As we age, our bodies tend to change. While some changes are inevitable, we can work to maintain or improve healthy dietary habits that promote a healthy and happy lifestyle. Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife Nutrition offers tips to get you on track.
A healthy diet and active lifestyle is the best way to protect your health as you age. Balanced meals contain protein to keep you full and satisfied, plenty of fruits and veggies to provide vitamins and minerals, and just enough healthy fats to provide flavor. Fill about two-thirds of your plate with healthy carbs such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, and the remaining one-third low-fat proteins, such as fish, poultry or lean meat.
Strong, healthy bones are really built during adolescence and young adulthood. That's because the body's ability to store calcium in the bones peaks at about age 30, so this is a critical period during which you can maximize bone density. It's important to get plenty of calcium in our diet and regularly engage in weight-bearing exercise at any age, but it's particularly important when you're younger to ensure bone health as you age. But that doesn't mean all is lost if you're older. Taking in adequate calcium every day (needs increase to from 1000 mg daily to about 1200 mg per day after age 50) and regular weight-bearing activity can help maintain bone strength.
Building muscle mass can be done at any age. When you establish the right habits at a young age – which includes consuming adequate protein and engaging in resistance exercise – you're more likely to continue those habits throughout your life. The amount of muscle mass you have determines, in large part, your resting metabolic rate. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest. Building and maintaining muscle mass is one of the best defenses against "creeping obesity" – the slow, incremental upticks in your body fat and weight as you age.
The foods you put into your body, and the way you take care of your skin when you're young, can affect the appearance of your skin as you age. Your skin relies on protein to manufacture its supporting structures, and plenty of fluid to help prevent dryness. Getting into the habit of cleansing, moisturizing and regularly using sunscreen when you're young can help you to maintain a healthy complexion as you get older. Skin damage that happens when you're young may not show up until decades later, so your best defense is to get in the habit of taking good care of your skin now.
Written by FAND – Director for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.