~ Health Advice from PMGH – Are you getting enough protein in your diet? Part 3 of 4 ~

How Much Protein Is Enough?

Protein Requirements for Kids –
The Institute of Medicine recommends that 10 to 30 percent of the calories a child over age 3 takes in should come from protein. On the average, this equates to 19 grams of protein daily for boys and girls aged 4 to 9 and 34 grams of protein per day for kids aged 9 to 13. As they reach adolescence, boys need more protein than girls. Between the ages 14 to 18, boys should get about 52 grams of protein daily while girls need approximately 46 grams of protein per day.

Brain Benefits – Kids need protein to stay alert and think clearly. The amino acids in protein improve brain function. Tyrosine, an essential amino acid, is instrumental in the production of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, which help kids stay alert and energised. Did you know that when kids eat high-carbohydrate meals that are devoid of protein, their brains’ tryptophan levels increase and produce serotonin, which may make them feel tired?

Appetite – Eating protein-rich food helps kids stay fuller longer, making them less likely to feel hungry between meals, according to researchers from the University of Missouri. Using MRI scans; the researchers compared the brain activity of teens right before lunchtime. Those who had eaten low-protein breakfasts displayed greater activity in regions of the brain that indicate hunger than the teens that had eaten high-protein breakfasts.

Protein Requirements for Adults – The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein in women is 46 grams; the RDA for men is 56 grams per day.

Considerations – Red meat is an excellent source of complete protein, but it also contains artery-clogging saturated fat. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends eating moderate portions of red meat, choosing lean cuts and replacing steaks and burgers with protein sources containing little or no saturated fat, such as fish, poultry, beans and nuts.

Maintaining Muscle Mass –
At approximately 50 years of age, humans begin to gradually lose skeletal muscle. This loss is known as Sarcopenia and is common in the elderly, but is worsened by chronic illness, poor diet or inactivity. Protein intake at the upper end of the RDI range can help maintain muscle mass and strength, which is vital for walking ability and reducing the risk of injury in the elderly from falls.

Experts recommend getting dietary proteins from the following sources:
Fish: Fish offers heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and, in general, less fat than red meat.
Poultry: Chicken – remove the skin to eliminate most of the saturated fat.
Beans: Beans contain more protein than any other vegetable protein. Plus, they’re loaded with fibre that helps you feel full for hours.
Fruits and Vegetables: Peas, Spinach, Corn, Brussels sprouts, Baked potato, guava, oranges, mulberries, starfruit.
Nuts: One ounce of almonds gives you 6 grams of protein, nearly as much protein as one ounce of broiled rib eye steak.
Whole grains: A slice of whole wheat bread gives you 3 grams of protein, plus valuable fibre.
Soy Products: Tofu
Dairy: Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese, Eggs

Remember: A lot of plant-based foods like soy and legumes can give you the same amount of protein as meats. Try eating a hand full of nuts because they not only give you a lot of protein, but they’re healthy sources of good fat.

Tip – Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly and if you have any health concerns, please see your doctor at your local Urban Health Clinic.