It’s the ultimate irony.
There’s a killer virus raging out there, but it could be what you EAT… or rather DON’T eat… that takes you down. Because, ultimately, your diet could be the reason your body is unable to fight off the virus or some other dangerous infection.
You see, if you’ve been falling behind on eating enough proteins, it could suppress your immune system. And that could leave you far more vulnerable to getting sick.
Now I know you’re probably thinking. “That’s not me.”
After all, you eat PLENTY of proteins, right? The surprising truth is that more than one in three older adults falls short without even realizing it.
And a suppressed immunity is just one of five warning signs that you’re not getting enough proteins. I’ll have more on those red flags in just a moment. But first, let’s take a closer look at the protein problem.
1-in 3 older adults don’t get enough of this nutrient
Proteins are, of course, critical at ALL stages of life. Every cell in your entire body contains these vital nutrients. And your body uses protein to repair cells and create new ones.
But that’s not all proteins are needed for. Proteins take different forms in our body, including…
- Enzymes that lend a hand to thousands of biochemical reactions
- Hormones which act as chemical messengers helping your cells, organs, and tissues communicate.
- Energy suppliers when other sources aren’t available.
- Transporters which help carry critically important nutrients and other substances throughout your bloodstream and into and out of cells.
- Building blocks that provide structure and stiffness to your cells.
- Balancers that help regulate pH and fluid levels.
- Antibodies which help protect your body from foreign invaders like viruses.
In other words, protein is at the heart of every part and system in your body. And it’s not just toddlers, pregnant ladies, and athletes we need to worry about getting enough of them.
You see, even if you believe you eat plenty of protein-rich foods, there’s a good chance you aren’t getting quite enough. Especially as you age. In fact, research conducted at Ohio State University revealed at least 33 percent of older adults need to eat more of these critical nutrients.
Warning signs you’re not eating enough proteins
I mentioned earlier that a suppressed immune system may be a red flag that you’re not eating enough proteins. If you seem to pick up every sniffle, cough, or virus out there, low protein levels could be, at least partially, to blame.
But frequent illnesses aren’t the only red flag to watch for. Keep your eyes open for these other four warning signs.
If you frequently feel sluggish or tired, low protein levels could be to blame. As a basic building block of your muscles, you can lose muscle lose muscle mass, strength, and energy when you get too little protein. (To little protein isn’t the ONLY reason you you’re feeling weaker with each passing year. This natural solution could have you feeling like your old self again.)
Plus, proteins are a good source of critical energy-linked vitamins such as B-12 and folate, which your body uses to create red blood cells. And finally, without enough proteins on board, oxygen and vital nutrients can’t get where they need to be as efficiently. And that can leave you with low energy and feeling weak.
Do you find yourself lashing out at your spouse, feeling anxious, or battling the blues? Or do you feel like your emotions are bouncing like a pinball all over the place? Proteins are essential for your brain to pump out the “feel-good” hormones dopamine and serotonin, which help keep you feeling stable and balanced.
If you find yourself frequently headed to the kitchen for snacks or feeling shaky and like you need to eat NOW, your protein levels could be on the low side. Proteins help stabilize blood sugar heading off those spikes and crashes that give us the munchies.
Low protein levels can even interfere with your thinker. Those blood sugar spikes and crashes I mentioned above can contribute to fuzzy thinking. Plus, your body needs proteins to help release a steady stream of brain fuel in the form of carbohydrates.
According to the Ohio State researchers, if you weigh 160 pounds and are getting less than 58 grams of proteins in a day, you can eventually expect some real-world consequences. Chronic low protein can affect fine motor skills like writing, gross motor skills like walking, grip strength, and even socialization skills.
And many experts believe seniors should likely be loading up on MORE protein than the daily recommended amounts. In fact, some folks who specialize in senior health recommend doubling the current guidelines.
Luckily, making sure you’re getting enough proteins is both easy and delicious. Just concentrate on eating plenty of wild-caught fish, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, grass-fed beef, nuts, and free-range poultry and eggs.