Looking at transitioning to or continuing a vegan or plant based diet as a senior citizen? Everyone deserves good health, so why not?

Studies have proven that smart eating, especially found in a well balanced plant based diet can reduce the risk for heart disease and many cancers. In fact, some, like Dr. Dean Ornish, say that heart disease may actually be reversed by following a strict vegan diet.

Here are some tips to consider for optimal vegan health at any age:

  • Calcium – tofu, blackstrap molasses, pulses, and dark green veggies are great sources of calcium to protect your bones from calcium deficiencies which often lead to osteoporosis.
  • Vitamin K – green leafy veggies are great sources of Vitamin K, necessary for preventing heart disease and keeping bones strong, and it is important to help blood clotting processes in the body.
  • Vitamin D – foods fortified with Vitamin D are important to make part of your vegan diet.  Vitamin D absorption is tied to calcium consumption, so both must be closely watched.
  • B12 – supplements and fortified foods are important for good health in older vegans.
  • Protein – muscle mass decreases as we age, but we do need to keep those muscles strong! A well balanced vegan diet has enough protein, of course. Choose broccoli, nuts, legumes and seeds.
  • Iron – often a problem for seniors, iron from plant sources is absorbed less efficiently than haem iron, found in animals. Boost your Vitamin C intake to help boost your absorption of plant based iron.  Reduce your tea consumption, which tends to inhibit iron absorption.
  • Zinc – necessary for better wound healing, zinc is often lacking in vegan diets.  Focus on nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  • Potassium – easily found in fruit, nuts and veggies, potassium can be found in a well balanced diet. In fact, diets that are high in sugar and refined foods are said to deplete our potassium levels.

Get active and stay healthy

Combining a healthy vegan eating plan with exercise to improve balance and muscle coordination is the key to a being vegan in our golden years.  Memory, and many chronic illnesses can also be positively impacted by a diet that is focused on good nutrition and an active lifestyle.

Digestion considerations

As we age, our digestion changes.  Many seniors find that digesting raw vegetables or a lot of ruffage is simply too hard on their systems.  Cooking soups and stews is a great way to get great vegan nutrition in form that is far easier on the digestion.  Quinoa and oats with almond milk, for example, is a terrific breakfast.  Keep variety in mind to ensure that all of your nutritional needs are met.