While the core principles of a healthy diet remain the same at 25 or 65, our bodies require specific nutrients as we go through different life stages. Let us take a look at some of the nutrients our body needs when we are 20 and how it changes when we cross 40.
In 20s & 30s: Life is busy when you are aged 20-30 and healthy eating is often way down the list of priorities. Bone density continues to grow (with a good supply of calcium and vitamin D) until our late 20s. At this age, nutrition for bone health is important to lower the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Calcium and vitamins K and D are all vital and can be obtained through dairy products, green leafy vegetables, egg yolks and salmon. If you don’t eat dairy, you should try calcium rich plant products such as kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, beans and soy products such as edamame and tofu. If you don’t exercise and smoke you may need to increase the amount of calcium rich foods you consume.
Also, make time for breakfast. Try fortified wholegrain cereals or porridge oats with semi skimmed milk, chopped fruit or a glass of fruit juice. A proper breakfast will provide fiber and several key vitamins. In addition, go easy on salts; official guidelines suggest that adults should eat less than 6g salt per day (less for children). Use alternative seasonings when cooking – garlic, black pepper, chili, lemon juice, fresh herbs and spices.
In your 40s: At this time of life many people still take their good health for granted, and healthy eating and exercise are often put on the back burner. But as we grow older, good nutrition and regular exercise become even more important. A diet rich in antioxidants will help protect against problems like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cataracts and certain types of cancer.
Brightly colored fruit and vegetables are the best source of antioxidants. Make sure you eat at least five portions a day and include a wide variety of different produce.
Include iron in your diet; go for lean red meat and liver as they are most easily absorbed forms of iron (haem iron). If you don’t eat meat, choose a fortified breakfast cereal and eat plenty of green leafy vegetables such as chard, spinach, green beans, asparagus and broccoli.