Protein is a type of macronutrient needed by the body to function like carbohydrates and lipids. Protein makes up about 10% to 15% of the body’s energy needs. However, our body cannot store amino acids as it does for carbohydrates and fats. Therefore it is crucial for you to consume protein every day. Protein can be found in animal products, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and nutritional supplements.
Protein is found in your food and in your body. Your body breaks down protein into amino acids which are crucial for building, repairing, and maintaining your body. There are three types of amino acids: Essential, Nonessential, and Conditional. Essential amino acids come from foods. Protein can be found in both animal and plant sources such as eggs, nuts, meats, vegetables, and grains. Nonessential amino acids are made by your body from the food you have eaten. Lastly, conditional amino acids are the amino acids your body relies on when you are sick or injured to repair your body.
It is common for adults to consume less food as they age due to lack of appetite, low interest in cooking, less daily movement, and other health issues. Eating less food typically means that you are not getting all of the nutrition that you need, including protein. Low protein intake has been linked to loss of muscle strength and functionality. Without protein, your body will begin to break down bone strength and muscle mass. Furthermore, it has been shown that seniors may not be able to break down protein as well which may mean you need more protein than average to stay healthy.
Protein is a necessary nutrient for your body, every cell requires protein to function including skin, hair, nails, muscle, bones, and internal organs. Furthermore, protein is necessary for healing, building, and repairing cells and body tissues. Protein aids in healing from injuries, keeping fluid levels in balance, recovering from surgery or illness, maintaining healthy vision, and balancing hormones. A protein-rich diet will help protect you from muscle loss and keep you active and independent.
It is crucial for seniors to monitor their protein intake to ensure that they are getting enough protein in their daily diet. Attempt to incorporate protein into each of your meals, and supplement with high protein snacks. Pick protein-rich options that you like and that are easy to prepare this will help ensure you have a healthy and protein-rich option at all times. Try different seasonings or recipes to give yourself some variety for you to enjoy your meals.
For more information, resources, and recipes regarding protein check out these resources:
20 Ways to Get Your Elderly Parent to Eat More Protein With Their Meals