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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.