Best Foods as You Age
Getting older is inevitable, but getting the most out of life is something you can be proactive about and it starts with your diet.
Research says that we are expanding our lifespan, but we are not expanding healthy lifespan. We live longer, but also have more diseases for longer.
If our goal is to live not just longer but with a maximum health then taking care of what we eat to optimise our risk of certain diseases can make all the difference. Always should be an essential part of your diet.
Foods that are high in fibre – like fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, nuts, and legumes — can help with constipation that becomes more common as you age.
They’re also able to help lower your cholesterol levels, manage your blood sugar, and keep you at a healthy weight. Women over 51 need around 21 grams daily, but men need more – around 30 grams a day.
They’re a great source of fibre and rich in B-vitamins, which you’ll need more of as you age. In particular B-6 and folate are key to keeping your brain healthy.
Even a small shortage can make a subtle difference. Whole grains could also cut your chances of getting heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Go for variety, not just wholemeal bread, though but Quinoa, wheat berries, and wholewheat couscous are tasty options, too.
Many women try to avoid having too many nuts because yes they can rack up the calories but nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, and pistachios have big anti-aging powers.
They contain special nutrients that can help delay or prevent age-related heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, nerve disease, and some types of cancer. Nuts also protect your brain as you age.
One of the things that is most noticeable as we age is that not only does your body lose water, but your sense of thirst starts to fade. That means it will take you longer to know when you’re low on fluids and it is easy to become dehydrated.
Water is food for your health in lots of ways. It cushions your joints, helps control your body temperature, affects your mood and how well you focus. Make eight glasses of water each day your goal.
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, herring, and farmed trout should be on your menu twice a week because they’re high in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that’s good for your brain.
Low levels of DHA have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, but get enough of it, and you may improve your memory and ability to learn new things.
If you don’t eat or like fish, algae, walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds are also good sources of DHA.
Protein-rich foods fight the natural muscle loss that happens as you get older. As much as you can, enjoy your protein in food like eggs, lean meat, and dairy products.
Although protein powders are popular as a weight loss alternative meal, that may not give you as many nutrients as the direct protein source.
The calcium in dairy keeps your bones healthy. As you get older, it can also lower your risk of osteoporosis, colon cancer, and high blood pressure.
After age 50, you’ll need around 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day, but remember your body also requires vitamin D to absorb calcium properly.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that women aged 50 or younger and men 70 or younger should get 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. Men and women as they age may need more, up to 1,200 mg daily.
Good sources are not just milk and cheese aren’t your only options but you also get it through things like yoghurt, rice and soy drinks, fortified orange juice, and tofu.
Blueberries contain polyphenols — compounds that lower inflammation throughout your body and lessen damage to your DNA that can make some diseases more likely.
They’re a good way to protect your brain as you age as they also improve how well your brain cells “talk” to each other.
Fresh blueberries are best, since their polyphenol content goes down when you bake them into muffins, breads, or pies.
Watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, red and orange bell peppers – all these are rich in a natural compound called lycopene. Studies show foods that have it could lower your risk of some types of cancer and may protect you against strokes, too.
One of the things that happens as we age is that our immune system becomes weaker. That is the body’s first defence against germs and how we can protect ourselves.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower all contain a chemical called sulforaphane that switches on your immune cells so they’re better able to attack toxins that damage your cells and cause disease over time.
Eat them often, and you may lower your risk of some types of cancer.
Dark leafy greens
To keep your eyes healthy, eat more spinach, kale, and collard greens – members of the cabbage family that feature dark green leaves . The antioxidants they contain can lower your chances of getting cataracts and macular degeneration.
Eat at least one serving a day, and you’ll also help stave off the slow-down in memory, thinking, and judgment that can happen as you get older.
Studies show that the antioxidants in avocado could improve your memory and help you solve problems faster. Avocados may also lower your cholesterol, cut your chance of getting arthritis, help you stick to a healthy weight, and protect your skin from sun damage.
These have plenty of beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. This vitamin is key for healthy eyesight and skin and keeps your immune system strong.
You’d have to eat 23 cups of cooked broccoli to get as much vitamin A as you’ll find in one medium sweet potato. For an extra boost, choose a purple variety. The compounds that give it a bright colour may slow down age-related changes in your brain.
They do more than give your food flavour. Spices have antioxidants that help you stay healthy through the years. For instance:
- Garlic helps keeps your blood vessels open.
- Cinnamon can help lower your cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats).
- Turmeric may protect you from depression and Alzheimer’s disease, and may have anti-cancer powers, too.
- Use either fresh or dried spices, but check with your doctor or pharmacist if on medication for any contraindications