Ease into your new normal: If you hit 40, you must learn what nutrients your body requires
M.Gallucci, MS, RDN, ,CDN When you hit 40, your nutritional needs begin to shift, and you must consider whether your current diet will support good health over the long haul.
As women enter their peri-menopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal years, our bodies go through the natural aging process. Reproductive hormones diminish, metabolism slows, lean muscle mass diminishes, bone density diminishes, skin texture changes (we see wrinkles and sagging), hair loses color, and may even become thinner. We are also more prone to joint pain and injuries, weight gain in the central abdominal region, and even changes in vision. Though many of these changes happen slowly over time, by knowing which nutrients our bodies require and providing the extra needed support, we can ease into our new normal. Genetics accounts for 20-30% of how well we age, 70-80% is dictated by our lifestyle and health-related behaviors. Making key lifestyle changes are paramount: Daily physical activity is critical to our well-being now more than ever. Include a variety of workouts:
All modalities of training will support not only muscle, bone, and heart health, but also our mental well-being and even digestion and endocrine systems. Along with working out at least 5 days a week, we need to focus on the foods we are eating and more importantly, the micronutrients the foods are providing to support our changes. Which Vitamins Should We Take As We Age? Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients required by the body to carry out a range of normal functions. However, these micronutrients are not produced in our bodies and must be derived from the foods we eat. Along with micronutrients, our plant foods also provide us with phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are natural compounds found in plant foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grain products, and legumes. These plant compounds have beneficial effects working with other essential nutrients to promote good health. As a Registered Dietitian, I always recommend eating various nutrient-dense foods from each food group to get your vitamins and minerals.
As we age, it is even more important to be mindful to get optimal amounts of the following vitamins:
All B vitamins
Along with phytonutrients to support our changing hormones, joint health, immune support, vision as well as heart and brain health. Supplements may be recommended if you are not getting these nutrients from your diet. Getting adequate nutrition in our foods can be a challenge as we get older. With age, the number of calories we need begins to decline. Every calorie consumed must be packed with nutrition in order to hit the mark. Even then, you may fall short. Certain medications can inhibit the absorption of vital nutrients. Also, as we get age, the body becomes less efficient at absorbing some key nutrients. For example, the bioavailability (amount absorbed) of calcium drops to below 30%. Calcium along with Vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and Vitamin K2 are nutrients that support bone health. Almonds, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, salmon, sardines, and halibut are some of the foods rich in these nutrients to keep our bones healthy. However, you still may not be eating enough of them to reach your daily targets.
"As a Registered Dietitian, I always recommend eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods from each food group to get your vitamins and minerals. As we age, it is even more important to be mindful to get optimal amounts of all B vitamins, Calcium, Vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin A, along with phytonutrients to support our changing hormones, joint health, immune support, vision as well as heart and brain health. Supplements may be recommended if you are not getting these nutrients from your diet." Maryann Galluccui, Ola Ka Ola
Research shows that along with Vitamin A and beta carotene, phytonutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to improve or even prevent age-related macular disease which is the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment. Kale, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts and turnip greens, collard and peas are the best sources of these phytonutrients. Eating a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetables can help keep your skin looking firm and give you a radiant, natural glow. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that fights molecules called free radicals, which can cause oxidative damage to your skin. Some of the best food sources are broccoli, kiwi, citrus fruits, bell peppers, papaya, parsley, and strawberries. Beta-carotene can lessen skin damage from ultraviolet rays and slow the breakdown of collagen, a protein in the skin. Eat brightly colored orange, red, and yellow fruits and veggies and lots of leafy greens to obtain this nutrient. At the Ola Ka Ola health platform for midlife women, your team has been working to bring you the needed support to help you thrive both inside and out. Stay tuned for our upcoming virtual nutrition event. I will delve deeper into the essential nutrients and good food sources needed for hormone and heart health, immune support, as well as hair, skin, and eye health, and overall well-being as we gracefully change through the years ahead.
Maryann Gallucci - Dietitian Nutritionist MS, RDN, CDN, ACSM-EP-C, ACE-Health Coach.
Maryann works in Private Practice providing nutrition counseling and fitness training. She was
recently awarded “2021 Long Island Dietitian of the Year” by the Long Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Maryann completed her dietetic internship at Queens College, where she is currently an Adjunct Lecturer in the Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences Department. While earning her Master of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Sciences from Queens College and her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University, Maryann worked in a corporate setting where she developed and managed a health and safety program. Maryann currently serves as the Nutrition Services and Payment Specialist Co-chair for the Long Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a member of multiple Dietetic Practice Groups.