by Karen Collins
, MS, RD, CDN
Institute for Cancer Research
for the week of: June
Q: Do older adults need extra
protein to avoid losing muscle? If so, how much is enough?
A: Research suggests that older adults may need
somewhat more protein than younger adults to avoid the loss of
lean body tissue like muscle and bone that occur as we age. Most
studies involve those over age 65, but some include adults over
55. This does not require huge amounts of meat or protein supplements,
however. The long-time standard protein recommendation for adults
has been this formula: your body weight in pounds divided by
three (thus, a 160 pound adult needs 53 grams of protein). Quite
a few studies in recent years suggest that older adults lose
less muscle and may actually gain muscle better if along with
strength-training exercise, they consume protein equal to their
weight in pounds divided by two. (So a person who weighs 160
pounds may do well to target 80 grams of protein per day.) Studies
do not show any further benefit in maintaining or gaining muscle
with protein consumption beyond that amount. U.S. dietary surveys
suggest that average protein consumption of adults ages 51-70
generally meets that target. However, about one in four over
70 may be getting less than the minumun and another 25 percent
of adults over 50 may be getting less than the proposed higher
target. You can reach this higher level of protein with five
to six ounces a day of lean poultry, fish or meat plus three
servings of dairy products or dairy alternatives as part of a
balanced diet that provides smaller amounts of protein from whole
grains, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, and perhaps some eggs,
too. Those who prefer to omit or minimize meat or dairy products
need to include multiple servings of vegetarian sources of protein.
Some research suggests that protein may be more efficiently used
when it is spread out through the day. As important as protein
seems to be, research also emphasizes the vital role that resistance
(strength-training) exercise has in avoiding lean tissue loss.
confused by all the competing claims about different berries.
Is there one that offers more health protection than the others?
A: All berries offer health benefits, so enjoy a
variety. Strawberries are highest in vitamin C, yet all are good
sources. A cup of most berries about two servings
will supply from a third of the recommended amounts to the complete
target. Actually, much of the health promoting power of fruits
and vegetables comes not from the classic antioxidant vitamin
C, but from natural protective compounds in plants called phytochemicals.
Antioxidants attract and neutralize highly reactive molecules
called free radicals that can damage body cells in ways that
lead to cancer and heart disease. Yet focusing only on antioxidant
power, and systems that rate that power, misses the big picture.
Many phytochemicals in berries may also help protect against
cancer and other chronic diseases by decreasing inflammation
and stimulating self-destruction of abnormal cells. Two of these
are anthocyanins, which give many berries their red color, and
ellagic acid. In animal studies, berries or the compounds they
contain have inhibited development of colon, esophageal, cervical,
lung and breast cancers. In several experiments all berries were
about equally effective.
Talk Archives 2011
Talk Archives 2010
The American Institute for Cancer
Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on
the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management
to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates
the public about the results. It has contributed more than $91
million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals
and research centers across the country. AICR has published two
landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the
field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR
also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions
of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk.
Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in
brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global
network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of
cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International,
a membership association which operates as the umbrella organization
for the network .The other charities in the WCRF network are
World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld
Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org);
World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds
Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).