7 Ways Your Diet Should Change as You Age



While existing on nothing but convenience-store nachos, pizza delivery and Pop-Tarts for weeks on end might work in your twenties, once you hit your thirties, forties and beyond, you’ll need to up your game significantly when it comes to your diet. Not only is a healthy diet better for maintaining weight as you get older, a diet rich in important nutrients can also help ensure that your body stays healthy longer and functions optimally. From avoiding heart disease to combating osteoporosis, what you put into your body starts having a much greater impact on overall health than it may have when you were younger. Below are seven things you should make sure you include in your diet as you get older.

7. Eat More Fiber



Including plenty of fiber in your diet can level out your blood sugar, lower insulin response and decrease the rate of digestion, keeping you feeling full longer. In fact, studies indicate that fiber can even be an important part of maintaining healthy weight, with each gram of fiber essentially eliminating around seven calories, due to slowed digestion and improved digestion. Fiber-rich foods include fruits and vegetables (especially ones with edible skins or peels), whole grains, beans, lentils and some types of nuts. Ideally, you should try to consume fiber with every meal, and make sure to change up your source of fiber for some variety throughout the day.

6. Get More More Vitamin D



According to research, a vast majority of women (and, to a lesser extent, men) are not getting enough vitamin D in their diets. Adequate amounts of vitamin D in the diet has been shown to directly relate to lower rates of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and certain brain disorders (such as Alzheimer’s) and cancers. Vitamin D has also been linked to injury prevention, muscle function and increased immunity. In other words, getting enough vitamin D in your diet is really, really important. While you could get some vitamin D by hanging out in the sun, you aren’t likely to soak up enough if you’re using sunscreen like you should. Instead, include foods like whole eggs, wild salmon, mushrooms and fortified dairy products into your diet every day. If you still aren’t getting enough (your doctor can check with a simple blood test), you may want to consider taking a supplement, as well.

5. Increase Calcium Intake



Bone density starts declining much more rapidly after age 50, and after menopause, women can lose as much as 3.5 to 5 percent of their bone mass each year. Increasing calcium intake once bone loss has already started to occur may not work, however, since most women can’t consume enough calcium per day to offset the loss. Adding plenty of calcium into your diet before menopause is ideal. Calcium is also necessary for muscle contraction, which can increase the effects of your workouts. To get enough calcium in your diet, try to incorporate dairy or dark green, leafy vegetables into your diet every day. Beans, lentils, nuts and dried figs can also contribute to your daily calcium intake.

4. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids



Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) have been linked to healthy hair and skin, improved circulation, lower risk of depression and heart disease, reduced inflammation, reduced muscle soreness and brain and vision protection. Getting adequate amounts of omega-3s in your diet has several benefits to both health and appearance, and can be found in fatty fish like salmon or sardines. Other sources of omega-3s, such as flaxseed and walnuts, are not the best sources, as most of the fatty acids are not converted into DHA and EPA. If you’re not a seafood lover, you might try taking an omega-3 supplement, but keep in mind that there is currently no standard recommended dosage for adults. If in doubt about how much you should be taking, talk to your doctor or nutritionist for advice.

Kenneth spent several years as a chef before embarking on his writing career, and he hasn't looked back since. Find Kenneth on LinkedIn!

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