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How a Vegan or Vegetarian Diets May Stop Heart Disease but Increase Stroke Risk

different vegetables

Diets that require a person to avoid either meat or all animal products get a lot of attention for being healthy and for contributing to weight loss. However, there may be a catch to these diets: a higher risk for a certain type of stroke.

According to a study published in the BMJ in September 2019, researchers observed that people who did not consume meat had a 22% lower risk of coronary artery disease but concurrently had a 20% increased risk of experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke. In addition to that, pescatarians, those who eat fish but not other red meats, showed the same risks of stroke but a 13% lower risk for heart disease compared to meat-eaters.

To achieve these results, the researchers followed 48,000 people in Great Britain for nearly 18 years.

Lead researcher Tammy Tong, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford in England reports that their findings “indicate that the vegetarians had higher stroke risk than meat-eaters, mostly due to a subtype of stroke called hemorrhagic stroke that is related to bleeding in the brain.”

The study didn’t, however, determine why it was such, but past research offers a clue: Nutrient deficiencies common among non-meat-eaters may be connected to a higher risk for hemorrhagic stroke.

“A low cholesterol level is known to be protective against heart disease and ischemic stroke,” Dr. Tong added, “but some recent evidence suggests that low cholesterol may be linked to a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke, the subtype of stroke found to be higher in the vegetarians.”

Make Daily Activities Easier for Your Joints

group of senior smiling

Having arthritis and other conditions can make tasks like getting out of bed or standing up from a chair difficult to do. Monica Bozeman McClain, OTR, an occupational therapist at Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Texas suggests that older adults focus on two things: 1.) energy conservation and 2.) joint protection.

With these two in mind, McClain suggests that seniors experiencing arthritis do the following things, to help ease joint tension:

  1. Consider getting out of bed slowly. Nice and easy helps you work out the cricks you get from sleeping and makes it less painful for you to get up.
  2. Get a toothbrush with a fatter handle. Since arthritis often manifests in the hands, it can be a pain for seniors to try and clutch normal-sized toothbrush handles. A looser grip will feel less uncomfortable.
  3. Switch to using adaptive devices in your house and in your car. There are tons of adaptive devices on the market nowadays that can help seniors with everyday things, from sitting, standing and other things that they may find difficult to do without assistance.
  4. Finally, keep the items that you often use nearby. If you see that it is something you need daily, make sure that it’s not too far away. This lessens your need to get up and put more pressure on your bones.

It’s essential that you take care of your joints when you have arthritis. Although, if the pain is unbearable or worsens, you may want to consult your healthcare team about what you can do to better manage it.

Common Myths About Exercising for Adults

smiling senior friends exercising on mats

If you are a senior or are currently taking care of one, you have probably heard some people say that exercising can be harmful to older adults. This isn’t completely true. The benefits of exercising for seniors are boundless! To make most of your exercising experience, you have to voluntarily do your own research about the do’s and don’t’s.

Here are a couple of myths about exercising for seniors:

  1. Exercise can put seniors at great risk of falling. One of the biggest health concerns people have for senior citizens exercising is the risk of falling. But regular exercise actually reduces that risk! Regular exercise builds your strength and stamina, which improves your overall balance. This makes you less likely to fall in general.
  2. Seniors are too old for exercise. You’re never too old to start exercising! And while certain elderly people can be lacking some level of mobility, there are still exercises they can do. Swimming, aerobics, yoga, and simple walking are all great forms of exercising for elderly people.
  3. There is no point in exercising. Just because senior citizens can’t do what they used to do, doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from exercising. As mentioned above, regular physical activity reduces your risk for a variety of conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure, and even certain types of cancers. It can also help you look and feel younger, which makes it worthwhile even if you can’t work out as hard as you once could.

Importance of Keeping Active for Seniors

Smiling senior people doing stretching exercise while sitting on exercise mats

A lot of seniors lose their mobility as they age, which is why it is necessary to encourage them to keep exercising.

More than 50% of senior citizens spend at least 8.5 hours a day sedentary. Many senior citizens lose their mobility as they age, so exercise for seniors is essential to keep them healthy for as long as possible.

Here are a few benefits exercising can give seniors:

  1. It helps with arthritis. Regular exercise lubricates your joints, which can help reduce any stiffness and pain that people with arthritis experience. On top of that, regular exercise can reduce your chances of becoming obese, which is a risk factor for arthritis.
  2. It can help with heart disease. By continuing to exercise later in life, you can reduce the risk of heart disease or better manage any existing heart issues.
  3. It boosts your mood. Depression is an issue that plagues many people, but it can be prevalent in adults, especially for senior citizens who may live alone or have lost loved ones. Fortunately, exercise can have a great effect on personal mood, and help address mental health issues like depression.
  4. It can slow down the effects of dementia. Exercise can greatly slow down the mental decline that comes with dementia. Moderate to intense exercise can help lower the risk of mental health decline and even prevent future cognitive health issues.
  5. It can help improve bone health. Weight training and muscle-strengthening exercises can do wonders for bone health. In fact, they can reduce the risk of health problems like osteoporosis and osteopenia. This makes exercise great for anyone who wants to keep their bones healthy.