As you age, your lifecycle nutrition needs change along side it. Learn what adjustments you need to keep up with changing nutritional needs. At it's core, a healthy diet remains fundamentally the same at age 25 to 65+.
The process of consuming food then extracting and converting it into what the body needs puts stress on the body. To counter this, we need to be aware of what we ought to eat to fit our changing lifecycle nutrition needs. We need to strike a balance between different nutrimental foods to get us to looking and feeling our best. However our needs for specific nutrients change with age.
Let's take a look at some of these changes and what adjustments you can make.
Active 20s to 30s
When we reach this stage, our bone density gets to its peak (typically around age 30). This is when our bones reach max density and strength or peak bone mass.
- Calcium – ensure you're getting your daily recommended amount. If you eat dairy, have three servings from this group each day. One serving=200ml milk, a cup of yogurt, and 1.5 ounces of cheese. Foods like kale, spinach, soy products like tofu and edamame, legumes and collard greens also contains good amounts of calcium. Habits like smoking and not exercising means you may need to up your intake (or work at quitting smoking).
- Fibre – Breakfast; make time for it. Reach for foods that are fortified like wholegrain cereals with skim milk (or your choice of milk alternative), diced fruit or a glass of fresh OJ. Having a proper breakfast will nourish your body with fibre and several key vitamins.
- Cut down on sodium – Americans consume too much sodium (salt) 75% of which comes from processed and restaurant foods. The table salt we consume is chemically called sodium chloride and is also a major source of our sodium intake. But too much of it has detrimental effect on our health. Reduce your sodium intake by using alternative seasonings when preparing food like garlic, black pepper, lemon, chili, fresh herbs and spices (packaged spices may contain salt which can add to your sodium intake). Remember to taste your food before you season with salt.
- Vitamin B – Also known as folic acid, this mineral is critical before and after conception. It protects the baby against defects of the neural tube and cleft palate. Great sources of this protective vitamin include dark green leafy vegetables, oranges and fortified breakfast cereals.
In your 40s- 50s and still going strong
Beware your fat levels.
In your 40's your metabolism starts to slow down resulting in weight gain. Water retention also becomes harder and is exacerbated further by fad diets. But snacking on the right foods can significantly reduce ill effects. Reach for foods rich in omega-3's (fatty fishes like salmon). You also want to adjust your caloric intake to match your slowing metabolism. A quick visit with your nutritionist will help you come up with a plan specific to your needs. At this stage, you've hopefully gotten down to a healthy diet and exercise routine. But you may find that certain foods now bother you (for instance lactose in milk). Eliminate these foods from your diet while adding those that control inflammation like fatty fish or foods that contain omega-3 fatty acid. Probiotic supplements will also help boost your slowing metabolism.
Whether you're a woman or man in your 40s, your body fat percentage has bearing on your health. Problems such as raised cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure become more common in this age group. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables and fatty fish fish (like salmon) is the best way to manage your fat levels.
Refocus and renew during your 70s and beyond
For most, physical signs of wear and tear like creaking joints start to pop up. Your circadian rhythm may be off kilter. Gone are the days when in your 20s you could party into the wee hours. Now 5am is just your regular wake up time. But it's not all bad. You've shed most stressors that you may have felt in younger 20s or 30s. We all know how bad stress is on your health. Recommendations here are to use the same tips you used in your 40s above. But with a few added considerations:
- For men: A diet high in fibre from bran based cereal and wholegrain breads is best. Make sure to continue to add fruit and vegetables in addition to fatty fish.
- For women: hormonal changes can leave you vulnerable to unexpected weight gain. Key dietary areas to focus on include upping your intake of foods rich in calcium.
Overall, both men and women at this age should take steps to maintain a healthy diet by adjusting it to their individual needs. It is also important to keep up with your doctor visits and physicals so you can better track your health. Exercise and other techniques to fight off stress remain just as important. You can read more about tips to de-stress here or here.
Wherever you’re at in the lifecycle nutrition stage, there are some pretty universal standards that apply. These foundational health habits are useful for everyone to help you stay healthy into late adulthood.
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