(ARA) – Life expectancy in the United States is at an all time high of 77.2 years. Americans are living longer for many reasons, including progress in fighting illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and stroke. In addition, individuals are now better informed on how to be more in control of their health by eating right, exercising regularly and taking other simple steps to promote good health and prevent serious illness and disease.
Proper nutrition plays a key role in healthy aging. As we age, our nutritional needs change. So while seniors need the same nutrients as younger people, they need them in different amounts. And while the need for most nutrients decreases with age due to decreased activity levels, the need for protein actually increases later in life.
For seniors, getting enough protein helps maintain adequate muscle mass, fights infection and aids in maintaining strength during trauma. However, studies have found that age brings a decrease in energy intake. Older adults may have trouble chewing, swallowing or digesting protein-rich foods such as meat or poultry. In addition, decreased functions of taste and smell may make food less appealing overall, leading to a lack of calories and nutrients.
To increase their overall intake of protein, seniors should consider adding whey protein to their diet. Whey protein, one of the highest quality proteins available, comes from cows milk and contains many of the same components found in mothers milk. It is easily digested and efficiently used by the body. Whey proteins are complete proteins, supplying the body with essential amino acids required for good health. This is why whey proteins provide excellent nutrition for people at every stage of life, including seniors, says Carla Sorensen, director of the Whey Protein Institute.
Whey proteins also enhance the production of glutathione, one of the body”s natural anti-oxidants and help maintain adequate glutathione (GHS) levels to aid the immune system. GSH plays a key role in maintaining and building the immune system. “We see a link between a lower glutathione content in older individuals and an increase in the incidence of many diseases such as stroke, arthritis, macular degeneration and heart disease, says Patricia Kongshavn, Ph.D., an immunologist and pioneer in whey protein research.
A recent clinical study found that a specific type of whey protein helped to reduce blood pressure in individuals with borderline hypertension. While whey protein should not be substituted for prescription medication, it may be a good complement to your current program, says Sorensen. She also points out that cancer patients who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy often have reduced levels of GSH and may find whey protein beneficial in boosting their immune system.
If you arent familiar with whey protein, you may be wondering how you can incorporate it into your diet. Adding whey protein to your menu is simple and tasty. Whey protein bars and beverages can be purchased in grocery stores, or you can make your own healthy snacks using whey protein powder, which is readily available in health food stores, natural food stores and many fitness centers.
Here is a simple recipe to show how easy it is to incorporate the benefits of whey protein into your diet.
Pudding with Whey Protein
1 package instant pudding (any flavor)*
2 servings whey protein, natural, vanilla or chocolate flavor
2 cups skim milk
Directions: Combine instant pudding and whey protein. Add skim milk and mix according to package directions. Refrigerate 15 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information (per serving): 200 calories, 15 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat, 31 grams of carbohydrates.
Dietary exchanges: 2 starch, 1 lean meat.
* Sugar free pudding may be used in place of regular pudding to reduce calories and carbohydrates.
For more recipes and information on the health benefits of whey protein, visit the Whey Protein Institutes Web site at www.wheyoflife.org, or call toll-free (866) WHY-WHEY.
Courtesy of ARA Content