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Is It Too Late To Start Eating Healthy In Your 50’s?

The Benefits of Eating Healthy at 50+.

We couldn’t really talk about fitness, exercise, and workouts without touching on diet, could we? And we know how sensitive people can be about their food and drink. We’ve often joked that you should never separate a man from his steak or a woman from her chocolates. But while this seems to be a societal norm, is it really a healthy way to be?

picture of healthy vegetables and leafy greens.
Is it too late to start eating healthy in your 50's?
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Don’t worry, we’re not asking that you to break up with all the good things in life and start measuring your food portions. But we are encouraging you to make healthier choices as often as you can. If you’re in the habit of drinking red wine and eating chocolate daily, try to reduce it. You’ll still enjoy your favorite things, just without killing yourself in the process! You can also make small changes to the meals you eat. If you tend to like fried foods, look at the option of buying an air fryer, so you can still enjoy fried foods, except without the added oil and sodium. Being healthy is about being strategic, not about being overly strict or living a mundane life.


Now that you’re expecting your body to perform, you must feed your muscles (and brain) with nutritious food that has a healthy balance of protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Good nutrition comes with a world of benefits for us in the 50+ club. There’s a reason why healthy diets are touted as a good thing from when we hit our teens to well into our golden years - because it’s the truth!


Here are a few of the reasons why you need to think about eating a healthy diet:

-Weight loss

-Lowered cholesterol levels

-Lower blood pressure

-Less risk of strokes, heart disease, and cancer

-Less chance of developing diabetes

-Stronger immune system (fewer pesky colds)

healthy vegetables and leafy greens
Pair a good diet together with a decent amount of exercise.

As you approach 60, 70 and beyond, you will not have to fear losing your independence and needing to rely on other people just to do everyday things.


Here’s a quick guide to boosting your diet:


Protein

According to Harvard Health Publishing, you should multiply your weight in pounds by .38 to determine how much protein you need per day in your older years. For instance, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should aim to get a minimum of 61 grams of protein per day (160 x .38 = 61). Getting the protein you need is easier than you think - there’s no real need to revamp your entire shopping list.


You can have a cup of plain yogurt sprinkled with dry chia seeds and a handful of nuts on top for breakfast. For lunch, you can have a plain and simple peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat or brown bread. And for dinner, you can have a lean piece of salmon, baked potato, and salad. You’re already well over 60 grams of protein. See how easy it is?


Carbohydrates

Everyone hears the word carbohydrates and wants to freak out. It’s almost like we should be hauling carbs to the town square to be drawn and quartered while the rest of us watch on, shouting and jeering. Here’s what most people don’t know about carbs – they are an essential part of any diet. Carbs are your body’s main source of energy. The energy from carbs fuels the central nervous system, kidneys, heart, and brain. Fiber is also a carbohydrate needed to maintain a healthy digestive system, leading to a lowered chance of heart disease and diabetes. Don’t haul out the bags of crisps just yet, though - like with everything; moderation is key. When it comes to getting enough carbs, it’s best to follow the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans which states that carbohydrates should make up 45% of your daily calories. For example, if you eat 2,000 calories per day (which is in the range of normal), around 900 of those calories should be allotted to carbohydrates. Aiming for around 225 grams of carbs a day is good.


Healthy Fats

Another food type that’s vilified is fat, but fat is good. There’s healthy fat and unhealthy fat. To incorporate healthy fats in your diet, aim to eat avocado, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, fish, dark chocolate, olives, and plain yogurt. Easy to incorporate these into your diet, right? We think so!


Fiber

As you get older, the gastrointestinal tract can get a little sluggish. Many 50+ers experience uncomfortable IBS or just have such irregular systems that they’re kept guessing. If you want to ensure that you don’t suffer from constipation, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol levels, you need to welcome good quality healthy fiber to the party. Men over 50 need to consume 28 grams of fiber each day, while women should aim for 22.4 grams each day. Good fiber comes from fresh fruits and veggies, oats, legumes, beans, and lentils. If you haven’t been getting much fiber, don’t try to increase your intake suddenly. Easy does it. Slowly add a bit more fiber to your diet each week. How do you get all the fiber you need? If you’re eating your five fruit and veg a day, you’re halfway there. Focus on sprinkling seeds, legumes, and beans onto your salads and side dishes. When you start thinking about it, it becomes an easy task.


