Best foods to eat for your age
3/08/2017 10:36 AM
Nutritionist Tammy shares her health expertise with us - follow her tips below to maximise your health at any age.
Whether you are in your mid-twenties and entering the workforce for the first time, running around after your kids, or getting ready for retirement, it is essential that we give our bodies the nutrients they deserve. Taking steps towards a healthy and wholesome diet at every stage of life will help you to feel your best from the inside out.
The concept of a healthy diet has always remained the same. The idea that eating a balanced diet with a variety of nutritious and nourishing foods supports overall good health and vitality. However, as we progress through life our bodies require different, specific nutrients to keep things running smoothly.
In this life stage, eating healthy is at the bottom of our busy to-do lists. However, it is at this age that creating good eating habits is the most important. In your 20s-30s, you should be specifically focusing on consuming enough calcium rich foods and wholegrains.
Although we are considered to be in our prime at this age, it is when we get closer to our mid to late twenties that noticeable changes start to happen. In as early as our mid 20’s our bone density begins to show signs of depletion which can increase our risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. Consuming enough calcium and Vitamin D is essential and we can get sources of these through dairy products. To ensure you are getting enough calcium as an adult in your mid 20’s and 30’s you should try to eat three servings from the dairy group each day.
One serving of dairy =
- 200ml milk
- 180-200g yoghurt
- 30g cheese (equivalent to the size of a match box)
Other food sources naturally rich in calcium and Vitamin D include fish such as salmon and sardines, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, and fortified soy products such as cereals and tofu. Try consuming wholegrains at every meal for a sustainable source of energy. For example, try eating a nutritious wholegrain-inclusive breakfast instead of skipping this meal entirely.
Examples of wholegrain foods include:
- certain breads
- cereals and oats
- grains like buckwheat and quinoa
- fruit and vegetables
Up until now, most of us could get away with a relaxed approach to healthy eating. In this stage of life we should prioritise good nutrition and maintain a diet that can help reduce the risks of ill health.
In our 40’s the speed at which the body burns calories slows down and it becomes more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. Poor dietary choices and lack of exercise can potentially lead to weight gain around our mid-section, which is particularly prevalent during this stage of life. This change in our physique is a risk factor for health-related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Ensuring our bodies are well supplied with nutrient dense foods helps us maintain a stable weight, regulate our hormones, and helps our immune system to function appropriately. In addition to increasing our intake of nutritious foods, reducing our alcohol intake and staying within the drinking guidelines has benefits for our overall health. A diet rich in antioxidants is also necessary as it can help fight against heart disease, Alzheimer's, and certain types of cancer, all of which are more prominent in our 40’s and over. The best sources of antioxidant-rich foods are a variety of fruit and vegetables.
Later in life, health problems become even more common. Inadequate nutrition can severely increase the risk of lifestyle diseases and some examples of these include:
- increased cholesterol
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- diabetes (type 2)
During this life stage our body’s energy requirement decreases. As we become less active, and therefore burn less calories, our dietary needs change. We require less calories but still need to consume enough nutrients to support our body’s functions. A low-fat and low-GI diet that incorporates enough calcium, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, legumes, lean meats and fish is the best way to prevent and treat these diet-related problems.
Focus on consuming good fats and reducing your intake of bad fats. Good fats help keep weight under control and can also help to lower cholesterol too. Try eating more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can be found in nuts and seeds (and their oils) instead of excess saturated fat in animal products. Foods rich in plant stanols or sterols, as well as high fibre foods and grains can also help to lower cholesterol levels.
Along with adequate calcium consumption, Omega-3 fats can help to keep our bones strong and our hearts healthy. Fish such as salmon and sardines, eggs, nuts and seeds, are all great sources.
Disclaimer: These are just general dietary suggestions. Please note if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, are taking any medications or have a medical condition is it suggested you speak to your health care practitioner to make sure your diet is adequate as you will require different nutritional needs, please also check the Australian Nutritional Dietary Guidelines for more information.