December 2018 - Proportion Foods
Proportion Foods - Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

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Protein could help mitigate disability in ageing

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Dec 16, 2018 in Aging, Mobility, Muscle, Protein, Sarcopenia

A new study has found that adults over 84 years who eat more protein are less likely to suffer disability, which is a significant problem in this growing age group.


Researchers took food diaries from 722 community-dwelling adults in the UK and measured disability according to difficulty performing daily activities like moving around the house, getting in and out of a chair, shopping, walking and climbing stairs.


Progression of disability, followed up 18 months, 3 and 5 years later, fell into four distinct categories, from very low to severe.


Results showed that adults who ate more protein were less likely to become disabled over the 5-year follow-up than those with lower protein intake, after factoring in gender, education, physical activity, cognition and chronic diseases.



Why protein matters


Lead author of the study, Dr Nuno Mendonca, told Nutrition Insight, “We believe that the largest benefit of protein consumption is due to delaying muscle mass and strength loss.”


Protein is critical for maintaining lean muscle mass, needed for strength and mobility, and healthy bone density. Not only that, if protein stores are low, the liver will draw on the muscle’s protein stores to maintain energy levels between meals.


Declining muscle mass – which can lead to sarcopenia – has also been associated with diabetes, poor lung function, and heart disease, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.


Dietary protein also has a multitude of other important bodily functions including formation of enzymes and hormones, transporting molecules through the bloodstream, manufacturing antibodies and regulating acid-alkaline levels.



How much protein?


Adults in the study who consumed 1g protein per kg of body weight each day were more likely to have lower disability, supporting calls to increase recommended protein intakes.


For a 58 kg person, that could easily be met by eating 2 eggs for breakfast, 100g yoghurt with lunch and a 100g serve of salmon for dinner – all soft foods for people with dentition or swallowing difficulties.


For adults with poor appetite, eating small meals with protein shakes for morning and afternoon tea will help boost protein intake.


It’s important to note that protein needs increase when the body is stressed by infection, burns, cancer or injury.


And to maximise muscle mass and strength, the benefits of regular physical activity in conjunction with protein intake cannot be underestimated.





More evidence linking lifestyle to dementia risk

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Dec 7, 2018 in Cognition

New research adds to growing evidence that dementia can be prevented or delayed with modifiable lifestyle factors.


Researchers followed up more than 300 older adults in Pittsburgh, USA, for 15 years and found that the stiffness or hardening of their arteries was a strong predictor of their dementia risk.


These major blood vessels deliver oxygen and nutrients to all body organs including the brain. Arterial stiffness occurs when the vessel walls become inflamed and thick with plaque, and the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the body.



An independent risk factor


Age, hypertension, and diabetes are all risk factors for heart disease. They also increase the stiffness of arteries and have been linked to higher dementia risk.


Previous research has linked stiffer arteries to lower memory and concentration with aging. This study found that arterial stiffness was also an independent predictor of dementia.


Researchers assessed arterial stiffness using pulse wave velocity (PWV) – a measure of how long it takes for blood to be pumped through the arteries. They also took MRI scans of participants’ brains to test for signs of subclinical brain disease.


People with high PWV – hence stiffer arteries – were 60 percent more likely to develop dementia over the 15-year follow-up than those with low PWV. And although arterial stiffness is associated with risk of brain disease, controlling for that did not alter the risk.


First author Chendi Cui said, “It’s very surprising that adjusting for subclinical brain disease markers didn’t reduce the association between arterial stiffness and dementia at all.”


That’s good news, she added, because evidence suggests it’s easier to prevent arteries from becoming stiff than it is to prevent subclinical brain disease.



Taking control


Arterial stiffness and other heart disease risk factors can be reduced with lifestyle habits like healthy diet, regular mobility, good quality sleep and not smoking – important for healthy aging altogether.


Addressing these well into advanced age could still have a significant impact. The long-term study above found that people who exercised at an average age of 73 had lower arterial stiffness five years later.


Even people in aged care with dementia have shown surprising benefits from individually tailored exercises.

The health benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet are also well established – including its link with healthy cognitive aging and reduced dementia risk.


The traditional diet is high in nutritious plant foods – vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts, seeds and wholegrains – rich in extra virgin olive oil as the main culinary fat for cooking and salads, regular consumption of fish and moderate intake of fermented dairy products and red wine.


The diet is low in red and processed meats, confectionary and sugar.


It’s not only healthy; another bonus is that the recipes are yummy, cheap and simple to make, and can be made in bulk for leftovers or frozen for emergencies. What’s not to love?