- Brian Bender, PhD
How to Identify Healthy Proteins for Seniors
Susan Baker is a guest author and the founder of Insurancefaq.net. She strives to spread positive, and useful information for senior’s on Medicaid or afflicted by chronic disease.
If there’s anything that surviving through the last year of a pandemic has taught people, it’s that it’s important to take control of our wellness. From our activity level to eating clean, people are actively learning to improve their quality of life. This is especially true of the senior community and those with chronic illnesses. As our bodies age, they become more fragile, so we must ensure that we are taking the necessary action to preserve our wellness. You can track your protein intake, and get a better sense of how your dietary choices are impacting your day-to-day health.
Additionally, those who have a chronic illness know that homeostasis can be fragile; even the slightest imbalance can create a chain reaction and throw everything out of whack. The body can only withstand so much trauma, so the more we can do things like reduce inflammation from the foods that we eat, goes a long way. So we’ve compiled some tips below on identifying some of the healthiest eating options for seniors, specifically on how to identify the cleanest and healthiest protein options that are tasty, filling, and go a long way to promoting long-term wellness.
The Importance of Having Clean Proteins at an Older Age
Proteins are important in our diet because they are fundamental building blocks that help make up each of the cells in our bodies. Proteins in our diet help our body repair cells and make new ones. Additionally they are important to the growth, development, and preservation of vital tissues like muscles in the body.
The more we learn about modern dietary choices, the clearer the picture becomes: the cleaner the food that we put into our body (no preservatives, no trans fats, limited oils), the better our body will perform in the short and long term. This fact becomes more important to preserving health as we age. At an older age, without clean proteins the body cannot function as optimally. The addition of cleaner proteins in your diet helps with the following bodily functions:
● Help recover from trauma
● Preserve senses, specifically vision and hearing
● Maintain motor skills
● Balance enzymes for digestion and hormones
Aging takes a toll on our bodies, so any initiatives we can take on personally or as a society should be to push for adopting clean proteins into our diets so we can slow the aging process and preserve all of the necessary bodily functions to live a happy and healthy lifestyle. But what are the healthy protein options? We’ve listed them below.
Healthy Protein Options
You can find protein in many different food sources: meat, dairy, nuts, and legumes. However, not all protein options are created equally. While red meat is full of protein, it also contains other ingredients that are not as healthy for your body. Additionally, fried chicken is one of the most dense protein sources, but the abundance of oil and fats makes it a much less healthy option compared to chicken that is prepped more cleanly.
Fish and Seafood
Fish and other seafood are clean protein options because they have all the necessary amino acids, and also have essential omega-3 fatty acids that help with both heart and mental health. Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation, which is something that red meat actually may increase.
Lean poultry is among the most protein dense clean eating options of any food source. A single ounce of white meat chicken is eight grams of protein alone. However, poultry can be significantly less healthy if it is fried. The added carbs and oil can muck up your digestive health and can contribute towards clogging our arteries.
Nuts, Legumes, and Dairy
If you are going to opt for keeping dairy in your diet, we recommend you choose skim or low-fat options. This way, you can still get the nutritional benefits from dairy without additives that do not serve your body well. For those who are on a plant-based diet, nuts and legumes are going to be your primary source of protein.
Proteins for Seniors with Chronic Illness
If you suffer from a chronic illness, the importance of your diet is heightened even more. Patients who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes or chronic kidney disease have a more fragile immune system, so by improving your dietary intake, you’re more likely to have less episodes and live your life comfortably. I’ve compiled some clean protein tips for various common chronic conditions below:
For those with diabetes, it is generally more important to focus on your intake of fats and carbohydrates. These two macronutrients have much more of an influence on your blood sugar levels than proteins do. However, one in three adults with diabetes has Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause kidney diseases. And with compromised kidneys, the body can’t process proteins nearly as well. So it’s important to prioritize clean proteins if you have diabetes.
Chronic Kidney Disease affects nearly 40 million adults in the United States, many of which are suspected to be undiagnosed. If you are in stage three or beyond of CKD, your kidney function levels indicate there is noticeable kidney damage and a shift in diet is of the utmost importance to avoid being put on dialysis or requiring a transplant. One of the dietary changes that most physicians recommend is decreasing protein intake to reduce stress on kidneys, as well as prioritizing cleaner protein options. By incorporating more plant-based protein options, some studies have shown that it will help reduce or even reverse loss of kidney function.
As our understanding of diet and sciences progresses, it has become clear that our body somewhat treats food as medicine. What we ingest affects our form and function, and as we age the importance of our dietary choices increases. So if you or a loved one are elderly or suffer from a chronic illness, consider adding a dietary change to your lifestyle. Not only will you feel the results, but it will empower you to continue living your life to the fullest.