Every few years, a new study seems to surface that redefines the ultimate diet for health and longevity.
In the latest published research, scientists analyzed the results of existing studies and came up with a dietary plan they felt would optimize both the lifespan and health span of humans.
Much of what they uncovered is neither shocking nor groundbreaking:
- Healthy fats like nuts/olive oil should comprise 30% of your daily calories
- Limit sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Eat during a 12-hour period and fast the other 12 hours
- Eat plenty of legumes and whole grains
- Do three cycles yearly of a five-day fasting-type diet
I agree for the most part with these recommendations. However, they have others that I tend to think are based on social ideologies, as well as personal bias. Red meat is a perfect example.
Is Red Meat Healthy or Is It the Villain?
I’m sure you’ve noticed that many health experts believe eating red meat is unhealthy. However, the studies they use to support this idea have been routinely flawed, or the protocols are designed in such a way to ensure a negative outcome.
An example of this would be where studies fail to distinguish how red meat is prepared. Some studies acknowledge that highly processed meats may be responsible for negative results. However, few concede that deep frying or cooking meat at high temperatures also changes outcomes. This is a real issue since our society consumes most meat this way.
Not only does this study say the best diet should be either vegetarian or one that includes only fish, it also says it should contain no red meat whatsoever and very limited white meat such as chicken and turkey.
The fact is, humankind has been eating meat since the beginning of time. Animal protein contains all nine essential amino acids needed by the body. Plant protein doesn’t. For vegetarians to get the protein they need to stay healthy, it takes a lot more effort.
The Real Villain is Sugar, Not Meat
If the researchers wanted to recommend the elimination of one category of food, it should have been refined carbohydrates and sugar, not meat.
You don’t have to be a nutritionist or scientist to see what has been happening in our society over the last few decades. Obesity and type 2 diabetes have skyrocketed. Study after study, not just in this country but worldwide, has shown this is due to the ever-increasing consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Seniors Need More Protein, Not Less
More seniors than ever are experiencing muscle deterioration, compromised mobility, joint and bone weakness, frailty, slower recovery from illness, and loss of independence.
With age, protein needs for seniors increase because the body becomes less efficient at processing it. Instead of cutting back, seniors require more protein to maintain strength, muscle mass, bone health, and brain function among others.
Obviously, protein alone is not enough. Exercise is also required. However, without adequate amino acids from protein, the body won’t have the raw materials necessary to maintain these tissues.
How Much Protein Do Seniors Need?
How much protein seniors need is still up for debate. It varies by age and health.
As a general rule, for healthy seniors, a 150-lb woman should be eating around 69 to 81 grams of protein a day, and a 180-lb man around 81 to 98 grams a day. This works out to 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.
For seniors with either acute or chronic diseases, recommended protein consumption would be even greater (depending on the disease and its severity): 1.2 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. This would equate to 102 grams of protein daily for a 150-lb woman and 123 grams of protein daily for a 180-lb man.
For those seriously ill or malnourished, 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight could be needed. Studies show that supplementing the diet with additional protein for a month after being discharged from the hospital improves recovery rates.
I suggest keeping a journal of your food intake for a few days and tracking your protein. I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn just how little protein they get each day.
What Are the Best Sources of Protein?
Some of the best protein sources include:
- Chicken (3 oz=28 g)
- Steak (3 oz=26 g)
- Turkey (3 oz=25 g)
- Tuna (3 oz=22 g)
- Pinto beans (½ cup=11 g)
- Greek yogurt (6 oz=18 g)
For a more comprehensive list, click here.
Keep in mind, it’s important to spread your protein consumption throughout the day and not try to eat it all in one or two sittings. This helps with absorption. Digestive enzymes also decrease with age, so a digestive enzyme supplement is often needed as well to help with breakdown and absorption.
Personally, I have a whey protein shake every morning after my workout. I’ve found this helps control blood sugar levels throughout the morning until lunchtime. A high-quality whey protein powder is also a great way to increase levels of glutathione, which has been closely linked to overall health and longevity. However, I do not recommend using protein shakes as a substitute for food-based protein.
Remember, our bodies are designed to process protein from meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Eliminating these important sources of protein is not the answer for most people.