We are all living much longer than previous generations. What we choose to eat and drink is important for our health and wellbeing at every stage of our lives. Maybe you think it’s too early to start thinking about it or it’s too late to bother but eating healthily as you age will help you:
• Get the most out of life
• Stay fit and active
• Help to keep your body functioning normally
• Help to manage blood pressure, cholesterol and other health problems
Eating a variety of foods is key to making sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs and will make your diet more interesting and enjoyable. A healthy, balanced diet means sufficient lean protein, some wholegrain/high fibre starchy carbohydrates, some good fats, plenty of vegetables and fruit, water, milk (or fortified alternative) and other unsweetened drinks. A daily selection from each of the five food groups will provide you with all the calories (energy) and nutrients you need to stay healthy and active.
Protein is important for everyone and even more so as we get older due it its role in growth, repair and renewal including maintaining and increasing muscle. As we age, we lose muscle which puts older people particularly at risk of sarcopenia (loss of muscle size and muscle strength). This can happen as early as our 30’s and increases with age. Sarcopenia is linked with a loss of independent living, falls and mortality.
Maintaining a mix of physical activity and a healthy diet for older people is even more important than previously. Sufficient protein and activity have been shown to off-set age related loss of muscle mass and help to maintain muscle mass.
To maintain muscle mass and strength as we age, the body needs enough protein spread through the day as part of a healthy, balanced diet as well as older people being physically active every day.
Protein – are you getting enough?
Unlike fat and carbohydrates, we have no body stores of protein and as protein is constantly being used, broken down and reformed, we need to eat enough protein daily to keep our body supplied with this important nutrient.