If you start planning for healthy aging in your 40s, execution begins in your 50s. By the time you hit your half-century mark, many changes have already taken place, and many more will happen in the future. So many healthy changes are necessary to lead a quality life after 50, from including beneficial antioxidants, phytonutrients, calcium, fruits, and salads to removing disease-causing refined products and saturated fats, from pushing oneself to be physically active every single day to engage your brain in stimulating activities to keep it active.
As you get older, the focus switches from fitness to wellness, from seasonal infections to chronic ailments that could also accelerate aging. Aiming for quality now can make all the difference, and eating the proper diet can keep you fit as a fiddle and strengthen your immune system.
Here are seven beneficial dietary practices to adopt after crossing 50.
1. Improve Immune Function with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The human immune system weakens with age, making it inefficient in fighting off infections and less sensitive to vaccines. In addition, persistent inflammation brought on by an aging immune system raises the risk of practically all age-related diseases. Seniors are particularly susceptible to diseases that develops in the lungs, atherosclerosis, heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's and more.
However, consuming omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats found in fish, can help reduce inflammation in the body. To reap the benefits, try to eat fish twice a week. Walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and other plant-based foods also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Protect Your Bones
Due to decreased mobility and mineral loss, aging weakens our bones. To lower your risk of osteoporosis, and prevent injuries and fractures, you should consume vitamin D and calcium three times in a day. Calcium requirements for women rise at 51 from 1,000 mg/day to 1,200 mg/day.
To help maintain bone health take foods enriched with vitamin D and calcium including cereal, fresh juice, and bread. In addition, calcium absorption requires adequate vitamin D intake. Although food is the best source of nutrients, it can be challenging to consume enough daily. A multivitamin with extra vitamin D is a better option if you already have signs of osteoporosis or thinning bones.
3. Keep Sodium Low
At 50; the daily sodium limit drops from 2,300 mg to 1,500 mg. A useful trick? Try seasonings like pepper, citrus, dill, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and fresh herbs. You can cook with many low-sodium and sodium-free alternatives that give foods a lot of flavors and little or no salt. Preparing meals at home with fresh ingredients is the easiest way to monitor sodium intake closely.
4. Boost Your Energy Levels
It's common to notice a shift in daily energy levels when we reach our fifties. To some extent, this is normal, but a lack of vitamin B12 could also drop your energy levels. Daily supplementation is essential if a person is deficient in B12. While being lethargic is not ideal, accepting a fall in energy might result in less movement and activity, which can worsen osteoporosis, damage the heart, and cause changes in bowel habits.
Taking the necessary steps to keep active and preserve a high standard of living is crucial because overall health is part of one giant, interconnected circle. Beef liver, sardines, mackerel, yogurt, red meat, and fortified cereals are dietary sources of B12.
5. The Fiber Factor
Type 2 diabetes is a common disease among adults 50 and older. Dietary fiber helps lower and regulate blood glucose levels by delaying the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Additionally crucial to digestion, fiber also lowers cholesterol, encourages regular bowel motions, and aids in maintaining a healthy weight. According to the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines for Americans, males 51 and older should consume 28 grams of dietary fiber per day, while females 51 and older should consume 22 grams. Whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are all plant foods that are high in nutrients and are the best source of fiber.
6. Maintain Skin Integrity with Vitamins C and E
Don't dismiss dry, sensitive skin as merely a "sign of aging." Skin elasticity and resilience can both be improved with adequate hydration. Wrinkles, fine lines, and dull skin can be slowed or even stopped by eating foods that are good for the skin. In addition, healthy skin will resist injury more readily and heal wounds more quickly. It includes pressure ulcers, incisions from surgery, and everyday bumps and scrapes around the house.
Take action and supplement with vitamins E and C to support skin integrity. Cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, and cauliflower), bell peppers, and berries are rich in vitamin C, whereas, sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds, and other leafy greens are excellent sources of vitamin E.
7. Eat High-Protein Diet
An increasing body of scientific evidence suggests that older adults should consume more protein-rich foods when trying to lose weight, managing a chronic or acute disease, or facing frequent hospitalization.
Aging bodies handle protein less effectively during these stressful times and require more of it to support muscle mass and strength, bone health, and other vital physiological processes. Therefore, adhering to the basic rule of assuring 1.0-1.3 mg of protein per kg of body weight is essential while creating a high-protein diet for yourself. A senior who weighs 60 kg would therefore require 60 to 75 g of protein daily. Pick lean options like fish, steak, chicken breast, and turkey, and eat plenty of plant-based foods like quinoa, lentils, and tofu to ensure an adequate protein intake.
Anyone at any age may find it difficult to modify their diet. Still, older people with established eating habits that have developed over a long period may find it particularly challenging. The body operates mysteriously, but being proactive is essential at any age. When you hit 50, it is critical to consider your health, body, and well-being. When you embrace that what you eat accounts for 80% of all diseases, your approach naturally changes; after crossing the half-century mark, you internalize the health ratio guidelines and adhere to them religiously.