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