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Nutritional Information for Senior Citizens

It's Never Too Late to Go Vegan

Maintaining your health is important throughout your whole life, but can become more of a priority in your senior years when health complaints often grow more common. Keeping an active lifestyle and following a balanced and nutritious diet is key, but sometimes it can be difficult with changing nutritional needs as your body ages. Veganism is a great route to explore, with thousands of delicious recipes to help keep you in top health.

A table of colourful vegetables - photo courtesy of Alexandr Podvalny, Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

Changing requirements

The body's daily calorie needs decrease as you age, meaning that you need smaller portions of food than when you were younger to fuel your daily activities. However, seniors still need the same nutrients and vitamins. For example, calcium is key to maintaining healthy bones but your 'go-to for' calcium may probably have been non-vegan cow's milk. Try switching to soy milk, or eat plenty of dark leafy vegetables. A great way to make sure that you’re getting enough of the right edible goodness is to eats lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. It's also easier to follow a lower calorie diet if animal proteins and fats are off the table. Another trick to try is using smaller plates and bowls to make your meal look relatively larger.

Switch it up

Your tastebuds change throughout your life, so kick out any preconceived notions you have about hating brussel sprouts and do some taste testing to improve your dietary range. It's no secret that you're more likely to eat something if you like it, so find out which fruit and vegetables tickle your fancy and get creative with some recipes. You can also try substituting meat and animal products for vegan alternatives in some of your favourite dishes, which can be healthier - and you may end up liking them more anyway. Try apple sauce instead of sugar, or beans and pulses to make burgers.

Healthy benefits

Digestive problems are a common source of discomfort for older people, but a well-planned vegan diet can help to alleviate most of them. Eating plenty of fibre and drinking lots of water helps to aid constipation, while avoiding foods high in fat, caffeine, or alcohol can help to reduce the severity of gas and heartburn. Some vegetables can cause their own problems - beans and cabbages are known for causing trapped wind - so manage your portions carefully and introduce things slowly, as these vegetables can be important sources of protein and nutrients which you need in your diet.

Medical considerations

Medication and any pre-existing conditions should be taken into account before you go completely vegan. Certain conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes - all more common in later life - have different restrictions. Most will benefit from a vegan diet though; being high in fibre, low in fat, and containing lots of whole grains and vegetables is a recipe for success for anyone needing to control blood sugar levels or fats, including elderly people.

Of course if you have been eating meat your whole life a drastic change overnight probably isn't a good idea, particularly if you're on medication. So make sure to consult your doctor or qualified nutritionist first, who may advise a transition period.

Article by kind permission of Sally PerkinsOpens in a new window

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