When you reach your fifties, it’s time to think about how you can adjust your diet to suit your age. A healthy diet for 50 year olds is different than one for 30 year olds or 70 year olds. As you get older, your nutrient requirements gradually change. This is mainly due to your shifting hormone levels. Specific hormones that deplete with aging include:
- Estrogen: Women’s depletion of estrogen leads to menopause.
- Testosterone: Men’s depletion of testosterone can result in reduced sex drive, reduced erectile function, and fatigue.
- Growth hormone: Reduced growth hormone can result in decreased strength and muscle mass.
- Melatonin: Decreased melatonin levels can affect your natural waking-sleep cycle (circadian rhythm).
Customizing your diet to suit your nutritional needs based on your age is important to ensure that you maintain a healthy immune system, reduce your risk of muscle and bone loss, protect your body’s cells and tissues, and maintain healthy eyesight.
What’s on your plate can also help you lower your risk of serious diseases later in life, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke. Here are some tips to help you eat for your age during your fifties.
Relish the Rainbow
Filling your plate with brightly colored fruit and vegetables will ensure that you are getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet. Antioxidants play an important role in protecting your body from free radicals – atoms that steal oxygen from healthy cells causing immune disorders and heart disease. Antioxidants have the power to stabilize free radicals before they go on the attack.
You can boost your antioxidants by adding green. red, orange, yellow, and purple fruits and veggies to your diet. Think about leafy greens, squash, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, beets, eggplant, grapes, and citrus fruits.
Boost Your Energy With Berries
Berries are some of the healthiest fruits you can add to your plate and are a key contributor to a healthy diet for 50 year olds. Not only are they packed with antioxidants, but they also contain fiber, vitamin C, and minerals. Their fiber content is important because it helps you to maintain a healthy digestive system, reduces cholesterol, and helps your body to control blood sugar. Women over 50 should have 21 grams of fiber daily, and men should have 30 grams daily.
Vitamin C is also a valuable nutrient if you’re 50 plus because it can help you maintain muscle mass in later life. And don’t forget those all-important minerals. Berries contain minerals such as copper, folate, and manganese, which help support bone density and brain function. Some of the most nutritious berries include blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries.
Grab Some Complex Grains
If up till now, you have been eating refined breads and pastas, it’s time to make the change. Swapping them for whole grains and complex carbs like oats, buckwheat, quinoa, couscous, and brown rice can make a big difference.Whole grains can increase your intake of fiber, B vitamins, important minerals, antioxidants, and protein. They can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, lower your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and improve your digestive health. Increasing your intake of whole grains can also prevent chronic inflammation, which is associated with heart disease, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and some forms of cancer.
Consume Plenty of Calcium
Once you reach your fifties, your bone density begins to deplete. This can result in osteoporosis, which puts you at risk of bone fractures or other injuries if you fall. Adding calcium-rich foods to your diet can support healthy bones and reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Men in their fifties need 1000 mg of calcium each day, while women need 1200 mg. Some of the best calcium-rich foods include milk, cheese, eggs, Greek yogurt, chia and sesame seeds, leafy greens, legumes, salmon, and sardines.
Pack In The Protein
Protein is important whatever your age, but even more so when you turn 50. It has many health benefits including supporting muscle and skeletal mass, maintaining healthy tissue and blood cells, and boosting your immune system. Protein also helps with fighting infection, adequate wound healing, and supports skin elasticity.
Lean protein sources include lean cuts of beef, pork tenderloin, white meat, such as chicken breast or turkey, eggs, and fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, trout, mackerel, and tuna. You can also choose from vegetable options like chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, almonds, tofu, and spirulina.
Don’t Forget The Fish
As you get older, you may become more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, all of which can be caused by chronic inflammation. But you can lower inflammation in your body by increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids combat inflammation by increasing anti-inflammatory molecules within the blood. Many fish are rich in omega-3s. These include mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, cod, herring, and light tuna. You can obtain all the benefits by eating fish 2-3 times per week and you should certainly consider this part of a healthy diet for 50 year olds.
Step Down On The Sodium
A high sodium intake can cause serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. To avoid these issues, you should reduce your sodium intake to no more than 1500 mg per day.
If you’re used to using the saltshaker daily, you can use healthier alternatives to flavor your food. Opt for ground black pepper, dill, lemon juice, smoked paprika, onion or garlic powder, ginger, truffle oil, rosemary, or red pepper flakes.
Say No To Soda
Soda is bad for your health because it typically contains a lot of sugar. Kiss goodbye to soda and other high-sugar drinks. Replace them with spring water, unsweetened tea, and freshly squeezed juice. You can make water more flavorful by infusing it with fruit, cucumber, or herbs like mint, lemon balm, pineapple sage, and basil.
If you’re used to drinking soda regularly throughout the day, switch out one soda for a health alternative each day, and build up gradually. This will help you avoid sugar cravings until you can cut them out completely.
Send Processed Foods Packing
You should avoid heavily processed foods because they are high in fat, sugar, and sodium and have very little nutritional value. They are also high in calories, which means that you’ll quickly pack on excess weight. You may be eating more processed foods than you realize. This is important for any diet, but particularly important as you age and are looking for a healthy diet in your 50’s.
Processed foods don’t only include fast food, but also refined bread and cookies, cakes, potato chips, processed cheese products, candy, and reconstituted meats such as Spam, chicken nuggets, processed ham, sausages, fish fingers, and many condiments, such as salad dressing. Replace them with salads and soups, healthy snacks, such as granola bars, and fat-free or homemade salad dressing.
A Healthy Diet for 50 Year Olds
It’s important to eat well in your fifties to stay healthy and avoid chronic diseases in later life. Avoiding foods high in additives, sodium, and processed foods goes a long way to help. But it’s also important to add healthy foods to your diet, like fruits and veggies, whole grains, and protein. You may even want to consider foods that will help boost your memory as you age.
Try to avoid snacking throughout the day but do eat when you feel hungry. This will help you to maintain a healthy metabolism and reduce your risk of weight gain. Keep running all day by fueling your body with a light meal every three to four hours. If you need a boost between meals, choose a healthy snack.