More vegans today are opting to eliminate all animal products from their diets because they are hoping to see positive changes in their health. A vegan diet can provide your senior loved one with many benefits, but only if the diet is approached correctly. Henderson caregivers discuss a few things your loved one needs to consider when switching to a vegan diet.
1. Calcium Is Important
Your loved one will need to consume enough calcium to prevent age-related conditions like osteoporosis. A shortage of calcium is one of the top contributing factors to this disease, and your loved one cannot just assume his or her calcium needs are being met while on a vegan diet. Instead, your loved one will need to pay extra attention to the amount of calcium he or she is getting from plant-based sources.
Be sure your loved one consumes these sources of calcium while eating vegan:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Fortified orange juice
- Blackstrap molasses
- Soy milk
2. Protein Needs to Be Incorporated Regularly
As your loved one ages, it is natural for the amount of physical activity he or she gets to decrease. However, by eating protein, your loved one can keep his or her muscles at optimal strength. Many seniors are under the misconception that meat is the only form of protein that matters, which prevents them from going vegan. However, there are many protein-rich foods your loved one can and should eat when switching to a vegan diet, which include:
- Soy products
3. Vitamin D Supplements Might Be Necessary
Although vitamin D deficiency is not common among vegans, it is definitely a concern for seniors, especially those who spend little time outside in the sunlight. Vitamin D can help your loved one prevent certain diseases, including diabetes, some forms of cancer, and heart disease. Because a vegan diet contains little vitamin D, your loved one will likely need to supplement the vitamin to meet the necessary levels.
Some of the best sources of vitamin D for seniors on a vegan diet include:
- Chanterelle and portabella mushrooms
- Almond milk
- Soy yogurt
- Fortified orange juice
4. There Are Many Health Benefits
Your loved one can reduce his or her risk of many chronic diseases by switching to a vegan diet. Going vegan means the foods your loved one eats will be low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol. Plant-based food also has more fiber, which is a definite plus for seniors.
A vegan diet can help your loved one reduce the risk of:
- Heart attack
Many seniors gravitate to the vegan diet because they cannot easily digest meat and dairy products. Although going vegan is typically a sound decision for seniors, your loved one will need to take a closer look at the reasons why the animal-based foods he or she eats are causing weight gain, inflammation, bloating, and fatigue. A vegan diet can help your loved one prevent many of these problematic issues, but the diet does necessarily not solve the root of the problem. Your loved one will need to rebalance his or her body to regain tolerance of foods, including those that are a part of the vegan diet.
For more information on senior nutrition, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are trained to prepare nutritious meals, and they can also go grocery shopping to pick up the healthy foods your loved one needs to maintain a vegan diet. To learn more about the senior care Henderson families trust, call (702) 527-7723 today.