Bodies change and can start to break down with age and due to life experiences. Proper nutrition can help ensure quantity and quality of life with aging. Prepare for physiologic and metabolic changes by arming yourself with the following strategies to help you live your best life in the years to come.
Anticipate Body Change
It’s normal for your body to be a different size in the different decades of life. During menopause, hormonal shifts cause fat cells to get bigger around the reproductive organs. This helps produce estrogen to offset the shutdown of the ovaries. Clinical psychologist Margo Maine, PhD, FAED, CEDS, encourages women to think of their midsection as a “life preserver” instead of a “spare tire.“ Adjust your expectations and accept that your body will change. Don’t let restriction and dieting put you at risk for fractures, frailty, or a weakened immune system.
Embrace Intuitive Eating
Eating intuitively helps you adjust to the body’s shifting needs. Intuitive eating comes naturally but goes against nearly our diet-saturated culture. The principles support longevity and health while acknowledging the importance of honoring food preferences and advocating for the least restrictive diet possible.
Bolster Bone Health
Calcium and vitamin D are key to keeping your bones healthy as you age. It’s easy to get vitamin D through sun, food and drinks, or with supplements. Very few foods naturally contain it, so fortified foods and drinks provide most of the vitamin D in your diet.
Dairy as well as dark leafy greens; sardines; salmon; calcium-set tofu; soybeans; almond butter; tempeh; and fortified plant-based beverages, juices, and cereals are all great sources of calcium. It’s best absorbed when you eat calcium-rich foods throughout the day. Your calcium need increases after age 50, so you may need to use supplements to fill in gaps on days your intake is lower.
Focus On Nutrient-Dense Foods
Studies show that micronutrient deficiencies tend to worsen with age due to malabsorption, poor nutrient utilization, medications, decreased appetite, and inability to perform activities of daily living such as meal preparation. Choosing foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nourishing fats will pack a nutritional punch of fiber, antioxidants, and essential nutrients to support digestion, disease prevention, and overall health.
Pick Protein at Each Meal
Newer research suggests that eating protein evenly throughout the day (instead of all at once) may support muscle protein synthesis and blood sugar control. Try adding eggs and a sprinkle of cheese to breakfast and chicken breast and nuts to your mid-day salad. This can help prevent muscle loss through aging.
Train and Maintain
Losing muscle mass, bone density loss, and changes in body composition can contribute to and accelerate disability. Physical activity is important for strengthening and/or maintaining lean body mass, preserving bone health, boosting metabolism, supporting the heart and lungs, and regulating blood sugar levels. Find something you enjoy that keeps you active, agile, and strong.
Getting older is a normal, natural part of life. Reach out to the Registered Dietitians at Memphis Nutrition Group for more empowering strategies for living your most vibrant, active, and healthy life.
Blair Mize, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN, CEDRD-S is co-owner of Memphis Nutrition Group, a nutrition and lifestyle counseling practice offering in-person and virtual nutrition therapy specializing in a non-diet, weight-neutral approach. Memphis Nutrition Group helps individuals reconnect with their bodies, find confidence and clarity in everyday choices, and create a peaceful, balanced approach to food that tastes good and feels even better. Contact Memphis Nutrition Group at 901.343.6146 or visit MemphisNutritionGroup.com for more information.