As there are habits you drop as you grow older, so there are foods that should tick off your menu list as you approach your 50s.
You need not wonder why it is so important to drop your favourite food as you age, doctors have always said that your diet after 40 will either make or mar your health.
Consultant cardiologist, Dr. Tayo Akinsanya, says that people above the age of 40 must remember the adage, “You are what you eat” and also make it their motto. He states that eating the right food as you clock 40 may reduce one’s chances of developing heart diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancers.
According to him, the digestive system slows down as one grows older, and an adult must make food choices that would boost its efficiency.
Akinsanya says,“The digestive system is not as efficient as it used to be when you were in your 30s. It is slower and you will need to eat foods that have high water and fibre content so it can aid digestion. You would also need to eat highly nutritious foods that give energy like beans. You cannot afford to eat foods that have little or no nutrients, you will only be over working the liver.
“For instance, I do not think anybody above 40 should still be eating white bread or pastries. They contain no water, it is difficult to digest and it has little or no nutrients. It has a lot of salt too, which can increase your blood pressure but many adults seem to eat a lot of it. If you have to eat it at all, make sure it is the wheat or brown bread.”
Akinsanya says another reason why one must eat the right foods in the right amount as one approaches 50 is to reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes and hypertension – conditions that are common in elderly people.
The cardiologist explains that adults may have to reduce their food portions to reduce the amount of calories stored in the body’s fat cells to avoid obesity.
“You are probably not as active as you used to be, so you will also need to reduce the portion of food you eat. Consuming the right number of calories for your level of physical activity helps you control your weight so that you don’t add weight.
“Extra weight is a concern for older adults because it can increase the risk for diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease and can increase joint problems. Eating more calories than your body needs for your activity level will lead to extra pounds that will only make you get terminal diseases easily.’
This does not mean you should lose weight as experts note that since one is less physically active, one will only need to eat small portions of foods to stay at the same weight.
They advise that choosing mostly nutrient-dense foods – foods which have a lot of nutrients but relatively few calories – can give one the nutrients one needs while keeping down calorie intake.
Here are some foods that nutritionists say you must take off your menu starting from today:
Meat is not as nutritious as we think. It can contain 20 to 30 per cent of fat. Instead, look for lean fish with no more than 10 per cent fat. Or for a healthier protein source that is easy to chew, like lean chicken.
If you are over 40 or in a high-risk group, doctors recommend that you get no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. Too much sodium can raise your blood pressure and put you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke.
Want to know foods that have a lot of salt? The main culprits are processed foods, such as frozen foods and meat, snack foods, potato and banana chips, and macaroni and spaghetti. Read labels carefully and look for “sodium free,” low-salt, or no-salt alternatives.
Alcohol disrupts sleep and can raise your blood pressure as you age. Though moderate drinking may reduce your risk of heart attack and some types of strokes. But as you age, alcohol may affect you differently, even if you are used to a glass of wine with dinner or a beer with TV. Alcohol can also cause hypoglycemia in people with diabetes. It even affects the way medicines work. Talk to your doctor about your alcohol use.
Although caffeine may not be a problem for everyone, it can make some people feel anxious or jittery. Caffeine can also increase your heart rate and cause sleeping problems. If you are trying to cut back, be sure to taper off slowly. Stopping caffeine too quickly may cause headaches, nausea, or vomiting. Slowly replace caffeinated drinks with water, herbal tea, or decaf as you age.
Whatever your age, you can start making positive lifestyle changes today. Eating well can help you stay healthy and independent – and look and feel good – in the years to come.
To eat healthier, you can begin by taking small steps, making one change at a time. For instance, you might just start with taking out meat.