Published On: Sat, Sep 9th, 2017

Best diet for older people: Strokes could be prevented by eating more protein | Health | Life & Style

Protein is a macronutrient – a type of food required in large amounts in the diet – along with carbohydrates and fats.

It is broken down by the body into amino acids, which are the ‘building blocks’ of cells, and vital for numerous processes in the body.

Animal products, such as meat, milk and eggs are generally high in protein.

However, you can also get protein from plants such as legumes, like peas and beans, and nuts.

In the UK it is recommended people get 0.75g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, meaning that if you weigh 70kg you should eat 52.5g protein a day.

However, often older people don’t consume enough protein for their body’s growing needs.

This is because body composition changes as you age, and there’s a natural decrease in bone mass and muscle strength. 

These are three reasons why older people should ensure they are getting enough protein in their diet.

Muscle strength

Research published last month revealed that older people who ate protein three times a day were better able to maintain muscle strength.

A study by McGill University in Montreal, Canada found that protein improves mobility in elderly men, and led to greater muscle strength in both men and women.

It is thought that protein is broken down at a faster rate in older people, meaning spreading protein throughout the day ensures there is enough to stimulate constant muscle building.

Stroke

Eating more protein if you are older could help prevent a stroke.

Research published in 2014 in the journal Neurology found that people with the most protein in their diets were 20 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke than those with the lowest amounts in their diet.

The 250,000 participants in the study ranged from their mid-30s to their 80s.

Researchers also discovered that the risk went down by 26 per cent for every 20g increase in protein.

The scientists estimated that if everyone started eating more protein there could be 1,500,000 fewer stroke deaths per year worldwide.

Type 2 diabetes

A study published last year revealed that a diet high in protein found in dairy products could help manage type 2 diabetes. 

Researchers at Tel Aviv University discovered that whey – a by-product of cheese production – found in numerous dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt, whey protein powder and some cheeses, was more effective at controlling blood sugar.

This was compared to other sources of protein including eggs, soy or tuna.

The study also found that eating a protein-rich breakfast could aid weight loss.

Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem in the elderly, while obesity and being overweight kills millions of people a year.

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