There are approximately 7.3 million people, nearly 3.2% of adults in the U.S., who adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Many people do still debate whether a vegetarian diet is appropriate for older adults, claiming meats and animal-proteins are particularly important for maintaining adequate nutrients.
There are many wonderful benefits to adopting vegetarian habits into your diet. Here are our top three:
1. Adding more fruits and vegetables means more fiber and a healthier digestive system. Many American adults do not meet the requirements for soluble fiber in our daily diets, which means our digestive systems and gut are not working optimally. This can make you feel sluggish and tired. Adding more fruits and vegetables will not only help you meet your daily fiber intake, but also help you feel full longer, assisting in weight management as well.
2. A vegetarian diet can help improve heart health. Because vegetarians choose not to eat meat, they need to obtain their proteins from foods like seeds and nuts, which are high in monounsaturated fats that are especially good for your heart. Adding more of these foods into your diet whether you eat meat or not can help balance out the healthy fat in your body, lowering your levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure.
3. You will experience increased energy with less meat. Eating a diet too-heavy in meat, especially red and other dark meats, are harder to digest than plant-based protein sources, and can make you feel particularly tired and heavy. Limiting your meat intake can make you feel lighter and more energetic as a result. Try substituting one day each week where you eliminate meat and see how you feel. Increase it to two or three days a week if you start to feel the benefits.
If you are interested in incorporating more vegetarian or plant-based eating habits into your diet, consult your doctor or nutritionist first--- to make sure you plan ahead and ensure all your meals and snacks are meeting the appropriate daily nutrient requirements.
Inter Valley Health Plan hosts classes regularly on health and vitality. For a full list of classes in your area, please visit: forhealthandliving.com/ivhpevents