Many older adults find it challenging to meet their daily intake value for different nutrients, but it can be a particular problem for vegetarians. Changes in the body during ageing, including a slowing metabolism and a less effective digestive tract, mean that seniors are more prone to nutrient deficiencies. While including meat in a senior’s diet can help to prevent more common problems such as a protein shortage or anemia, plenty of older Indian adults live long, healthy, and active lifestyles while keeping with their vegetarian values. Here are some of the best ways that senior vegetarians can ensure that they’re getting what they need out of each meal.
Eat Plenty of Protein
While it’s true that protein is most plentiful in meat sources, there are also plant-based foods that can provide all of the amino acids that an older adult needs to maintain their muscle mass. Most older vegetarians need to make a conscious effort to include a healthy protein source in every meal, as protein deficiencies become more likely and more severe with age.
Eggs and dairy are good sources of protein for those who include these food groups in their diet. Eggs provide all 22 amino acids that adults need, while dairy products such as milk, cream, and cheese also offer plenty of protein in a single serving. For ageing adults who follow a healthy diet plan as a vegan, there are plenty of plant proteins that are perfectly safe to eat. Dal is a popular ingredient that contains almost every amino acid, as are other commonly used cereals and grains. Protein can also be found in most seeds, nuts, legumes, and beans.
Include B Vitamins
B vitamins are essential for normal bodily functioning, and many are tough for the body to absorb. This makes it especially important that older adults and vegans work to include sources of B vitamins in their diet. Vegetarians often lack enough vitamin B6, which is critical to immune functioning. Adults who don’t eat meat can find B6 instead of whole grains, nuts and legumes, raisins, bananas and yeast extract. B12 is another essential vitamin that’s only found in meat and dairy sources. Vegans can’t get B12 from natural sources but switching to enriched cereals and fortified products can help. It’s also possible to take supplements for B vitamins for older adults who are malnourished.
Consume Iron-Rich Foods
Iron is a critical component of red blood cells, helping to transport oxygen to muscles and organs throughout the body. Without enough iron, people can suffer from health conditions such as anemia, which results in fatigue and weakness that can affect day-to-day life. Dietary iron comes in two forms–heme and nonheme. While heme iron is found in meat and dairy, nonheme iron can be found in plant-based sources. This type of iron is more difficult for the body to digest, however, and so it’s critical that older adults make sure to include plenty of iron-rich foods in their meals throughout the day to meet their daily value requirements. While spinach is often assumed to be one of the most iron-rich vegetables, in reality, it’s relatively low in the mineral. It’s better for vegetarians to get their iron from sources such as legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and dark leafy vegetables.
As Indian vegetarians grow older, there’s no need to switch to a different diet. Vegetarians and vegans can get all of the nutrients they need from plant-based sources. It’s important, however, that seniors make sure that they eat enough healthy foods to meet their daily nutritional requirements.
Author Bio: Jennie Benson is a professional freelance writer and editor. She specializes in health and nutrition topics after a career in the fitness industry. When not writing she enjoys hiking, maintaining her fitness at the gym and spending as much time as possible with her young family.