When women hit 50, their bodies begin to change and as the ageing process kicks in, weight gain can become increasingly dangerous, as it increases the risk of heart diseases and other weight-related issues. Restricting calorie intake while providing the body all the necessary nutrients, and aiming for healthy weight loss is essential. While exercise is important, it needs to be coupled with a good diet plan so women over 50 can stay fit, healthy, and active.
Basic guidelines for nutrition
A healthy diet plan should include a balance of all food groups – this means women over 50 need to incorporate lots of fruits and fresh vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and whole grains in their diet, while excluding foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. As far as meat is concerned, lean is best, but you can also turn to other sources of protein, like egg whites, beans, nuts, and soy. Cold-water fish like salmon are also excellent for women above 50, as these contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids which can bring down levels of triglyceride in the blood.
Menopause and diet
The majority of women experience menopause around the age of 50, although the process can occur earlier or later for some. During this time, women’s bodies undergo a variety of hormonal changes, and they begin to gain fat and lose muscle. At this point, they are extremely vulnerable to gaining extra pounds – a lack of physical activity coupled with the consumption of more than the required amount of calories can be extremely detrimental, and the fact that less muscle mass leads to a slower metabolism doesn’t help either. At this stage, women are at risk of diabetes, breast cancer, high cholesterol and high blood pressure – a diet plan needs to take all these factors into account and incorporate lean protein and high fibre foods, while cutting sugar and fat out.
In the United States, around 8 million women are suffering from heart disease, as per the University of Washington Women’s Health Center. Older women are at a higher risk of heart disease, especially after estrogen levels start to drop, and as women turn 50, their diets need to be modified while taking this increased risk into account. Foods that are high in fibre, and low in fat and cholesterol are recommended, as are lots of fruits and vegetables. Soybeans, fish, nuts and flaxseed are also good for keeping the body healthy.
Keeping bones strong
As women grow older, their bones get thinner and bone density decreases. This puts older women at risk of fractures and diseases like osteoporosis. In order to avoid this, it is essential to make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D through your diet. Low-fat milk, or vitamin-D fortified milk is a great option, as is broccoli, which is calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K.
Protein and carbohydrates
Carbohydrates should form a part of every balanced diet, but as the body ages, its ability to metabolize carbohydrates decreases. This occurs because the body starts storing extra calories as fat, as it begins to lose lean muscle mass – in order to keep yourself healthy after 50, start easing yourself off carbohydrates (though there is no need to give it up completely). Similarly, start cutting red and other high-fat meats out of your diet – consume only lean protein, and other foods like tofu, nuts, legumes, and seeds.