There are a few very important factors to consider - losing muscle mass, burning more calories than fat, hormonal changes, brain and heart health.
All of these are heavily influenced by the way you treat your body.
Seek out good stuff first and then remove the bad, Dr. Daryl Gioffre, celebrity nutritionist and author of GET OFF YOUR ACID, says. “I like adding, not subtracting because the transition is much easier.” It will take a bit longer to create that good eating habit but it is the only way to make it sustainable, he adds.
People think that making healthy changes in overwhelming because they try to be perfect all the time, Dr. Gioffre says. “I’d rather see someone exercise for 10 minutes but every day,” as opposed to an hour but once a week. Once you start exercising a little bit at a time you’ll realize it’s not so hard and keep going, he adds.
This can help to counteract the decline in metabolism that occurs with aging, Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, says. Later in life, bone and muscle mass tends to decrease, flexibility starts to diminish and balance and agility are sometimes compromised. Studies have found that strength training can increase strength in older adults and, as a result, enables them to live more independently.
Food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities can occur at any age, Gorin says. “So if you’re having symptoms that are new to you, you may want to speak with your doctor about getting a test to determine if there are foods that you should avoid eating.”
These have increased significantly over the years. “For instance, a bagel 20 years ago was 3 inches in diameter and today is 6 inches,” Gorin says. “A cheeseburger used to be 4.5 ounces and is now 8 ounces. And soda used to be 6.5 ounces and is now 20 ounces!” All of this goes to show that an indulgence can have a much bigger impact now than 20 years ago, she adds.
It’s completely fine to indulge occasionally, “but plan to share that soda rather than drink it all yourself—and pair that cheeseburger with a side salad to help fill you up so that you may not need to eat the whole burger,” Gorin says. Plan the rest of your day around eating any extra calories from these foods. “If you have a cheeseburger for lunch, for instance, plan to eat a grilled chicken breast with a side of steamed broccoli and brown rice for dinner,” she adds.
“We didn’t used to have so many sugar-free offerings,” Gorin says. And while it may seem that this a good thing, many of these sugar-free foods contain sugar alcohols that can cause tummy troubles, she adds. “I like to suggest eating naturally sweetened foods instead, such as a fruit-based ice cream made of frozen wild blueberries, frozen bananas, and lemon.” You get the texture of ice cream, plus antioxidants from the wild blueberries.
“When larger amounts of alcohol are consumed over extended periods, this can cause increase inflammation in the body,” Gorin says. For this reason, alcohol should be consumed in moderation, up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. “A drink size would be a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce glass of beer, or a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor.”
Regularly eating large amounts of sodium could increase inflammation. “That’s why it’s important to make it a goal to take in no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, Gorin says. If you have high blood pressure or pre-hypertension, this amount should be 1,500 milligrams daily, she adds. “Read ingredient labels of foods, as many foods contain sodium, including bread, cereal, and frozen meals.” Eating potassium-containing foods such as banana and avocado may help lower blood pressure and counteract some of the effects of sodium, Gorin says.
“Because you lose muscle as you age and muscle helps you to burn calories, you’ll need fewer calories per day as you get older, Gorin says. For instance, the average 50-year-old woman needs about 300 to 500 fewer calories per day than she did a few decades earlier, in order to maintain her weight, she adds.
“I’d recommend these at any age, but omega-3s are especially important for people over 50 as they can help to improve both brain and cardiovascular health,” Gorin says. EPA and DHA are the types of omega-3s that the body most efficiently utilizes. They’re found in fatty fish such as salmon, trout, herring, and anchovies--and eating at least two weekly 3.5-ounce servings of cooked fatty fish will provide health benefits, she adds. “You can also take a daily supplement of 250 to 500 milligrams EPA and DHA.” One review study in PLOS One shows that daily intake of DHA and EPA helps improve memory function in older adults who complain of mild memory issues. And omega-3s can also help heart health, including helping you to maintain a healthy blood pressure and healthy triglyceride levels. They can even lower your risk of death: In one study in Journal of Clinical Lipidology, post-menopausal women with the highest blood levels of EPA and DHA were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause.
Antioxidants play a very big role in helping to keep us healthy as we age, Gorin says. “One of my favorite foods to recommend for this reason are wild blueberries, which offer more than double the antioxidants of regular blueberries.” They can also help brain health as we age, she adds. One study in Annals of Neurology shows that eating more berries may help slow the effects of cognitive decline. “You can add frozen wild blueberries to anything from a smoothie to pancakes,” Gorin says.
A 2007 study that involved adult women concluded that the average person will consume less food and fewer calories when sitting down to eat, Dr. Gioffre says. “When you look at this from a common-sense stand point, people who stand when they eat are usually doing so because they are stressed or in a hurry, and usually a combination of the two.” When you are emotionally stressed, your body will produce less hydrochloric acid (HCL) which is necessary for proper digestion of food. When you sit down to eat, you're more likely to eat slowly. “It takes about 15-20 minutes for your digestive system to let your brain know that it is full, so when you eat too fast, you tend to eat much more than your body actually needs.”
This is one of the most common mistakes people need to avoid, Dr. Gioffre says. “Eating every two hours accomplished only one thing – fat storage!” When you eat every 2 hours, your insulin levels stay elevated, and you burn sugar instead of fat for fuel. Insulin turns sugar immediately into fat, he adds.
How you walk is important for which muscles in your body are working and for overall energy efficiency. Walking heel to toe is, for humans, the most efficient way. It takes nearly twice as much energy to walk on your toes than it does to land on your heel. In addition to that, if you walk in the toes-to-heels way, then you’re reducing the amount your Achilles tendon stretches, and your soleus muscles (under the knee to the heel) don’t work as much.
This is a great aerobic workout that is also low-impact and amazing for staying in shape. It also works wonders on your lungs. “Your body learns to use oxygen more efficiently, to breathe in more fresh air and breathe out more carbon dioxide,” Dr. Gioffre says. And deep breathing is one of the best ways to fight acid. Many people find swimming to be a big-time stress reliever too, so you’re fighting acid on multiple fronts, he adds.
“The rebounder is otherwise known as the min-trampoline, and is my favorite form of exercise,” Dr. Gioffre says. NASA did a study showing that it was 68 percent more effective than running for the cardiovascular system. “Plus, they are inexpensive, healthy for people dealing with back pain, require very little time, and can be done in the comfort of your own home.” For 12 minutes, do a gentle bounce with the balls of your feet staying on the rebounder at all times, he adds. Then feel free to bounce up and down to alkalize your body and increase your heart rate.
They can help with losing weight at this age. However, you should take supplements not to promote weight, but rather to detoxify the body, and give it a nutrient that it is deficient in, Dr. Gioffre says. “For example, if a plant wilts, you give it water because it needs water, and our bodies are no different.” There are a few supplements that we are all deficient in, even children, but you still need to run these by your health care practitioner, he adds.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame are even worse than sugar, Dr. Gioffre says. “They are in anything ‘diet’ like diet cola, or sugar free.” Aspartame is a neurotoxin that has sweetening properties to it. Many people drink diet sodas because they think they are losing weight, but research shows that it can contribute to more weight gain than refined sugar, he adds. “It increases your cravings for carbs, and increases the amount of fat your body stores. It does so by 2 amino acids – aspartic acid and phenylalanine which stimulate insulin and leptin and an adverse way.”
It’s finally time to sleep more. Science has confirmed time and again that fewer hours of quality shut-eye affects your waistline. Sleep deprivation affects the brain in a way that makes you want to eat more and not process food efficiently. It sparks a vicious cycle where you are left feeling tired, slowing your metabolism and playing tricks with your hormones.