You can benefit from eating more protein

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Fractures and falls are a big problem the world over; in New Zealand, a rise in the rate of fall-related injuries has led the Healthy Quality & Safety Commission to develop a programme to reduce falls, promoted through the Open for better care safety campaign. Data updated by the Commission in 2017 showed that they continue to be a big concern despite efforts made to curb them. One new study shows that diet plays an important role in increasing strength in seniors; in particular, seniors aged over 65 should aim to consume protein three times a day.

The benefits of consuming protein three times a day

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that the total amount of protein is important, but spreading protein equally among three daily meals could promote greater muscular benefits. Researchers noted that many people save protein for lunch and dinner alone, filling up on carbohydrates at breakfast. In fact, it makes sense to consume a third of our protein early in the morning, to ensure muscles have continuous fuel throughout the day. Those who are stuck for ideas on ideas for protein-rich breakfasts can take their cue from the Paleo regimen full of delicious, high-protein meal ideas, which are easy to prepare. Ideas include veggie and duck egg muffins, omelettes with red bell peppers, and an egg-and-veggie skillet.

Why do I need more protein as I age?

To come to their conclusions, researchers observed almost 1,800 seniors for three years, reviewing their protein consumption and trying to establish link with muscle mass, strength, and mobility. It is the most detailed study of its kind in the elderly, and sheds new light on the importance of balancing protein consumption throughout the day. As noted by one of the study authors, “”Our research is based on scientific evidence demonstrating that older people need to consume more protein per meal because they need a greater boost of amino acids for protein synthesis.”

How else can we prevent falls?

The Health Quality & Safety Commission has a free downloadable attachment which highlights the main priorities for preventing falls. They include exercise programmes (including balance retraining and lower limb strengthening exercises), home safety changes (including the placement of safety rails on beds and in bathrooms), and the modification of the use of medication that can increase fall risks. Most steps need to be taken by the government, but there are many that seniors and their families can take, particularly at home and in the realm of exercise, to reduce the likelihood of serious falls and fractures.

To strengthen your muscles, try to consume between 1 and 1.2 g/kg of protein a day if you are over 65. Additionally, make an effort to spread out your protein intake throughout the day, to ensure you benefit optimally from this vital macronutrient.

Sources of protein include:

  • 2 scrambled eggs (with milk added) = 13.8g
  • 1 boiled or poached egg = 6g
  • 20g sliced almonds = 3.8g 
  • 20g chopped cashew nuts = 3.5g 
  • 20g sunflower seeds = 4.6g 
  • Chicken breast = 30g 
  • 1 cup yoghurt = usually 8g -12g
  • Tofu, 1/2 cup = 20g 
  • Steak = 42g