You may have heard of eating for your blood type but have you heard of eating for your age? Unlike the former, this is not a diet.
Simply put, eating for your age is being aware of your nutritional needs at every stage in life. So instead of cutting out wheat because you’re O negative, this is more like upping your calcium because you’re growing or your folate because you’re pregnant.
Although this may seem like common sense, there’s more to it than you’d think. We spoke to Chief Science Officer of Activated Nutrients, Dr. Jaroslav Boublik (Dr. JB) and Bioceuticals Education Manager and Dietitian, Belinda Reynolds to get the low down on our diet for the decades.
“As we grow we experience a number of different metabolic and endocrine changes…With correct dietary and supplement intake, we can give our bodies exactly what they need as we move through life in order to reward ourselves with long-lasting good health. Much like a bank account, the more you deposit when you’re younger, the bigger the benefits are later,” says Dr. JB.
So with most of the Australian population failing to meet their dietary guidelines, we thought it was time to see what we’re lacking and how we can support ourselves for long-term health.
As we move into our twenties we may enter the workforce, be faced with increased stress and a busy lifestyle. Skin troubles may still be a problem and hormone balancing is important. Our bad eating habits from teens can often carry over to this stage, combined with the introduction or increase of alcohol consumption.
“Skeletons become denser to support greater body weight and activity, and muscles become larger and stronger,” says Dr, JB. This will see a demand in our protein and nutrient intake.
Breakfast – It is common to introduce bad eating habits when rushed such as skipping breakfast. Not only does this hinder your productivity, but also it’s detrimental to your health. (Here’s what nutritionists recommend for breakfast).
Fibre – “Focusing on consuming plenty of fibre will ensure optimum gut health, which ultimately improves the removal of waste from your body,” says Reynolds. Think leafy greens and lots of vegetables.
Good quality proteins – We are often most active in our younger years and some of us may still be growing. To maintain energy levels and support these changes, we must ensure we are consuming enough protein (find out how much you need here). Reynolds says it’s important to consume healthy protein sources, together with some raw nuts and seeds, and the recommended intakes of two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables per day.
Vitamin C and zinc – These are important for immunity and skin healing, whilst the zinc, together with B vitamins, magnesium and essential fatty acids (e.g. EPA and DHA from fish) support mood and energy. Think seafood, lean meats and seeds as well as capsicum and green vegetables.
Iron-rich foods – If you’re a woman (and you’re prone to heavy periods) you may be at risk of iron deficiency. Reynolds says, “it is wise to ensure that you are consuming iron-rich foods (this may include lean meats, but also dark green leafy vegetables), or consider also a supplement if you’re deficient.”
Reynolds suggests avoiding excess sugar, alcohol and inflammatory foods at this time. They can exacerbate dominant issues at this age such as skin troubles, hormone imbalances and stress.
At this stage many women may be planning to start a family (or have already started). Diets should be similar to that of the previous decade however one must take into consideration their activity levels which may slow down.
During pregnancy, “natural stores of vitamins and minerals will be depleted as the baby takes from its mother all that it needs to grow,” says Dr. JB. “If a mother makes the choice to breast feed, her supply will provide the newborn with everything needed for the first stage of life. As the power source behind the milk production, the mother is of course responsible for the nutritional integrity of that most fundamental food and so good dietary choices are essential.”
Folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and choline – When it comes to pregnancy, healthy levels of these key vitamins are essential.
Vitamin D and Iodine – “Vitamin D is important not only for bone and muscle health, but also for your immune system. Iodine plays an important role in thyroid health (as does selenium). It is shown to be essential for brain and nervous system development of the foetus during pregnancy,” says Reynolds.
According to Dr. JB, it may be beneficial to take a natural supplement at this stage to boost nutrient stores and aid the growth of the baby.
Fibre and fermented foods – Have you been on the contraceptive pill for years? Have you been prescribed multiple courses of antibiotics? If so, Reynolds says it’s wise to consider the balance of bacteria in your gut. She recommends supporting this with lots of fibre and fermented foods. A probiotic may also come in handy but speak with a healthcare practitioner for advice on what might be best for you.
According to Dr. JB, “Come middle age, men and women alike may now be experiencing the first glimmers of genetically preordained conditions. If not addressed these can lead to the diseases of later life like cardiovascular and skeletal disease. These can be detected, anticipated and – with appropriate nutritional changes – delayed or even avoided altogether.”
“Habits formed in earlier years now gain traction and, if they are not health affirming, start to take their toll. Those years of drinking soft drinks and snacking on sweets may finally catch up on you,” says Dr. JB. “Tiny metabolic differences in the way we use, or misuse, certain nutrients begin to add up and may now exceed our body’s capacity to overcome them.”
Perhaps you’ve noticed your jeans are a little tighter or perhaps your belt needs loosening? The need for good nutrition becomes more important than ever and it may be time to reset the habits that no longer sustain wellness.
Vitamin D and vitamin K2 – These are important for maintaining bone health, while vitamin K2 is also great for cardiovascular health.
Essential fatty acids – According to Reynolds, a diet high in essential fatty acids will help prevent certain chronic diseases such as heart disease. Think salmon, avocado and good, natural oils. You could consider taking fish or krill oil. “Essential fatty acids are also great for the skin, and support the health of the brain,” she says.
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods – Ensure your diet is rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods (e.g. fruits and vegetables that are dark, deep, bright or rich in colour). “These help to protect your cells from the damaging effects of toxins, both in your diet and that you may be exposed to through your lifestyle. Some great and powerful natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants include curcumin from turmeric, resveratrol, lycopene and green tea,” says Reynolds.
Multivitamin – At this stage Dr. JB recommends opting for a wholefoods based multivitamin. He recommends Activated Nutrients Daily Superfood, which “delivers all of our daily requirements, naturally, as nutrients are presented in their original food matrices for maximal effectiveness, unseen in synthetic alternatives.”
“If youth and early middle age are the stages where we are making deposits into our metabolic bank, in late middle age we may wish to begin to make withdrawals,” says Dr. JB. “If there is nothing there to withdraw we can find ourselves left wanting.”
“Did you not consume enough calcium and boron to maintain bone density, or did your body waste what you did consume? In late middle age you’ll find this out and it may be time to make up the shortfall with supplementation, load bearing exercise and better hydration.”
Less – Lessened activity may mean reduced calorie requirements, or calories from different sources to maintain body composition. Did you allow your body fat to climb and your insulin sensitivity to fall in early middle age? Dr. JB says careful choices around macronutrient intake and smart supplementation can assist to address these challenges and help set you up for the later years when these issues, left unaddressed, can really bite.
“As old age approaches – and that means different things to different bodies – the metabolic bank will call you to account,” says Dr. JB. “If you have been generous with your deposits and invested carefully, you will enjoy the fruits of that wisdom. If you have been wasteful, your account may be empty and there will be less joy. Nevertheless, there is still time to change habits or top up depleted reserves with supplements, good food, rest and exercise.”
Please note these are not set ages, everyone may experience slight variations in the age at which they go through certain life stages or may not experience them at all. This is a guideline.
About Dr Jaroslav Boublik
Dr. JB has a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry and a PhD in Neuroendocrinology. He combines his experience of Western Medicine with Eastern Philosophies. As the Chief Science Officer of Activated Nutrients, Dr JB focuses on developing natural products that focus on long-term prevention rather than factory or laboratory derived cures.
About Belinda Reynolds
Belinda Reynolds has an Honours Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She has been involved in the complementary medicine industry for nearly 15 years – 10 of these working for BioCeuticals. She is currently the Bioceuticals Education Manager and Dietitian.