Midlife is a milepost when the risk of several health conditions rise rapidly. It becomes imperative
to know about the essential nutrition to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle for our wellbeing.
Nutrient dense foods are required throughout the life; but for people in midlife, it is very important to maintain the intake of vitamin-rich foods, high fibre foods for improving the health. After all, balanced nutrition is required by each and every cell within our body to keep the organs in our body healthy, fit and free of diseases like diabetes/type 2 diabetes and many more. Healthy Organs = Healthy Body. Many health conditions or diseases can be avoided by including healthy foods in the day to day life.
At around the age of 40, our metabolism starts becoming slow. Since the mechanism that keeps burning those excess fats starts to diminish hence it is better to eat fewer calories which help in boosting your overall health.
One cannot stress the fact enough that good nutrition like vitamin-rich foods and the intake of high fibre foods is the key to keep yourself in good health. Making healthy eating habits as part of your life is essential.
1. Make fibre-rich food as your best friend:
Fibre foods or fibre-rich foods are incredibly fulfilling and not only do they reduce the risk of heart diseases and diabetes but also helps in losing weight. Some of the rich fibre foods are fruits, like apples, avocado, berries (strawberries and raspberries), bananas, orange etc. It is even believed that we should consume “rainbow coloured food”, Be sure to include fruits & veggies in different colours in your diet. Darker the colour more the fibre content. Alternating various options such as wholegrain bread, cereals, oatmeal, beans and pulses.
The recommended fibre intake for men is 38 grams and for women is 25 grams. Including a variety of veggies and fruits with your meal or even as snacks will not only satisfy the dietary requirements but will also make you feel energetic.
Reading the nutrition label on food items before buying them will make you more knowledgeable about the nutrition facts along with setting those alarm bells in case needed.
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2. Run away from the following foods:
It is a universal fact that to reap health benefits, one has to cut down on unhealthy fat as these do not contribute to the fibre foods intake required. Hence, avoid food that contains fewer nutrition values and more calories and go for vitamin rich foods. Consuming less of these foods is better than trying to rebalance the fitness counters during midlife as there is a chance you might suffer from diseases like diabetes, obesity,etc. Cut down on the portions of pork, lamb, beef, butter, and cheese since they contain more unhealthy fats and way too many calories that can be burned within a 10 minutes exercise session.
Saying a big “No” to drinks, sweets/dessert with added sugar, that extra layer of butter on bread, cream on the cake and that mayonnaise on your leafy salad. Reduce the intake of fried foods like French fries, chips and fried meat. Instead try boiling, grilling, or baking it. Include fish in your regular diet; eat it at least once a week. Eat lots of salads and veggies if you cannot escape eating refined grains like white bread, pasta, rolls, crackers, and noodles which do not come under fibre foods.
It would also be wise to run away from steak, sausage, hot dogs and an excess of alcohol!
3. Get more of vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12 is extremely important for maintaining red blood cells and effective brain function. Insufficient intake or deficiency of B12 is known to have caused Anaemia (tiredness, shortness of breath and fatigue) because of the low count of red blood cells (RBC), Cognitive impairment (poor memory, dementia, irritability & confusion) and Peripheral Neuropathy: (numbness & tingling in hands and feet, balance issues, loss of grip/oversensitivity) at the very least if left untreated. So it would be wise if you were to increase your intake of vitamin rich foods.
Although the amount of vitamin B12 needed varies as per the age however the recommended daily dosage of Vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms for an adult. During midlife (the late thirties to forties) it is essential to keep an eye on your Vitamin B12 levels and intake. In many older adults, the depleted hydrochloric acid levels in their stomach make absorbing the vitamin B12 that is naturally present in food difficult. Other than food that is fortified with vitamin B12, a plant-based diet does not contain vitamin B12 and it is only available naturally in an animal-based diet. Hence, choose vitamin rich foods such as fortified cereals, eggs, dairy products, fish and meat to top up your daily requirements for vitamin B12. It is also a good idea to consume multivitamins daily since most of them contain vitamin B12.
4. Add calcium and Vitamin D in your daily diet:
This duo strengthens the bones and teeth to support its structure and hardness thus remarkably reducing the risk of fractures and early dental issues during midlife.
Calcium also serves its part in helping the muscles and nervous system by carrying messages between different parts of the body and brain. You might be surprised to know that even the blood circulation in our body through the blood vessels is aided by calcium.
If the calcium intake is not regulated to the sufficient levels, the body starts stealing it from the bones thus making them weak. The average recommended amount of calcium for an adult is 1000 mg. However, there is a catch. Unless the vitamin D levels are appropriate the body cannot absorb calcium even if you eat calcium-rich diet, which is why it is mandatory you also intake vitamin rich foods.
Getting enough sunlight will keep your vitamin D intake in order and diet containing dairy products, broccoli, salmon, fortified cereals, grains will provide you with the required calcium that your body can then attempt to absorb.
