Not just a matter of taste

swine o'clock Aug 16, 2022

Forget about diets that cut out proteins! Researchers at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) studied the association between eating protein and health outcomes, and their results were clear: we all need it.

  • Protein is important for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs, as well as a healthy immune system, as explained by Shanon Casperson, Ph.D., DTR, Research Biologist and Lead Scientist with the USDA ARS’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center (GFHNRC). 
  • It’s especially important for older adults during periods of illness or injury.

The focus of the research was on whether eating enough protein might be correlated with an older person’s ability to complete the ordinary functions of daily life

  • Older adults need about 0.54 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, but a large percentage of them don’t consume that much.
  • Not only the amount of protein, but the timing is significant as well, since our skeletal muscle becomes resistant to the anabolic effect of dietary protein as we age. 
  • The source of protein is also important – some foods can give people the needed protein much faster than others.

On an additional note, most plant-based proteins are incomplete and must be paired with other foods – researchers need a more comprehensive understanding of the role that plant-based proteins play in the preservation of functional capacity in older adults.