March 2020 - Proportion Foods
Proportion Foods - Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

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Emotional support for aged care residents

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Mar 25, 2020 in Aged Care

Going into aged care can be fraught with grief and other crippling emotions as people leave the homes and people they love, lose their independence and grapple with fading health.


Indeed, a review conducted on behalf of Beyondblue two years ago found that older people living in residential aged care facilities are five times more prone to mental health issues than their independently living counterparts.


In one bid to address the mental health issues that can surface at this time, Anglicare has launched a new Emotional Wellbeing for Older Persons Service for aged care facilities in northern Sydney.



Mental health support


The program seeks to provide a balm for depression and anxiety, helping these people, who tend to go under the radar of mental health services, cope with the life challenges they face.


“Over half of permanent aged care residents experience some degree of depression,” says Anne Gaffney, manager of the new program, “yet there is a gap in mental health service provision within registered aged care facilities.”


The initiative is part of a $82.5 million investment by the Australian Government, aimed to help address the gap.


With a focus on psychological therapy, residents are assigned a case manager to help them talk about their care and recent losses of loved ones. They also learn relaxation techniques and memory retention strategies.


Group therapy and skills-building workshops help staff identify and support those who are struggling with mental health challenges.


“This program is an important step in recognising and treating the complex health needs of older people,” says Anglicare’s head of mental health, David Ip.


“We hope that through this program we can develop a model that can be rolled out across the whole aged care network.”



Lest we forget


When talking about psychological wellbeing, let’s not forget about the importance of lifestyle factors that improve physical health – such as sleep, social interaction and physical activity – and also contribute to mental health.


These simple yet vital practices can not only help ward off depression and anxiety but dementia as well.


It’s perhaps less well-recognised that nutrition and diet, crucial for physical health, is also important for psychological wellbeing, with recent calls for mental health professionals to start prescribing food.


In aged care, where malnutrition is a serious problem, it’s especially important to focus on providing food that is nutritious and tasty in a supportive, pleasant environment.


Even better, why not combine this with communal cooking, engaging residents with familiar foods and social interaction.


It’s never too late to get active, which can boost muscle strength – and all the associated physical health benefits – as well as mental health.


And of course the animal lovers amongst us will appreciate the importance of pet therapy – these furry, four-legged godsends are guaranteed to make people smile.








Cost of Malnutrition 

Our Cost of Malnutrition report outlines the problem of malnutrition and its various costs – both financial and physical – and offers a guide to its identification and management.

Download your free report HERE




Conjuring protein from thin air

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Mar 19, 2020 in Protein, Technology

It sounds like science fiction, but it’s true: scientists have worked out how to make protein from air – with the help of teeny, microscopic bacteria called hydrogenotrophs.


The protein is highly nutritious, free from pesticides or herbicides and sustainable – a welcome solution for feeding a growing population without destructive tree lopping and land clearing.



Inspired by NASA


The founder of “Air Protein” in the US, Lisa Dyson, was inspired by NASA research in the 1960s that investigated how to convert the carbon dioxide breathed out by astronauts into food.


The technology was never commercialised, but Dyson and co-founder John Reed saw the potential, and the imperative considering our over-encumbered planet with dwindling resources.


The hydrogenotrophs – “nature’s supercharged carbon recyclers” – feed on CO2 and convert it into food with the help of hydrogen from water, synthesising the gas into cellular material.


Kiverdi likens it to age-old traditions that use fermentation to make yoghurt, beer and sauerkraut. “Basically you have different microorganisms – use different inputs and you get different outputs,” she explains.


A Finnish company, “Solar Foods”, has also cottoned on, producing protein they call “Solein” in a lab outside Helsinki.


Making the air protein requires a bioreactor that feeds the microbes with renewable energy or biomass, creating within hours what it can take months for plants to do, independently from climatic conditions and seasons.


Compared to soybeans, Dyson estimates the microbes can produce 10,000 times more food per land area using 2,000 times less water.


