I’m the first to say there are no magic bullets or best foods for weight loss or staying healthy as you grow older. There are foods that clearly are high in nutrients, like pomegranate, kale, mushrooms and sea vegetables, but if these isolated foods are the only nutritious foods you eat and the rest of your intake is highly processed low quality foods, well, that just doesn’t cut it. You won’t lose weight or age well with a few good foods with the rest low in nutrients. You’ll just be hungry.
After age 50 a person’s nutrition becomes crucial. Quality nutrition may be the most important factor in keeping your body healthy for the rest of your life. The days of eating sweets and highly processed foods on demand are over. The nutrient bank account must be constantly replenished.
Changes that can come your way
After age 50, muscle and bone loss happen if you are not proactive in preventing it.
Muscle mass, and the many reasons muscle matters:
Muscle mass begins to decline very gradually after age 35. Of course you can prevent much of the loss you see in older people by eating healthy and staying physically active. Maintaining muscle mass prevents midlife weight gain as well. Each pound of muscle burns 38 calories of energy per day; each pound of fat only burns 9 calories of energy per day. When you lose muscle mass you change the proportion of muscle/fat in your body and unless you eat less, you will gain weight. You also need strong muscles to maintain proper balance. Strong muscles allow you to react and recover if you stumble or trip.
We hear about calcium and its importance for bones and it surely is. But it’s not the only nutrient healthy bones need. Foods rich in Vitamin D and magnesium are equally important, along with quality protein sources, vegetables and fruit. Calcium is the hard matter on the outside of bones; inside the bone is Bone marrow which produces the body's blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body and white blood cells fight infection within the body. You can’t simply pop a calcium supplement or eat a yogurt every day and expect to have healthy bones. And like muscles, bones stay healthiest when you bear weight on them through walking , jumping and lifting.
Here are some foods that should be in your diet:
Salmon, mackerel or sardines
These seafoods are rich in quality fats that nourish your bones, stabilize your mood and support heart health. Eat some kind of fish twice weekly.
Another source of quality fats, eat nuts as a snack or add them to your breakfast meal or salad.
Choose the ones you like; there are many. Refer to ewg.org and their dirty dozen list for which should be organic if possible.
Red, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits
These offer nutrients that are different from those you find in the green vegetable, so be sure to include these on your plate too.
Dried Plums (prunes)
You might have thought prunes were only for constipation, but there is another benefit; improvement in bone density. A study showed that eating 5-6 prunes per day lessened bone resorption in osteoporotic women.
And finally, a Beauty Tip - Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce’s lycopene which helps prevent wrinkles and damage from UV light. Lycopene is best expressed in tomatoes that are cooked. Check here for a spaghetti squash recipe.
And while you’re there, check out the many other recipes you’ll find on the blog.