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Does a Vegetarian Get Quality Protein and Strength?

Environmental and sustainability advocates today have created a movement for people to ditch meat and to switch from an animal-based diet to a plant-based one. Vegetarianism is thus on the rise, with people embracing the benefits of plant-sourced nutrition. This trend naturally raises the question: Does a vegetarian diet provide an individual with quality protein and strength? Also, does the vegetarian diet provide the same amount of protein compared to a meat-based diet?

To provide a short and quick answer to the above questions: Yes, eating a variety of plant-based food sources can fulfill a person’s protein and strength requirements.

In fact, even athletes and the most active individuals can perform their best on a vegetarian diet. One study from the Arizona State University found no difference in measures of strength or endurance, or even levels of lean body mass, in vegetarian athletes compared to meat eaters. The key lies in strategically planning meals in such a way that they will provide the muscles the nutrients it needs.

Proteins are composed of amino acids and nine of which are essential in the diet of adults. These are leucine, isoleucine, histidine, valine, threonine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, and lysine. While there are 20 amino acids found in protein, 11 are deemed non-essential.

The need to consume the essential amino acids as pointed out by experts means that the quality of protein we consume is important. While the pattern of amino acids in an animal-based protein is similar to that of human cells, meaning they have a higher biological value than those from plant sources, doesn’t mean that plants are “second class” source of protein. To get all the essential amino acids, the key is to eat a variety of protein from a daily balanced diet.

 

All these said, is a vegetarian diet good for seniors?

 

One way to look at it is that a vegetarian diet, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes, along with lower levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, hypertension and body mass index.

 

To put is it simply, these benefits can properly address health issues among seniors:

1. Antiaging Effect

A plant-heavy diet can increase the activity of telomeres, which are the rebuilding enzymes found at the end of a cell’s chromosome.

2. Support on brain function

Plant-based diet is belief that can help lower the risk of cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s, and vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower have properties that can boost brain function and help you think more clearly.

 3. It boosts energy.

Energy is linked to our digestion. Because it’s easier for a senior’s digestive system to break down plant foods than meat, a vegetarian diet can create more energy throughout the day.

As long as you consume protein from other sources, you can minimize the negative effects of cutting meat out of your diet.

 

Sources & References:

https://www.medicareadvantage.com/resources/is-a-vegetarian-diet-healthy-for-seniors

https://www.livekindly.co/how-do-vegans-get-enough-protein-from-their-diet/

https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19546447/high-protein-vegetarian-foods/