Reaching 50 used to be the beginning of old age; but today many 50+ people are running marathons, doing Crossfit, hiking or simply staying active. However, the current guidelines on how much protein you should eat just aren’t enough to keep you healthy and active.
There’s no question that eating enough high-quality protein is essential for good health. However, with age, your muscle mass and strength decline at a rapid rate along with a decline in your body’s ability to process protein further raising your protein requirements.
Proteins are found in every cell in your body and are crucial for repair, maintenance and growth of cells; plus they are essential for healthy muscles, organs, glands and skin.
Sarcopenia is the term used to describe age related loss of muscle mass and if you are inactive; you can expect to lose 15 percent of your calorie burning muscle between your 30s and 80s.
Sarcopenia happens gradually, (so you probably won’t even notice) and has been linked to numerous health problems including insulin resistance, low bone mineral content and density, falls and fractures.
Il-Young Kim a researcher with the University of Arkansas Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity says “Sarcopenia really doesn’t hit full force until 65 and can start even before your 50th birthday.” And by the time you hit your 70’s sarcopenia begins to accelerate; causing you to feel weaker so that you’re unable to do the things you used to do.
Preventing and treating sarcopenia requires an integrated approach that incorporates dietary strategies, hormone replacement, nutritional supplementation and exercise.
In 2015 a study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition recommended higher protein intake to help counteract the progressive loss of muscle mass and strength in older adults. To determine how much protein you need, multiply your body weight by 0.45. Then multiply that number by 1.2 or 1.5 if you have sarcopenia to reach the recommended grams of protein per day. Most meat, poultry and fish have about 7 grams of protein in an ounce.
According to researchers at the University of Maryland; “Strength training is an effective intervention for improving strength muscle mass and quality and delaying the onset of physical disability in the elderly”. Regular exercise is essential for preserving and increasing muscle, promoting mobility and improves bone health.
Many studies have shown that low blood levels of vitamin D and Omega 3s are associated with lower muscle strength, increased instability, falls disability and sarcopenia in older adults. Supplementing your diet with both can help improve muscle function and muscle mass.
For the sake of improving sarcopenia as well as your overall health, you should increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy veggies, blueberries, pineapples, walnuts and wild Alaskan salmon.
Millions of people will become weak and frail as they age; but you don’t have to be one of them. Optimizing muscle mass through dietary modifications, nutritional supplements and strength training helps improve strength, functionality, overall health and well-being, even into advanced age.