Is Protein the Key to Anti-Aging?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Many people have resigned themselves to the idea that health issues come part and parcel with aging –fatigue, muscle loss, frequent illness – it’s all natural, right?

What if it doesn’t have to be that way?

It is true that there are changes in our body that naturally occur with age, such as decreased metabolism, loss of appetite and increased risk of chronic disease. However, our lifestyle choices can impact the rate at which these changes occur, helping us to age with vitality and grace.

While fat and carbohydrates seem to take turns being the “bad guy,” protein is the nutrient that has weathered the diet wars relatively unscathed. As the building blocks of virtually all the cells in our body, protein has a role in helping us maintain our muscle and bone mass, and reducing the risk of conditions like osteoporosis. Protein also helps us to maintain a healthy immune system, and to slow digestion, which in turn stabilizes blood sugar and energy levels.

Due to the many benefits of protein for older adults, as well as the fact that our bodies become less efficient at using protein as we age, experts are recommending higher protein intakes for adults age 55 and over, and particularly for those over the age of 65. The problem is, the cards seem stacked against older adults when it comes to meeting protein needs – protein-rich foods like meat or eggs generally take more time and energy to prepare.

Another concern is that most people do not spread their protein intake evenly throughout the day. It is common for people to get most of their protein at their dinner meal. Since our bodies are only able to absorb and use a certain amount of protein at a time, many researchers and health professionals are suggesting that we should include protein-rich foods at every meal, striving for 25-30 g protein[1],[2],[3] at a time. In practical terms, this may mean topping your morning toast with some peanut butter, cheese, or an egg, or adding cooked meat or canned beans to your soup at lunch.

If you struggle to meet your protein needs through food alone, a protein supplement or nutritional drink may help, so that you can stay strong and healthy, and get the most out of life.

This article has been sponsored by BOOST, but all comments and opinions are my own.

Vincci Tsui
registered dietitian
Vincci Tsui is a Calgary-based registered dietitian with over seven years of experience working in a variety of health and wellness settings, from gyms and personal training studios to hospitals and clinics.
Vincci received her Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from McGill University, and completed the school’s integrated dietetic internship program. She is a proud and active member of the College of Dietitians of Alberta and Dietitians of Canada.