10 Eating Changes You Should Make When You Turn 50

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When you turn 50, it’s important to make changes to your diet and lifestyle that will help you get the nutrients you need to get on with your life. As our bodies change over time, so should what you eat.

And while in your 20s you may have had a couple of donuts without a second thought, at a more mature age it can have a big impact on your blood sugar levels and your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

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Also, if you’ve been diagnosed with any medical conditions that require a change in eating habits, you’ll have to adapt to deal with the symptoms and improve their condition.

Even if your doctor hasn’t advised you to change your diet, it’s wise to make some changes yourself when you turn 50. Here are 10 healthy eating habits to follow at this age.

1. Eat more complex grains.

Replace refined bread and pasta with complex carbohydrates and grains such as brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and oats.

These hearty grains are good for your heart and provide sustained energy (thanks to fiber) for brain and body function. These grains provide satiety, and fiber also helps maintain regular eating patterns.

2. Enjoy Fish

As you age, you become more susceptible to chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia and others. However, you can reduce inflammation in your body by getting omega-3 fatty acids, the good fats found in fish. Aim to eat fish 2-3 times a week to get the benefits (try these 20-minute fish and seafood dinners). Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds and some other plant sources.

3. Reduce sodium levels

High sodium intake can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension, so you need to keep your sodium levels low throughout the day. Sodium limits are reduced at age 50 from 2,300 mg to 1,500 mg per day.

A good trick? Don’t use a salt shaker when cooking; use fresh herbs instead, which give flavor without the effects of bloating and risk. Rinsing off canned foods also helps reduce sodium levels.

4. Eat foods high in protein

While protein intake is important at any age, the requirements are higher for adults 60 and older, as their muscles need extra boosts to strengthen and recover from activity and cannot use protein to build muscle as effectively as they did at an earlier age.

Even if you’re under 60, protein-rich foods can help you stay satiated, so it doesn’t hurt to get in the habit of eating a little more. Choose lean foods like steak, fish, chicken breast and turkey, and plant-based foods like tofu, lentils and quinoa.

5. Get into cooking.

Make hanging out outside the home an enjoyable pastime and stay home to cook at home most days of the week. By controlling your cooking techniques and recipe ingredients, you can ensure healthy and nutrient-dense meals and avoid the excess sugar, salt and oil that are often part of restaurant meals.

6. Eat foods high in calcium

As we age, bone density decreases, so to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, prevent fractures and injuries, and keep bones strong and stable, it is necessary to consume calcium-rich foods. For women at age 51, the calcium requirement rises from 1,000 mg/day to 1,200. You can also turn to the Mediterranean diet, which can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

It has lots of fish, vegetables, some cheese and grains, and less processed foods high in sugar. Excellent sources of calcium are milk, cheese, Greek yogurt, fortified non-dairy dairy products, eggs, and leafy greens.

7. Give up sodas.

Say goodbye to sodas and sugary drinks and say hello to water and unsweetened tea-they keep your body hydrated without drastically reducing sugar. If you need to start slowly, swap one sugary drink for water each day, gradually moving toward giving up sugary drinks altogether. And keep a water bottle handy to fill every hour or so.

8. Eat Rainbows.

Look for bright colors to fill your plate, as this means you are getting lots of foods like vegetables and fruits that are good for your body as you age. Get more greens, oranges, reds, purples and yellows as they contain antioxidants that help fight aging. Think: berries, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers, melon, eggplant, beets and pumpkin.

9. Eat when you’re hungry.

While you don’t want to eat mindlessly every hour or fill up on large portions for every meal, you should pay attention to your hunger signals and eat when you are hungry. Not only does this nourish your body, but it also helps keep your metabolism up (try these foods that also help speed up your metabolism).

Over time, your metabolism naturally slows down, so when you’re over 50, you burn fewer calories at rest than you did when you were younger. Keep your metabolism going throughout the day by feeding it every three or so hours and snacking when you need to.

10. Eat Whole Foods

In general, try to consume whole foods, fresh or frozen, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, fish and whole grains to maintain optimal health.

To stay comfortable, look for minimally processed whole foods such as canned beans and yogurt. Processed foods are often high in sodium, sugar and extra calories, so their consumption should be minimal.

 
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