Did you just turn 50? Are you feeling overwhelmed with all of these new rules and medical tests that you are suggested to take in order to protect your health? Not to worry, nutritional needs will always change over time. You may need to fine-tune your dietary habits in order to keep those golden years golden, and to maintain a healthy diet after 50.
To help determine exactly what nutrition your body needs as you age, a dietary consultation with a registered dietician may very well benefit you.
It’s always important to keep in mind that diets are individualized and that recommendations will change based on a variety of factors. However, there are some universal tips that are suitable for older individuals that want to be proactive about their health.
Boost Energy Levels
As we reach our fifties, our energy levels may decrease, which is normal to a degree, however, a vitamin B12 deficiency may also be the cause of this decrease. If you head to the doctor and you test as B12 deficient, daily supplementation may be suggested.
Accepting this energy loss can lead to decreased mobility and activity, which can contribute to osteoporosis, heart weakening and alterations in bowel movements. Vitamin B12 is typically found in animal products, especially meat and dairy products. If you are vegan, don’t worry; fortified foods are a great alternative source of vitamin B12. Having a healthy diet after 50 is about covering all the bases in moderation!
Fiber Fiber Fiber
Are you suffering from Type 2 Diabetes? Type 2 diabetes, is a very common disease found in people 50 and older. Dietary fiber is helpful for slowing down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, which decreases and stabilizes blood glucose levels. A few other things that fiber is beneficial for, are, digestion, lowering cholesterol and helping maintain a healthy weight. If you’re having issues with regular bowel movements, fiber is an excellent choice to help regulate that as well.
The 2015-2020 Dietary guidelines for Americans recommends that males 51 and older consume 28 grams of dietary fiber each day and females 51 and older should consume 22.4 grams*. Again, always check with your doctor so they can customize these results to fit your unique needs! Foods that are high in fiber and are nutrient dense include, plant foods (oats, barley, vegetables, lentils, fruits, nuts and whole grains.) An added bonus?! Most high fiber foods also keep you feeling full longer!
Protect Your Bones
Due to decreased mobility and mineral loss as we age, protecting our bones is very important. In order to prevent osteoporosis or even just keep it from worsening, increasing vitamin D and calcium intake to 3 times a day is appropriate.
There are many foods with these important dietary components to promote bone health. Nothing beats calcium for your bones. One great choice is consuming dark leafy greens, such as, bok choy, kale, collard greens and turnips. To top it off, dark greens also have vitamin K, which can also reduce your risk of osteoporosis. .
If for some reason you don’t feel as though you are receiving adequate minerals and nutrients from the food you are consuming, you can always see a specialist to obtain a prescription for a multivitamin.
While food is the best way to obtain nutrition, sometimes a multivitamin makes more sense for reasons such as symptoms of osteoporosis or weakening of bones because it may be too difficult to achieve adequate intake through food alone. Our bodies need enough vitamin D to absorb calcium, so sometimes a multivitamin is a more suitable choice.
Substitute Salt for a Healthy Diet After 50
Did you just have a visit to the doctor and you found out you are suffering from high blood pressure? Too much salt may just be the cause. Don’t worry; this seems to be a recurring issue that takes effect around age 50.
There are many low-sodium and sodium-free alternatives you can cook with that will still give you that flavor you love without the health risks associated with salt! A few alternatives to look into are, garlic powder, onion powder, dill, paprika, pepper, citrus and fresh herbs. Be aware that your favorite sauces, condiments and packaged and prepared foods may be high in sodium, so always check the labels before purchasing.
Strengthen Your Immune Function
Inflammation seems to be common in men and women after the age of 50, especially since our immune systems tend to weaken as we age. It is involved in a plethora of different diseases, such as, diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer.
It’s recommended that, at least half of a person’s plate should consist of vegetables and fruit at each meal. Choosing healthy animal proteins like salmon or lean poultry boneless skinless chicken breasts and whole grains as your source of carbohydrates and starch to round out meals is important.
It’s imperative to avoid added sugars and saturated fats and increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoid-rich foods. In case, like me, you have no idea what flavonoids are, they are plant compounds that have shown anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anticancer and neuro-protective benefits.
Blueberries, cocoa, tea, soy, citrus fruits, red wine, bell peppers, and garbanzo beans are just a few examples of ingredients that are high in these phytonutrients. If you’re looking to improve immune function, a primarily plant-based diet will help!
Healthy Diet After 50
Having a healthy diet after 50 is something that can certainly be obtained with a little effort. Understanding your body’s changing needs and adapting your exercise and diet can help you reach optimal health into your 50’s and beyond!