Reading Time: 2 minutes 'It is incorrect to say that the best source of iron is meat. Our bodies do absorb haem iron more efficiently than the non-haem iron in plants' Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission
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A report by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) claiming people over the age of 65 should increase their meat and dairy intake has been blasted ‘disappointing’ by a dietitian.

The FSAI is a statutory body and claims its recommendations are to ‘improve health’ among older adults and promote increased muscle mass.

Report recommendations

Published this week, the report sets out a list of dietary guidelines.

It recommended the increased consumption of high-quality proteins. These are to be found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs, it claimed.

However, it makes no mention of plant-based proteins such as legumes, tofu, tempeh, and nuts.

Older adults at risk of ‘low intake’ dehydration need an adequate amount of drinks, it added: women needing 1.6L and men needing 2L a day.

Moreover, it suggested people should only drink ‘strong tea’ between meals. This is because it ‘interferes’ with the absorption of iron and zinc.

Taste diminishes with age, which can lead to increased salt intake, it also claimed, and this means salty foods should also be avoided.

Additionally, the report called for diets to include high fiber carbohydrates and be low in ‘free sugars’, or added sugar.

However, it did state that fortified foods are a ‘good source’ of B12 and should also be included in diets.

Dietitian brands it ‘disappointing’

Lisa Simon is a Specialist Dietitian at Plant-Based Health Online. She blasted the report ‘disappointing’ and says it doesn’t tell the whole story.

‘It is interesting that the report refers to animal protein as high quality’, she said, as they include haem iron. This can lead to inflammation, cell damage, and the production of a compound associated with chronic disease.

She added: “It is incorrect to say that the best source of iron is meat. Our bodies do absorb haem iron more efficiently than the non-haem iron in plants. But this is not actually beneficial as it is absorbed even when iron is not needed.

“…Yes, animal proteins contain higher amounts of some amino acids, including leucine and valine. But, these are associated with insulin resistance and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Moreover, plant proteins support age-related muscle wasting and contain ‘significant’ health benefits.

She also called it ‘inaccurate’ to recommend a blanket fluid requirement as individual needs should be worked out based on weight.

Additionally, older adults should supplement their diets with vitamin D and B12 anyway, she added.

Moreover, she said: “Plant foods also contain antioxidants, healthful plant chemicals, and a wide variety of micronutrients, and contrary to common myth, plant proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, just in varying amounts. A balanced diet will provide all that is required.”

Many doctors recommend a plant-based diet for improved health and disease prevention

Blasted guidelines

The FSAI is an independent body and claims the report is science-based. However, it also claims to support national guidelines from the Department of Health.

Other government-supported guidelines have been criticized in the past for recommending people eat meat and dairy.

Critics blame the ‘grasp’ the meat and dairy industry can have on organizations governments, such as over funding.

Last year, a wealth of doctors called for the US Dietary Guidelines to focus on plant-based diets for optimum health.

In a major victory, the board acknowledged the health risks of dairy earlier this year.

Plant Based News has approached the FSAI for comment

Emily is a News and Features Writer for Plant Based News. She has previously worked as a journalist in Devon, UK, reporting on local issues from politics to the environment.