Nutrition Tips to Fuel Your Body as You Age
Your food choices should change as you get older. Beginning with your 20s, we’ve broken down the necessities for each decade of your life.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
It’s no secret that your health requirements change as you age. Thus, so should your diet. Here’s what you should be eating based on your age.
Skin, bone, metabolism and immune/gut health is important in your 20s.
- Carrots and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and are important in preventing breakouts.
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut promote gut health and can decrease breakouts.
- Almonds are rich in healthy fats, which support weight loss, and are high in phosphorus, which help build strong bones and teeth.
- Kale is a nutrient-dense food low in calories, high in calcium and high in vitamin C, which supports the immune system and metabolism.
- Strawberries and kiwi are one of the foods with the highest concentration of vitamin C, which supports the immune system, metabolism and skin health.
- Salmon is rich in omega-3s and supports healthy hormones.
- Sesame seeds are important for bone and teeth health and are high in calcium.
- Chicken is an inexpensive source of protein that is low in calories and fat.
Green smoothie with kale, almond milk, strawberries and vegan protein powder
Almonds or carrots with hummus
Sweet potato soup
Grilled chicken with a side of sauerkraut, roasted butternut squash puree and sesame seeds
In your 30s, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight, to improve conception and to avoid being overweight later in life.
- Complex carbs like oatmeal are low on the glycemic index and high in fiber, perfect for regularity and to reduce stomach bloat. Avoid large amounts of rice and pasta because they will spike your insulin levels, and high insulin levels decrease ovulation.
- Oysters are rich in zinc, an important mineral for hair and skin health. Zinc is also essential for male fertility and to maintain testosterone levels in the optimal range.
- Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3s and fiber, and they also promote GI healing.
- Red beans are high in antioxidants, making this protein-rich food a great anti-aging powerhouse.
- Bone broth supports a healthy gut, immune system and joint health. It also helps decrease cellulite.
- Walnuts are a great source of omega-3s, which improve cholesterol and reduce inflammation.
- Oranges are rich in vitamin C, fiber and folate. They also help reduce the risk of kidney stones.
- Quinoa’s complete protein helps build and maintain muscles and keep blood pressure in the normal range.
- Bok choy is low in calories, making this vegetable a winner for weight loss. It keeps blood pressure in the normal range, improves digestion and is rich in folate — an important nutrient in pregnancy and breast-feeding. Leafy greens are important for conceptions and are rich in iron, folic acid and B12.
- Avocado and pine nuts are rich in vitamin E and increase male fertility, reduce the risk of miscarriages and help regulate the menstrual cycle.
Oatmeal, flaxseeds with blueberries and walnuts
1 orange with 3 ounces of nuts or ¼ avocado with Celtic sea salt, garlic, lime or lemon juice and cherry tomatoes
Minestrone: Italian soup made with bone broth, vegetables and red beans
Steamed oysters with quinoa and steamed vegetables
In your 40s, the trick is to promote eye health, reduce inflammation and fight cancer.
- Artichokes increase bile production and purify and protect the liver. They also have a mild diuretic effect on the kidneys, which aide in toxin removal once the liver breaks them down. Some studies have shown that artichokes may actually regenerate liver tissues.
- Seaweed is rich in iodine, which is important for thyroid function.
- Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, folate, selenium and magnesium, making these delicious seeds fantastic for cardiovascular health, mental health and thyroid health.
- Sesame seeds promote a healthy blood pressure and are linked to a reduction in the risk of cancer.
- Brown rice is rich in fiber and can help reduce cholesterol and improve digestion.
- Spinach is rich in vitamins, chlorophyll, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Spinach is essential for eye health, reducing inflammation and fighting cancer.
- Coconut is rich in fiber and helps fight fungi viruses and bacteria. The fatty acids in coconut also can boost brain function.
- Sardines are high in omega-3s and are a good sources of calcium. They also reduce the risk for heart disease and inflammation.
Green smoothie with coconut milk or coconut fruit
Coconut macaroons without refined sugar
Grilled or steamed artichokes with fish in lemon vinaigrette and brown rice with sunflower and seaweed
Vegetable soup with spinach and brown rice and baked fish of your choice
Brown rice pilaf with a side of sardines and seaweed salad
In your 50s, focus on making sure your thyroid and gut are working to their optimal potential.
- Chia is high in calcium and fiber, which is good to maintain regularity.
- Eggs are low in calories and are a complete protein, making this food great for building muscle and losing weight. Additionally, eggs are rich in omega-3s and choline — important for nerve function and a healthy metabolism.
- Lentils are high in fiber, which promotes regularity and healthy cholesterol levels. Lentils are also rich in potassium, magnesium, selenium, iron and calcium. These nutrients help maintain healthy blood pressure, fight cancer and decrease fatigue.
- Onions are great to slow down bone reabsorption.
- Fennel is high in minerals, making this delicious vegetable great for improving bone density and digestion.
- Grass-fed red meat is lower in saturated fat and higher in healthy fat and omega-3s.
- Carob contains polyphenols selenium and calcium — making this cacao alternative good for thyroid function and cholesterol levels.
- Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory, perfect for people with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia cancer and any inflammatory conditions. Additionally, turmeric is rich in iron, manganese, vitamin B6 and potassium. It also helps detox the liver.
- Basil is rich in vitamin K, which is important for strong bones, and helps reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, diabetes and cancer.
- Brazil nuts contain selenium, calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and fiber. This exotic nut helps support healthy cholesterol levels that prevent blood clotting, consequently reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Brazil nuts also contain vitamin A and E, which can reduce wrinkles and increase skin collagen.
Chia pudding with dairy-free milk and carob or berries of your choice
Eggs with vegetables of your choice
3 ounces of Brazil nuts
Lentil sloppy Joes
Fennel salad with grilled steak
Lentil soup with onions and turmeric
Filet mignon or chicken with pesto basil and Brazil nuts over zucchini spaghetti
Monica Amsterdam, CHC, AADP, FDN-P, is the director of nutrition at the Medical and Wellness Center of New Jersey.