Age is not just a number. When your age increases, health risks also rise, such as menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms. Women over 50 might experience unwanted bodily changes, leading to health problems if left ignored. Thus, it is of utmost importance for women to take extra care of themselves. Besides living a healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition also plays a vital role in maintaining one's health.
What nutrients do you need to boost to fight off all signs of aging and menopause, and postmenopause and where can you get them? Find out everything you need to learn about healthy nutrition once you reach 50.
The Vital Nutrients that Women Need Beyond 50
Most women go through the menopausal transition in their 50s, and they may experience various symptoms during this phase. Hormonal imbalance, the primary cause of menopausal changes, can influence everything from your skin, hair up to the different tissues and organs inside your body, thereby affecting your health. What you need are the following nutrients to keep yourself healthy during and after your menopausal journey.
1. Vitamin C
Estrogens are linked with your immune system. Every cycle, your body's antibodies fight off any foreign invader to keep you healthy in preparation for pregnancy. Estrogens intermingle with the immune cells to increase your body's inflammatory response, thereby keeping infections at bay. However, as your estrogens decrease, which often happens after ovulation, your body's inflammatory response reduces, making you susceptible to illnesses. This vulnerability is one of the causes that you feel weak and sick during your menstrual period.
For women in their 50s, menstrual cycles become irregular, signifying the drastic decrease in estrogen levels. Thus, you must strengthen your immune system during this phase since you won't have sufficient estrogens to mediate your body's response against illnesses. You can fortify your immune system by boosting your vitamin-C consumption. Vitamin C helps in the proliferation of your immune cells, such as B-cells and T-cells, which are needed against infections. Besides building your immunity, you also need vitamin C to improve hair growth and skin condition. Its antioxidant properties also protect your cells from free radical damage. Hence, don't forget to add a healthy amount of citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes, and peppers to your everyday diet.
2. Vitamin B-12
Have you been forgetful lately? It's not surprising since your nerve cells deteriorate as you grow older. To mitigate the after-effects of aging, you need to eat more foods rich in vitamin B-12 or cobalamin since it can improve brain function. Studies show that people with insufficient B-12 levels are more susceptible to dementia, a type of illness that involves memory lapses and cognitive decline.
However, as you get older, your metabolism rate also slows down, making it harder for your body to absorb vitamin B-12 from your diet. This deficiency should not be left untreated since your body requires this vitamin to produce healthy red blood cells. Without enough RBC, oxygen and nutrient transport wouldn't be possible, leading to fatigue. This lack of RBC could be one of the plausible reasons why women over 50 quickly get exhausted. To ensure that you don't fall ill and encounter cognitive problems, enrich your diet with vitamin B-12. You can obtain it from fishes, such as tuna, salmon, and sardines, animal meat, such as lamb and beef, dairy products such as milk and cheese, and animal produce, such as eggs.
By the time you reach 30, your bones start losing their mass, which can cause bone deterioration. Studies also show that older women are more vulnerable to bone problems, especially osteoporosis. Based on a study published by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, most women may develop osteoporosis at least two years before menopause. Hence, this serves as a warning for women beyond 50 to take extra precautions to prevent fractures. It would be best to increase your calcium intake, a mineral necessary for building and strengthening bones. Without early intervention, you may suffer from bone loss after menopause. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, are the top sources of calcium for everyone, but you should also fill in your plate with calcium-loaded non-dairy products, such as sardines, sesame seeds, spinach, kale, beans, and lentils. However, don't take in too much calcium, for it may build up on the scalp, block hair follicles, thereby affecting hair growth.
Even before reaching 50, most women would already experience changes in their physical appearances, such as weight gain and hair growth problems. First, a slower metabolic rate coupled with a lack of physical exercise is the common reason why women over 50 increase their weight. This weight gain usually happens since the hormones responsible for metabolism are adversely affected by estrogen decline during and after menopause. Women also lose muscle mass in most parts of the body, resulting in an abnormal fat distribution on the abdomen, thighs, and arms. Aside from weight management, women also tend to suffer from thinning hair and hair loss as they age because of insufficient protein. Such hair growth issues usually occur when there's a lack of keratin, an essential protein for building and fortifying your hair's structure.
