Getting older may not always be fun but it’s a part of life and you should make the most of whatever age you happen to be right now. Mistakes made in your 20’s can affect you later on but with a healthy lifestyle of exercise and eating correctly you can turn it around to become the BEST YOU possible – isn’t that what we all strive for?
Our nutritional needs change throughout the years; and depending at what stage of life we’re at, we may want to avoid certain food-related missteps and find out what foods we should be eating more of.
These tips come from dietitians (who specialize primarily in women’s health) on how to make the most of your diet for your specific age group. Of course you can take some of it with a grain of salt – but make it a tiny grain because no matter what age you’re at – too much salt intake is never a good idea.
In your 20s and 30s: work, partying a little (or a lot), thinking of having kids, or chasing after young children – all while trying to fit in a social life. Your energy needs are high, so protein should be a vital component to your diet. Make choices now to lay the foundation for your future health. Get lots of whole grain breads, quinoa and rice; they have been shown to slash the risk of heart disease later. It’s vital that you reach the highest bone density possible during this stage – which means consuming dairy, and other calcium sources. IDEAL FOODS: bananas for magnesiaum (also helps with PMS and to counter sugar cravings). Oranges for vitamin C and to help build collagen in the bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels, and helps with the absorption of iron. Spinach for folate, but if you don’t like spinach then any other leafy green vegetable. Fatty fish, Plain Yogurt (helps your body absorb Vitamin D), Protein and Whole Grains which provide stamina and help maintain stable blood sugar levels. MISTAKES TO AVOID: consuming too much caffeine, pop and alcohol (all of these diminish calcium). Not eating regularly throughout the day and cutting out necessary food groups (for example, not eating carbs in an effort to lose weight, or cutting out dairy).
In your 40’s: this is prime time for preventing health issues in later life. You’re probably busier than ever, but you may not be as physically active as you once were. Good-for-you fats found in high-quality mono and polyunsaturated oils (like olive and canola) are great choices. Try to eat more fish, and boost your grain and fibre intake. IDEAL FOODS: lemons for detoxifying, purifying effect on your skin and organs. You can toss slices into a glass of water or hot tea. Fish with the omega-3 fatty acids for helping your skin stay hydrated and they have an anit-inflammatory effect. Eggs which are high in protein and zinc which help the body absorb Vitamin A. Almonds are a “good” fat as they contain vitamin E and calcium. Apples as a source of fibre and protein. MISTAKES TO AVOID: eating too much (change portion sizes), not eating enough protein, eating too many takeout or convenience foods (high in fat & salt) and eating low-fat foods that are high in sugar (read the label and check the amount of sugar). You do need some fat in your diet (it keeps you looking younger) but the right kind.
In your 50’s: Iron becomes less of an issue once you stop having periods so it’s okay to eat protein sources other than red meat. However, you still need plenty of calcium to protect your bones, so load up on dairy and other souces of calcium. The onset of menopause brings a host of changes that can be mildly annoying (body shape, hot flashes, sleeplessness) to debilitating. Now is a good time to boost your intake of antioxidants in order to prevent common chronic conditions that can occur later (cardiovascular disease and the big “C”). Eating plenty of fibre and water are essential for healthy bowels. IDEAL FOODS: Soy contains high levels of phytoestrogens (helps to balance hormones) and tofu is a protein that has been shown to have a positive effect on bone density. Lentils (plant-based proteins) can help to regulate hormones. Fresh vegetables are high in natural fibre and will help prevent fat from being deposited around your stomach. Watermelon and other fruit with a high water content (like apples, grapes) keep up the natural hydration levels in your body. MISTAKES TO AVOID: eating too much as your metabolism slows down, eating mindlessly, drinking too much coffee or alcohol (they worsen sleep and any sleeplessness, anxiety or depression you may be experiencing. Too much spicy food can exacberate hot flashes.
In your 60’s and beyond: Unfortunate as it sounds, the older you are, the more likely you are to develop a chronic ailment like high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, etc. Low-salt, nutrient-rich foods are essential for your continued good health. Try to get more omega-3 and 6 such as nuts and seafood as these have been shown to combat memory loss, depression, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. I know this all sounds pretty depressing but it’s in the numbers – you can help prevent a lot of the ailments or at least help postpone them. Eat yogurt regularly and maintain a high-fibre diet. IDEAL FOODS: blueberries are packed with antioxidants and great for circulation and for healthy brain function. Fatty fish, Macadamia nuts for preventing high cholesterol, Spinach is one of the highest sources of lutein (an antioxidant that can help stave off macular degeneration, a leading cause of visual impairment. MISTAKES TO AVOID: eating too much salt, not drinking enough water, not eating regularly enough (5 small meals throughout the day is better than 3 big meals), eating too much saturated and trans fat which make circulation sluggish and affect brain function. Nobody wants that at any age!
And remember, exercise is important for all ages.
Also, while I’m at it:
*Don’t miss listening to “Transforming Health” with host Brad King for the most evocative and informative up-to-the-minute interviews with leading health professionals – Live every Wednesday @ 12PM-PST/3PM-EST on VoiceAmerica.com – #1 internet radio station in North America. Here’s the link: http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/1686/transforming-health