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19 January 2018

Cured meats and the elderly

As the years pass, we mustn’t forget we need a good intake of proteins in our diet.
“Buono a sapersi” (Good to Know) edited by Jessica Lops (Dietician)  

One of the most widespread and evident conditions in the elderly today is sarcopenia. It is the gradual loss of muscle mass, which leads to a loss of functionality and a series of problems including weakness, anomalies in thermoregulation, impaired balance and an increased risk of falls.

This physical condition is the result of four contributing factors:

  1. Lack of physical exercise. If we do not exercise, we cannot maintain our existing muscle mass. Physical exercise does not have to be strenuous, just a walk, a gentle jog if you are fitter or a bike ride. The important thing is that you do it on a regular basis.
  2. Slowing down of the metabolism. The disposition to replace worn-out and damaged elements in the body can be reduced.
  3. Lack of protein-rich food in an old person’s diet. This deficit is mainly due to difficulty digesting the individual foodstuffs or difficulty preparing them. The elderly are often the victim of an unbalanced, monotonous diet which is low in proteins, due to difficulties chewing, and low in vitamins and antioxidants due to problems procuring them.
  4. Social condition and the environment the elderly live in. Not all old people are self-sufficient and able to see to their needs on their own.

Here is some advice how to help prevent this condition progressing.

As well as counteracting the first two factors by conducting a physically active life, it is essential for old people to modify their diet, introducing on a daily basis food that is high in proteins that does not need preparing, that can easily be conserved and that is easy to digest. Sliced meats, and in particular cooked and dry-cured ham, are ideal for the elderly because they have a high protein content, they are practical to use and store and easy to digest thanks to the all-important percentage of proteins in free amino acids which can be directly absorbed.

Let’s see which cured meats are recommended:

HAM: on average it has 20% of protein and around 100 Kcal per 50 g. We recommend removing any fat you can see to improve the nutritional quality of the product.

DRY-CURED HAM: this kind of ham is highly nutritious, providing around 14 g of protein per 50 g.
It’s important to remember that at this age, a healthy diet is essential for a healthy body.

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