The basic nutritional guidelines of healthy eating stay the same throughout our lives. Think: everything in moderation, minimise the processed stuff and up the fresh whole foods, fruit and vegetables.
However, as age and lifestyle factors can affect our nutritional status, it can be beneficial to modify our diet to ensure we’re getting everything our bodies need.
Eating in your 30’s
We tend to take on more responsibility in our 30’s. Whether that be career, mortgage, family the responsibility and pressures of everyday living can take its toll.
Be aware of alcohol consumption and reserve alcohol for weekends rather than rely on it as a stress buster to get you through the week.
Get savvy with the food prep so you are not tempted by processed fast foods when time is of the essence. Cooking up meals for the week on the weekend, prepping salads and veggies can go a long way to put you on the road to healthy eating. If the fridge is full of healthy food we are more inclined to eat it.
When we are working hard, stress levels are high we use up more B vitamins. Our B vitamins are needed every day to help us convert carbohydrates to glucose to help keep us feeling energised. Being low in B vitamins can lead to an inability to cope well under pressure, sleepless nights and even a low mood. Food processing, stress and alcohol all deplete these important nutrients. Include legumes, lean meats, poultry, nutritional yeast, nuts and dairy.
The mineral zinc is crucial for hundreds of important enzyme reactions within the body and is involved in the immune system and reproductive health. Low zinc levels can therefore affect our fertility, hormones and put us at risk of a lowered immune system. Include zinc-rich foods in the diet to stay strong and healthy such as oysters, seafood, pumpkin seeds and red meat.
Include plenty of vitamin C rich foods to support stressed out adrenal glands and to help keep the immune system strong. Cherries, berries, pineapple, cauliflower, capsicum, Brussel sprouts, tomatoes and citrus fruits are all high in vitamin C.
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Eating in your 40’s
Our hormone levels begin to change, we may find that we put weight on more easily, we can lose collagen and muscle mass and we can be prone to niggles, aches and pains. As we begin to mature, the importance of healthy eating to preserve our health really kicks in.
Include plenty of fresh minimally processed foods, 8 servings of vegetables and a couple of pieces of fruit every day. Minimise highly refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, pies, cakes and bread. Too many of these foods will not only promote weight gain when eaten in excess but can also cause fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Look to increase protein-rich foods to support and maintain energy, support collagen and growth and repair of cells. Include poultry, lean meats, legumes, eggs, fish, gelatine, bone broths.
Fibre is very important for a healthy functioning gut. It helps to feed the good gut bacteria and supports the transit of food through the gut, whilst removing toxins and assisting with healthy hormones. Include plenty of fibre rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, chia seeds, psyllium, and whole grains such as oats, bran and brown rice
Up the magnesium-rich foods to support cellular health, energy, hormones and a healthy nervous system. When we are deficient in magnesium we can become tired, irritable and crave stimulants such as chocolate and coffee. Include plenty of green leafy vegetables, dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, bone broth.
Eating in your 50’s
Our hormone levels start to decline post menopause which can affect our brain, bones and cardiovascular health, to name just a few.
Include plenty of good fats, mineral-rich foods, protein and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Looking at minimising inflammatory foods such as sugar, processed meats can help minimise our risk of inflammatory-related disease.
We need good fats in our diets for healthy cell membranes, hormone production, brain health, glowing skin, hair and nails. Up the oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, avocado, extra virgin olive oil
Our need for calcium increases as we age. Include calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, almonds, tahini, green leafy vegetables. We need calcium for healthy bones and a healthy nervous system.
As we age our oestrogen levels decline which can affect cardiovascular health, skin, eyes, joints and bones. Choosing foods with mild plant based oestrogen activity can help to balance hormone levels and ease menopausal symptoms. Include plenty of flaxseeds, tempeh, soy, oats, lentils, barley, sesame seeds, alfalfa, carrots, wheatgerm and pomegranate.