Ideal Protein for Ages 65+

Q:  Dr. Liz, tell me please … What is the optimal amount of protein for senior citizens?  Is there anything we can do to minimize muscle loss?
A: Yes. Interestingly protein is not a solution to maintaining muscle mass. The most effective solution to prevent muscle mass loss or to gain muscle mass is to 

1.  Eat Vegetables, and 2.  perform resistance training.  

Q:  Interesting.  Why is that?
A:  The alkalizing effects of vegetables may neutralize the mild metabolic acidosis in our body that facilitates the breakdown of muscle.  Muscle wasting appears to be an adaptive response to acidosis.  We all know when we exercise a muscle, it is likely to grow, or gain mass.

Q:  What kind of protein should I take?
A:  Plant based protein is best!  So go ahead and eat beans and legumes!  

Q:  Overall, people over the age of 65, do they lose muscle mass?
A:  Yes, People over the age of 65 are more subject to losing muscle mass.  By consuming more vegetables, one can reduce their risk of muscle mass by half!

Q:  What about an older person on bed rest?
A:  Studies show that people over the age of 65 on bed rest lose muscle mass 6x as much as younger people on bed rest. 

Q:  Why does this happen as we age?
A:  As we age our kidneys start to decline and it may also be due to the acid based diet that we tend to consume.

Q:  Is muscle mass loss inevitable as we age?
A:  No.  Muscle mass loss with age is not inevitable.  You just have to put in some effort.  Adding protein does not seem to matter.  A Japanese study showed that many elderly males actually increased their muscle mass, but they did put in the effort.

Q:  What about younger people that eat a lot of protein?
A:  People under the age of 65 who eat a lot of meat, eggs and dairy are 73x as likely to die of diabetes.  People in the moderate group were 23x more likely to die of Diabetes, compared to the base group which was consuming 50g of protein per day.  

Q:  Can I live longer by consuming less protein?
A:  Likely, yes!  Studies show that a lower intake of protein consumption is shown to elongate life and eliminate or lessen the likelihood of disease in any age.  

Q: Thanks Dr. Liz!  I’m going to do my best to consume as many fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes as I can!  I will be doing some resistance exercise too!

About Dr. Liz Perry
Dr. Liz is a primary care provider with a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and a Master’s degree in Business Management from Harvard University. For over 22 years, Dr. Liz has worked as an international healthcare consultant, has traveled the world, and has written hundreds of published articles as a health journalist.

Liz Perry