Things Your Skin and Body Needs as You Age Part 2
Want to look your best for the coming year? Paying more attention to your diet can make all the difference.
In part one of this article series, I looked at how you can best help your skin by looking closely at what you would do best to avoid or reduce in your diet.
Now it’s time to look at what is really great for your skin and will help you glow through the year.
Here’s what your skin needs
Foods that are high in fibre such as fruit and veg, 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.
Check this list to see how many you regularly eat.
Whole grains are a great source of fibre and rich in B-vitamins, which you’ll need more of as you age. B-6 and folate are key to keeping your brain healthy and even a small shortage can make a subtle difference.
Whole grains could also cut your chances of getting heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Don’t stop at whole-wheat bread, though. Quinoa is a good source of plant protein and fibre and one cup cooked provides about 8 grams of protein. Whole-wheat couscous is a good source too.
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, and pistachios have big anti-aging powers.
We tend to avoid them as they can be fattening in excess but 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.
Water is food for your health in lots of ways. It cushions your joints, helps control your body temperature, and affects your mood and how well you focus so keep well hydrated.
As we age not only does our 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.
Fish like salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and 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, then algae, walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds are also good sources of DHA.
Lean protein helps fight the natural muscle loss that happens as we get older. As much as you can, enjoy your protein in food like eggs, lean meat, and dairy products instead of protein powders that may not give you as many nutrients.
If vegetarian or vegan get your protein from sources such as tofu, tempeh, edamame beans, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds, spirulina and quinoa.
Dairy products are good sources of calcium and help keep your bones healthy and can also lower your risk of osteoporosis, colon cancer, and high blood pressure.
Women over 50 should get about 20% more than other adults. Milk, yoghurt, and cheese are good sources but aren’t the only options so include rice, soy and tofu.
Calcium is best balanced by magnesium so check you have enough sources of that too as it helps your body make protein and bone, and it keeps your blood sugar stable.
You can get it from nuts, seeds, and leafy greens but as we age we may eat less of it. Plus, you’re more likely to have long-term health conditions or take many medications, both of which may leave you short of magnesium.
Blueberries are ‘superfoods’ and contain polyphenols – compounds that lower inflammation throughout your body. They lessen damage to your DNA that can make some diseases more likely and also improve how well your brain cells “talk” to each other.
Fresh or frozen blueberries are best, since their polyphenol content goes down when you bake them.
Red & orange coloured foods like watermelon, tomatoes, red and orange peppers are all 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.
Cruciferous vegetables have 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.
As we age our immune system – your body’s defence against germs – is more vulnerable. Eating broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower could help as they may lower your risk of some types of cancer.
Dark leafy greens contain antioxidants which can lower your chances of getting cataracts and macular degeneration.
To keep your eyes healthy, eat spinach, kale or Swiss chard and you’ll also help reduce the risk for brain fog and the slow-down in memory, thinking, and judgment that can happen as we age.
Avocado are also rich in antioxidants that could improve your memory and help you solve problems faster.
They 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.
Sweet potato contains plenty of beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. This vitamin is key for healthy eyesight and skin. It also 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. The compounds that give it a bright colour may slow down age-related changes in your brain.
Spices do more than give your food flavour as they have antioxidants that help you stay healthy.
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.
What else can help?
As well as having a healthy diet, it’s also good to have the right levels of important vitamins and minerals and these are some of the ones you need.
Vitamin B12 helps make blood and nerve cells and you get it naturally from animal foods like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy but if deficient your doctor can give you an injection or you could use a supplement.
Up to 30% of people over 50 have atrophic gastritis, which makes it harder for your body to absorb it from foods.
Antacids, some medications, and weight loss surgery can contribute to a lack of B12.
Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and is part of the combination needed along with progesterone to help prevent osteoporosis.
It also helps your muscles, nerves, and immune system and most people get some vitamin D from sunlight. But your body is less able to convert sun’s rays to vitamin D as you age.
It’s harder to get this vitamin from foods, but fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are a good source.
Vitamin B6 is needed to fight germs and to make energy and we usually need more B6 as we get older.
It can also help with low mood and chickpeas are an easy and inexpensive source. So are liver, fatty fish and fortified breakfast cereals.
Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that are good for your gut and you get them from fermented foods like yoghurt or sauerkraut, or from supplements.
They can help with digestive issues like diarrhoea or irritable bowel syndrome, and may even protect against allergies.
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids because your body can’t make them and they’re important for your eyes, brain, and sperm cells.
They also could help protect against age-related disease like Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and macular degeneration, which can cause blindness.
Unless your doctor says otherwise, it’s best to get your omega-3s from food like fatty fish, walnuts and other nuts and seeds, and plant oils such as flaxseed or soybean.
Zinc is a micronutrient that helps your sense of smell and taste, and fights infections and inflammation and also may protect your vision.
Best natural sources are oysters, crab, beef, pork, chickpeas, cashews and other nuts and fortified breakfast cereals.
Selenium protects your cells from damage and infection, helps keep muscles strong, and may help prevent age-linked illnesses like dementia, some types of cancer, and keeps your thyroid functioning properly.
Just one or two Brazil nuts a day should be enough. Don’t overdo it as too much selenium can make your hair fall out and turn your nails brittle.
Potassium plays a part in almost everything inside your body, including your heart, kidneys, muscles, and nerves. It also may help protect against stroke, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.
Dried apricots, bananas, spinach, milk, and yoghurt are good sources.
In some cases, too much potassium may cause muscle weakness, confusion, irregular heartbeat, or difficult breathing, so always ask your doctor before you take supplemental potassium as it can interfere with medications for high blood pressure, migraine, and other conditions.
Folate is a natural form of vitamin B9 found in leafy greens, nuts, beans, and other foods. Folate helps with cell growth and may protect against stroke and certain cancers.
Folate found in foods is safe, but too much folic acid from supplements or fortified foods can raise your odds of having colon cancer or nerve damage.
Fibre helps protect against strokes, helps you have more regular bowel movements, and lowers your cholesterol and blood sugar.
Women over 50 should get at least 21 grams a day and best from whole grains, or vegetables.
A good skincare routine can make a difference so look at the serum that Wellsprings have designed just for the face that combines progesterone, oestrogen and hyaluronic acid for an effective boost to improve the skin’s appearance and glow.
Missed last week’s list of what not to do? The article below can help and don’t forget how hormone balance can make a difference too.