Healthy eating, while important throughout life, becomes especially critical in older adulthood. The benefits of healthy eating for older adults, according to helpguide.org, include increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels, faster recuperation times, and better management of chronic health problems.
For many older adults, eating better means reducing sodium intake, increasing fiber intake, and understanding the right portion sizes. For others, it means something more extreme: becoming vegetarian.
Just last month, approximately 15 Kendal at Home members traveled to Mustard Seed Market & Café in Solon, Ohio to discover if they have what it takes to forgo all meat products. At the market, they were greeted by Rebecca Dingle, a Food for Life Instructor through the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), who told them becoming vegetarian is really much easier than everyone thinks.
Being a vegetarian is easy to do when youre really focused on what you want to be eating and not what you can't have, Dingle said. Just think about adding fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans and not focusing so much on the animal products before you know it, it'll start taking on a life of its own. Youre tastes will change, and it does get easier and easier to do it.
According to Dingle and confirmed by other sources, diets rich in plant foods reduce the risk of:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cataracts and macular degeneration
- Alzheimers disease
And thats not all. According to Dingle, vegetarian diets also equip our bodies to better protect us from harmful free radicals.
We've heard about free radicals, right?, Dingle asked the audience. We can't avoid them. They're ever present and always with us. Its a fact of life. But nature has given us a defense, and those are antioxidants.
She continues, When we eat antioxidants, we literally are sending in the troops that go inside, around our blood stream, protecting us from free radical damage. Its better than drone strikes. Its nature's way to protect us. There are no antioxidants in animal products. We get these from plant foods.
At the closing of Dingles presentation, Mustard Seed Market staff served Kendal at Home Members a vegan-friendly meal of chicken salad wraps with pistachios and grapes (the chicken was actually soy nuggets); quinoa, hazelnut, and cranberry salad; lentil chili; and double chocolate chip cookies.
Kendal at Home Members also received booklets containing healthy vegetarian recipes and a 10-percent-off coupon for Mustard Seed Market purchases.
Continue to check our blog for more information about vegetarian eating, and see our events page to see our upcoming resident and member events.