The Importance of Protein in the Elderly Diet

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – A geriatric consultant specialist in internal medicine and teaching staff at Padjadjaran University (UNPAD), Lazuardhi Dwipa, said that nutrition was very important for the elderly, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic, including daily protein intake.

Provision of healthy nutrition such as the need for calories, protein, dietary fiber to prevent weight loss, prevent infection, improve susceptibility and sarcopenia or decrease muscle mass. “The protein needs of the elderly are higher than that of younger adults. In fact, the elderly are reduced in protein, which is wrong, so that there will be a decrease in muscle mass and strength or sarcopenia,” he said in a health webinar entitled Commemoration of the National Elderly Day (HLUN). ) 2021 – Entrasol Invites the Elderly to Live Healthy and Actively at Dusk Age on May 29, 2021.

The nutritional needs of each elderly can be different, so consulting a doctor is recommended. However, in general the elderly need 30 X daily calories of body weight. For protein, it is 1 gram/kg/BW/day. In the condition of sarcopenia, protein intake of 1.6 grams/day can increase exercise-induced muscle hypertrophy in the elderly. Studies show, 1 gram of protein / day is the minimum amount to maintain muscle mass.

As for carbohydrates and fats, the calculation is 70 percent: 30 percent. So, someone who weighs 50 kg has a total calorie requirement of 1500 kcal per day, while protein is 50 grams per day.

The Ministry of Health through My Plate also guides nutrition intake, which is to divide the plate into three parts, namely half for vegetables and fruit, then a quarter of carbohydrates such as rice or potatoes and a quarter of protein (animal and vegetable combined) starting from chicken, fish, nuts and others. .

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To make things easier, a lunch menu of about 700 calories may consist of: staple foods such as 3 scoops of rice or 3 medium-sized potatoes or 1.5 cups of dry noodles; side dishes consisting of animal types and the choices are various, for example 2 medium pieces of skinless chicken, or 1 chicken egg or 2 medium-sized pieces of beef, then vegetable side dishes such as 2 medium-sized pieces of tempeh.

Other components, 1 bowl of vegetables and fruit for example 2 pieces of papaya or 2 oranges or 1 Ambon banana. “Most of the elderly abstain from protein, eat vegetables because they are afraid of gout, even though at GERMAS they increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables,” said Lazuardhi who practices at Hasan Sadikin Hospital in Bandung.

In meeting the nutritional needs of the elderly, a number of problems sometimes arise such as appetite disturbances, difficulty chewing due to loose teeth and weakness of chewing muscles, reduced saliva making it difficult to swallow, easy to fill, gastric problems such as frequent nausea and bloating, and complications such as heart problems lung, cancer resulting in loss of appetite, dementia and depression.

One elderly person can experience more than one of these problems, so they cannot meet their nutritional needs. If this is the case, changing the form of food presentation according to the condition of the elderly can be an alternative. For example, in cases of difficulty swallowing or tooth loss, food can be served in soft form or according to the tastes of the elderly.

Another option is giving oral nutritional supplements or ONS which are usually in liquid form but are high in calories and protein so that they are easy to consume and digest. Lazuardhi advised the elderly to first consult a nutritionist if they intend to take ONS.

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Read: 4 Reasons a High Protein Diet Can Still Make Weight Gain


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