If you eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast, or grab a piece of toast or a muffin, you could be increasing your risk for a broken hip — especially if you’re over 50. These foods are too low in an important ingredient that increases bone density and keeps your leg muscles strong. Because you need so much of this ingredient, it’s next to impossible to get enough of it throughout the rest of the day. You need some at each meal.
This ingredient is protein. And a recent study indicates you need more than you may think. Here’s why.
As we get older, it becomes more difficult to get enough protein. Lack of appetite, cost, and poorer digestion are reasons why so many seniors lack enough to retain stronger leg muscles. Weak legs lead to falls – the major reason for hip fractures.
Now a study out of Harvard Medical School recommends a whopping 46 grams of protein every day for older women. It found that women who ate the most protein had the fewest hip fractures. Men need even more protein, the study says: at least 56 grams. If you have enough hydrochloric acid (HCl) to break down dietary protein, and if you include animal proteins in your diet, you may get enough protein. If, however, you rely on dairy, beans, and eggs, it becomes more difficult. One egg contains only 6 grams of protein, and a cup of yoghurt has from 8-12 grams.
A serving of chicken or fish can give you 20-30 grams of protein — if you’re able to digest it. Of course, if you’re taking antacids, you’re not utilizing the protein you’re eating. Antacids stop your stomach’s acid from breaking down food so you can’t absorb it properly.
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Here are some solutions. First, take HCl instead of antacids. They’re what your body needs to digest protein and eliminate heartburn. You can read about this in detail in past newsletter articles.
Second, add protein powder to your cereal, or start the day with a protein shake. Boost your protein intake with snacks of nuts, cheese, and yogurt. Add beans to your salads. Don’t count calories. Count grams of protein. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s even more important to concentrate on proteins.
Finally, get regular exercise to strengthen your legs and improve your balance. Exercise is an important step in preventing a broken hip. But it won’t give you the results you’re looking for if you’re not eating and absorbing enough protein.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand