, regardless of your age, it can have a big effect on your immune system, mood, and ability to recover from injuries. Calculate how much protein you need each day using the 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight formula, and start adding up your consumption – the results may surprise you!
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