Dietary needs differ a little as we start to age and particularly for women after the age of 50 or so when they are either mid or post menopause. Nutrition and balance is as important as always but different emphasis is needed to protect the body from various risks which increase as we get older. In this article we will be discussing what is the best diet for women over 50.
Many biological systems work somewhat less efficiently after the age of 50 or 60 and need help and enhancement, much of which can be found through certain nutrient rich foods.
Risks of Osteoporosis for Women Over 50
The female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, cease production once a women has passed the menopause. This leads to a greater risk of osteoporosis, a disease of the bones, which increases the likelihood of injury and bone fracture. Calcium and magnesium, essential minerals which work in conjunction with each other to protect and promote healthy bones, nerves and tissue, are two important minerals for older females. (Vitamin D is needed for the body to efficiently absorb calcium – see below)
The Importance of Anti-Oxidants for Older Women
During our entire lifetime our bodily systems are under attack from the effect of free radicals, harmful molecules which eventually ‘rust up’ and impede our biological functions. When we are younger and all our systems are working at their optimum we can more easily combat these things but as we age it becomes harder to do so. Too great a build up of free radicals within our internal systems will powerfully impact on our ability to fight disease and ill health and many of the age related conditions have a direct link with this build up.
Anti-oxidants are the fighters of free radicals and luckily this component can be found in rich sources with many foods.
Vitamins C and E have anti-oxidant properties as do food sources containing beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A. Good food sources for the above include bright colored fruit and vegetables, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables and many nuts and seeds. Selenium, found in fish, shellfish and eggs also has anti-oxidant properties.
Vitamin D and the Sun
Vitamin D, often called the anti-aging vitamin, is in itself a powerful anti-oxidant, mainly synthesized through the body’s contact with sunlight. There are dietary sources of vitamin D but they are few and in low levels. Many recent studies by respected international cancer authorities have come up with some very interesting and rather astonishing findings about sunbathing. Vitamin D is essential for women over 50 as it allows the body to absorb calcium, an essential nutrient in the battle against osteoporosis.
Libido Enhancing Sources
Many post-menopausal women find their libido decreases rapidly, often disappearing completely.
Gentian and American and Asian ginseng are said to help in this area as are asparagus, pumpkin seeds and garlic.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
This is one of the good fats and another strongly recommended dietary need for women over 50. It plays a part in preventing ongoing damage to cells and tissue and is also needed for both heart and brain health. In addition, it can help slow the signs of aging externally by improving skin complexion. Omega 3 fatty acids are most commonly found in oily fish such as salmon, herring and sardines.
Herbs and Natural Remedies
So extensive is this category that whole books have been written on the subject. There are many medicinal herbs with a vast variety of benefits including those which will address the problems which affect mid and post-menopausal women. A little bit of home-work on this subject will throw up many options. Many herbs have powerful anti-oxidant properties, as discussed earlier in this article and if for no other reason than this should be seriously considered by the older woman.
Following a balanced and healthy diet and regular exercise are as important as ever for women past 50 or 60, if not more so, for maintaining optimum health and helping to fight the many ravages that time takes on our body. Enhancing this with particular nutrients and certain foods will pay back many times over, keeping the body healthier, more supple and promoting overall well-being for as long as possible.