Guest Post: Holly Klamer
Plant-based diets are becoming increasingly popular in the United States due to the many health benefits they provide. In particular, seniors can really benefit from the nutrients and immune-boosting properties that plant-based diets offer. Many seniors struggle with diseases such as cancer, heart disease (often requiring surgeries), dementia (requiring dementia care) and numerous other health issues requiring lifelong prescriptions of multiple medications. Many issues in older age can be avoided or mitigated with the right diet. Plant-based foods can keep many health issues at bay and help you live to your fullest potential. Plant-based foods are also affordable and easy to cook. Here are 6 benefits of plant-based diets for seniors.
We have evidence now that plant-based diets can actually mitigate the effects of aging, which will keep you looking and feeling young, even as you get older and potential encounter medical issues. This is because plant-based foods increase the production of telomerase in the body, which helps rebuild part of our DNA. This has a positive effect on many different parts of our body, from our skin cells to our internal organs.
Fruits and vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants, which are vitamins and minerals that reduce your risk of getting cancer. Since the risk for cancer increases with age, this is something that’s very important to be aware of as we get older. Adding beans and vegetables into your diet also works to increase your calcium levels, which strengthen the bones in particular, and they also lower cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol can put you at risk for cancer, so it’s something that’s important for seniors to keep an eye on as they age. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables can also reduce your risk of diabetes, which is another disease that becomes more likely to happen in old age.
You probably have found that when you eat junk food that’s high in unhealthy fats or sugar, you start to feel tired and sluggish. Eating healthy plant-based foods actually has the opposite effect. The vitamins and minerals these foods contain will perk you up quickly, and they’re also much easier for the body to digest. This means fewer stomach problems and a natural boost of energy after you eat a meal, instead of a sugar high and a crash. In particular, whole grains such as quinoa are very effective for those looking to increase their energy levels.
If you switch to a plant-based diet, you’ll likely start to see an improvement in your skin fairly quickly. This is because natural, plant-based foods have anti-inflammatory properties, so they’ll reduce any redness and swelling you may have in your skin. The high nutritional value in these foods will also naturally improve the quality of your skin cells, which will make you look younger and prevent skin issues. The reduction of dairy from your diet is another factor that can improve your skin quality, as dairy can naturally inflame your skin and throw off its natural balance of oils.
Many people naturally gain weight as they get older, and although this is just part of the natural process of aging, it’s also something that’s quite unhealthy and can lead to bigger health issues. Since plant-based diets are naturally low in calories, they encourage weight loss in a healthy way. The nutrients in plant-based foods are also easier for the body to break down, so you’ll find it’s easier to exercise and you won’t struggle with digestive issues as frequently. Many people lose several pounds within a few weeks of starting a plant-based diet.
Our eyes naturally start to break down as we get older, but having a diet rich in vegetables can prevent this from happening. This is because many vegetables contain high amounts of vitamin A, which is particularly good for vision. Vitamin A prevents vision issues such as macular degeneration and cataracts. In particular, carrots, squash, kale, spinach, grapes, and kiwi are very high in vitamin A.
If you’re interested in starting a plant-based diet, talk to your doctor to learn more about how to implement it into your lifestyle. Switching to plant-based foods can be challenging at first, and it’s important to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need to stay healthy. It’s important to make sure you’re still getting the nutrients you need if you’re cutting out meat or dairy. Your doctor can advise you on the best foods to eat for your specific needs, as well as a variety of other senior living issues.
Holly loves to write on issues related to seniors, aging and retirement. Holly is a frequent contributor on many blogs and websites that help provide comprehensive resources on senior living options.