Healthy Eating Over 50
While it is a good idea to eat healthy throughout your life, it is never too late to start eating a healthy diet. This is true even if you are over 50 and may have already suffered some of the disadvantages of eating an unhealthy diet.
Some health consequences of eating unhealthy include having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes and of course the dreaded weight gain that many experience as they get older. Even if you have these things already, eating healthy over 50 can begin to halt the progression of or reverse the effects of a lifetime of eating poorly.
Maintaining Sugar Control
The best diet over 50 is one that is low in refined sugar. Refined sugar can be found in white bread, pastries, cakes, and cookies. It can also be found in colas and other sugared beverages—even sugar added to coffee or tea.
Refined sugar is the same thing as a simple sugar. It gets into your bloodstream quickly after consuming it and raises your blood sugar dramatically. This causes the pancreas to release a lot of insulin in an attempt to use the sugar for fuel. Any leftover sugar is stored as glycogen in the liver or is turned to fat. Such wide fluctuations in sugar levels lead to insulin resistance, which means that the cells do not respond to insulin in the same way and the sugar stays in the bloodstream.
Eventually, insulin resistance leads to type 2 diabetes, which is running rampant among those people over the age of 50. Type 2 diabetes has complications all its own. It can affect the nerves of the eyes, leading to blindness. It can affect the kidneys, leading to chronic kidney failure. It can also affect the nerves to the lower extremities, leading to burning pain, numbness, and tingling—a condition called diabetic neuropathy.
Those over 50 should get the bulk of their carbs from complex carbohydrate foods. Complex carbs are obtained from whole fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. These allow for a gradual increase in blood sugar so insulin isn’t so activated and it has time to put the blood sugar into the cells for use as fuel.
Amp Up The Fiber
In people over 50, there is a decrease in the peristalsis of the gut, resulting in an increased risk of constipation. In a healthy diet in someone over 50, there should be an increase in those things that can naturally allow the gut to pass stool through.
This means drinking a lot of fluids in your diet. Drink a glass of water or milk with every meal and have a water bottle handy so you can drink whenever the mood strikes you. The excess fluid will end up in the gut and will allow the stool to be looser and not so dry.
You should also increase the insoluble fiber in your diet. Fiber can be gotten by eating plenty of whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables, and bran. Make sure your morning cereal is high in fiber or eat high fiber bread for your meals. This will naturally bulk up your stools and decrease the risk of constipation.
Caloric requirements change as we age because metabolism slows naturally and this is especially important for those who do not workout. Every notice how people gain weight as they get older? Here is the recommended caloric intake as recommended by the National Institutes Of Health for both men and women:
- not physically active needs about 1,600 calories
- somewhat active needs about 1,800 calories
- active lifestyle needs about 2,000–2,200 calories
- not physically active needs about 2,000 calories
- somewhat active needs about 2,200-2,400 calories
- active lifestyle needs about 2,400-2,800 calories
Make Healthy Choices
- Eat a colorful plate filled with different colors of fruits and vegetables
- More than 50% of your grains should be whole grains
- Eliminate junk food and refined sugar
- Limit fat intake, and choose healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts
- Eat seafood twice a week
There are many things you can do to improve your diet, even after the age of 50. Increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Decrease the intake of refined sugar and processed foods. Watch your calories and make sure to amp up the fiber intake in your diet so that your bowels will move better.