As we age we lose muscle. Along with the muscle loss goes loss of strength. Men seem to lose muscle faster than women. At the same time, we lose our strength faster than we lose our muscle. Smaller muscles mean a weaker body. As our body weakens we lose our mobility and eventually our independence. One way we can keep ourselves strong is to up our intake of protein. Protein provides the basis for building muscle.
How can protein keep us strong and which foods have the most of it?
- To preserve body muscle you need the amino acid leucine. To get the most of this important amino acid, eat lean cuts of beef, lamb and poultry. Fish, eggs and milk also contain high amounts of leucine and lesser amounts can be found in beans, nuts and seeds.
- It is not just for building muscle. Every cell in your body uses protein. You need it for blood and healthy bones. It provides you with energy and it helps to make antibodies that fight infection. Collagen is comprised of protein. If you have dry and brittle hair or nails it could be because your diet lacks protein.
- Not all of us can get enough through our meals so make sure your snacks include protein. Good examples of snacks include mixed nuts or trail mix, pumpkins seeds, greek yogurt with granola or cheese with whole grain crackers.
- Just like carbohydrates and fat, the body needs quite large quantities of protein. However, unlike those, your body will not store it so it has to be replaced each day.
If you are a caregiver of a senior, incorporating protein into their diet may seem difficult. Many seniors are on special diets due to chronic illnesses and others have little appetite. To read the full article on protein and how caregivers can add more of it to a senior’s diet, click here.