It is inevitable that our bodies will change as we age. Each decade of our lives brings about new challenges and health concerns. Even if 40 is the new 20, there are still unique issues we have to deal with that were not present in our 20s.
As we age, our metabolism slows down; no longer can we binge on French fries and cupcakes and get away with it. Examining our eating habits and making essential diet changes will allow the journey through our 40s to be a more manageable one.
Eating breakfast every day may seem like a no brainer to some, but somehow it is still the most frequently skipped meal. Getting up early for work or to take the kids to school is often hard enough without having to worry about making something quick to eat.
However, when you reach 40 your metabolism slows down considerably making weight gain more likely. A 2014 study by the University of Bath in the UK found that people who eat breakfast burn more calories throughout the day. Those who ate breakfast were also able to regulate their blood sugar better than those who skipped meals.
In general, meals high in protein early in the day will help stave off hunger later, hunger that often lead to overeating or unhealthy snack choices. Even if it means waking up extra early to make your breakfast, or preparing something the night before, that extra effort may help you prevent weight gain.
Choosing real, natural foods should also be high on your list of diet priorities. When shopping at a grocery store, choose items from the outer aisles: produce, dairy, seafood, and meat. Try to avoid anything boxed or in cans, as those foods are likely to be processed and include preservatives or added sugar.
Buy certified organic foods when possible, as they are not treated with harmful pesticides. Even better, shop at a farmer’s market for guaranteed fresh produce and specialty foods. Not only will you be supporting the local economy, but you will also know exactly where your food is coming from.
A balanced diet of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains is good for people of any age. It’s especially helpful in your 40s however, as high blood pressure and cholesterol becomes more of a concern. Focusing on low-calorie, natural foods will keep your numbers in check and allows you to absorb more of the food’s nutrients. Calcium, potassium, iron, and fiber-rich foods should be the focus in your 40’s to prevent osteoporosis, vitamin deficiencies, and liver dysfunction.
Daily fiber intake should be increased after the age of 40 as well. The recommended intake of fiber is 26-40 grams daily; most people consume less than half of that. Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet however, and should not be taken lightly. In addition to making you more regular in the bathroom, fiber helps with weight loss and reduces the risk of gastrointestinal problems.
Take a Probiotic
Maintaining a healthy gut flora balance is also important for overall health in your 40s. A daily probiotic supplement should be taken. Alternatively, foods like yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut can also have the same effect. Probiotics can even help eliminate food allergies as it builds back the healthy bacteria in your stomach.
Limit Sugar and Alcohol
Type 2 diabetes mainly occurs in people over 40 who have high blood glucose levels. Cutting out processed sugars and limiting alcohol consumption are necessary changes that should be made to prevent the development of diabetes.
Snacking throughout the day on foods high in protein or fiber such as hard-boiled eggs or celery with peanut butter will help maintain blood sugar levels. Alcohol should be limited to two servings per day, as most contain empty calories or added sugar. Red wine is the most beneficial alcoholic beverage, as it contains antioxidants that may help fight heart disease.
Eat More Healthy Fats
The addition of omega-3 fatty acids into your diet should also be taken into consideration. Omega-3s are mainly found in fish and can prevent heart disease and blood clots. They can also heal arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, which may start to appear in your 40’s.
Additionally, they can help with bone density and tissue health. Most people who take fish oil as a supplement, or introduce more fish into their diet, remark on increased strength and health of hair, skin, teeth, and nails as well. Other foods that include omega-3s are walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseed oil.
Moderation and Balance
Whatever changes you choose to include in your diet, just remember that moderation and balance are key. Even Omega-3s can be harmful if they are consumed in excess of the recommended amount.
Consult a nutritionist or your doctor to evaluate your current health and diet to see which changes may be right for you and your lifestyle. As with any age, diet changes are important, but you will see the best results with the addition of regular exercise, hydration and adequate sleep.