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Give us this day our daily bread…

Posted on : 27-05-2017 | By : Cindy | In : Aging, Bread, New Zealand, Older-age, Policy watch & public health, Research

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‘I need to eat more bread for protein,’ my 79 year old mother announced over the phone.

‘Bread?’ I countered in my ‘dietitian/daughter knows best’ voice. ‘Milk would be better, or nuts or tuna.’

‘Well, the report said that bread is a good way for us older people to keep up our protein so I’ve just bought myself a lovely, little loaf from the French bakery and eaten the whole lot!’ my Mum replied.

The moment I got off the phone I searched for the report she had cited, convinced that she was somehow mistaken. But there it was, the LiLACS study by Professor Ngaire Kerse and Professor David Cameron-Smith, Chair in Nutrition at the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute following the health of almost 1000 people (Maori and European) aged 80-90 years. It’s the world’s first longitudinal study of an indigenous population aged 80 or over. Highly timely considering that over the next ten years there will be an estimated 166% increase in Maori reaching this age.

So where does the protein – bread story fit in? Protein is needed to maintain muscle mass. We need muscles not only to give us a great shape but more importantly to keep us strong and steady on our feet. Elderly people need strong muscles to stay active, mobile and to reduce the risk of falling. This is why the recommended daily amount rises an extra 10-15 grams for people over 70 to 57 grams for women and 81 grams protein for men.

How much protein is in bread? I raced to my pantry, pulling out bread, milk, tuna and peanut butter to check the labels. Here’s what I found.

Two 45g slices of my organic wholemeal bread = almost 10g protein  (Bread varies in protein content depending on ingredients so check your own favourite loaf.)

A small cup of milk (200mls) = 7.g

A small tin (95g) tuna = 15g

Two teaspoon 100% peanut butter (20g) = 5.6g

1 egg = 6g

150g fillet steak = 40g

Bread can’t compete with meat for being a protein powerhouse but it certainly helps. Some current ‘healthy’ diets vilify and exclude bread as a criminal carb. Yet bread, especially slow rise, sourdough, has been a  staple part of the diet for thousands of years, providing energy, protein, vitamins and fibre.

Prof. Cameron-Smith said that elderly people lose muscle on the current ‘healthy’ diet and that bread is an important protein to help combat this. A sedentary, middle aged person might well do with eating less bread but for those heading towards 80 who find their appetite waning or meat too hard to chew, a peanut butter or cheese sandwich might be just the protein boost your muscles need.

http://m.nzherald.co.nz/brand-insight/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503637&objectid=11858469

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