To prevent visceral fats from building up and losing your tresses, you should boost your nutrient consumption with a sufficient amount of protein. Start your change in diet with lean meat, chicken breast, dairy products, fatty fishes, and chicken eggs. Besides eating animal products, you can also obtain protein from nuts, legumes, beans, broccoli, and grains.
As mentioned earlier, the absorption of nutrients in the gastrointestinal system has been a common problem among aged people. If left unmitigated, this problem can lead to worse health ramifications. To keep your gut healthy, you should include probiotics in your everyday diet. Probiotics are the good bacteria or live microorganisms that help in breaking down sugar and other nutrients. Once your gut is in good shape, your body can absorb more nutrients needed to fight the effects of aging. Harvard Health also claimed that probiotics help the immune system create antibodies, making your body more prepared against harmful pathogens. Therefore, always eat probiotic-enriched foods such as yogurt, sourdough bread, sour pickles, miso soup, and fermented vegetables (kimchi).
Now, you are aware of the essential nutrients women need and where to obtain them. What about those that shouldn't be included in your diet? Identify the following foods and beverages that should be avoided because of the harmful substances that they contain.
Big No-No in Diet: What Should Women Avoid Consuming Then?
As you age, you should learn how to be health-conscious. Avoid any food and drink that have too much:
Do you have a sweet tooth? If yes, then you may need to curb your cravings for anything sweet. Consuming sugary foods and drinks takes a toll on your health, for it can lead to weight increase and diabetes. Other studies have also shown that having too much sugar speeds up the aging process. Sugar can activate oxidative activity through your bloodstream by interacting with proteins, thus, creating free radicals. When these harmful molecules attach to skin and hair cells, your hair starts thinning while your skin becomes wrinkly and saggy.
2. Refined carbohydrates
Starch-based foods, such as bread, rice, and potatoes are rich sources of carbohydrates. Yes, they are your sources of energy. However, as your metabolic rate slows down during your 50s, it becomes more difficult to burn those extra carbs. You may end up gaining so much weight if your body fails to do so.
Carbohydrates matter, so you can't ditch these nutrients. So, what should you do then? You can choose to include healthy carbs in your everyday diet. Also known as the "good" carbs, natural carbohydrates contain fiber for easier digestion. On the other hand, refined carbohydrates or bad carbs have empty calories and contain added sugar, which can trigger sudden weight gain and diabetes. These carbs also don't have fiber, which doesn't contribute to healthy digestion and faster metabolism. Therefore, to have a hearty supply of good carbs in your daily meals, always eat food sources such as potatoes, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains. On the other hand, avoid eating refined carbs such as flour-based products (e.g., white bread, cakes, and other pastries), sweetened beverages, and white rice.
And of course, let us not disregard that alcohol shouldn't be taken excessively. Alcohol shouldn't also be a resort of menopausal women having trouble with sleeping. Excessive and constant alcohol consumption may hinder you from experiencing deep sleep, thereby affecting your body's regeneration. Drinking too much alcohol also dehydrates your hair and skin, leaving them very dry. Thus, try to tone down your alcohol consumption now that you are in your golden years.
Proper Nutrition is a Key to a Long-lasting and Youthful Life.
Children need proper nutrition to grow healthy, while adults must nourish themselves to keep on living. Your cells, tissues, and organs also grow old with you. Thus, you should be responsible enough to take good care of yourself so that your body parts can function healthily for a very long time. Proper nutrition, coupled with an improved lifestyle and a positive outlook, will surely help you have a long-lasting and youthful life.
Enjoy Your Healthy-looking Tresses at 50.
Your age is never a reason for you to neglect your hair condition. Keep your locks as healthy-looking as your hair used to be by using the best hair growth products. Don't forget to take hair vitamins to prevent hair loss problems.