Aging is a natural part of life, one that comes with all kinds of changes to our bodies and minds. In order to maintain physical and mental health in the process, our bodies have specific dietary needs that shift with age. What might have sustained you at 25 could cause problems at 40.
The older you get, the more there is to consider when it comes to what you put in your body. Understanding these changes is the first step towards a healthier diet and a healthier you, no matter how old you are.
Adolescence and Young Adulthood
Let’s start with the needs of a changing body during the teenage years. At this stage in your life, metabolisms tend to be fast and fluid as growth peaks and begins to slow. Young bodies need plenty of nutrients but are also typically better adapted to handle all sorts of foods. The key to a healthy diet at this point is moderation and balance.
Learning to eat healthy throughout life should start to become a priority for pre-teens to young adults. In addition to balancing your diet around the five food groups (vegetables, fruits, proteins, grains, and dairy), a person of this age should consider foods densely packed in nutrients to ensure your body has what it needs.
To fulfill your dietary needs as a young adult, explore options like the following:
• Wholegrain bread and cereals
• Other lean meats
• Reduced-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt
• Limited salts, fats, and alcohol
Establishing good eating habits early on will help you prepare for your body’s changing needs as you age. By learning to love these nutritious foods now, making the dietary transition into adulthood can be a less painful process.
As adults, our metabolisms tend to slow. Our bodies age and stop growing, reversing or slowing some of the processes kicked off by puberty. As we make our way through adulthood, all kinds of hormonal and bodily factors come into play. From testosterone production to pregnancy, adulthood means bodily changes that require changes in diet.
For instance, testosterone production starts to decline by about 1% per year by the time we hit 30. This hormone isn’t just important for men’s health, either. Everyone needs testosterone to maintain healthy muscle mass, fat distribution, and bone density. This makes it necessary to support testosterone production through your diet as you age.
Additionally, if you become pregnant, a host of additional nutrients become necessary to maintain your and your baby’s health. These nutrients include more folic acid, iron, protein, and calcium.
For almost all adults, however, there are a few foods you should incorporate into your diet for a healthier lifestyle. These are:
• Foods rich in calcium and iron
• Lean meats like fish and poultry
• Plenty of wholegrains
From here, you’ll need to adjust as your metabolism shifts and your body continues to change. If you have a condition like diabetes, it is especially important to reassess your diet throughout adulthood to ensure that your A1c blood sugar levels remain healthy. The plate method is one simple way to keep these levels in check through non-starchy vegetables, protein, and higher carb foods loaded with B vitamins and iron.
This brings us to the later stages of life, a time when it’s more important than ever to maintain a healthy balance of necessary nutrients. In our old age, we slow down further and so does our metabolism. Our ability to absorb nutrients decreases, and so finding the right vitamin balance becomes a more precarious act.
Fortunately, maintaining a healthy diet as you get older can often be as simple as incorporating more of certain food groups atop the healthy balance you’ve strived for your whole life. These are the essential nutrients you need to supplement for a healthy life as a senior:
Because our bones lose strength and density with age, it becomes more important than ever to support them with a healthy dose of calcium. Dairy products and rich, leafy greens are two important sources of this essential mineral.
Fiber is crucial to the health of our digestive systems as well as our cholesterol levels. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts all help increase fiber in the body for a more comfortable aging experience.
• Vitamin D
As we grow older, our skin loses some of its ability to produce vitamin D — even if we lay out in the sun. As a result, we need more foods rich in vitamin D to supplement our diets. Egg yolks, liver, and fatty fish are all great options.
• Vitamin B12
Vitamin B-12 is key to supporting healthy nerve functions. Fortunately, foods like eggs, poultry, and fish can all effectively increase this nutrient in the body.
• Omega-3 fatty acids
Lower your risk of heart attack and stroke as you age by making sure you get enough Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Again, certain fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are great sources of these necessary nutrients.
While it might seem overwhelming to balance all these dietary needs as you age, establishing the right diet gives you everything your aging body could want. The fatty fish, whole grains, vegetables, and more listed here check all your boxes for a healthy lifestyle. Support your health even further by embracing organic options for all these food types, since organic foods carry fewer toxins and more nutrients.
From here, maintaining a healthy diet throughout your life is a matter of practice, willpower, and establishing good habits.
Maintaining a Healthy Diet Throughout Life
From adolescence to old age, the ratio of vitamins and minerals we need to maintain a health shift. Understanding these changes is critical to maintaining the quality of your life no matter how old you are. With these tips, you can establish a more optimized diet for any stage of life, allowing you to get the nutrients you need regardless of your age and circumstance.
Build an organic, balanced diet rich in calcium, fiber, and vitamins D and B12. By committing to such a diet, you’ll establish good eating habits that will sustain you throughout a fulfilling life.