Proper nutrition is essential as you age to maintain your quality of life and prevent numerous chronic diseases. With the proper nutrients, you can feel energized, stay fit and flexible and keep doing the activities you love to do, no matter what your age.
On the other hand, neglecting key nutrients is a slippery slope that can quickly lead to declining health. It’s estimated that serious diseases linked to poor dietary choices — such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure — kill three out of four Americans every year!1 And at the very least, ignoring proper nutrition is virtually guaranteed to leave you feeling sluggish, depressed and, well, old.
You don’t want that.
So, here are the top nutrition tips you should know to fight back against the hands of time and keep the feeling of youth on your side.
Eat This to Stay Healthy as You Age…
Fermented Foods (Probiotics)
Yogurt, kefir and traditionally made (non-pasteurized) sauerkraut are examples of fermented foods that are naturally rich in beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. Although most known for their role in keeping your digestive processes moving smoothly, beneficial bacteria are also known to help protect against malnutrition and support calcium absorption and immune health. 2
People in their 60s and beyond tend to have far more disease-causing bacteria in their digestive tracts than someone decades younger, making them more prone to gastrointestinal troubles. Consuming fermented foods is a natural way to neutralize the pathogenic bacteria by encouraging the growth of the friendly bacteria.
Plus, probiotics are also known to help your body sustain healthy inflammatory balance — another boon to help you fight the declines of aging.*
Omega-3 Fats (Fish Oil)
Omega-3 fats, found naturally in seafood and fish oil, support inflammatory balance, which is incredibly important as you get older. Plus, recent research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids help preserve DNA segments known as telomeres, whose degradation is a key marker of aging.*3
Fruits and Vegetables
You knew this one was coming … the wider variety of produce that you include in your diet, the better, as each variety has unique properties that can help keep you young. Broccoli, for instance, contains sulphoraphane, a natural anti-inflammatory phytochemical. All of the cruciferous veggies (kale, cauliflower, bok choy, etc.) contain cancer-fighting phytonutrients as well.
Tart cherries, on the other hand, contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which may help reduce several risk factors for heart disease,4 while the anthocyanins in blueberries have also been shown to increase anti-inflammatory molecules in your body.5There are numerous healthy attributes to virtually any fruit or vegetable you can think of … so make these a regular part of your diet.
Green tea is a rich source of flavonoids, which support healthy inflammatory balance and protect your body against free radicals promoting general health and longevity.*6
6 Healthy Aging Supplements to Consider…
Supplementing your healthy diet with specific anti-aging nutrients may help support your health well into your later years.
Resveratrol is a powerful polyphenolic antioxidant found in grapes, red wine, purple grape juice and some berries, as well as in supplement form. Since 1992, research suggests that resveratrol is a powerful free radical scavenger, working by inhibiting a destructive process called lipid peroxidation, which is associated with premature aging.*
2. Vitamin B12
As you get older it becomes more difficult to absorb vitamin B12(a vitamin necessary for proper red blood cell function, neurological function and DNA synthesis*) from food. This can lead to symptoms that are sometimes associated with aging, such as poor memory, confusion, trouble with balance, loss of appetite and more. Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, as well as in supplement form.
Your body naturally produces CoQ10, an enzyme that helps cells produce the energy they need to fuel your body, but tissue levels peak at age 20 and decline with age, particularly in your heart. Further, certain common prescription drugs, including cholesterol-lowering statins, deplete CoQ10 levels in your body even more.
While CoQ10 is found in meat and fish, it’s difficult to get enough from dietary sources alone. A CoQ10 supplement may be particularly helpful for your heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas, as well as to help support a healthy immune system.*
4. Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a powerful antioxidant that helps support liver, vision and nerve function.* It works against both water- and fat-soluble free radicals, and even helps to regenerate other antioxidants your body may be lacking. Alpha lipoic acid also helps to convert carbohydrates to energy at the cellular level, assisting with the regulation of blood sugar.*
Acetyl-L-Carnitine helps offset age-related declines in energy production, and is most helpful in supporting energy function in your brain, as well as energy production at the cellular level.* You may have heard of l-carnitine before, but studies suggest acetyl-l-carnitine may actually be more bioavailable. While your body can make all the carnitine it needs, age, dietary factors, stress and disease can contribute to deficiencies, making supplementation incredibly useful, especially as you get older.
The active compound in turmeric (an Indian spice often used in curry dishes), curcumin has powerful antioxidant properties and promotes healthy cellular division, particularly in your GI tract.* It also supports liver detoxification, healthy immune response and promotes joint flexibility, all of which are essential as you age.*
In addition to direct antioxidant activity, curcumin may function indirectly as an antioxidant by inhibiting the activity of inflammatory enzymes or by enhancing the synthesis of glutathione, an important intracellular antioxidant.*
Remember, too, that what you don’t eat is nearly as important as what you do. Top foods that can quickly sabotage your health, and should therefore be avoided, include added sugars, refined white flour, trans fats, and too many omega-6-rich vegetable oils (soybean, corn, etc., as these are highly inflammatory).
Finally, as you get older your body needs fewer calories to function than it did when you were younger. If you want to avoid the dreaded “middle-aged” spread, make sure that the calories you do eat count by choosing primarily whole, fresh foods in lieu of heavily processed alternatives.
1. National Cancer Institute, Diet and Diseases
2. Postgrad Med J. 2004 Aug;80(946):447-51.
3. Brain, Behavior and Immunity, Volume 28, February 2013, Pages 16–24
4. FASEB J. April 2010 24 (Meeting Abstract Supplement) 335.1
5. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011 Dec;36(6):976-84.
6. Journal of Inflammation 2007, 4