In post-acute rehab some seniors who are struggling to recover from their illness are also battling on a different front. Due to illness or inactivity, seniors can loose muscle bulk or strength. The solution is to follow a plan for healthy eating. Healthy eating for seniors, according to the National Institute of Health , includes a daily amount of protein. Approximately 10% to 35% of a senior’s diet should be made up of protein.
Other protein pushers recommend that seniors eat 1 gram to 1.3 grams of protein per kilo of body weight a day. Yet others suggest going up to 2.2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day for very ill or malnourished seniors.
Obviously, each individual will follow their own medical plan, as everyone is different, but let’s look at protein.
Why is it important to include it in the senior diet? How should a diet of healthy eating for seniors include protein?
Seniors can be lacking in protein due to:
- losing muscles or strength following illness
- following hospitalization
- part of aging (sarcopenia)
- a problem eating enough protein (appetite)
- difficulty digesting and breaking down protein efficiently
How to Add Protein to a Senior Diet
- Whey supplements help to rebuild muscles after activities have been resumed.
- Lean poultry. Lower the fat by removing the skin of chicken breasts and turkey cutlets.
- Eggs, for those permitted on a diet with high-cholesterol foods.
- Fish, such as salmon, trout and sardines. You get omega 3 thrown in as well.
- Dairy products, such as skimmed milk and Greek yogurt.
- Pulses – they come with so many other minerals too.
- Vegetables with protein include: broccoli, spinach and asparagus.
- A limited amount of nuts and seeds, includes peanut butter, tahini.
- Soy products are high in protein, but have other drawbacks, you need to ask your doctor about those.
- Meat – lean pieces and in limited amounts and frequency. You should probably ask your doctor how much meat can be included in your diet.
Keep those Muscles Going Strong!
We have seen that muscles depend on protein, for muscles strength and tone.
This is important for:
- Activities of daily living
- Keeping active and independent
In a post-hospitalization environment, make sure the patient gets sufficient protein. Encourage them to eat their meals, drink their protein drink, or, whatever has been recommended for them. Kidney patients, patients with high cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes should check with medical personnel as to how much protein or cholesterol respectively, is permitted.
Healthy eating for seniors begins with protein!