As we age nutrition becomes increasingly important. Here I share a few key actions and nutrients to ensure optimum health through your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
In your 20s
Drink enough water. When you’re rushing between school, work and social activities, it’s easy to forget to hydrate. Carry a large water bottle with you at all times and aim to drink at least 64oz of water per day.
Pack smart snacks. Adults ages 20 to 39 consume 15.3 percent of their calories from fast food according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Instead of racking up empty calories, choose healthy meals you can throw together in a snap. Consider planning your meals for the week and meal prepping on the weekends
Nutrient essentials: Calcium and folic acid. You’re still building bone through your mid-20s. Keep them strong by getting at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. Good sources include yogurt, fortified nondairy milk, firm tofu and sardines. Supplementation also provides your body what it cannot get from foods and could allow your body to absorb more efficiently. Ask me how!
In your 30s
Watch your calories. You can’t eat like a teenager and maintain your weight. In your 30s, metabolism starts to slow down as women lose muscle mass. Swap refined carbs (e.g., white bread and pastries) and sugary beverages for whole grains, fresh produce and water.
Nutrient essentials: Folic acid and protein. More women wait until their 30s to have their first baby, according to a CDC report. If you’re one of them, keep up the folic acid intake.
Muscle mass declines by about five percent each decade starting in your 30s. To preserve it, add strength training into your workouts and eat adequate amounts of protein, both plant and animal source, which helps mitigate muscle loss.
In your 40s
Protect your heart. Cholesterol and blood pressure rise as you get closer to menopause. Protect your ticker with regular exercise and heart-healthy foods. Good choices include dark leafy greens, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables. Drink alcohol only in moderation (no more than one drink per day for women) and cut out trans fat, found in processed and fried food.
Nutrient essentials: Vitamin D and antioxidants. Keep an eye on vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. It also keeps your immune system strong, your energy levels high and protects against breast and colon cancer. Vitamin D stores decline as women hit their 40s.
Antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E prevent or delay cell damage that contributes to aging. Good sources include red peppers, citrus fruits, berries, carrots, sweet potatoes and nuts. supplementation is also a key factor.
In your 50s and beyond
Eat more fiber. In women, heart disease risk increases after age 55 according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels, which is good for heart health. Fiber also keeps you fuller longer, which helps keep your weight in check.
Nutrient essentials: Omega-3s and B12. Studies indicate that 10 to 30 percent of people over age 50 have a reduced ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food.
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Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Get your fill from fatty fish such as salmon, which is rich in EPA and DHA omega-3s. Walnuts and ground flaxseed are high in ALA, an omega-3 that may help lower cholesterol.
Regular physical activity is important regardless of your current age and fitness level. It’s never too late to get started with a new exercise routine.
Dedication to living a healthy, active lifestyle as you age can help to counteract aging effects, such as muscle loss, decreased bone density and decreased joint mobility.
For more information, visit www.LuanneBarnas.com.