Protein Intake for Older Adults
Current Australian Nutritional guidelines for adults of any age recommend 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, healthy people over the age of approximately 65 need more protein than people of a lesser age to help support muscle mass.
In 2013, an international panel of physicians and nutrition experts recommended that healthy older adults consume 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. (An active male over 65, would need closer to 1.2 grams minimum per kilo).
A comprehensive eating strategy should combine this level of protein with whole grains and a variety of high nutrient-density fruits and vegetables. Low-fat and nonfat dairy foods should be included with reduced lactose. Oils should be low in saturated fats and zero in trans fats. (Mono unsaturated and poly unsaturated healthy fats come from sources such as vegetable oils, nuts, avocado, deep sea fish, and cottage cheese).
Some supplementation such as Whey Protein (a “fast” protein due to its quick release of amino acids) or Casein, (a “slower release” protein), may be appropriate but this intake must be guided by your general practitioner.
It is recommended though, that older adults should not routinely drink protein shakes instead of meals, Protein supplements can actually result in reduced protein and calorie intake over the longer term, triggering other health issues, and can have a degrading impact on Stomach Villi (the stomach fibres that absorb nutrients).
“An imbalance between protein supply and protein need can result in loss of skeletal muscle mass because of a chronic disruption in the balance between muscle protein synthesis and degradation. As a result, older adults may lose muscle mass and strength and eventually experience physical disability”
“Older adults have higher protein needs to offset the elevated metabolism of inflammatory conditions such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or chronic kidney disease (CKD) undergoing dialysis. In healthy older adults and in a variety of disease, protein anabolism is related to net protein intake. Most older adults will therefore benefit from higher protein intake”.
“At the same time, it is important for older people to balance total energy intake with total body energy demands—a rationale for consuming protein as a higher proportion of daily energy intake”