Max Gottlieb is the content manager of Senior Planning. Senior Planning is a completely free service and since 2007 has helped many seniors plan for long-term care, find care services, apply for state and federal benefits, and file for aid and attendance.
Why your golden years might be the right time to go vegetarian
We’re all aware that diet plays a big role in our
quality of life, but it becomes even more important as we grow older.
Many older adults suffer from diabetes, high cholesterol, fatigue, hypertension, heart disease, joint problems, etc. People mistakenly believe eating less
is the solution when, really, they should be focused on eating right. As we age, our bodies naturally slow down and we need fewer calories to survive.
According to Diet.com men over 50 should reduce their caloric intake by 600 calories per day and women should decrease theirs by 300 calories. While it’s clear older people need fewer calories to survive, nutritional needs remain the same, if not more important than ever before.
A vegetarian diet can provide the vitamins and minerals you need without consciously keeping track of whether or not you’re consuming the right things. Vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene, all antioxidants, become extremely important in the fight against free radicals. These vitamins are all found naturally in a diet high in vegetables and fruits. While it is possible to find these vitamins in supplements, natural food sources are the best way for your body to maximise absorption. Citrus, berries, kiwi, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are all packed with vitamin C.
For beta-carotene, which fights macular degeneration, eat carrots, leafy greens, squash, sweet potatoes, melons, or peppers. Also, try adding sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, and avocados to your diet for a boost in vitamin E.
If you notice, many of these foods overlap because they contain a variety of essential vitamins.
For women especially, calcium absorption decreases with age and should be a dietary priority. Calcium can be found in leafy green vegetables, soya milk, legumes, dairy, or fortified orange juice. Milk contains both vitamin D and calcium, which, along with vitamin D supplements, can be helpful for people who prefer not to get their vitamin D from the sun.
Protein also becomes more important as we age because it is imperative the human body maintains healthy muscle mass even as physical activity decreases. Vegetarian protein options include: seeds, nuts, legumes, peanut butter, granola, yogurt, cheese, or soya products.
Beyond the health-rich benefits of a vegetarian diet, there are some practical reasons not to eat meat as well. There have been countless studies linking red meat to cancer and meat is not as sustainably ‘grown’ as vegetables or fruits. Also, with increased age our senses of smell and taste diminish which can cause problems in terms of food safety. Eating vegetarian eliminates the risks of eating spoiled or under-cooked meat. Your golden years should be a time of exploration and what could be more fun than learning a new arsenal of tasty, vegetarian recipes!