Over the past few years, veganism has captivated many people’s interest and has started to persuade them to switch. The significant reason for this is the many studies conducted that show numerous health benefits to a plant-based diet.
Do vegans age badly? Is a vegan diet healthy for seniors?
Surprising to some, adults aged 55 and over are already vegetarian. A statistic shows that nearly 4% of the population that is 55 and over are and have been vegetarian. There have been proven facts that eating a plant-based diet prolongs your life by decreasing your chance of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Although that sounds great, you’ll want to be sure that they maintain the amount of protein, calcium, and calories needed to stay healthy. So what does this mean for the veganism trend?
Vegan Diet: Yay or Nay for Seniors?
This is a tricky question to answer, mainly since there is no a yes or no answer to this. If you are or know someone that is a senior and have been consuming animal products your entire life, it can be determinantal to your life to quit meat and animal products cold turkey. When we get older, we need plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals to maintain a balanced and healthy diet. So whether or not you get your nutrition from a carnivorous or plant-based diet, it is incredibly important to make wise nutritious choices at this age.
Potential Health Benefits & Negatives of Veganism
One of the main advantages of a plant-based diet is its rich nutrient profile, which is vital to older women. It is believed that women can eat and live a very well-balanced diet as a vegan. This is because vegan diets are full of nutrient-dense foods that often go well with reducing calorie needs that go with getting older. When getting older, our bodies calorie intake needs to decrease, which can lead to weight gain struggles, so eating a plant-based diet can help them feel significant without deprived of their necessary food intake needs.
Things To Consider About Veganism When Over 65
To get a better idea of how much nutrition we need when we get older, we’ve prepared five things to consider when going vegan over the age of 55.
It would help significantly if you ate enough protein to preserve your overall health. On average, adults need about 0.75g of protein per kilogram of their own body weight to maintain a healthy life. When you get older, you have to increase your protein intake to 1.0g to 1.2g of protein per kilogram of your own body weight to maintain a healthy life, and even more, if you have other health problems. Now, to consider where you can get protein from when you are a vegan, consider looking towards chickpeas, tofu, black-eyed beans, kidney beans, lentils, quinoa, wild rice, nuts, seeds, nut butter, and milk alternatives such as oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk.
Incorporate a ton of calcium, vitamin D & B12, and iron into your diet. This is highly essential to have good bone health as these nutrients will help avoid any significant fractures or osteoporosis-related in older adults. In senior adults over 55, your health needs 1200mg of calcium per day. Yes, that’s every single day! For vitamin D, your body needs at least 10 micrograms for good bone health. Considering a vegan diet, you can supplement the following calcium nutrient foods, fortified soy milk and almond milk, calcium-fortified cereals, pitta bread, chapatti, and white bread. However, vitamin D supplements are made with an animal source, so try vitamin D2 or lichen-derived vitamin D3.
Additionally, to keep your nervous system in check and provide energy throughout the days, making sure to have a healthy amount of B12 in your diet is important. Having a vegan dietary restriction is hard enough to find B12 nutrients; when you are an older adult, your risk of being B12 deficient increases. In fact, it’s an estimated one in twenty people aged 65 and above that are being affected. To increase your amount of B12 consumed, consider vitamin supplements or plant-based sources of vitamin B12 which are: dairy milk alternatives, fortified breakfast cereals, yeast extracts, and dairy alternative yogurts with added B12.
Lastly, iron is an essential nutrient to consistently have because it’s responsible for making up red blood cells, healing wounds in a timely fashion, supporting the immune system, and more. Usually, we would need about 18g of iron a day, but adults older than 50 need 8.7mg of iron a day to stay healthy, which is offset because of menopause. If you believe you are low on Iron, you can include more leafy green vegetables in your diet.
Veganism: Is It A Healthy Diet for Those Living with Osteoporosis?
There have been many speculations on whether or not someone living with osteoporosis can be vegan since they cannot consume dairy, which is a major source of dietary calcium. There really is no evidence that shows vegans are at a greater risk for bone disease, but since bones and teeth need calcium to be strong, there are alternatives to dairy and vegan calcium supplements. It is good to mention that the amounts aren’t adequate for bone health. For example, broccoli carries an abundance of calcium. However, to match the equivalent of 1 cup of milk, you would have to consume 5 cups of broccoli.
However, studies show that if you are vegan and an older woman adult, you have a much higher risk of developing osteoporosis than another woman who has a high calcium intake and stronger bones. So if you are a woman aged 78 with osteoporosis, whether you developed it recently or early on in life, it is probably best to maintain a high protein and nutrients diet to maintain your vegan diet or slowly switch to a higher calcium intake diet battling the bone disease.