Food is our source of energy and wellness. As we age, our bodies' dietary needs change. Sometimes conditions, intolerances, or food allergies cause us to adjust a diet we've enjoyed for years. Other times we just need more nutrients or vitamins to maintain adequate energy to get through a day. As we continue to work and stay active into the later years of our lives it's important to embrace the challenge of our changing dietary needs because the foods we eat create our foundation of health and vitality.
Hormonal shifts in our late forties and fifties affect us all and change the metabolic balance of our bodies. Where are you gaining weight now? For many of us weight shifts to thighs or tummy but weight gain is not all that's changing. Believe it or not you're becoming more prone to falls so your bones need a higher intake of Vitamin D and Calcium. D is a challenge to find in unfortified foods. Know your vitamin D levels and where it's present in your diet. More importantly know how changes in your body are calling for changes in your diet.
Metabolic change isn't the only reason to update your diet now. As Dr. Connie Bales at Duke University explains in the video below, "Many of the most common and most serious chronic diseases that occur with aging are very amenable to dietary changes. This includes diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes. Many of these disease processes can be delayed and lessened by the right dietary interventions." Don't wait until the onset of aging conditions....incorporate preventative foods now and enjoy a longer life of quality living.
If you do experience a life changing condition that demands a change in foods it's natural to balk at the dramatic dietary impact. Anything from a need to reduce salt for lower blood pressure to the elimination of a category of foods because of late onset food allergies can upset your lifetime food routine and cause stress. If you have a busy life you may find it hard to put a diet back together again! Shifting dietary needs can feel daunting yet change opens new doors. Reduce salt and explore other spices that accent food. You may find a world of surprising new flavors. Eliminate an allergen and discover the many alternatives such as faux milks or allergen free ice creams. You may be surprised at how delicious today's alternative foods can be. Revisit the sweetness of raw fruits and berries. Try new vegetables or ancient grains. We live in a time of amazing food choices. Don't miss out on the new opportunities a change can bring.
Aging is a lifelong transformation so it's unsurprising that our need for foods, liquids and supplements change too. Check out the National Institute of Aging's thorough resources to help you understand age appropriate diets. Did you know, for instance, that we lose a sense of thirst as we age yet, ironically, we need more water and watery liquids to nourish our increasingly dry skin and help us both digest and absorb food? Did you know that women and men have different dietary needs throughout life? Eat Right For Life, a site maintained by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explains that women need to increase B-12 and protein after the age of 60 yet both sexes will benefit from more brain healthy foods and overall immune and wellness boosting nutrients.
Most of us have managed to change with the changing times. We've adopted new technologies and launched 2nd and 3rd careers. Now, we're called to embrace the nutritional needs of our changing bodies with promised rewards higher than any others: wellness and longer life. Betty Friedan once said, ""Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength." Support your strength with a nutritional plan that suits your lifestage and, dear readers, seize your opportunities!