Healthy Tips for the 50 and Beyond Crowd

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Go Green – for your health!

By Rachel Henry

If you’re really keen on your steak and potatoes, you might be rolling your eyes at this post, but hear me out. While eliminating animal protein might be reasonable for some, for others it doesn’t quite fit their lifestyle. Whether you choose to remove animal products from your diet completely, or are just wanting to explore a more balanced diet, read on to discover the benefits of plant protein so you can be healthy and active as you get older.

What is protein?

 Protein is an essential part of your diet; your hair and nails are made almost entirely of protein, and your body uses protein to build muscle and repair tissues. What makes protein so important is that your body doesn’t store it like carbohydrates or fat, so you have to consistently consume protein sources in order to get enough.

The benefits of protein

 Simply put, your body needs protein in order to function properly. More than 10,000 types are found in everything from your organs to your muscles and tissues to your bones, skin, and hair. Protein is also a critical part of the processes that fuel your energy and carry oxygen in your blood. It also helps make antibodies that fight off infections and illnesses, keeps cells healthy, and creates new ones. Over time, if you’re not getting enough protein, you’ll start to lose muscle, which leads to less strength, difficulty balancing, and a slower metabolism. You may also suffer from anemia, which will make you feel tired and lethargic.

How much protein do I need?

 Get clear about how much protein you actually need. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a daily intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight – about 0.35 grams per pound. A 165-lb person would need a minimum of 60 grams of protein per day. This is the minimum! If you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle, or if you exercise regularly, your protein needs may be higher – from about 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight.

 If you’re concerned about how much protein you’re getting in your diet, consider tracking it. Apps like My Fitness Pal can be beneficial and help you see where you may be lacking nutrients in your meals. If you’re experiencing chronic illness or disease, note that the amount of protein you need will change, so speak to your doctor before making dietary changes.

Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

Why is protein important while I age?

 As you get older, your body processes protein less efficiently, so you’ll need to get more of it in order to maintain your hard-earned muscle mass and strength, bone health, and even essential functions like movement. Even if you’re generally healthy, you’ll need to up your protein intake with every year that goes by – and yet up to one-third of older adults don’t eat enough of it.

 Are you struggling to get enough protein in your diet? Reduced appetite, dental issues, impaired taste, or swallowing problems might be the source of the problem. Consider sources that are easily consumed, such as smoothies or snacks.With age we tend to become more sedentary, and this already puts us at risk of losing muscle, compromised mobility, and having slower recovery from illness, so keeping up our protein is key to staying energetic.

Research suggests that adults who consistently consume more protein maintain important functions like the ability to get out of bed, get dressed, walk up a flight of stairs, and generally take care of themselves for a longer period of time than those who don’t eat enough. This is a good argument for those of us who want to continue to do the activities we love like gardening or playing with grandchildren, traveling independently, or exercising.

Where can I get plant-based protein?

 Plant-based protein is easier to come by than you might think. Consider sources like tofu or tempeh, which don’t have much taste on their own but when prepared properly, can absorb the flavor of the ingredients they’re paired with, and contain 10-19 grams of protein per 3.5 100 grams.

 Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat, the better your protein intake! Kidney, black, pinto, chickpeas and most other varieties of beans contain high amounts of protein per serving, at about 15 grams per cup. Lentils are also a great source weighing in at 18 grams per cooked cup, with also 50% of your daily fiber intake.

 You can easily trade your protein powder for a plant-based one. Look for hemp, pea, brown rice, and soy protein powders to try out in your favourite smoothie recipe or sprinkled on your oatmeal. There are tons of different kinds and flavors on the market, just avoid anything that contains dairy products for a true plant-based powder.

 Your resource for plant-based recipes

Eleanor Beaty.jpg

Each month, we’ll be sharing recipes from At Eleanor’s Table, our resident plant-based experimenter. Through blog posts At Eleanor’s Table, we’ll explore the many ingredients she uses to create delicious and nutritious meals, desserts, and snacks that anyone can make and enjoy. I hope you’ll take a look, try something new, and let me know how it tastes!

Cashew fruit dessert: A tasty dessert full of protein by At Eleanor’s Table

Cashew fruit dessert: A tasty dessert full of protein by At Eleanor’s Table

At Eleanor’s Table

Rachel Henry’s resources for this post:

Main Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Marguerite Beaty, Blogger, Photographer & Artist

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