How you should be eating as you age
As we age, inflammation is something that we must pay more attention to. Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response that helps the body heal itself, bringing white blood cells to the area of concern with increased blood flow. Inflammation in a healthy body is normal, but when it gets out of control, it can damage the body, attacking healthy body tissues, which can lead to things like joint pain, fatigue, damage to blood vessels, as well as more serious issues like autoimmune disorders, celiac (gluten allergy), Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and even cancer. As we age, our body has to work harder to fight off disease and infection as well as repair itself, so inflammation can be a serious problem. Foods high in sugar and trans fats (pretty much all processed foods!) spur inflammation and cause the immune system to work too hard. BUT- There are way to promote an anti-inflammatory lifestyle! Antioxidants are important for a healthy body. These little guys are going to help fight off free radicals and keep your cells functioning at a healthy level. Foods like berries, leafy greens, artichokes, tomatoes, broccoli, green tea and nuts like pecans and walnuts and seeds like flax and chia are all full of antioxidants. Ginger and turmeric have been proven to be some of the most powerful antioxidants and have amazing anti-inflammatory properties; you can even buy turmeric in capsule or powder form to get in the anti inflammatory benefits on a daily basis! These antioxidants also work to fight inflammation, which can cause damage to your cells and tissues. Antioxidants help fight and repair this damage, which equates to a pumped up immune system. Because all foods that are high in antioxidants are nutrient dense and most are low in calories, they can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Fruits, veggies, seeds and nuts should be a part of any healthy, balanced diet, but focussing on these foods (rather than processed foods of course) can also help maintain a healthy weight. Reducing inflammation can mean the relief from conditions such as arthritis, joint pain, chronic congestion, high blood pressure, high cholesterol… all things we are faced with as we age!
Something else both men and women need to focus on as they age is their gut health. I’m talking about the healthy bacteria that lives in your gut (these are good bacteria, to the kind that make you sick). A healthy gut with proper amounts of healthy bacteria leads to a happy healthy digestive system, a healthy immune system, can keep you at a healthy weight and can even help keep you in a happy, healthy mental state (scientists are now calling your gut your “little brain” as it is responsible for millions of signals to your central nervous system). As we age, the flora in our gut changes, so it’s important to keep it balanced. This is especially imprint in men (who aren’t necessarily thinking about their gut health…) who are at a higher risk of certain cancers like colorectal and pancreatic cancer. Probiotics boost the immune system while building healthy organs, including the stomach, liver and kidneys. Researchers are even studying the effects on mice, and have found that taking probiotics can help reduce timor sizes in these with colon cancer. Needless to say, probiotics are powerful! So where can men get these?? Of course you can take a probiotic supplement in pill form, but it is always best to get in whole food form. The usual suspects like yogurt are easy to find, but these are often times laced with sugar and contain probiotics that don’t get absorbed by the body. There are many more options these days; men might find it easy to take a protein powder that have probiotics included in them (there are several brands out there that do!), but other sources of probiotics for men and women are sauerkraut or kimchi, pickles (get the all-natural no additives kinds to get the full effects), kombucha tea, tempeh (a fermented soybean product that is great for vegetarian cooking), miso soup, raw cheese (not pasteurized or processed!) and kefir ( a fermented dairy product).
Something else both men and women should focus on as they age is their changing hormone levels. As we age, we decrease our hormonal production by about three percent every year from the age of 30 years old. A decrease in natural hormones, such as testosterone, growth hormone, DHEA, vitamin D, and progesterone cause many declines in body composition. like muscle mass and bone density. Women should be especially vigilant when it comes to bone health. Foods high in calcium and magnesium can help keep bone density steady; these are foods like leafy greens, nuts and seeds. Men are going to be more concerned with their loss of muscle mass as they age. Increasing protein intake with healthy sources of protein like organic chicken, wild caught fish, and grass fed beef can help maintain muscle as testosterone levels decrease.