Not everyone requires the same amount of protein each day.
Protein is a key nutrient for the human body.
Although most people attribute this nutrient to meat, it is also found in a variety of plants.
Those in the United States of America are not generally at risk of protein deficiency, but it is possible.
According to a recent VeryWell Health article titled “How Much Protein Everyone Needs per Day” certain populations have a higher risk of deficiency than others.
Individuals who are living at or below the poverty level may find their “food insecurity” also means less access to protein-rich diets.
Another group with higher risk is seniors.
As people age, their bodies often require greater amounts of protein.
It is likely those who are not consuming enough proteins will begin experiencing symptoms.
What are some common signs?
A lack of protein can increase appetite.
Unfortunately, people may choose less nutritious foods with high-calorie content to assuage this hunger.
Another sign is suppressed immune systems with a greater risk of infection and illness.
Brittle bones and fractured bones are also a symptom of deficiency.
Protein, calcium, and vitamin D are all building blocks for healthy bones.
Liver disease with fat accumulation and scarred tissue can also be caused by malnutrition.
The loss of lean muscle is common with diminished protein consumption, as are issues with nails, skin, and hair.
When older individuals lose muscle mass through inactivity and poor nutrition, sarcopenia may result.
With chronic deficiency, edema in the feet and other body parts could arise.
For those who prefer not to consume animal proteins, a number of plant-based proteins exist.
What plant sources contain at least 7 grams of protein?
Just two ounces of cooked lentils, peas, beans, or tofu contain at least 7 grams of protein.
Other sources include 1 ounce of cooked tempeh, 4 ounces of nuts or seeds, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 6 tablespoons of hummus, and one 4-ounce falafel patty.
How can you incorporate more proteins into your diet?
The best place to start is to know what foods are high or low in protein and simply eat more of the higher-content foods.
You can add protein to every meal and use nut butter in smoothies, on bread, or on fruit.
Add raw nuts to oatmeal, salads, and yogurt.
Including protein powder in vegetable juices, fruit juices, dairy milk, non-dairy milk, yogurt, and smoothies can provide an extra boost.
Low additives, lean jerked meat, and chickpeas or hummus can be healthy snacks.
Topping salads, sandwiches, and crackers with sardines, salmon, or tuna is a good idea.
Edamame can be added to stir-fries and salads or eaten alone.
Whole grains like wild rice, couscous, and quinoa are high in protein.
Cheese, eggs, and non-dairy milk can be included at breakfast.
One of my favorite go-to breakfasts consists of a bowl of kefir, Oikos triple zero fat-free Greek yogurt, grape nuts, and fresh fruit (e.g., rotating blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries).
It is quick to make, satisfying, tasty, and full of nutrition.
What is not to like about that?
By taking a few simple steps, you can reduce your risk of illness related to protein deficiency as you age.
Reference: VeryWell Health (Sep. 21, 2023) “How Much Protein Everyone Needs per Day”