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Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

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Preventing muscle loss with protein

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Apr 16, 2020 in Aging, Malnutrition, Mobility, Muscle, Protein

Baby boomers could be changing the face of aging by seeking better health and quality of life, and embracing the wisdom that comes with age, over superficial attempts to look young but perhaps not so beautiful with botox and hair dye.

 

That’s according to industry leaders such as Isabel Gomez from Lipofoods and Eloise Joiner from Fonterra, who are happy to oblige with a “silver economy” – including preventative supplements and perhaps more importantly a spotlight on protein.

 

This is most timely as lifespans lengthen and health and independence become increasingly vital in an aging population.

 

 

Protein and muscles

 

Muscle bulk and strength naturally decline with age, as the tissues regenerate more slowly. Without efforts to stay strong and healthy, this can accelerate into sarcopenia, a prevalent, muscle wasting condition with multiple dire health outcomes.

 

Poor wound healing, increased risk of falls, hospitalisation, loss of independence and mortality are just some of the ripple effects caused by declining muscle mass.

 

It’s well known that protein is important for helping to maintain muscle mass, with evidence that older adults benefit from 1g protein per kilogram of body weight per day – which is higher than current recommendations of 0.8g/kg body weight.

 

Some researchers say the focus should be on consuming 25-30g protein per meal for optimum muscle protein synthesis.

 

In older adults, however, muscle protein synthesis is less efficient if protein and carbohydrates are eaten together. The researchers suggest this could be improved by supplementing mixed-nutrient meals with leucine.

 

The importance of this can’t be underestimated – and the benefits of muscle mass are thought to extend beyond muscles to give protection from diabetes, heart disease, poor cognition, respiratory problems and even breast cancer.

 

Protein can also help protect against other conditions including dementia and osteoporosis.

 

While dietary protein is important in the first instance, protein powder can help boost intake between meals in people struggling with poor appetite, weak teeth or swallowing problems.

 

Beyond protein

 

It’s not just about protein, though. Poor quality diets have been linked to weakness and fragility in aging, regardless of protein or energy intake. Even one extra meal a day can halve the risk of dying in people with hip fractures.

 

Insufficient dietary nourishment can lead to malnutrition, a common and often overlooked problem in older adults that can be addressed with regular meals and snacks high in protein and energy, as well as ensuring dietary intake from all the food groups and regular hydration.

 

Another largely overlooked lifestyle nugget that can make all the difference between healthy and unhealthy muscle mass – and overall health – with aging is physical activity.

 

Whether this is fast walking, Tai Chi, dancing, cycling, swimming or personalised movement, every bit helps.

 

Ideally, the World Health Organisation recommends that all adults should do at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity heart-pumping exercise or a combination of both.

 

 

References

 

https://www.nutritioninsight.com/news/a-growing-silver-economy-industry-spotlights-protein-for-seniors-as-prevention-is-focalized.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2760315/

https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2018/protein-needs-fd.html

 

 

 


 

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

 


 

Junk food in aged care

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Feb 17, 2020 in Aged Care, Malnutrition, Nutrition, Supplements

While malnutrition is an insidious problem in aged care, simply giving residents more biscuits and cake is not the answer.

 

Yet that is what many residential facilities are doing, according to research in Melbourne presented at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

 

 

Skimping on protein

 

In fact, the study added to evidence that aged care facilities have been spending less on food, and in the process skimping on high protein sources – critical with aging to prevent disability and malnutrition.

 

Previous research by the group found that two thirds of residents were malnourished or at risk of malnutrition – and inadequate protein was a major factor.

 

Essentially, the facilities they researched only provided one serve of high-protein food, such as lean meat, seafood, eggs, poultry and legumes per day – only half of the recommended two serves every day.

 

Dairy protein only amounted to one serve each day, falling well short of the recommended four servings.

 

At the same time, the amount of “discretionary foods” high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats and devoid of nutrients has increased.

 

So while centres might be trying to save costs, it’s a false economy, lead researcher Dr Sandra Iuliano argues.

 

Malnutrition results in a host of poor outcomes including bed sores, falls, poor wound healing and general immunity.

 

This is not only debilitating for sufferers; it also increases hospital stays, estimated to add nearly $1,800 to the cost of each admission.

