Sometimes the body needs more protein, sometimes more carbohydrates and after a certain age it should be less overall. If you want to eat healthily for a lifetime, you should always keep an eye on your age when shopping and cooking.
According to today’s recommendations, a healthy diet consists of plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, good oils, as little industrially processed food as possible, economical consumption of animal products, white flour and sugar – from children to old people.
So there is only healthy and unhealthy diet, but no age-related diet. But: Over the years and depending on the situation in life, the need and utilization of nutrients change. And here age definitely plays a role. For example, the nutritionists at the University of California in San Diego have put together an overview of what to look out for .
This is what matters from 20 to 40:
The basal metabolic rate is highest in young adults, which means that the body consumes the most calories even without physical activity. At this age, many people can “eat what they want” without getting fat. At least at this age, the body forgives a few fast-food orgies and other antics.
In general, it is important to build up muscles, bones and connective tissue between the ages of 20 and 30 , also with the help of a sensible diet. Everyone can benefit from this basis in later years, when it is no longer so easy to maintain fitness.
In these years, special attention to nutrition requires more of a life circumstance for women: pregnancy.
Special dietary instructions for young pregnant women only
In addition to a diet full of high-quality nutrients and the natural avoidance of tobacco and alcohol , it is important to ensure an optimal supply of vitamins, minerals and trace elements so that the child develops well. Eating for two, on the other hand, is completely unnecessary and wrong.
Therefore, all expectant mothers should take folic acid in the first 3 months of pregnancy . Iodine tablets can also be useful. And vegans also have to pay attention to a number of micronutrients that they lack by avoiding animal foods: iron, zinc , calcium, vitamins B12, B2 and D as well as an appropriate intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
This is important from 40:
From the age of 40, the metabolism begins to slow down. While the body can usually break down too much sugar and carbohydrates by the age of 30, it loses this ability by the age of 40 at the latest. Suddenly, an unchanged diet is reflected in the stomach and hips.
Anyone who is only now finding an adequate diet can still set the course for a healthy future.
Anyone who has already eaten reasonably healthy should now pay more attention to the following elements:
- Fruits and vegetables in bright colors – the antioxidants they contain act as cell protection with an antiaging effect in the body.
- more whole grains on the menu
- a (small) portion of red meat twice a week – good for building muscle , also important for women because of the prevention of iron deficiency
- Vegetarians should pay particular attention to green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale or Swiss chard.
Here are some things to watch out for in your 50s and 60s:
Now begins a dangerous age for cardiovascular problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Anyone who has neglected their diet and has not taken much exercise must expect type 2 diabetes .
It is now important to have a diet that keeps the blood sugar level stable and prevents deposits in the blood vessels. It should be low in cholesterol, high in fiber and slowly digestible carbohydrates, so:
- lots of vegetables
- little animal fat
- no sugared soft drinks
- little white flour products
- Good oils (olive, flaxseed)
- Fish (omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D)
- Low-fat dairy products (calcium)
Changes in hormones accelerate the loss of calcium from the bones. The substitution of calcium plus vitamin D can now counteract the threat of osteoporosis . Because of the breakdown of estrogen during menopause , it occurs earlier and more frequently in women. But bone loss threatens men too.
An omega-3 supplement can benefit heart health if someone doesn’t eat sea fish. Omega-3 fatty acids stabilize the blood vessels.
Proper nutrition with 70 plus:
With age, various physiological and psychological changes occur that directly affect nutritional needs. The taste buds and appetite decrease, as does the desire to cook freshly and by yourself.
The body is less able to absorb and use many vitamins and minerals. With age, the digestive juices in the stomach change, reducing the absorption of iron, calcium, and vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid.
Long-term use of prescription drugs can decrease the absorption of certain nutrients.
Less calories, but not less nutrients
Seniors need fewer calories than younger people, but no fewer nutrients. Protein becomes important again in old age: it can delay muscle loss in old age, especially when combined with strength training.
As a rule of thumb, one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day . However, it should not be exclusively protein from meat, as it promotes inflammation, especially in the joints.
Because digestion becomes sluggish with age, fiber is important for the 70+ generation. A teaspoon of psyllium husks are a recommended alternative to the vegetables or whole grains that would be necessary for an optimal supply. To do this, seniors have to drink plenty, even if that is difficult for many.