While the core principles of a healthy diet stay the same at 25,35, or even 55, some nutrition needs do change.
As we get older, special attention is especially needed when it comes to protein, fluid intake, vitamins and minerals. Note just several reasons why:
Aging leads to distinct muscle mass loss. This, in turn, leads to loss of muscle strength. Muscle mass and strength peaks around age 25 and gradually declines. Not only is muscle mass progressively lost but the physiology of older adults also resists building new muscle.
VO2 max decreases with age. This is a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen your body is able to use per minute. After age 25, it decreases about 1% each year. This is mostly due to a decline in lung function and maximum heart rate.
Aging disturbs the body's mechanisms of water balance. Total body water decreases. In other words, an older adult has less water to lose before becoming dehydrated. Additionally, thirst sensation diminishes, further increasing the risk of dehydration.
Kidney function changes. The amount of kidney tissue as well as the number of filtering units decreases. The kidneys tend to filter blood more slowly and need more water to remove waste.
Macronutrient needs, specifically for protein, vitamins, and minerals increase with age. You may be thinking, "That's quite the list!"
Thankfully, keeping an eye on your nutrition can help you stay your best at all ages!
Vitamins and Minerals
A great way to get more vitamins and minerals into your diet is eating plenty of fruits and vegetables - fresh, canned, or frozen. Include more dark green veggies, such as leafy greens, and orange veggies, such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
Drink frequently and regularly, especially during workouts.
Make it a goal to minimize dehydration without over-drinking. The best way to monitor your hydration is through urine color (straw or lemonade colored urine is a sign of great hydration, whereas dark urine indicates dehydration).
Dehydration that exceeds even a 2% body weight loss can harm your performance. Aim for about two 8 oz glasses of water before engaging in physical activity. Also, hydrate with another 8 oz every 20 minutes or so during physical activity.
Protect your Muscles
Consistent resistance training at any age helps prevent loss of muscle mass and strength. Exercise will also increase the efficiency of muscle protein synthesis in older adults.
For optimum health, consume an adequate amount of high-quality protein.
The RDA states that 0.8 g of protein/kg of body weight per day is adequate for all adults. Most people over age 65 benefit from about 1-1.2 g of protein/kg of body weight per day. Active people over the age of 65 can actually benefit from about 1.5 g of protein/kg of body wight per day.
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