From delicious healthy recipes to the best nutritional advice, we guide you through what should – and shouldn’t – be on your plate this month
Ageing is a natural part of life, and with it comes many changes to our bodies. Over time, we’ll notice some physical shifts, but we might not be aware of some of the things that are happening on the inside as our body’s systems begin to face a set of new challenges which are impacted by ageing. Our diet plays a key role in how well we age. Nourishing our bodies with a range of nutrients helps to keep cells healthy so that we can stay fighting fit. Don’t panic – it’s never too late to get started. Here, we’ll take you through some of the most common things to expect as the years roll by, along with the superstar ingredients that can give your body what it needs to optimise health. See, it’s not nearly as scary as you thought!
Over time, your blood vessels and arteries may lose their fluidity, meaning that they become stiffer. This causes the heart to work harder in order to pump blood through them and circulate it around your body. The heart muscle also changes to meet these increased workload demands, so while your resting heart rate may stay the same, it won’t increase during activities, such as exercise, as much as it used to. Unfortunately, this can put you at an increased risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascularrelated conditions.
What to eat:
Luckily, there are lots of foods you can add to your diet to support your ticker. Berries, such as strawberries, cranberries, blackcurrants, cherries and blueberries, contain anthocyanin and flavonoids which help to dilate blood vessels, widening them to allow blood to flow more easily. Additionally, cooked tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, which can work to lower levels of bad cholesterol, while good-quality dark chocolate is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties that can decrease your risk of heart disease.
It’s a sad fact that our vision tends to decline slowly as we get older – this may mean that you have to wear glasses when reading something up close, or have trouble seeing when the light is dim. It’s therefore important to have regular eye tests, as they will help to pinpoint serious eye-related diseases that have no warning signs, such as age-related macular degeneration or diabetic eye disease.
What to eat:
Taking effective dietary steps to look after your peepers will reduce your risk of developing future eye problems. Foods such as kiwi, spinach, butternut squash, chicory and courgette, which contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, help to protect your eyes by lowering levels of inflammation.
General wear and tear of our pearly whites is expected as we get older, due to the fact that the outer layer of enamel changes. Various medications, including those used to treat hypertension and cholesterol, can cause a dry mouth. You also produce less saliva as you get older, which can make your teeth and gums slightly more vulnerable to tooth decay and infection.
What to eat:
Thankfully, there’s lots to smile about, as your diet can help to dictate the health of your mouth. Calcium-packed dairy foods, such as yoghurt and milk, as well as leafy greens like spinach and kale, can all work to keep your teeth strong. Try to avoid too many sugary foods and be sure to keep hydrated by drinking around a litre and a half of water per day. If you struggle to remember to keep your glass or (reusable) water bottle topped up, you could set reminders on your phone – trust us, your body will thank you for it.
According to a study by researchers at the University of California, cognitive health is thought to take a hit from our 50s onwards. The scientists found that the female mind loses five percent of its sharpness between the ages of 50 and 60, which sounds scary, but there are things you can do. If you feel your mind is foggier than usual, putting brain-boosting foods on the menu can help to slow this decline.
What to eat:
Keep in mind that good nutrition is vital for our ability to remember things. A processed diet full of fast food and sugar sets up chronic inflammation in the brain which is thought to be linked with conditions such as depression, as well as dementia. Foods loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, such as raw nuts and salmon, help to keep our brain cells healthy, so aim to have a handful of nuts every day and two portions of fish per week. Some fruit, such as antioxidantrich blueberries, can protect against cognitive degeneration, so why not switch your afternoon bar of chocolate for these tiny but powerful berries to see you through the rest of the day?