As we age, our bodies require different nutrients that serve as building blocks for us. It’s important to identify these key nutrients at different stages of your life so you can promote good health within your body for the future.
What you eat during your 20s creates the foundation for your future health. Bone mass is particularly important for both men and women, and it peaks during this decade. By storing up on calcium now, you lessen your chances of severe bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis. Milk, cheeses and yogurt are great examples of calcium-rich foods. The ability to build strong muscles also peaks in this time frame, and protein is the key nutrient to help do so. Lean meats, skinless white-meat poultry and beans are avid protein providers that should be worked into your diet.
Your immune system and metabolism should be the areas of focus during this decade. Iron deficiency can begin in middle adulthood. If you don’t get enough iron, you can experience symptoms such as fatigue, decreased mental clarity and lower immune system functions. Foods like vitamin-packed cereals and pork and beans are iron-rich. Your metabolism begins to slow down by five percent each decade, so you should lower your caloric intake accordingly. Research has shown that those who eat a hearty breakfast will consume 100 to 200 fewer calories later in the day, so fill your breakfast with fiber and protein foods.
Nutrition needs to be your priority during this decade, with heart health as the main focus. Take care of your heart by enjoying fatty fish and adding fiber to your diet. Wild salmon, sardines and trout are considered fatty fish and are packed with heart-healthy omega-3s. Fish can decrease inflammation throughout your body and help improve your cholesterol. Dietary fiber adds bulk to food in your digestive tract, which will make you feel full and ward off cravings. It also helps excrete excess fats and reduce high blood pressure. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables will give you the proper amount of fiber to feel full on fewer calories.
50s and Beyond
Protect yourself from age-related health issues by eating foods rich in vitamins that manage or prevent joint aches and pains. Once you turn 50, your body does not supply enough vitamin B12 on its own – the vitamin necessary to make blood cells and improve cognition. While it’s available in supplements, fortified cereal, lean meat and some fish are good sources of vitamin B12.
At Every Stage
No matter what decade of life you’re in, it’s important to remember that you can continue to increase the health of your body with regular exercise.