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Diet and Nutrition After 50+

The ten most answered questions on diet and nutrition after hitting the golden years 

Q-1 How has diet and nutrition norms changed, from the early 90’s to date?

Answer:  In the early nineties, around the time of World War II, the concern of health and nutrition hovered around keeping people adequately fed on a daily basis. Feeding mankind and making sure they stay free from scurvy, rickets and other wartime diseases of malnutrition was on the cards, nothing else mattered. Long-term diseases like diabetes or heart disease were not addressed nor considered when forming nutritional plans. Today, the question addressed is; What nutrients, and in what quantities, do people need to consume on a daily basis to stay healthy?

 

Q-2 What should one consider for a healthy diet for older adults?

Answer: The daily intake of food groups — protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins is a must. How much should you eat, more importantly how much of each food group should you eat on a daily basis to stay healthy? Nutritionists will customize a diet based on your weight, height, frame, Body mass Index (BMI)  and medical conditions, but if you are well read and know your fitness level you could follow nutrition apps, eg: My Fitness Pal 

 

Q-3 What exactly is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)?

Answer:Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are the levels of intake of essential nutrients that, on the basis of scientific knowledge, are judged by the Food and Nutrition Board to be adequate to meet the known nutrient needs of practically all healthy persons.”

The first edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) was published in 1943 during World War II with the objective of “providing standards to serve as a goal for good nutrition.” 

RDAs have come to serve other purposes too: 

For planning and procuring food supplies for population subgroups; 

For interpreting food consumption records of individuals and populations; 

For establishing standards for food assistance programs; 

For evaluating the adequacy of food supplies in meeting national nutritional needs; 

For designing nutrition education programs; 

For developing new products in the food industry;  

For establishing guidelines for nutrition labeling of foods. 

NOTE: The recommendations constantly update through studies and research.

 

Q-4 Do you read nutrition labels?

Answer: Do you know that the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) label is mandatory by FSSAI and other boards, This nutrition label is on the package of every food item that you see in the supermarket. 

The label is in the form of a table, reads; 

Nutritional information: per serving of 100grams based on a daily 2000Kcal diet. 

Energy (Calories) 

Protein 

Total Carbohydrates (of which Sugar)

Total Fat (saturated/trans)

Sodium 

Vitamins 

Minerals.

If you pay close attention to the labels, you will get an idea of how nutritious the food item really is. So before you buy or tear a packet apart. 

Read before you Eat.

 

Q-5 If you have not paid attention to nutrition and diet, would it make a difference if you start when 50+?

Answer: Your body is your temple; in life we do take breaks from going to the temple, being spiritual etc. It is the same relationship between nutrition and your body, you keep growing, reinventing yourself and becoming a better you. There is no age or stage to get healthy, it’s a journey.

 

Q-6 Is diet more important than exercise or vice versa?

Answer: Research says; 80/20 is the ratio of diet to exercise; both are vital for healthy living. Exercise up’s your metabolism, helping you digest food quicker.  The catch is; over exercising apart from burning calories, makes you doubly hungry, and overeating with no exercise will slow down your system. So a balance would show best results. Healthy food options combined with a daily exercise routine.

 

Q-7 Do you need to starve to lose weight?

Answer: As you age, your metabolism slows down and losing weight can be a task, it really does not come that easy. Research has repeatedly proved that Yo-Yo diets do not work, ninety percent of people put back on all the weight and maybe more within a year of losing it. Starvation is not the answer to permanent weight loss. It can give you an initial boost but for the long term, a balanced diet with a weekly cheat day is what will work for weight loss and overall health, especially in older adults.

 

Q-8 What is age related muscle and bone density loss?

Answer: Age-related muscle deterioration kicks into high gear around age fifty and is hard to notice, it deteriorates three times faster, making you loose strength even though your biceps may look as bulky. Muscle mass is linked with everyday functionality and if neglected produces a snowball effect of strength loss. Keep the resistance training going through Weight Training, Yoga, Pilates. 

Bone Density or Bone Mass reaches its zenith at age twenty, after which throughout your life it is decades of bone density loss. Weak bones increase the risk of injury and Osteoporosis. Eat to protect your bones; Calcium and Vitamin D deficiency must be kept at bay. 

For calcium – Eat dairy products, sesame seeds, water chestnuts, leafy greens, broccoli, beans and almonds

For Vitamin D- natural sunlight, egg yolk, fatty fish like, Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna. NOTE: Supplements are not always digested and can turn into stones or arterial plaque.

 

Q-9 What’s the hype behind Protein intake?

Answer: Every cell in the human body contains Protein. The basic structure of Protein is a chain of amino acids. You need Protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. The lack of protein prevents growth and repair of muscle mass, which is much needed for bone building, supporting your joints, controlling body fat, they help manage blood sugar and building strength and stamina.

The daily recommendation of Protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, this is about 65 grams for a 180-pound person and doesn’t account for age, it’s the same for a fifty-year-old as it is for a twenty-year-old. 

Older adults need proportionately more protein in their diets than they do when they’re younger in order to keep building muscle mass, hence the need to increase their protein to a range of 1 gram to no more than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. After conversion, that means a 180-pound person in his fifties should aim for eighty two to a hundred and sixty four grams of protein intake per day.

You could break this up by eating twenty five – thirty grams of protein at each meal; it’s easier on your digestive system.  

Animal proteins provide the richest array of amino acids. Eggs, dairy, fish, chickpeas, lentils, tofu and quinoa are good sources of protein too. 

 

Q-10 What foods are recommended for a balanced diet for the 50+?

Answer:  Portion control: Ideally, in a 24-hour period you should consume three meals and two snacks. The meal size should be no larger that two fists and the snack size one fist.

Food Group: 

Your three meals – twenty-five percent of your plate should be protein, twenty percent of your plate whole grain (complex carbs) and fifty five percent of your plate vegetables.

Your two snacks – half protein (nuts) and half carbs (fruit)

Water intake: two to four liters a day.

A healthy mix of protein fiber and plant based nutrients can help you ward off disease and keep your metabolism revved. 

Wish you a perfect day of eating in your fifties+

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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