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The role of protein in supporting seniors’ immune system

The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues and organs that defend the body against infection and illnesses. Researchers say that an aging person is more likely to get sick because of fewer immune cells whose function and efficiency to fight off bacteria weakens. Moreover, the aging person’s body also produces fewer white blood cells that can slow down the healing process from injuries, infections and illnesses. 1

While there is not one diet that improves immunity, researchers do know that a varied diet full of vitamins and minerals found in fresh vegetables and fruits helps the body, including the immune system, to function well. 1

A diet rich in protein helps the body support immunity as well. From infancy through advanced aging, protein is important in building and repairing body tissue and fighting viral and bacterial infections. Immune system powerhouses such as antibodies and immune system cells rely on protein as well. 2, 3

Therefore, getting enough protein through a balanced nutrition is one way for an aging person to support immunity. Choosing food items such as skinless chicken, lean beef and turkey, beans, and soy is one way for seniors to get plenty of protein. 2, 3

Recommended Protein Serving per day for Older Adults

One in three adults over age 50 doesn’t get the protein they need each day. So if you’re wondering what is a normal protein level for older adults, you’re definitely not alone.3

Current guidelines suggest that adults consume 0.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight every day. However, new research suggests that older adults may require closer to 0.5 grams per pound of body weight.3

Some ways seniors can ensure they are getting enough protein to support their immunity are starting their day with a high-protein breakfast of eggs, filling their lunch and dinner with protein-filled foods such as chicken and fish, and scheduling a protein-rich afternoon of Ensure which is packed with protein and HMB or beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, a muscle-preserving ingredient that works with protein to help preserve muscles. Along with protein, HMB helps rebuild muscle and strength to keep one aging strong and healthy.3, 4