And the protein content – with a full complement of amino acids – is higher, producing 70-80% compared to 30-50%. It also contains vitamin B12, making it an ideal vegan food source.



From bacteria to market, and beyond


The flavourless end product looks like a powder, which can be used as a base for making nutritious protein shakes, pasta, cereals, snacks and “meatless meat” burgers.


While Solein is still in the pilot stage, aiming to open a demonstrator plant in 2022, Dyson’s team is currently working on recipe development and a taste profile, planning to announce its products this year.


Meanwhile, other creative solutions for nutritious, environmentally friendly protein includes insects – and you don’t have to eat them whole (although some people do); you can eat nutritious cricket protein in the form of powder or energy bars.


Other more palatable alternatives include legumes, quinoa, nuts and hemp.


These are all viable options for aged care centres committed to sustainability while helping residents meet their much needed protein requirements.







Cost of Malnutrition 

Our Cost of Malnutrition report outlines the problem of malnutrition and its various costs – both financial and physical – and offers a guide to its identification and management.

Download your free report HERE



Exergaming a salve for aging hazards

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Mar 12, 2020 in Aging, Exercise, Technology

In a growing trend to harness the positive potential of technology for our aging population, researchers have created video games for older adults that take exercise and multitasking to new dimensions.


One study had people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, riding stationary bikes while playing video games, improving their memory and other complex cognitive functions.


Another team used interactive video games to improve people’s reflexes and quick-stepping to reduce risk of falls – another major problem with aging – and are following it up with a gambling-style approach to get players addicted to exercise.



Chasing dragons and exotic fruits


Building on previous success improving cognitive health with interactive exergaming, Cay Anderson-Hanley from the University of Queensland recruited three groups of older adults with MCI.


For six months, two groups road along a scenic virtual reality bike path or chased dragons and collected coins on stationary bikes placed at several different sites and completed cognitive tests.


Their results were compared with another group that played video games on a laptop without pedalling, and a previous research cohort that rode stationary bikes without gaming.


Both the first two groups showed improvements in verbal memory, physical health and the brain’s executive functions – higher order cognitive abilities.


“Executive function is like the CEO of the brain. It is key to remaining independent in later life,” says Anderson-Hanley. “For example, it allows you to cook two things on the stove at once. It makes sure you don’t forget that you are boiling the water while also having something in the oven.”


The stepping game, “StepKinnection”, is a Wii-style program that gets players travelling the world collecting exotic fruits from 32 different countries by stepping quickly on the items as they appear. Repeating this action while gradually increasing speed and difficulty improves reflexes and balance.


The game turned out to a be popular way to get active, and players showed 17 per cent improvement in reflexes, ability to take quick steps and walking ability.


Encouraged by these findings, lead researcher Jaime Garcia, from the University of Technology in Sydney, is now linking a computerised Solitaire card game to physical activity to see if rewards for moving around encourage older adults to be more active.


Their activity levels are monitored with a Fitbit activity tracker and if they go for a walk they are given money that can be used to play Solitaire.


“In this approach, we are trying to make exercise one of the game mechanics. If you go for a walk, we give you money and that money can be used in the game,” Garcia told Australian Ageing Agenda.


If they want to play, they must exercise or miss out. And the more they walk, the more money they get to play, which Garcia hopes will get them addicted to the game.



Lifestyle solutions


These novel approaches underpin a global imperative to get people more active – a critical lifestyle approach to aging well, especially important at a time when people are moving less.


It’s established that staying active is one of the cornerstones of preventing dementia, and that fast walking is linked to healthier aging. Even people who are virtually immobilised with dementia can benefit from personalised movement.


And although some are trying to find easy alternatives like taking a pill, there’s just no substitute for moving our limbs, strengthening muscles and getting the blood gushing through our veins.





Image source: Cay Anderson-Hanley





Cost of Malnutrition 

Our Cost of Malnutrition report outlines the problem of malnutrition and its various costs – both financial and physical – and offers a guide to its identification and management.

Download your free report HERE