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Feeling good and looking great are a lot easier in your 20's than in your 80's, but small changes in your diet can help you optimize your health throughout your life. This article will help you choose the foods that enable you to eat right for your age. However, some principles of nutrition apply to all adults. Let's start with some basics.
Everyone needs protein
Despite what the advocates of three-hour and four-hour diets tell us, everyone doesn't need protein at every meal. We don't even need protein foods every day, although about 48 hours is the longest anyone should go without eating protein. The average adult (women a little less, men a little more) needs 50 grams of protein a day. Those 50 grams of protein come from about 100 grams (about 3-1/2 ounces) of a high-protein food like fish or 150 grams (about 5 ounces) of a lower-protein food like beans or roast beef or cheese. Our bodies break down the proteins in food into amino acids, and then reassemble the amino acids to make proteins for us. The body's buffering systems can only hold amino acids for about 48 hours. Excesses of a particular kind of amino acid are transformed into sugar (glucose) plus urea. They are flushed down the toilet.
Everyone needs carbohydrate
Carbs get a bad rap, because the body transforms most carbohydrates into sugar (again, glucose). However, glucose is the preferred fuel of most of the organs of the body, especially the brain. The brain needs about 40 grams (160 calories) of glucose derived from food every day for optimal function.
The body also uses carbohydrates to make mucus and the synovial fluid that lubricates joints. Making these glycoproteins can take another 40 grams of carbohydrate a day. Where most people get into trouble is consuming too much carbohydrate. The liver simply cannot process more than about 300 grams (1200 calories) of carbohydrate a day, even if you aren't diabetic.