As you age your body’s needs change as hormone changes take place and the depletion of some natural minerals begin to happen. Using good nutritional practices is vital for good mental health, your bones and to manage any chronic ailments which naturally develop as you age. Your immune system needs to work twice as hard as it did in your younger years to fight off infections and diseases. Your nutritional practices should be one of your top priorities and here are some tips to ensure you optimize your nutrition intake.
The more active you are, the more calories you’ll need to consume; if you’re less active due to a physical condition then you should consume fewer calories based on your age. For example:
• For a woman over 50 years old who is active, then a daily amount of about 2000 calories per day should be sufficient
• For a woman over 50 years old who is moderately active then a daily amount of around 1700-1800 calories per day is acceptable
• For a woman who is inactive then 1500 calories is a guideline for daily consumption.
Please bear in mind these are only guidelines, recommended by nutritionists.
Men need a slightly higher intake of calories due to their larger frames and the distribution of weight. Men tend to put on weight in the midriff region and can develop quite the paunch, which is why the heart attack rate is often higher in men than in women. Women will gain weight around their hips and in their arms as they age. As much as anyone doesn’t like the thought of gaining weight, it can happen as we age. If you’re prone to putting on weight then having a healthy diet and being as active as you can is paramount. For men, following the same guidelines and depending on their nutritionist’s advice, then daily calorie intake should be around 300-500 calories more than for a woman.
The following groups of food are recommended for people over the age of 50 years:
• Fruits: Eating whole fruits such as bananas, apples and oranges are standard and will cover recommendations. Eating fruits such as winter and summer berries which are rich in oxidants are an excellent way of increasing intake. Jazz up your fruit intake with melon and pineapple which have a natural sweetness.
• Vegetables: Spinach and rich green spring cabbage are excellent choices for the vegetable group and will keep iron levels up. Gents should eat broccoli which is known as a super-food and is an important factor in the fight against prostate cancer. Eating vegetables such as butternut squash is another source of minerals and its one vegetable which is overlooked often. Any of the sweet vegetables such as carrots, turnips, squashes and sweet potatoes are all potassium rich and vitamin A rich and should be included in a daily nutritional practice.
• Calcium: This is needed for healthy bones and to avoid osteoporosis which is known as brittle-bone-disease. Milk, cheese and yogurts are good sources of calcium and if you’re dairy intolerant then try tofu, kale and almonds which all have good sources of calcium.
• Protein: meats and fish contain protein and this is needed as you age. Cheese and eggs have protein but fish such as tuna is an excellent source of protein.
• Fats: Olive oil is a superb source of the fats that you need as you age along with flaxseed oil-based products and salmon.
There are natural vitamins which deplete as you age and in particular vitamin B12 which can be less inclined to absorb as you age due to the stomach producing less gastric acid. This can be taken in the form of supplements or from foods such as breakfast cereals and bread which is fortified with iodine.
Vitamin D depletes as you age and as vitamin D is absorbed naturally through the skin by exposure to sunlight, as you age your body is not as quick to absorb the nutrient. Egg yolks and fatty fish and other foods contain vitamin D. You can of course take a supplement, but as vitamin D is present in many of the food groups above you may naturally be taking in vitamin D.
It’s vital you keep hydrated at all times and this includes drinking water. If your sense of thirst is not as powerful as it once was then try to remember to drink some water at least every hour to keep your body hydrated.
Bad Foods and Hidden Sugars
You might have thought they weren’t going to be mentioned but it’s impossible to overlook the baddies in your diet. Bad carbohydrates such as white bread and unrefined sugar are among some of the baddies. Eating too many bad carbs can lead to diabetes as the sugar from these carbs cannot be regulated as they absorb too quickly into your system. Once in a while is not a problem but don’t eat them every day. Keep an eye on foods which have hidden sugars, too. A good example of hidden sugars is any ingredient ending in ‘ose’ e.g. Dextrose or glucose.
Use methods such as steaming and poaching for your vegetables and fish. For the meat lovers among you then drop the frying and roast with garlic to taste or drizzle in some oil in the oven. Poaching and steaming is a much better way of cooking and all it takes is a simple pan and some water or poaching liquid for fish.
These are all good indicators and guidelines to optimize your diet and help you to lead a long and active life. Your nutrition has never been so important and it’s vital to ensure you remain in excellent health as you begin the next stage of your life where you have time to do all those lovely activities retirement affords you.