Food to help you feel great at 50, 60 and 70-plus

Food to help you feel great at 50, 60 and 70-plus
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By Dr Sarah Schenker- registered dietician and nutritionist

In your 50s

 

What’s going on in your body?

Whether or not you’ve had to battle with menopausal symptoms your body will have changed. Post menopause there is less protective oestrogen circulating within your body, which means your risk of health problems such as heart disease and osteoporosis increase. It pays to make a few health tweaks as you hit your 50s, you may have to work a bit harder to stay healthier.

What to eat?

As ever a varied diet full of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains such as oats and wholegrain rice is important. Wholegrain foods and anti-oxidants found in fruit and vegetables have been found to reduce your risk of heart disease and could even help to fight cancer.

Try to include two portions of fish each week, one of which should be oily such as mackerel, salmon and trout. Oily fish contains long chain omega-3 fatty acids which can help protect against heart disease and have been shown to be particularly important for those who have already had a heart attack. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help to alleviate some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, helping to ease swollen and tender joints, grip strength and mobility. There is some evidence that these fatty acids may also help to preserve eye health, prevent cognitive decline and improve immune function.

Don’t forget fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and even hot malted drinks such as Horlicks. As you get older your ability to digest and absorb nutrients can diminish. By eating fortified foods that contain added vitamins and minerals such as iron and B vitamins help to ensure your levels of essential nutrients stay topped up.

In your 60s

 

What’s going on in your body?

Your metabolic rate slows as you get older and if you don’t keep active weight gain can be an issue. Being over weight increases your risk of almost every health problem. Even if you don’t need to lose weight there are plenty of other reasons to keep physically active. Exercise is thought to play a protective role against cognitive decline in later life by keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy, which in turn helps nutrients and oxygen to get to your brain. Stroke, dementia and Parkinson’s disease all become more common as you get older so protecting your mental health is crucial if you want to maintain your independence.

What to eat?

Eat plenty of food that are rich in B vitamins such as wholegrains, lean meats, fish and nuts and seeds. Not having enough vitamin B6 in your body has been associated with poor mental health and a higher risk of dementia. Fortified cereals and Marmite are all also good sources of vitamin B6.
 
Your body’s ability to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight is reduced with age and if you find yourself outdoors less, you could end up with less vitamin D than you need because your body makes vitamin D from sunshine. Current guidelines suggest that people over the age of 65 should take a daily 10mcg supplement. Vitamin D plays an important role in helping your body absorb calcium, which is vital for healthy bones. Vitamin D is great for enhancing your immunity too and some experts believe that it could even reduce your risk of some cancers. It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from your diet and although oil fish are a good source you should also consider fortified yogurts, yogurt drinks, spreads and breakfast cereals.

In your 70s

 

What’s going on in your body?

In your 70s you might find that you become more prone to infections and this could be due to a decline in the friendly bacteria in your gut. Without good gut flora it’s easier for bad bugs to take hold and make you ill. You might also find that you don’t often feel thirsty. Your thirst sensation dulls as you get older so if you don’t pay attention to how much you’re drinking you could easily become dehydrated. This could lead to tiredness, headaches, poor concentration, kidney problems and cystitis.
 
What to eat?

One of your best lines of defence against nasty bugs and colds is a daily probiotic. A simple probiotic yogurt drink will not only help to keep your bowel healthy, but has been shown to have a positive effect on immunity too. They can be especially beneficial if you prescribed antibiotics (which also kill off good bacteria) or have to stay in hospital (where there are all sorts of bugs). 

Making sure that you’re drinking properly is the only way to prevent dehydration – and that means drinking even when you aren’t thirsts. Water is a great calorie-free choice, but herbal tea, decaff coffee, milky drinks, fruit juices, smoothies and yogurt drinks all count towards your daily fluid intake. It is estimated that we need about 1.2 litres of fluid a day, about 20 per cent of this comes from foods and the rest should come from drinks. Aim to have about 6-8 glasses of fluid a day.


Along with your thirst, you may find that your appetite diminishes too – so it’s vital that what you do eat is as packed with nutrients as it can be. Stock up on good quality fruit and vegetables, make your carbohydrates whole grain and look for fortified foods for extra vitamins – that way you’ll be protecting your health at every meal.

  •  There's more health advice  in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.