I wrote about calcium intake a few weeks ago, as I was concerned that I wasn’t getting the UK’s NRV (Nutrient Reference Value, ie the recommended daily intake) of 700mg of calcium a day to keep my bones strong and resilient. Since then, new research has been published by the University of Leeds focussing on protein and its relationship to bone strength. The paper, which looked at the medical records of more than 26,000 women aged 35-69, linked increased protein intake to lower risk of hip fracture.
Eating an extra 25g of protein each day (from animal or plant sources) correlated with a 14% reduced risk of hip fracture. Women who were underweight, and therefore more likely to have reduced bone mineral density and muscle mass, saw a greater risk reduction when they ate more protein – of up to 45%. The recommended protein intake in the UK is 0.8g per kilo of lean body weight (ie your weight if you were in the normal BMI range for your height) although, as the research team pointed out, some nutritional experts believe that is too low, particularly for people over 65.
When I get my clients to do the maths on their regular diet none of them, ever, is hitting 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight per day. Do the equation yourself and let us know in the comments if you’re hitting your target. And remember that protein-rich foods aren’t 100% protein. 100g of that Christmas turkey, for example, contains 29g of protein. There’s a list of the protein content of foods in metric here, and in American measurements here to help you.
A precise work out to target muscle loss
Protein helps us grow and maintain muscle – when we exercise it, of course. Muscle loss, known as sarcopenia, is a key factor in ageing and so closely linked to osteoporosis that researchers have coined the term osteosarcopenia. This double whammy of conditions greatly increases the risk of frailty and fractures as we age. New research from the University of Valencia shows that sarcopenia was reversed in women over 70 when they undertook a programme of resistance training. So far, so obvious – weight training builds muscle, we know that – but it’s worth breaking down the High Intensity Resistance Training programme they followed.
50 women had two 65-minute sessions a week for six months, with a minimum recovery time of 72 hours between each one. Each carefully-supervised session was broken into three parts:
- 10-minute warm up, including joint mobility and postural control exercises.
- 45-minute resistance circuit using fixed weighted machines in the gym, with six exercises to strengthen different muscle groups. Participants did three series of 10–15 repetitions until they couldn’t manage another rep.
- 10-minute stretch and self-massage for myofascial release (which must have felt lovely!)
A pretty intense regime, but only twice and week and the results showed that the participants had more muscle, less fat and more strength in their limbs. They also had better balance, crucial if we want to avoid falls and fractures.
MIDDLING ALONG PODCAST
If you’re after something to listen to while you’re working your muscles, doing the sprouts, or enjoying a wintery walk, I recently recorded a podcast with the lovely Emma from Middling Along. It’s a short one – less than half an hour – but we packed a lot in: when to start building a life that reduces dementia risk, post-menopausal health, a holistic approach to ageing well and a whole lot more! You can listen here
The Age-Well Project archive is full of gorgeous recipes for Christmas. Here’s a few of our favourites:
Photo Tijana Drndarski for Unsplash