Just like everything else in life, too much is generally harmful. Research has shown that an excess amount of calcium from the intake of supplemental food can cause constipation and also can imbalance the absorption of iron and zinc in the body. Although more evidence is needed through additional studies it has also come to the attention of medical professionals that there is a link between high risk of prostate cancer and heart disease in people known to have calcium levels above the upper limits.
The upper limit of calcium intake for an adult is around 2500 mg.
5. Magnesium, Potassium and Omega 3:
Did you know that Magnesium is a nutrient that helps in maintaining a healthy body, regulating blood pressure, blood sugar, muscle and nerve functions? Not just that it also helps making protein, absorption of calcium for bones and helping the DNA within our bodies.
Since it plays a key role in maintaining the blood pressure and blood sugar levels, it is very important to consume the average daily recommended amount of magnesium. Which you can do by having an intake of high fibre foods which in turn will help you enjoy your healthy midlife. The risk of blood pressure and heart disease multiplies during our forties. In the short term, the kidneys maintain the required amount within our bodies however long term low intake can cause a deficiency of magnesium. Deficiency of magnesium can result in migraine headaches, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and even abnormal heart rhythm.
The recommended amount of magnesium per day for men is 400 mg and for women is 320 mg per day. The same rule of too much is “too much” applies to magnesium too and the upper limit for the same is 350 mg for an adult.
Magnesium is found in fortified cereals and foods, nuts, figs, soy, avocados, seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables which are also termed as fibre foods.
Long term alcoholism and excessive intake of carbonated drinks can cause imbalance resulting in a deficiency of magnesium, so give up that extra can of beer or the 3rd glass of whiskey.
Another mineral which is needed by our body to maintain proper kidney and heart function is Potassium. The average daily requirement for potassium is deemed to be 4700 mg for adults.
Blood pressure, stroke, blood sugar imbalance & type 2 diabetes, kidney stones are generally linked to potassium deficiency.
Potassium is found in high fibre foods like commonly available vegetables; potato, tomato, broccoli, spinach, etc. Meat, poultry, fish, lentils, kidney beans and nuts are also a very good source of potassium. Dried apricots, prunes, raisins and bananas are rich suppliers of this mineral so important for normal bodily functions.
High servings of Potassium is hard to find in multivitamins and hence most people do not get the recommended amount of potassium even if they combine their intake of potassium-rich food and supplements.
Omega-3 fats or the essential fatty acids generally found in oily fish known to reduce heart disease and stroke can only be attained via including oily fish as a part of a balanced diet for all. Omega-3 supplements are available to maintain the average daily recommended amount of 1000 mg however there are conflicting research results available proving the benefits ion the same.
The proper intake of Omega-3 supplements like fish oil can decrease insulin resistance in people diagnosed with diabetes. Apart from this, fish oil supplements can also help in lowering triglyceride levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.
Constitution of a human body and the functionality of various organs including the heart is very complex and it perhaps is impossible to measure the effect of plant-based Omega-3 food and Omega-3 supplements towards its wellbeing. The fact remains that a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet including oily fish might just be the answer although with caveats.
6. Drink plenty of water:
We all know that almost 70% of the human body is made of water. We all know that we are supposed to drink water regularly during the day. We all know that an appropriate amount of water is very crucial in maintaining a healthy and agile body. But, we don’t do it or rather forget to do it. Water requirement depends on age, body size, health conditions etc. The sensation of thirst reduces in midlife and staying hydrated may not seem like an easy task. If you want to feel more energetic, improve your mood and happiness, avoid headaches, keep our skin healthy and radiating, reduce weight and improve digestion then reduce the consumption of alcohol, sweetened beverages (soda, energy drink/ sports drink, flavoured milk) and caffeine. Just get on with the plain old, zero calories water.
Just in case if you are struggling to keep a tab, have a look at the smart water bottles on Amazon to make it easier.
7. Physical activity:
Once again, We know that a well-balanced nutritious diet and regular exercise regime are good for maintaining overall health during midlife. Yet, we all have assigned higher priorities to everything else but not to the thoughts as above. Regular physical activities improve health and make us more flexible, agile and boost immunity.
There are benefits to going for a walk, gardening, catching up with our buddies at Badminton, tennis, Swimming, discussing new fashion trends after aerobics, Yoga, albeit not are all health-related but you get the point!.
The risk of heart disease, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, depression and other illnesses can potentially be mitigated if moderate levels of cardiovascular, strength training and meditation or a slow form of exercise can be included as a regular part of your weekly routine.
It is not, needless to say, take a suggestion and advise from a medical professional before starting anything if you are already suffering from any ailment that requires care and concern. Once clear and ready, the most important part is not to rush, start at a slower pace. Take time to warm up and don’t forget to hydrate yourself by drinking lots of water and fresh fruit juices.
Eat right, keep moving – stay healthy and stay fit.