As we age, our muscle mass tends to
decrease unless we work at keeping it.
Less muscle translates to less strength
and less mobility, both of which may
increase the risk of falls and fractures.
That’s why it’s important to preserve,
even rebuild, what we can to stay strong.
Maintaining muscle mass largely
comes down to being active and
“When we don’t eat enough dietary
protein, there can be muscle breakdown
and muscle loss. This can lead to
decreased strength, which can cause
mobility problems, make us frailer,
and can reduce independence,” says
Jennifer Sundberg, a registered dietitian
for Alberta Health Services in Red Deer.
“We need to maintain enough dietary
protein to prevent further muscle loss.
Protein and dining companions
help maintain muscle mass
WRITTEN BY COLLEEN SETO
This means eating high-protein foods
at every meal.”
Eating balanced meals with enough
protein can be a challenge for anyone,
but it can be particularly tricky among
A growing number of older adults
admitted to hospital are malnourished,
which complicates their treatment and
care. Eating balanced meals with enough
protein and calories is one way to
“Losing weight without wanting
to could be a sign of malnutrition,”
Sundberg says. Other signs of
malnutrition include poor or reduced
appetite leading to weight loss and
muscle and fat loss. People who are
malnourished are at higher risk of
becoming sick, falling, and losing their
independence because they can’t do
daily activities such as getting dressed,
bathing or going for walks on their own.
On the other hand, being slightly
overweight can protect against some
chronic diseases. “As we age, carrying a
little extra weight does not appear to be
as harmful as when a person is younger,”
Sundberg says. Of course, it can be
unhealthy to be overweight or obese, but
if you’re at risk for malnourishment, a
few extra pounds can stave off illness.
meals with enough
protein can be a
challenge for anyone
It’s important to preserve, even rebuild, muscle mass to stay strong as we get older.