The changes you need to make
As you pass your half-century milestone, hormonal and metabolism changes mean your diet requires a rethink.
Eat More, Eat Less
As we age, our nutritional needs change to focus on protecting our body and brain and preventing disease. We also become less efficient at using our fuel stores, so maintaining our usual weight becomes more difficult and weight gain is common. To compensate for these shifting needs, it’s essential to reassess your diet and make some adjustments. Dietitian and nutritionist Jaime Rose Chambers suggests some simple swaps to get you started.
EAT MORE • Skim or low-fat dairy products EAT LESS • Full-fat dairy products
Bone loss begins to accelerate at peri-menopause, putting women at risk of osteoporosis, however men are at greater risk later in life, too. Low-fat dairy products like skim milk and low-fat yoghurt provide the calcium our bones need (three serves to meet the required 1000-1300mg per day), but without the additional energy and saturated fats that you get from the full-fat varieties.
EAT MORE • Legumes EAT LESS • Processed meats
Eating too many processed meats like bacon, salami and frankfurts increases your risk of bowel cancer, whereas fibre-rich foods like legumes have been shown to have a protective effect. It’s recommended to mostly avoid processed meats and swap some of them for a meal containing legumes such as chickpeas.
EAT MORE • Wholegrains EAT LESS • White breads and grains
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes greatly increases after the age of 50. Consuming lower glycaemic-index grains, such as oats, rye, barley, wholegrain breads and cereals, can help to reduce blood sugar and insulin spikes and support weight management.
EAT MORE • Oily fish EAT LESS • Red meat
As we age our muscle mass declines, which slows down our metabolic rate, so the weight you were once able to maintain becomes more difficult. Increasing protein intake can help with this, with a focus on omega-3-rich oily fish like salmon and sardines and less red meat like beef, lamb and pork.
EAT MORE • Whole fruits EAT LESS • Fruit juice
As we age our gastrointestinal tract slows down. This, together with hormonal fluctuations and, often, lifestyle changes, can mean that constipation is more common. To keep bowels regular, it’s important to get enough fibre in our diet. A whole piece of fruit, such as an apple with the skin, contains around 5g of fibre, whereas an apple juice contains virtually none.
EAT MORE • Extra virgin olive oil EAT LESS • Vegetable oil
Brain health is important as we age and research has shown that extra virgin olive oil may be one of the best additions to your diet to protect against cognitive decline. Some vegetable oils used for cooking and found in packaged products may have the opposite effect.
EAT MORE • Coloured vegetables EAT LESS • Potato
The bright colours of vegetables are due to the presence of plant antioxidants. These help combat oxidative stress, which damages cells and contributes to agerelated disease. Aim for half your lunch and dinner to be a variety of different coloured veges.