A nutritional guide to the different decades
As we get older our priorities, hobbies and eating habits change, so naturally our nutritional needs will too. Each nutrient has a particular set of functions in the body and at different stages of our lives we need some more than others to support a healthy balanced lifestyle and meet our individual requirements.
In your 20s
Crank up the calories
Our 20s are usually the time when we are most active and have the highest metabolism, so we can get away with eating more. However, it’s important to make sure that the majority of your calories come from nutrient-rich foods such as wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, fish, eggs and pulses. Don’t rely on processed products as you’ll suffer from energy slumps and may pay for it with health complications later in life.
Boost your energy
When you’re more active, you don’t just need more calories – your body also requires more of the vital nutrients that convert those calories into energy. These include B vitamins which are naturally found in whole foods or you can try a daily supplement.
If you’re experiencing spotty skin in your 20s it could be because you’re lacking certain nutrients in your diet. Eat zinc-rich foods such as pumpkin and sesame seeds, chickpeas, oysters and good quality red meat.
In your 40s
Relax to the max
This can be a stressful decade as many of us try to juggle a growing family, mortgage and career. It’s also a time when hormone levels can start to change, with women heading towards the menopause and men the andropause (the male version). Magnesium levels can be depleted when we’re stressed so eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and consider taking a supplement. Magnesium is vital and can help with muscle relaxation, sleep and hormone regulation.
It’s often in our 40s that we really start to notice the first signs of ageing – joints can start to ache and more lines and wrinkles appear. Getting lots of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients such as those found in colourful vegetables and curcumin in turmeric can help to delay these changes and offer joint and skin-supporting properties. Try taking a concentrated curcumin supplement which contains black pepper to aid absorption.
Love your liver
Do you find that the effects of drinking alcohol last longer in your 40s than they did in your 20s? This could be a sign that your liver needs more support. Eating dark green vegetables, onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale and cabbage can all benefit liver function.
In your 60s
Boost your bones
Bone strength can deteriorate in both men and women by our 60s and calcium and vitamin D are especially important to help prevent this. As well as eating dairy, green veg, nuts and seeds, take a bone supplement which combines calcium and vitamin D. It can also be beneficial to incorporate regular weight-bearing or impact exercises such as weight-training, dancing, jogging or tennis into your routine.
Fight ageing with fish
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, present in seafood, play a variety of important roles in the body, such as keeping our eyes, brain and heart healthy. They have also been found to be key in the structure and appearance of the skin as they form part of cell membranes in the epidermis (the top layer of skin) and form a matrix around the cells. This helps to maintain the skin’s barrier function and prevent water loss so you’ll have a younger complexion for longer!
Nurse your nerves
Older people are more prone to deficiency in vitamin B12 which is needed to support nerves and brain function and build red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. A lack of it may also cause a build-up of homocysteine, a substance associated with harmful effects to the heart, brain and bones. Oily fish and red meat are among the best natural sources of B12.
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