Did you know that as we age, the number of calories we need begins to decline? As a result, our nutrition needs change and dietary rules become a bit stricter so it is important to ensure that each calorie we eat is packed full of the right nourishment needed for each stage of life.
According to researchers on nutrition and aging, males aged 50 to 70 need approximately 2,200 calories per day, while females aged 50 to 70 require 1,980 calories per day. After age 70, caloric needs decrease due to decreased metabolism, movement, and energy requirements. Males need about 2,050 calories per day and females need about 1,870 calories per day. In addition, experts believe that we should start thinking about our changing nutrition needs in our 30s. Why wait until it’s too late?
Here are 7 items recommended by dietary experts to include in your diet to help you age gracefully
1. Calcium for strong bones
Calcium is found in dairy products and other foods, but people may still not get enough due to factors like lactose intolerance, which tends to increase with age. To help reduce the risk of brittle bones and fractures, adults require about 1,000 milligrams a day and it can rise to 1,200 milligrams for people over 50. Carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges, steamed green vegetables, and sardines are full of calcium. Supplements are good if you don’t think you are getting enough calcium from your diet.
2. Lutein for clarity
Deteriorating eyesight can be challenging for many as they get older. To save your eyes from age-related macular degeneration or cataracts, start upping your intake of lutein from your 40s.
Lutein can be gotten from egg yolks and green, leafy vegetables and yellow and orange fruits e.g. spinach, grapes, sweetcorn, and oranges. According to some studies, the nutrient, which is related to beta-carotene and vitamin A, may also help fend off cognitive decline.
3. Vitamin B12 to keep your mind sharp
Vitamin B12 is often overlooked even though it is an essential part of our nutrition as it is needed to make red blood cells and improve nerve function and cognition. This vitamin which helps fuel your brain is so key that its deficiency has been linked to cognitive decline and impaired nerve function.
It is absorbed into the body along through animal proteins like eggs, dairy products, and meat. Most young people easily get it from their diet but for the body to get B12, it needs to be dissolved from the protein. This gets more challenging with age as the level of acidity in the stomach decreases.
B12 not bound to protein is found in fortified cereal and supplements and is more readily absorbed by the body. Starting at age 50, most vitamin B12 should be gotten from these types of fortified foods.
4. Go bananas
Please, we’re talking about the actual fruit. Bananas are a good source of potassium which is known to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke due to aging. Potassium has also been shown to be essential for strong bones and cell function.
Fruits and vegetables are the richest sources of potassium. A banana is always a good choice and baked potatoes too (with the skin).
5. Supplements to the rescue?
Although food is the best source of nutrients, it can be hard for some to get the recommended amounts from meals alone. Supplements are often taken to ensure we get enough essential nutrients and to maintain/improve good health.
Supplements are convenient but it’s quite easy to end up getting too much of a good thing when using them. Be smart and know the risks. It’s also important to note that not everyone needs supplements. Talk to your doctor about whether you need supplements, which ones to start and the appropriate dosages.
6. Cut calories
As mentioned, our metabolic rate slows down as we age, so our calorie intake should drop accordingly. We don’t need as much to keep us moving and also people tend to move less as they get older. Extra calories may mean extra kilos, which ups heart disease and diabetes risk.
Maintain a good level of physical activity to get rid of the excess and also watch what you eat.
7. Drink more water
Water may not seem important but it is vital for good health. Over time, our sensation of thirst declines. In addition, certain medications—such as antihistamines and blood-pressure drugs—can make one more prone to dehydration. In fact, dehydration is one of the main reasons older adults end up in the hospital.
Women are advised to drink about 2.2 litres, or 9 cups, of water a day, while men should drink 3 litres, or 13 cups. Also, try to limit coffee, tea, and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which increase dehydration risk.