Eating enough protein and exercise are important to prevent age-related sarcopenia, or muscle loss, Tainan Municipal Hospital head nutritionist Chang Li-chuan (張麗娟) said on Monday.
People aged 65 and above could lose muscle mass, a condition that impairs physical functions and the ability to care for oneself, she said.
As people age, the body’s ability to metabolize and absorb protein declines, leading to muscle loss, she said, adding that insufficient nutrition, lack of exercise, diabetes and kidney disorders are additional risk factors for sarcopenia.
Adequate nutrition — especially of proteins — is essential to muscle growth and elderly people should consume more milk, soybeans, soy derivatives, eggs and lean meat, she said.
The protein intake should be spread across three meals and not concentrated in one sitting, she said.
Some elderly people experience a loss of appetite as a result of dietary restrictions due to diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions, decreased ability to masticate because of dental problems, or loss of tastebud sensitivity, she said.
In those situations, snacks, such as milk, soy milk, tofu pudding, yogurt or an egg, between meals and before sleep could be a good option, she said.
Two cups of milk per day and meat or other protein dish about the size of a palm per meal is the recommended diet for elderly people, she said.
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