NUTRITION AND YOU

Age and changing nutritional needs

Did you know that your nutritional needs change as you age? You have different nutritional needs now than you had twenty, ten, or even five years ago.1 But there are good choices you can start making today to help your body stay at its best. You can simply start by being aware of your changing nutritional needs.

Your metabolism naturally slows down with age and you start to burn fewer calories.2 This slowing down of metabolism happens because, as we age, we lose lean muscle. Lean muscle uses up a lot of the energy we consume, so the less lean muscle we have, the fewer calories we burn.2 There are many choices we can make to help counteract these natural body changes, and help us stay healthy. Keep reading to learn more.

Choose nutritious foods

To match your slowing metabolism, you may need to reduce your calorie intake. However, you still need to make sure you are eating a balanced, nutritious diet. Here are some tips to help you make healthier food choices:1

  • Choose nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy foods, wholegrain breads and cereals
  • Limit energy-dense foods such as cakes, biscuits and soft drinks that are low in nutrients
  • Choose foods that are naturally high in fibre, to maintain bowel health
  • Drink enough fluids and stay hydrated

Maintain muscle mass

We can start to lose muscle mass in our 40s, with up to 50% of our muscle mass by the time we reach our 80s.To help minimise muscle loss, it is important to stay as active as possible.3 Add simple physical activity or exercise to your daily routine. It is also important to ensure you are meeting your protein needs, as part of a healthy, balanced diet. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat 2–3 serves of protein-rich containing foods each day, depending on our age.4 Read more about protein and why it is important for your health.

Socialise and enjoy life

In addition to eating well and exercising, we also need to remember to look after our emotional wellbeing. This is important at every stage in life – remember, a happier you is a healthier you! Simple things can make a difference:

  • Try to regularly take part in activities you enjoy
  • Share mealtimes with family and friends
  • Go outside for a walk – you get the added benefit of boosting your vitamin D production

References

  1. Better Health Channel. Food And Your Life Stages. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/food-and-your-life-stages. Accessed on 2 October 2018.
  2. Evans WJ and Cyr-Campbell D. J Am Diet Assoc 1997;97(6):632-8.
  3. Walston JD. Curr Opin Rheumatol 2012; 24(6): 623–627.
  4. National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines Summary. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council. Available at: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/The%20Guidelines/n55a_australian_dietary_guidelines_summary_131014_1.pdf. Accessed on 28 September 2018.