Protein is a macronutrient essential for life. This means that every single person needs this nutrient in order to stay alive. Protein supplies the body with the amino acids it requires to make keratin – one of the structural proteins in our skin, hair and nails. To boost your body’s natural keratin production, you need to consume an adequate amount of protein, as well as specific vitamins and minerals that support this process. These include foods rich in biotin (nuts, beans, cauliflower and mushrooms), vitamin A (pumpkin, sweet potatoes, raw carrots) as well as sulfurous foods (meat, eggs, kale, Brussels sprouts). Given that protein is one of the building blocks of skin tissue, it’s no surprise that an adequate intake of this macronutrient is essential for plump, healthy skin. Protein also contains two amino acids, namely L-lysine and L-proline, that support the body’s production of collagen. Studies show that a protein-rich breakfasts (up to 35g) are more effective at suppressing ghrelin, your hunger hormone. Consuming protein-rich foods that are satiating enough to carry you through to your next meal is important for maintaining a healthy gut. This is because the time between meals sans food actually gives your Migrating Motor Complex (MMC) time to work its magic. MMC is like a cleansing wave that “sweeps” food particles out of the intestines. This helps to keep your gut in balance and allows your digestive system to take a well-earned break. Not getting enough protein can lead to malnutrition which can increase risk of falls, hospitalizations, disability, and early death. In a nutshell- protein is important. We need to make sure aging adults get enough.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DOES AN ADULT NEED?
New research suggests older adults need more protein than previously thought. The exact protein requirement for older adults is yet to be established, however, per current research and expert opinion, it is recommended that most older adults consume 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram body weight to preserve muscle. Getting enough protein requires eating high quality protein food sources throughout the day. Most older adults do not need protein supplements, but they are available for those who cannot get enough protein in their diet through food alone. The problem is that our bodies can only synthesize so much protein at a time. Research suggests that consuming around 25–30g protein at every meal benefits appetite, weight loss, metabolism, and maximal muscle protein synthesis. Protein is found in a variety of foods but can also be provided through protein powders and protein drinks. Getting enough protein can help older adults protect their muscle and quality of life. Do not forget to incorporate resistance and endurance exercise with adequate protein to protect muscle mass.