Millions of elderly individuals change their diet in later years. Many believe that animal products, and red meat in particular, can cause disastrous negative health effects. However, there are many reasons why the elderly should consume meat in order to maintain adequate nutrition. Besides the benefits of protein for muscle maintenance, there are a number of other nutrients found primarily in meat.
Many of these additional nutrients are molecules not available in other foods, which have a profound impact on brain health. While a healthy body for older individuals is certainly important, the brain is often one of the main priorities. What follows is a researched based argument in favor of meat consumption in elderly individuals.
Essential Nutrients Found in Meat
There are many essential nutrients that can be found in meat, which are not found in other foods. This stems primarily from our evolutionary reliance on meat, which has shaped human beings into what we are today. We need nutrients specific to meat because we have been eating predominantly meat for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of years.
Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is most responsible for memory. Studies suggest that choline can help to improve memory. One study of 1400 dementia-free subjects showed that over 4 years memory was increased and cognitive decline reduced. The scientists concluded that higher choline intake was “related to better cognitive performance.”
For elderly individuals, memory is one of the top priorities. Those suffering from senile dementia and Alzheimer’s related symptoms can prevent or at least reduce the memory loss if consuming choline-rich foods, such as eggs and fish.
Even though creatine gets a reputation as a supplement for bodybuilders, it has tremendous impacts on both brain and body. Creatine is a molecule that aids in cellular function by adding ATP (energy) to cells in the brain and the body. While the elderly can take supplements without many negative side effects of creatine, it might be better on the kidneys to just consume enough meat.
Human bodies produce some creatine, but studies suggest meat provides much of the creatine we need for optimal brain function. Vegans and vegetarians benefited the most from creatine supplementation studies in terms of reasoning and cognitive abilities.
Vitamins and minerals are some of the most important aspects of a healthy diet. Vitamin B12 specifically comes from animal products and deficiencies can cause severe damage to the brain and central nervous system. Fatigue and depression are reported in slightly lower than recommended doses, but full-blown memory loss is the result of severe deficiency.
Completely vegan or vegetarian diets often result in severe deficiencies, which show just how important meat can be for an aging mind. For elderly who wish to maintain peak brain health in later years, it is important to get enough vitamin B12.
Supplements and Essential Nutrients
While it is possible to get adequate doses of choline, creatine, and vitamin B12 from supplementation, the absorption levels in the elderly body is not as good as you might hope. It is far better to consume whole foods that include these nutrients in order to better absorb in a way your body is familiar with.
If a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is your choice due to other health-related concerns, only then should you seek supplementation. Ensuring the right quantity of these nutrients can help aid in life longevity, but living quality as well.
About the author:
Mans Ready works for Hyperion Strength, which sells dietary supplements.