Seven foods baby boomers ought to eat

There is no debate: the older we boomers get, the more important it is to have a healthy diet because our bodies, and their needs, are changing. So today we are feeding you a piece our friends at NextAvenue.org recently ran by Ellen Breslau, about Seven Foods to Eat if You’re Over 50.

Though you may eat the same foods today that you’ve eaten since you were a kid, your nutritional needs change throughout your life.

Dr. Pamela Peeke, nutrition and fitness expert.

Dr. Pamela Peeke, nutrition and fitness expert.

“In youth, it’s all about growth and maintaining a body that can procreate,” says nutrition and fitness expert Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of The New York Times bestseller, The Hunger Fix.

“After the age of 50, the goal is to prevent disease by maintaining an optimally healthy and active mind and body.”

Being in the best health possible means what we eat as we age matters. “As we get older, metabolism slows, and the body’s ability to break down and use its fuel sources becomes less efficient,” Peeke says.

In addition, certain vitamins become more important to help protect against diseases and health issues.

So here are the foods you should be eating to keep your body strong and mind sharp:

1. FIBER-RICH FOODS, LIKE RASPBERRIES

raspberriesThis, unfortunately, is something you may already know from experience: Your gastrointestinal functioning slows down as you age, and as a result, it’s important to focus on eating enough fiber to keep your system moving along.

Some of the best fiber sources: raspberries, which according to The Mayo Clinic have 8 grams per cup; whole wheat pasta, 6.3 grams per cup; lentils, 15.6 grams per cup and green peas, 8.8 grams per cup. To find out more fiber rich foods, click here.

2. CORN FLAKES AND OTHER B12 FOODS

“As the body ages, the stomach’s acidity decreases, and as a result, it’s harder to get enough vitamin B12 in your diet,” Peeke says. Stomach acid helps release vitamin B12 from food and B12 is important because it helps maintain a healthy nervous system and key metabolic processes.

Foods that come from animals, such as meat, eggs, seafood and dairy, have the highest amounts of B12, but you can also get the vitamin from B12-fortified foods such as whole-grain cereals. If you’re concerned about not getting enough B12, talk to your doctor about adding a multivitamin or B12 supplement to your diet.

3. TURMERIC AND CINNAMON

tumeric

Tumeric.

Another thing to go as we get older: taste. “Aging produces a decrease in saliva production and ability to perceive taste,” Peeke says. That means you might want to start experimenting with different spices, including turmeric.

“Turmeric has been shown to boost immune function and also decrease joint inflammation and prevent arthritis in older women,” Peeke says. Other research has shown turmeric may have a real effect on preventing Alzheimer’s and some forms of cancer.

Another spice to add into your cooking rotation: cinnamon. “Cinnamon is well-known as an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agent,” Peeke says.

Cinnamon also helps to maintain control of blood sugar since it slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, which evens out blood sugar highs and lows.

4. WATER

Our sensation of taste declines as we age, so also does thirst, which means dehydration is more common.

woman-water

Water is important to optimize the body’s metabolic functions. “Women need nine cups of water, while men should drink 13 cups daily,” Peeke says. “If you’re more physically active and also live in a hotter climate, you’ll need more.”

5. BANANAS AND OTHER POTASSIUM SOURCES

It’s a fact that the risk of stroke and heart disease increases as we age. One way to help lower your risk: Eat foods that are excellent sources of potassium, like bananas and avocados.

A recent study of women aged 50 to 70 found that those who ate the highest amounts of potassium were least likely to experience a stroke. Other foods rich in potassium are potatoes, and pistachios, with a whopping 1,200 milligrams per cup.

6. CALCIUM-RICH FOODS

“Calcium is known mostly for its role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, but it is also required for proper functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system,” Peeke says.

The goal is to consume 1,200 milligrams daily for men and women, but intake, Peeke continues, is an issue for men and women for two reasons:

  • People who are lactose intolerant, a common problem as you age.
  • Not having enough vitamin D in your body, which is necessary for you to absorb calcium (and also helps to boost immune function).

How to combat these two issues? “If you are lactose intolerant, eat leafy greens, such as collards, mustard, kale, and bok choy,” Peeke says. “You can also try canned salmon (with bones) and sardines, as well as tofu that has been made with a calcium compound.”

As for getting enough vitamin D, ask your doctor to test your vitamin D level and if it is low, solutions include eating D-rich foods; getting that 15 minutes in the sun every day; and taking a supplement recommended by your doctor.

7. BROCCOLI AND OTHER LEAFY GREENS

Collard greens

Collard greens

Protecting your eyes is key as time goes on, particularly since many eye problems come with aging. Lutein, related to beta carotene and vitamin A, is a valuable nutrient you need to optimize vision and prevent macular degeneration. Green leafy vegetables, along with grapes, oranges and egg yolks, are excellent sources of lutein.

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3 Comments

  1. i would have agreed with every word in this article until a year ago when my husband was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disorder. His breakfast of choice for many years had been oatmeal topped with a sliced banana, some raisins and chopped nuts. We would have had at least one meal a week based on a variety of pulses. Now pulses and all the potassium rich foods are banned; vegetables such as potatoes and carrots must be soaked in water for several hours before cooking to reduce phosphates. The onset of the disease was slow and subtle and the ‘healthy’ diet, including all those foods in paragraph 5, was a contributory factor. So my advice is eat healthily but ensure that your kidney function is checked regularly as you grow older. My husband was virtually symptom free until a month before he became seriously ill.

  2. I agree with the article and the seven foods. However, I tell my patients to expand those items to include a broader spectrum of foods. Select “real” foods and foods of “color” for your daily menu. Real foods include those foods that have been around for hundreds / thousands of years. Real foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. I caution against meats and wheat products (grains) because they have changed so much in the past 40 years. The meats have become progressively contaminated; and our bread / pasta have 40 times more gluten than 25 years ago. The gluten keeps the bread and pasta “fresh looking” on the shelf, but it interferes with the absorption of the key healthy nutrients. For foods of color, I am again referring to a wider selection of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Experiment. Take some changes. So, from this physician’s perspective, follow the recommendations in the article, but also change your diet. What’s real and not prepackaged? What’s loaded with color, not artificial color? Change your eating style and watch your physical health, vitality, and mental sharpness improve as you grow older. It can happen! I have seen it.

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