I decided to talk to you about protein intake both because it is an activator of primary aging and because it is extremely important for the preservation of capacities in our seniors. Insufficient protein intake in older people is directly linked to an increase in loss of autonomy. In the first article, I told you about what constitutes a protein, their roles in human health, the link between muscle mass and bone density, as well as the importance of the amount of protein consumed.
In this second article, I will talk to you about what to do to increase protein intake and I will present the products of a Canadian company that I particularly like, in the field of certified organic plant proteins, the company, Nature Zen.
What to do to increase it?
Adequate intake is necessary to maintain muscle mass as we age along with physical activity, to stimulate bone growth. Remember that protein intake also facilitates the absorption of calcium. The usual recommendations are about 0.8 g/kg for adults (60 kg female = 132 lb = 48 g protein, 100 kg male = 80 g protein). As you age, the recommendations (65 and over) are 1 to 1.4 g per kg, taking into account the level of physical activity.
Know that first of all, not all proteins are equivalent. Analyses of the eating habits of heavy meat consumers usually show a reduction in life expectancy. Likewise, populations with the earliest centenarians are usually populations that eat less animal protein, but more vegetable protein. A recent study compared the impact of the protein type on the risk of cardiovascular disease (Tharrey et al, 2018).
Animal protein vs. vegetable protein
The analysis focused on the dietary data of 81,337 people based on the type of protein consumed and the deaths observed from cardiovascular diseases. Those who consumed large amounts of animal protein had a 60% higher risk of cardiovascular disease, while those who consumed large amounts of protein from nuts and seeds had a reduced risk of 40%. Even considering all the other dietary data and the confounding factors of lifestyle, these results remained valid.
From a longevity point of view, diets too rich in animal protein clearly seem to increase the risks of certain diseases. It would therefore be appropriate to diversify the sources of protein. Since animal protein is relatively easy to consume in our North American diet, I urge you to try adding more vegetable protein to your diet. For vegetarians or vegans, don’t forget vitamin B12. Low-meat diets often cause vitamin B12 deficiencies. Also, many aging people are deficient in B12 and it is a very important vitamin among other things for cognitive health. I invite you to read the article on vitamin B12 written by a pharmacist collaborating on the Vitoli blog (Vitamin B12 and the elderly).
Nature Zen’s products can easily help you add high quality protein to your diet. I will come back to this.
High protein foods:
- Meat = approximately 30 g of protein/100 g (portion of the palm of the hand)
- Cottage cheese 250 ml = 29 g of protein
- Plain Greek yogurt 250 ml = 24 g of protein
- Fish = about 23 – 25 g/100 g
- Legumes (250 ml = one cup):
- Lentils = 20 g of protein
- White beans = 20 g of protein
- Black beans = 15 g of protein
- Red beans = 14 g of protein
- Chickpeas = 12 g of protein
- A handful of pumpkin seeds (60 ml) = 17 g of protein
- Tofu = 14 g/100g
- One egg = 7 g of protein
- 2 spoons of peanuts butter (favor 100% peanuts) = 7 g of protein
- A handful of pistachios or almonds = 7 g of protein
Nature Zen products
When it comes to protein supplements, I encourage you to consider Nature Zen products. First of all because the protein bars and protein powders on the market are often full of additives and sugar. Nature Zen is a Canadian company for which I took the time to speak with the leaders and I have full confidence in their products which are made of organic vegetable proteins.
I really like bars that contain 17 g of vegetable protein. They are practical and taste very good (banana or chocolate flavors). They also have powdered products that enrich recipes with different flavors (maple, strawberry, vanilla, berries, etc.). These powdered products can be used to add protein to any of your meals. You can add it to soups, mashed desserts, smoothies, etc. This can allow you, without modifying your recipes, to have an additional supply of quality protein. Know that I have no monetary interests in this business and I was not paid to mention it, it is simply because I love their products. It is important to encourage Canadian businesses.
When should we eat it?
I would like to close by mentioning an important element. Protein intake should be optimal depending on our level of physical activity (you can consult a nutritionist who will help you determine the appropriate intake) and the time of day. For growing young people, it’s simple; there should be an adequate intake with each meal. For adults and aging people, it’s different. We should consider having a higher protein meal within an hour after physical activity. So, consider enriching the meals that follow your physical activities with protein in order to stimulate your muscle production as much as possible, both for people in their prime and for our seniors.
In addition, for seniors, a meal containing 30 grams of protein and more helps defeat the resistance to anabolism mentioned in the first article and stimulates muscle growth as well. So it would be important for our elderly people to make sure they have a protein-rich meal during the day and preferably the meal that follows their daily physical activity.
- Bauer J, Biolo G, Cederholm T, et al. 2013. Evidence-based recommendations for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: a position paper from the PROT-AGE Study Group. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2013;14(8):542‐559.
- Chalvon-Demersay T, Azzout-Marniche D, Arfsten J, et al. 2017. A Systematic Review of the Effects of Plant Compared with Animal Protein Sources on Features of Metabolic Syndrome. J Nutr. 2017;147(3):281‐292.
- Deer RR, Volpi E. 2015. Protein intake and muscle function in older adults. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015;18(3):248‐253.
- Dominic Picetti, Stephen Foster, Amanda Pangle, Amy Schrader, Jeanne Y. Wei and Gohar, 2017. KNOWLEDGE AND CONSUMPTION OF PROTEIN IN OLDER ADULTS: OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPROVEMENT. Azhar International Journal of Development Research Vol. 07, Issue, 04, pp.12519-12524, April, 2017
- Marion Tharrey, François Mariotti, Andrew Mashchak, Pierre Barbillon, Maud Delattre, Gary E Fraser, 2018. Patterns of plant and animal protein intake are strongly associated with cardiovascular mortality: the Adventist Health Study-2 cohort. International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 47, Issue 5, October 2018, Pages 1603–1612.
- Mariotti F, Gardner CD. 2019. Dietary Protein and Amino Acids in Vegetarian Diets-A Review. Nutrients. 2019;11(11):2661. Published 2019 Nov 4.
- Martone AM, Marzetti E, Calvani R, et al. 2017. Exercise and Protein Intake: A Synergistic Approach against Sarcopenia. Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:2672435.
- Nowson C, O’Connell S. 2015. Protein Requirements and Recommendations for Older People: A Review. Nutrients. 2015;7(8):6874‐6899. Published 2015 Aug 14.
- Shams-White MM, Chung M, Du M, et al. 2017. Dietary protein and bone health: a systematic review and meta-analysis from the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;105(6):1528‐1543.