“Do not deprive me of my age. I have earned it.” ― May Sarton
Life is in a constant state of flux. Things are always moving, and that makes it an interesting ride for all of us.
Whether it’s trying to make it through college in your twenties, establishing your career in your thirties …… raising your family in your forties, or working towards a golden retirement in your fifties and beyond…… we’re all doing what we can to make the most out of life.
That also includes being on top of your health and nutrition. And as our bodies change, so do our needs. When you hit a certain age, you’re doing different stuff from other folks.
You have priorities and goals that specifically apply to you.
A wise man once said, “We’re never static – we’re either growing or declining.”
Nothing stays the same and we’re always trying to roll with the changes. That means you need to know the best way to keep yourself in top condition no matter what point in life you’re at.
Hanging on for the ride
Rosemary, a sixty-three-year-old mother of three (and grandmother of four), had trouble keeping up with the demands of her daily routine.
She was in the middle of retiring from her long-time job as a brand manager for a publications company. Her plan was to use her severance pay and savings to transition to a self-employed career.
“My grandkids are a whiz at the computer and the internet, so they’ve been helping me put up my website for my freelance business,” Rosemary says.
Everything was going great until she ran into an unexpected roadblock. Rosemary had been dealing with inflammation for several years now, but now the pain had gone way up.“It’s like someone flipped a switch the day I hit sixty,” Rosemary shares.
“Suddenly it was a chore to get out of bed or even hold my toothbrush. The pain had gone from tolerable to unbearable.”
And Rosemary’s energy levels weren’t quite what it used to be. The same could be said for other people her age, but it came as a surprise to her because she’s been naturally athletic all her life.
She said, “I thought being a runner and tennis player for most of my life was enough, but my body told me otherwise.” So Rosemary decided to consult with her doctor who then referred her to a nutritionist.
After a few appointments and some back and forth discussion, they came up with a specialized eating plan. “It changed everything for me,” she said, beaming. “Once I got rid of all the unhealthy stuff I was eating and unlearned my attachment to them… it felt like shaving off a decade and a half off my age!”
After getting her much-needed nutritional boost, Rosemary got back on track with her goals. She quickly wrapped her old job and land on her feet during the transition. With her family’s help, she managed to score a few clients right out of the gate and get her freelance career going.
Now that her hours are flexible, Rosemary has a lot more time to enjoy a healthy, well-balanced life with her family and friends. If you’re trying to figure out the best way to nourish yourself, here’s a nifty guide to help you. Keep reading to find out how to stay strong and healthy no matter age you are:
#1 Making the most out of your 20s
This is the time when your body will let a lot of stuff slide: pulling all-nighters, eating anything and everything under the sun……partying 24/7, and only going to the gym when you feel like it. Also, people in this age bracket are likely to be going through some pretty major life changes like a new job, graduating from school and living independently. Indeed, this particular period in time holds a lot of exciting opportunities. But these new challenges also come with a new kind of pressure. This will take a toll on your health and could lead to issues like emotional eating and other poor health habits. So as early as now, it’s important to cultivate the right habits that will carry on later in life:
- Work out: this might sound like trite advice, but don’t scoff at this. Like everything else, this is an excellent time for you to invest in your body. Strike the iron and all that! Make the habit of hitting the gym (or find free alternatives if budget is an issue) to further develop your physique while it’s in its prime. You’re at a point where doing so will pay off exponentially.
- You’ll need a good variety of food to provide you with the nutrients you’ll need while making a name for yourself in the real world. That means a good serving of fruits and vegetables (to fight oxidative stress and premature aging).
- Macronutrients like protein are essential for muscle growth. Micronutrients like calcium keep your bones strong (which is important because they’re still growing at this point). Fiber-rich food should also be on your to-eat list to support your gut health (which is crucial to better immunity).
- If you opt to eat meat for protein (i.e. chicken, fish and beef), make sure to get quality sources to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Those going the vegan or vegetarian route can get their protein from non-animal sources.
- Having enough antioxidants are important at this stage. Free radicals (a.k.a. mutated cells) arise from oxidative stress – this not only leads to accelerated aging but even cancer and other sicknesses. So be sure to load up on fruits and veggies (the more colorful, the better) to counteract the effects of a high-paced, stressful lifestyle.
#2 Keeping up the pace in your 30s
By this time, you’re taking on even more responsibilities now. That means should keep building on your healthy habits from your earlier years to keep yourself going. For one thing, cell activity will slightly drop. As such, you’ll have to step it up to keep your skin glowing, your muscles firm and your overall endurance up to scratch.That said, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Antioxidants should still be on your daily menu. Keep eating those green leafy vegetables for you, and don’t forget other foods rich in immune-boosting nutrients. Vitamin C is perhaps the biggest one. This keeps sickness at bay and supports collagen growth (vital for youthful-looking skin), and you’ll find this in citrus fruits like grapefruits and oranges, as well as veggies like broccoli, kale and spinach.
- Meanwhile, vitamin B6 functions as a supportive nutrient for your immune system as well. Again, a lot of vegetables has this, along with animal-based ones like tuna, salmon and chicken.
