Tag Archives: protein

Seniors need more protein

Seniors need more protein than younger adults. Once you reach your 60s, you might want to begin upping the amount of protein you consume per day in an effort to maintain muscle mass and strength, bone health and other essential physiological functions as long as possible, since older people need to make up for age-related changes in protein metabolism.

Nutrition experts recommend that healthy older adults should consume 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, which is an increase over the RDA for younger adults. This formula translates to:

150-pound senior woman69 to 81 grams per day
180-pound senior man81 to 98 grams per day

This compares to the Recommended Daily Allowances for protein which are:

Babies10 grams per day
School-age children19-34 grams per day
Teenage boys52 grams per day
Teenage girls46 grams per day
Adult men56 grams per day
Adult women46 grams a day (71 grams, if pregnant or breastfeeding)

As you can see, the guidelines for dietary protein intake have traditionally advised similar intake for all adults, regardless of age. This one-size-fits-all protein recommendation does not consider age-related changes in metabolism.  Doctors are now recognizing that this leaves seniors without enough protein and the health problems that brings. A shortfall of protein supplies relative to needs can lead to loss of lean body mass, particularly muscle loss. By the time people reach age 65, they become at greater risk of sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass, strength and function. It’s also important to note that simply moving your body with plenty of regular exercise can be just as crucial as protein intake when it comes to maintaining muscle as we age.

Now, for the good news. You can get all the protein you need with plant foods such as beans, lentils, whole grains and nuts. Even better, plant protein doesn’t carry the high price tag of saturated fat and cholesterol that meat and dairy have.  It’s better for the animals and the environment too. Here are just a few examples of some plant foods that are good sources of protein, but there are many more. 

Type of food  Portion sizeProtein in grams
Firm Tofu (soybean curds)4 ounces10g  
Tempeh3 ounces17g  
Cooked lentils1 cup18g  
Oats1 cup10g  
Almonds3.5 ounces21g  

In some cases adding plant protein powder to a daily smoothie can be helpful way to increase the amount of protein consumed. There are several kinds available including soy protein, rice protein and pea protein.

While seniors need more protein, it’s important not to overdo it. Going overboard and eating much more protein than you need can cause problems, as too much protein can put a strain on the kidneys. Plant-based protein is much better for the kidneys than animal-based protein, but it’s still possible to overdo it.

Finally, we need to dispel a myth. The myth is that plant proteins must be combined at every meal to be of any use to the body. This was popularized in the early 70’s by the book “Diet for a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappé. The author has since retracted the statement frequently. “In combating the myth that meat is the only way to get high-quality protein, I reinforced another myth,” she said. Unfortunately, the protein combining myth has taken root in the public. Eating a variety of plant foods over the course of a day or two is all that’s necessary to ensure you get the variety of amino acids you need.

As always, check with your doctor before making any changes in your diet or health care.

Actor Ludi Lin – vegan

Mortal Kombat actor and model, Ludi Lin, needs to keep fit for his role as the popular hero, Liu Kang.  The 33 year-old Chinese-Canadian actor is proficient in the martial arts and works out daily to maintain his fitness and skills.

He also been following a vegan diet for the past 5 years. He’s noticed how nutrition is important for him to stay healthy, although he’s been interested in the idea of a vegan diet since he was a youth. He explained his philosophy in a recent Men’s Health article:

“Eating plant-based and staying away from animal products is something I think is inevitable because it’s good for the Earth, it’s good for my body. I feel good about it because animals are cute and also it’s the only thing that’s sustainable.”

He eats his largest meal of the day after his workout. He is fortunate to have a personal chef who creates full meals including mushrooms, pasta, vegetables, and dessert.  High protein snacks are often based on hemp protein powder with peanut butter, sweetened with stevia, though he also likes to have a lot of vegetables, with a particular liking for roasted pumpkin.

Chronic Kidney Disease treated by plant-based diet

Kidneys cartoonIt’s National Kidney Month!  Here’s the big news: a plant-based diet helps prevent and treat Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). This is a big deal because CKD is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States and sucks up 20% of the Medicare budget.

Vegans and vegetarians have a greatly decreased risk of kidney disease. One study showed that vegans have better kidney function than meat eaters. This only makes sense since vegetarians and vegans have much lower rates high blood pressure and diabetes, two of the leading risk factors for kidney disease. While this is news to many people and patients, the medical researchers have known this for a long time. Read more

Algae – vegan food of the future

Algae proteinSome see algae as “the food of the future”. This vegan food product is protein rich, requires no fresh water to produce, and releases oxygen into the atmosphere, unlike most the world’s protein today that is derived from animals. The new “micro algae” being used is a far cry from some of the algae used in the past. The taste is good and it can be used in a variety of different kinds of foods. It also works well in cooked and baked foods.

Around 70 percent of the world’s available fresh water is currently used to rear livestock and to cultivate crops to feed livestock. Algae, however, can flourish without the presence of fresh water. It can grow anywhere from deserts to oceans and ponds. This poses an overwhelmingly positive effect on food production because algae bloom quickly, are nutrient dense, and require next to nothing to grow.

Algae are comprised of 40 percent protein and, when comparing land usage, make seven times more protein than soybeans. Scientists claim that 50 percent of the world’s oxygen is accredited to algae, contrary to raising livestock which emits greenhouse gases into the planet’s atmosphere, ultimately leading to global warming.

Companies have sprung up both here and in Europe to get the algae to market. Marketed under the name AlgaVia, the powder is starting to show up as an ingredient in grocery store items. Look for microalgae in your favorite food products as algae continue to catch on.

Grow plants, feed millions

Lettuce growing

New research suggests that if the desire was there, this country could grow food to feed over 700 million people — by focusing on plants. That could meet the needs of most of the world’s hungry population.

If U.S. farmers took all the land currently devoted to raising cattle, pigs and chickens and used it to grow plants instead, they could sustain more than twice as many people as they do now, according to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read more

Help the Hungry by Going Veg

Say No to Meat Book CoverThe following is an excerpt from our book, Say No to Meat, by Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose, published by Healthy Living Publications.  This book includes answers to all the questions you may have about becoming a vegetarian, and is invaluable to new and existing vegetarians alike!

How can following a vegetarian diet help the hungry people of the world?

Let’s start with the agricultural facts of life. Farm animals function, in effect, as food factories in reverse; that is they give us less nutrition than they are fed. For instance, a cow will give us as beef only 10% of the protein and 4% of the calories it consumes. The rest is used by the cow to enable it to live and breathe throughout its lifetime. With 56 billion farm animals raised globally each year, you can see just how much food is being wasted. Read more