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Plant-Based Diet for Seniors: 4 Nutrients to Focus on

plant based diets for seniors

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Nutrition has a significant impact on the physical as well as the mental wellbeing of older adults. Most caregivers fail to understand and realise that nutritional needs differ depending on the age of an individual. Just like babies have their unique dietary needs than teens, seniors’ dietary requirements are very different from those of younger adults.

Unfortunately, older adults don’t always get the necessary attention and might sometimes suffer from malnutrition. Malnutrition in a nursing home might be a sign of elder neglect; get the assistance of nursing home abuse attorneys to know the way forward.

Nutrients to Focus on in a Plant-Based Diet for Older Adults

Sticking to a plant-based diet has many health advantages, including weight loss, good heart health, and robust blood pressure. Here are some vital nutrients that you must emphasise on:

Vitamin B12

As people age, they become further susceptible to vitamin deficiencies. And according to experts, an approximated 20% of people over fifty years have low vitamin B12. Many people think that vitamin B12 is a nutrient only derived from animals. However, there are several vegan sources of vitamin B12, including:

  • Tempeh
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified plant milk
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Seaweed
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
Protein

The human body depends on protein to build and preserve muscle mass. Protein levels can start to decline as early as 30 years of age. According to many scholars, older adults need to consume protein-rich foods especially, when dealing with chronic or severe illnesses and facing hospitalisation.

During this stressful period, their bodies fail to process enough proteins, and they need more of it to maintain muscle mass, bone health, and other mental functions. Sources of plant-based proteins comprise of:

  • Lentils
  • Peanuts
  • Quinoa
  • Spirulina
  • Chia seeds
  • Tofu
  • Chickpeas
Calcium

Calcium is a vital nutrient responsible for robust bones and teeth. It also guarantees the proper functioning of nerves, cells, and muscles. However, the amount of calcium in our bodies decreases as we get old. Older adults have less appetite, hence a lower intake of dietary calcium. Additionally, the kidney’s proficiency to hold calcium declines resulting in a rise in calcium loss through urine. This is why older adults need to consume calcium-rich foods. Plant-based sources of calcium are:

  • Kale
  • Figs
  • Soybeans
  • Broccoli
  • Oranges
  • Seeds like pumpkin seeds, poppy, and chia seeds
Fibre

Dietary fibre is an essential portion of a healthy meal for everyone. However, it is helpful to older adults who have challenges dealing with constipation, blood sugar levels, cholesterol problems, and weight. Fibre can be included in the daily meal since it is readily available in plant-based sources like:

  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Prunes
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Raspberries
  • Pistachios
  • Black beans
  • Artichokes
  • Oatmeal
  • Avocado
  • Celery
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli

The Bottom Line

Your health needs change as you age while your appetite decreases. All this comes from difficulty swallowing, chewing, less taste, smell, vision, or even other age-related illnesses. It is, therefore, essential for older adults to consume a well-balanced diet to slow down their aging process, increase their immunity and energy levels, maintain a healthy weight and sleep better.

Footnote

if you are concerned about your health or that of your older family, it is wise to consult a medical professional.

Image Pixabay – CC0 License

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