- Vitamin E acts as both an antioxidant and immune booster. Eat nuts like almonds, sunflower seeds and olives to get your fix.
- One other thing: your metabolism isn’t what it used to be, so now’s the time to be a bit pickier about what you eat. It probably won’t be as easy to burn off those burgers and chips like before. And don’t feel bad if you can’t chug down beer (or your alcoholic drink of choice) like there’s no tomorrow – that comes with the territory.
#3 40 ain’t nothing but a number
No matter what cynical coffee mugs, t-shirts or movies tell you, hitting the big 4-0 is still an excellent time in your life to stay on top of things. The important thing now is to stay vigilant against the hallmarks of aging. This includes lowered collagen levels (which started around your 30s), osteoporosis and UV damage. While it’s necessary to maintain the same food habits from the previous years, you should also keep these tips in mind:
- Dietary fats, in particular, are important. They are made up of fatty acids that benefit your brain (as it’s almost made up of fat in itself!). Plus they help transport nutrients across cells and dissolve fat-soluble vitamins. Fruits (like avocados) and nuts (e.g. almonds), along with fish (salmon, mackerel and herring) are rich in fats and omega-3 acids.
- Keep eating your leafy greens as they also contain iron, something you’ll need more of as you get older. Women, in particular, are vulnerable to iron deficiency, so stay on top of this.
- Gut health may be an issue, and you’ll react to certain foods (like allergies or IBS) more than you did before. Get into probiotic-rich foods to cope with this change (e.g. cabbage, cauliflower, root vegetables, and fruits such as dates).
- Stay in shape. Regular exercise is more important than ever because your metabolism will experience another drop. Also, you’ll want to keep a closer eye on your alcohol consumption, too. Moderation is key, so pace your drinking days throughout the week.
#4 Staying strong in your 50s
You’re at the mid-way point now. You’ve reached a new level of maturity and tend to care less about other people’s expectations or what they think.You’re more focused on building your previous goals taking things to the next level. As such, so you’ll need to take care of the crucial aspects of reaching this milestone.
- Lower estrogen and testosterone levels are expected (for women and men respectively), so don’t freak out. You can do plenty nutrition-wise to soften the blow of aging.
- Muscle mass may decrease at this point, so keep up your protein intake as you work out. Don’t feel pressured to do high-intensity stuff like cross-fit and focus on pre and post-workout rituals like stretching, warming up, etc.
- It’s time to ramp up the antioxidant foods even more to fight the onset of Alzheimer’s and the like. Don’t forget your omega-3 and keep eating foods with healthy fatty acids. Speaking of which, avoid foods high in harmful saturated fat and those with a high glycemic index (GI).
- Inflammation will become more of an issue. So, you should also eat anti-inflammatory foods like dark leafy greens, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. You might also want to try anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, cumin and cardamom.
#5 Being awesome in your 60s and beyond
Let’s be honest, you’re no spring chicken, but that’s not a bad thing. With age comes experience – and wisdom. This gives you an edge when it comes to staying on top of your game. As far as nutrition is concerned, you just need to maintain the right habits to stay active and focused as the younger folk.
- Your brain needs more loving. Make sure to keep it finely tuned with those fatty acids and other brain-friendly nutrients. Load up on antioxidants that fight the effects of aging, and anti-inflammatory foods that counteract chronic pain.
- Keep your tummy happy too with probiotics and gut-friendly foods as well. At this age, you need to make extra sure your digestive functions are running smoothly by promoting healthy gut bacteria.
- Exercise-wise, try low-impact activities such as yoga or qi gong which focus on staying flexible and mobile for people in this age group. Swimming and other water-based activities are great too.
- Protein is also important to compensate for a loss of muscle tone and skin elasticity. Vitamin D is helpful, while plant or animal-based foods rich in protein are also necessary. Stay on top of your vitamin B12 requirements by eating, meat, fish and eggs (or an alternate vegetable source if you prefer).
- Take care of your fiber intake via grains, veggies and fruit-based sources like bananas, persimmons and apples.
- Speaking of vitamins, get supplements to make up for any nutritional decline at this stage. Those vitamins we covered are a vital part of avoiding fatigue and weakness.
- Metabolism slows down again – along with appetite. If you’re eating smaller portions than before, your meals should be more nutrient-dense.
- Have regular check-ups. Get screened for potential issues, and work closely with your doctor to make sure everything’s in order.
Playing the long game
Regardless of where you are in life right now, there is one thing you need to watch out for. Modern, processed foods may be convenient for a lot of people, but this nutritional shortcut comes at a high price.
The problem with these prepackaged foods is that they’re often loaded with sugar and devoid of any real nutrients. While they satisfy your short-term needs, most food from the Western diet will wreck your long-term health.
You might save time by eating them now, but you’ll also shorten your life in the process. Most people have an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of thinking when it comes to nutrition……but the truth is that you can’t afford to do this.
(Not if you want to enjoy your senior years free from sickness and pain, anyway.)It’s time to start living in your prime, all the time.
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