Every few days there are new studies that advocate changes in food habits that health experts claim would lead to a healthier life. Being vegetarian has always been considered healthy. A diet loaded with protein is what the doctors recommend in the growing up years but as you age the body’s protein requirements decrease. According to a 2014 study, eating excess protein or consuming extremely high protein rich foods like non-vegetarian items can be dangerous for those in the 50-65 age group. The study found a 75% increase in mortality and 4 times increase cancer death risk in the next 18 years. The interesting part is that after the age of 65, the requirement of protein goes up again. This time, it is needed for the muscles, to delay muscle aging and prevent muscle loss.
Muscle loss with age
Muscles are important to maintain a healthy weight, to stay energetic and free of diseases. As you age, there is a natural loss of muscle mass. This is about 1 to 2% per year after you turn 50. This is why older people appear to have unnaturally thinner or flabbier arms and legs. This rate of muscle loss or muscle aging is acceptable as a part of the aging process. The inability to lift weights, increased risks of falls etc are all a result of the muscle loss or muscle aging. The good news is that if the muscles are protected in time, they will not decline with such severity as you age. And it is not so difficult to do so. All that is required is to start well in time.
Maintaining muscles with age and fighting muscle aging process
Before we start on the topic of maintaining muscle mass or fighting the muscle aging process, it is important to understand that loss of muscles should not be treated as an inevitable part of aging. There are two ways in which muscles mass can be maintained. One is exercise and the other is diet that maintains overall health. Exercise in the form of resistance training etc can improve the composition of the body in terms of muscles and their size. Diet too plays an important role in this process and a study published in 2015 in the Journal of American Geriatric Society supports this. According to it, women who consumed the recommended amount of vegetables cut the odds of having low muscle mass by almost half. Another study pointed that a plant based diet did wonders to the muscle mass and combatting muscle aging process. This time, the subjects studied were women in the age groups 18 to 79 years.
Why being vegetarian is effective?
A diet high in meats, fish, and cheese and low in fruits and vegetables promotes acid in the body. Vegetables and fruits being alkaline in nature, neutralize acidosis that occurs with age. Acidosis has been found to be responsible for muscle wastage. A plant-based diet counteracts the effects of a high protein meat diet and promotes muscle formation. The best part is that you do not need to depend on non-vegetarian food for the protein requirements. Including beans and other legumes in the diet will ensure that you fulfill the protein requirements without forming any acids. If we look at other benefits of being vegetarian besides delaying muscle aging process, we would be much more inclined towards being vegetarian. Let’s count few of them-
- A vegetarian diet is full of essentials vitamins, unsaturated fats that help to maintain body weight, and phytochemicals that keep cholesterol levels in check.
- Animal foods contain arachidonic acid that is the basic ingredient to cause mood disorders. The plant-based foods, on the other hand, contain very less amount of this acid, hence restricting mood problems.
- Non-vegetarian items have been observed to trigger skin irritations and conditions like psoriasis, in many people. Contrary to this, being vegetarian helps to fight such diseases.
- Heart diseases, obesity, and kidney stones formation, are noticed less in people following vegetarian diets than the one surviving on animal foods.
So, besides dwelling on non-veg food items, try and being vegetarian. Do not be satisfied with the myth that proteins can reach you only through fishes and meats; you can get it in plenty through plant foods and fruits too.