Vitamins and minerals

The supplement industry’s value was estimated at a jaw-dropping USD 140.36 billion in 2020. Its value is expected to rise over 151 billion in 2021. What does this tell us? It tells us that the vitamin and supplement industry has an exceptional marketing department that can sell anything to anyone, or the majority of the world population doesn’t believe it’s getting what it needs from the food they’re eating. And perhaps everyone is eating that badly, but it really shouldn’t be that way. If you focus on eating fresh whole foods and avoid buying convenience meals and processed meals, there’s every reason to believe that you’re getting most of your required vitamins from your food. Still, some people have deficiencies, and having a supplement isn’t the worst idea. Taking a good-quality daily multivitamin to cover the gaps that might be present in your diet is often recommended. Other vitamins that 50+ers should ensure they’re getting enough of include vitamin B12, D, and calcium. And, of course, for a strong immune system, zinc is needed.


Inflammation & Eating for Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Painful inflammation is what you feel when your body is responding to toxins, infections, and injuries. As we get older, we’re prone to painful inflammation. You might not know this, but certain foods and drinks you consume can play a role in flaring up inflammation. While you don’t have to eliminate all these foods from your diet, you might want to reduce your intake to ease their effect on your body.


Avoid these foods to reduce inflammation in the body:

-Processed meats

-Sugary drinks

-Alcoholic drinks

-Oily/fried foods

-Refined carbohydrates (this is white bread and white pasta)

-Dairy


Eating for an anti-inflammatory effect means eating foods that have a reputation for fighting inflammation. These include:

-Leafy greens (spinach and kale)

-Olive oil

-Almonds

-Fatty fish (tuna and salmon)

-Blueberries

-Brocolli

-Cherries

-Green tea


According to Dr. Welches, DO, PhD., a pain management specialist at Cleveland Clinic, anti-inflammatory eating doesn’t mean you have to entirely cut out meat and dairy but reduce intake. He said, “A Mediterranean diet – or healthier eating inspired by these types of diets can control insulin levels, cholesterol levels, and reduce inflammation. The inflammation is the pain culprit.”


An anti-inflammatory diet is a great pain killer and offers a whole host of other health benefits too. When you pair an anti-inflammatory diet with a decent stretch routine and stress management approach, you have a powerful tool at your disposal. This is certainly food for thought! Pun intended!


Diet Basics

As kids, we grew up learning what the food pyramid looks like. Unfortunately, the food pyramid we saw as kids is just not the one that the world is referencing today. As it turns out, the old food pyramid was wrong, and it’s been changed.


Back in the day, the lower level of the food pyramid was designated to grains which is now the home of fruits and veggies. In fact, nutritionists suggest having 8 or 9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. One or two of these servings can be fruit, and the rest should be cruciferous vegetables. These include celery, cucumber, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli, for starters. See some great ideas for healthy meals here.


It’s also recommended to restrict dairy and grains in your diet. Why? What most people don’t like to talk about is the effect dairy has on the body. It can irritate joint tissue and cause stomach upset in older people. Grains do not have to be completely left out but keep grain consumption to whole grains when you eat them. Consider whole oats, barley, wheat, quinoa, brown rice, and rye.


Control Your Weight

You were born with a skeleton to support you, and it’s your responsibility to ensure that you don’t overload that skeleton. Being overweight doesn’t mean that your supportive frame will simply grow to keep up. All you’re doing is placing unnecessary weight on your muscles and joints. This can present itself in poor maneuverability and pain in the knees, back, and feet.


For every pound of weight you lose, you relieve your body of four pounds of pressure. Stretching is the first step towards getting more active so you can shed a few extra pounds. Most people think that stretching doesn’t lead to weight loss, but we beg to differ.


Here’s a realistic look at how many calories you can expect to burn with daily stretching.

A 125-pound person can burn 70 calories doing a 30-minute stretching regime.

A 150-pound person can burn 34 calories doing a 30-minute seated stretching program and 85 calories doing a standing stretching workout.


Life can be amazing after 50 especially when you're physically able to enjoy it. Make this the healthiest time of your life!
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