Either you’ve been a healthy eater your entire life or have recently fallen off the nutritional track, it’s critical to review your diet after the age of 50. About that, many experts advise being pickier about your foods and ensuring that you’re receiving enough nutrients for a healthy body.
“Our need for energy begins to decline in middle age,” says Christine Rosenbloom, registered dietitian, and nutritionist, professor at Georgia State University, and co-author of Food & Fitness Over 50. “Unless we want to start seeing that weight creep, there’s less room for drinking a pitcher of margaritas and eating a basket of chips. That is something that no one wants.”
Aside from changing to potentially slower digestion, you should also account for bone weakening, bowel function slowing, and muscle mass loss (around 1 percent a year until age 65, after which the loss can double.)
According to Marie Bernard, M.D., deputy director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and NIA’s senior geriatrician, older adults “need to make sure they’re getting lots of fruits and vegetables, eating lean meats if they’re eating meat, chicken, or fish, and avoiding saturated fats and sugars.” A healthy diet can help control blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease, and contribute to the prevention of diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Remember that “foods work together in concert,” says Joseph Gonzales, a registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic, when creating your healthy diet. “A spectacular musical piece necessitates an entire symphony.” However, if you incorporate these seven foods into your orchestra, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier tune.
7 Superfood for Adult Health
Berries are high in fibre, vitamin C, and anti-inflammatory, antioxidant flavonoids, making them ideal for the over-50 crowd. “Fiber helps us stay regular, manage our body weight, and defend against chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer,” says Nancy Farrell Allen, a registered dietitian nutritionist, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. Men over the age of 51 should consume 30 grams per day, while women over the age of 50 should consume 21 grams per day.
Berries appear to be beneficial to our ageing brains as well. According to Allen, “berries comprise essential antioxidants that may improve motor function and short-term memory.” As a result, they are an important component of the Brain diet, which focuses on foods that fight neurological disorders. Other brain-healthy diets are vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seafood, and poultry.
A Tufts University study published last year examined the eating habits of 2,800 people aged 50 and up over a 20-year period and discovered that those who ate fewer flavonoid-rich foods like berries, apples, and tea were two to four times more likely to develop dementia.
Nuts and seeds
All nuts don’t have similar nutrients, but all are beneficial to your health, according to Rosenbloom. They are high in protein and fibre and can help you feel full. Eat only a handful as an evening snack and you won’t be starving at dinnertime,” she advises. One ounce equals 24 almonds, 18 cashews, 35 peanuts, and 15 pecan halves per day.
Healthy fats can also be found in nuts and seeds. Walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds all contain ALA omega-3 fatty acids, which are converted to EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids,” says Allen, who adds that consuming omega-3 fats regularly will help protect your brain.
It might be time to make these high-calcium curds a regular part of the weekly menu. “Cottage cheese is an excellent source of whey protein, which aids in the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis,” explains Rosenbloom. “Athletes are aware of this; after a workout, they frequently consume a whey protein shake. However, instead of doing so, eat cottage cheese.”
It also contains a lot of calcium and vitamin D. “Our bones are like a storage, and after the age of 35, we begin to lose bone density, so adding calcium and vitamin D to our diet is essential for maintenance,” Allen says.
What else promotes bone health? Phosphorus, which can be found in nuts, legumes, cereals, and grains, and magnesium, which can be found in nuts, seeds, legumes, and dark green vegetables.
Fish such as salmon, cod, tuna, and trout are high in lean protein, which older people require to maintain muscle mass. Bernard suggests aiming for five to six ounces of protein per day, which can come from seafood, poultry, nuts, seeds, soy products, or lean meat.
Studies show that older adults should be more aware of protein intake because their bodies are not quite as efficient at using protein as middle-aged people.
Fish is also high in vitamin B12, a nutrient found only in animal foods and that we have a harder time absorbing as we get older. “Seafood contains omega-3 fatty acids as well,” Rosenbloom adds. Two to three servings per week reduce the risk of death from major chronic diseases by approximately 17%.
Dark-green leafy vegetables
“As we age, our bones become weaker & porous and require calcium,” says Bernard of the NIA, which you can get from low-fat milk products and leafy green vegetables. Some of the food items include kale, arugula, broccoli, and spinach, all of which are high in fibre, appear to improve muscle function, and are heart-healthy.
According to an Australian study published in the Journal of Nutrition, individuals who ate just one cup of nitrate-rich green leafy vegetables every day had 11% stronger lower body. Another recent Danish study examined 50,000 people over a 23-year period and discovered that those who ate these vegetables had a 12 to 26 percent lower risk of heart disease.
Beans and legumes
What is the point of being super? “Beans help lower cholesterol,” Gonzales says. “They’re high in fibre and protein, and they’re low in calories.” They also have a high iron, potassium, and magnesium content. Look for dry beans or canned beans with low sodium. If you can’t find either, Rosenbloom suggests draining and rinsing a can of regular beans to cut the sodium by 41%.
Water is not even food! True, but as you get older, you need to pay more attention to hydration. “As we get older, we may not have as good a thirst mechanism,” says Rosenbloom, who advises keeping a close eye on your water consumption, especially when it’s warm and humid and you’re sweating — for example, while gardening outside.
Bernard points out that drinking more water can help counteract the effects of bowel function deterioration as we age. Also, keep in mind that we frequently mistake hunger for thirst.