After water, protein is the main component of cells and is essential to life. Protein is used to build and maintain these parts of our body:
After the age of 50, unless we act to prevent it, we may lose 1% of muscle mass each year and with it, muscle strength.1
It’s important to maintain muscle mass because it’s what helps keep us strong and keeps us moving – and that’s what helps contribute to living a full and active life. Combining adequate dietary protein spread over the day with resistance exercise training using all the major muscle groups helps maintain muscle mass.3,4
Muscle strength has been shown to decrease by approximately 20-40% from the age of 20 to 70 years, and by above 50% by the time we reach 90 years.5
It’s common for people to eat less as they age, and there can be a number of reasons this can happen. Whether it’s due to low interest in cooking, a lack of appetite, changes to smell and taste, people can miss out on getting the nutrients they need – despite their nutritional needs often being increased.
Getting adequate amounts of protein can be challenging for many older adults. Increasing protein has been shown to be of benefit though, with studies showing a higher intake of protein helping to reduce muscle loss associated with ageing2,3, and therefore helping to maintain muscle strength and function.
Protein is a complex structure, made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids linked together. Some of these amino acids are ‘essential,’ meaning they are crucial for life and cannot be produced by the human body - therefore you need to obtain them from your diet.
As our body is not able to store amino acids in the way it can with carbohydrates and fats, we need to make sure we obtain it daily through what we eat, from:
Get protein from a variety of sources and make it a part of every meal.