After 50: Nutritional needs
Aspects to be considered
Follow your doctor’s advice. Not everyone has the same nutritional needs after the age of 50. A person with diabetes may need to control carbohydrates first and then calories. A person with high blood pressure may need to monitor their sodium levels more than other nutrients. In addition, not all nutrients are created equal. For example, calories from fruit are healthier than calories from cake. Carbohydrates from whole grains are healthier than those from sweets.
Men and women over the age of 50 need different amounts of calories every day. For example:
- Women who are physically inactive should consume 1,600 calories a day.
- Women who are moderately active should consume 1,800 calories a day.
- Women who are very active should consume between 2,000 and 2,200 calories a day.
- Men who are physically inactive should consume 2,000 calories a day.
- Men who are moderately active should eat between 2,200 and 2,400 calories a day.
- Men who are very active should eat between 2400 and 2800 calories a day.
With age, sodium is a problem for both men and women. After the age of 50, people should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams of salt a day. That’s about two-thirds of a teaspoon. Do not add salt to your food. Read nutrition labels and monitor the amount of salt in packaged and processed foods. Canned foods and processed meats (bologna, bacon, hot dogs) contain large amounts of salt. A little sodium is good for the nerves. But too much can increase your risks for certain medical conditions.
Too much sodium causes your body to retain fluids. This can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. In women over the age of 50 and after menopause, excess sodium causes bones to lose calcium. This leads to a condition of bone loss known as osteoporosis.
Food safety is another concern for men and women over the age of 50. As we age, our bodies are less able to fight infections that come from dangerous foods. Wash raw food with soap. Keep your hands, cutting tools and surfaces clean with hot soapy water when preparing food. Cook your food to the required temperature. And always refrigerate food within 2 hours after cooking.
Men and women over the age of 50 need a lot of water. Doctors recommend drinking water throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, falls, low blood pressure, poor kidney function and other conditions. Drinking enough water helps your kidneys remove toxins from your body.
Even if you are not thirsty, it is important to drink water throughout the day. Clean water is the best. However, you can get water from broths and limited amounts of coffee and tea. Too much caffeine deprives the body of water. Try adding water to your routine by drinking a glass before each meal and breakfast. Also drink beverages during meals and snacks. Remember to drink plenty of water before exercising or going out in the sun.