Life is a long and varied journey, and as it changes, so do our priorities and needs. Much in the way we grow and change as people, so do the needs of our bodies; and whilst the core principles of healthy living remain the same, our bodies have specific extra requirements as they progress through the stages of life.
At the beginning of adulthood, proper nutrition is normally the furthest thing from your mind. It is a time of new beginnings, socialising, and developing what will hopefully become a fruitful career. However, the body does not stop developing as you make your mark in the business word, or start looking for that special person to settle down with, and neither do its needs.
Whilst this is all well and good, the lack of fibre and nutrient rich foods often seen in the diets of those in their 20’s and 30’s is a cause for serious concern. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, whether you up all night partying, making waves at work or watching over a brood of children – when you neglect the dietary needs of your body, you are setting yourself up for a fall further down the road.
A prime example of this is bone density. Although we have mostly stop growing by the time we are 20, bone density can continue to increase and strengthen for another 10 years. Without the proper nutrition (which a lot of people in their 20’s ARE lacking), bones cannot continue to develop correctly, making potential complications, such as osteoporosis, all the more likely as we age.
We know, it’s hard, but trust us, looking after your body as you progress through your 20’s and 30’s will make all the difference later on in life. The following are some of the things you need to focus on in addition to the standard balanced and healthy diet:
Fibre – Breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day – and for good reason. Breakfast tends to be one of the main sources of fibre for the day, which is used to maintain and clean the gut, as well as prevent digestive problems. Try eating wholegrain cereals or porridge with some fresh fruit in the morning. It should set you up for the day, as well as supply you with some additional vitamins and energy.
Folic acid – This is especially important for women looking to have children, (which tends to be most prevalent in the late 20’s and 30’s). Folic acid is critical before and after conception for the healthy development of a baby. Fortified wholegrain cereals, as well as leafy greens are great sources of this.
Calcium, vitamin K and vitamin D - As the bones are still growing in density, giving them enough calcium, and all the components the body needs to harness it can help them become as strong as can be – reducing the likelihood of osteoporosis later on in life. You can get calcium and the assortment of vitamins required to effectively use it from leafy greens from kale, broccoli and spinach.
Note: Never take calcium on its own. Without the proper vitamins to back it up, the body can’t use it, and it actually does more damage than good, contributing to osteoporosis instead of preventing it.
Less salt – It is easy to ignore our diets when we are young, and indulge in our society’s many high salt, heavily processed fast foods and ready meals. Refrain as much as possible! Official guidelines state we should not be consuming more than 6 grams of salt a day, and regularly having more is asking for trouble later in life.
A balanced and healthy diet – This applies throughout your life, but we thought it best to get it out of the way now. All of the above, and all of the below are extra little tips on what your body is going to need at these ages; but they are all useless if you neglect the very foundation of your health. You are what you eat – so make sure you eating well. We are not saying you need to be a fitness guru, but take the time to make sure your diet is covering all of the general bases required for good health.
By your 40’s you have likely learned many of life’s lessons, and there is a good chance that your outlook on life, as well as your priorities have changed. Just in the way you have grown as a person, so have the needs of your body. In your 40’s the metabolism slows down, reducing the rate at which calories are burnt. It is the period of life where things like heart disease and other cardiovascular related problems can suddenly sneak up on you, making exercise and a healthy diet all the more important.
Antioxidants – One of the best ways to supplement exercise and a healthy diet is with antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body on a cellular level, and have been actively shown to help prevent heart disease, degenerative brain disease and cancer. The best sources of antioxidants are fresh fruits and vegetables, especially brightly coloured ones. Ensure you are getting 5 varied portions a day – something that can easily be achieved with Uzuma green juice, as one bottle contains the nutritional equivalent of over 1 kilo of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Iron – Iron is an important nutrient that is often lacking in those in their 40’s. It is used to support the immune system, keep the brain healthy and keep the blood full of oxygen – making it vital for healthy infrastructure. A good way to get it is to eat 100g of lean, red meat twice a week. However, if you are trying to cut down on red meat, or don’t eat meat at all, then such things as spinach, broccoli and asparagus are all great sources of iron.
Cut down on alcohol – Alcohol contains a lot of unnecessary calories and increases the risk of heart disease when drunk in excess. Stick to the recommended daily unit guidelines – they may seem boring, but they are there for a reason.
50 is the new 20, or so they say. You may not being slowing down, but your body will be beginning to. High blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes become your main enemies; and adopting a low-fat, low GI diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, is the best way to combat them. This is also a period of life where bone density begins to rapidly deteriorate, especially in menopausal women – making calcium and vitamins K and D essential.
Consider following the Mediterranean diet – This diet mainly consist of a lot of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables. It is great at keeping cholesterol and fat in check and supplies the body with an outstanding amount of nutrients.
Exercise – Although not part of a diet, it is more important than ever to get up and exercise in your 50’s. Inactivity greatly increases the rate at which bone density deteriorates, so exercising can help maintain healthy bones, as well and help keep other parts of your body in check.
Cut down on fats – Fats are hard to deal with in your 50’s, so cut down on them. It will help keep your heart healthy.
Omega-3 – Omega-3 is used for a variety of things throughout the body, including keeping you bones and heart healthy. Aim to get at least 3 portions of omega-3 rich food a week.
Calcium, vitamin K and vitamin D – All of these are essential to the proper maintenance of bone health. Do not simply take on of the other, all three are required, and without one or the other, you can end up doing more damage to your bones than good. Leafy greens, such as kale, spinach and broccoli are all great sources of these essential nutrients.
Once we hit our 60’s everything alters again. Nutrient absorption becomes much less efficient, we go through both physiological and psychological changes, and our appetites usually reduce. However, the amount of vitamins and nutrients we require stays the same, so it is ever more important to make sure that what we are eating is laden healthy nutrients.
The key thing to include as a part of a healthy and balanced diet in your 60’s:
Fibre and water – Once past 60, the activity of the gut begins to slow down. By eating a lot of fibre and drinking a lot of water it is possible to prevent digestive problems associated with age, and keep things running as smoothly as they can. Lentils, vegetables and fruit are all good examples of high fibre foods.
Get as much vitamin B12 as possible – As the digestive system slows down, it becomes much, much harder to absorb vitamin B12. Without it, we can be left feeling weak, fatigued and hazy. To try and combat this, include as many healthy B12 rich foods in your diet as possible. Eggs, fish and fortified breakfast cereals are all good sources of it.
Don’t fall into the salt trap – As we age our sense of smell and taste begin to diminish. This can make it easy to over season your food, adding in too much salt. Use other, healthier flavours, like garlic to add extra zing instead. Too much salt is bad for the heart, and the older we become, the higher the risk of heart disease – so don’t make it worse with salt.
Get more vitamin D – Vitamin D is something that is predominantly made by the body, but can also be obtained in healthy amounts from food. As the body ages, it becomes less efficient in producing vitamin D, and we have to become more reliant on food as its source. Expose yourself to the sun for at least 20 minutes a day, and eat things like eggs and oil-rich fish regularly.
The above information shows just how the needs of your body change as you age. Life is a journey of ups and downs, but by incorporating the above into an already healthy lifestyle, you can keep your body and mind in the best possible condition.