Quality protein, good nutrition help fight aging’s effects

The older we get, the more important it becomes to pay attention both to the quantity and quality of the calories we consume, says Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center and a registered dietitian.

“The good news about calories taken in is the more physically active you are, the more calories you can consume at any age,” Ms. Sandon says. “The bad news is because we are aging, we are losing muscle mass, and we need the right type of calories to help promote and keep that lean muscle mass.”

Research indicates raising daily protein intake can help fend off the age-related muscle mass loss. Physical activity also helps keep muscles and bones strong, Ms. Sandon says.

A healthy diet rich in quality protein helps minimize muscle loss. Experts recommend the average adult consume .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight; for older individuals that benchmark jumps to nearly .7 grams. For someone who weighs 154 pounds, the higher guideline translates into about 105 grams of recommended daily protein. A four-ounce piece of grilled trout provides roughly 28 grams of protein.

Ms. Sandon says it is also important to consider the quality of the protein, like that packed with essential amino acids – lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy products, cheese and yogurt. Along with getting enough quality protein, older adults also need to watch their fluid intake.

Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/nutrition to learn more about clinical services in nutrition at UT Southwestern.

March is National Nutrition Month.

Media Contact: Debbie Bolles