 

 

Putting things right

 

Some argue that a ban on junk foods in health care facilities is a good start, and research shows it helps shape behaviour and improve diets.

 

For aged care, where a healthy diet is most critical, mandatory nutrition standards would help lift and standardise the quality of food and nutrition provided – with a particular focus on delivering quality protein.

 

As we age, protein becomes increasingly important to prevent loss of muscle mass and related problems including frailty and sarcopenia.

 

Beyond protein, poor and medium quality diets have been associated with 92% and 40% greater incidence of frailty, respectively, than a high quality diet.

 

Lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can also reduce the risk of dementia.

 

Supporting older adults to eat healthy food – even just one extra meal a day – can save lives, and even replace a big chunk of unnecessary, expensive and harmful drugs.

 

Enhancing the dining experience would help overcome many obstacles to eating well, such as improving the sensory experience, and making food more appealing through greater choice, communal dining, cooking smells and attractive food presentation.

 

Some centres have even engaged residents with cooking to help stimulate appetite with foods they are familiar with – an enjoyable, social and stimulating activity with multiple rewards.

 

As Sandra Iuliano says, “It’s not about adding years to life; it’s about adding quality to the years they have.”

 

 

References

 

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/food-nutrition/nutrition-across-the-life-stages/contents/summary

https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/professional/aged-care-residents-nutrition-a-false-sense-of-sec

https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/nourishing-old-age

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5350609/

 

Can you spot the signs of malnutrition?

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Feb 6, 2020 in Malnutrition

You can’t tackle a problem without first spotting it. Accordingly, there are calls for routine screening of patients in hospitals and aged care facilities, particularly to identify less obvious indicators of unintentional weight loss.

 

 

Spotting the problem

 

Generally, staff and family should look out for these signs of malnutrition at home or in care:

 

 

  1. Feeling Tired, Weak or Dizzy

Food provides calories and essential nutrients needed to produce energy. Insufficient nutrition intake can result in tiredness, weakness and dizziness. A clue here could be reduced levels of mobility. Look out for diminished muscle mass – a risk factor for sarcopenia.

 

  1. Depression, Low Mood

It’s commonly recognised that depression can affect people’s appetite. But nutrients from food – carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals – are also vital for healthy brain function. Not getting enough can impact mood and even lead to major depression.

 

  1. Poor Appetite

As previously indicated, aging and some medications can alter taste and appetite. Eating less can, in turn, reduce appetite, so this is something to look out for.

 

  1. Teeth and Gums

You can’t fool your dentist. Teeth and gums are a key indicator of nutrition and health status. Swollen or bleeding gums are early oral symptoms of malnutrition. If malnutrition progresses, it can cause irreversible tooth decay.

 

  1. Hair & Nails

Check brushes and clothes for excess hair. Hair loss and lack lustre hair can reflect poor nutrition status, particularly insufficient protein and iron. Nails also become dry, brittle and discoloured if essential nutrients are lacking. When iron levels drop too low, nails can start curling upwards, signalling possible iron-deficiency anaemia.

 

  1. Infections and Wound Healing

Our immune system needs nutrients to prevent and ward off disease. Frequent illness and infections can reveal poor nutrition status. Also be on the watch for easy bruising and wounds that don’t heal easily.

 

  1. Bowel Habits

Chronic constipation can signal insufficient food intake to mobilise the digestive tract; it can also reflect inadequate fibre and/or dehydration – common in older adults. Conversely, watch out for persistent diarrhoea because this can decrease nutrient absorption and exacerbate malnutrition.

 

 

Report

 

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

Malnutrition Report

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Jan 23, 2020 in Malnutrition

 

Malnutrition is a silent epidemic, often called the “skeleton in the hospital closet” because it tends to escape detection and treatment.

 

This is surprising given that more than one in three hospitalised older adults and nearly one in thirty community dwelling people over 60 are malnourished. In aged care, malnutrition afflicts up to two thirds of residents.

 

Its prevalence is gradually gaining recognition, but malnutrition is still not given the attention it deserves, and this is a bigger problem than ever as we face a “demographic time bomb”. In Australia, the percentage of older people has tripled in less than a century, adding to global statistics revealing that, for the first time, there are more people over 65 than under five years of age.

 

Report

 

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

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