Atlanta-based Melissa Majumdar, registered dietician and metabolic and bariatric coordinator at Emory University Hospital Midtown, indicated diet modifications are especially important for people in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
“Women in their 50s are at higher risk for heart disease, having gone through menopause,” said Majumdar. “Estrogen levels drop, contributing to higher risks of smaller vessel disease.”
She advised a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, to lower cholesterol levels and protect the heart. Nuts, seeds and low-fat meats like chicken are also recommended.
“For [people] in their 50s who aren’t eating a balanced diet with those foods, they may want to speak to a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) about supplementing,” she said.
Protein “falls short” for people in their 60s; plus, muscle loss “is in full force.” Besides incorporating plenty of weight-bearing exercises into a fitness plan, aging adults should eat plenty of protein.
“Optimal protein works out to be about 15% to 25% of your daily calories, over a day, including 20 to 30 grams per meal and 12 to 15 grams per snack,” informs AARP.
Majumdar suggested spreading protein intake throughout the day so that it manages hunger, balances blood sugars and “helps the body best use the protein for maintaining muscle and for repair.”
And while omega-3 fatty acids and protein are a continuous need throughout the aging process, calcium deficiencies are especially evident in people in their 70s and beyond. Loss of muscle mass, reduced activity and low estrogen levels in women — more so than in men — lead to weak bones and the possibility of osteoporosis.
“Meet calcium needs by eating three servings of calcium per day or choosing calcium-fortified foods,” said Majumdar. Foods rich in calcium and other important nutrients are Greek yogurt, green leafy vegetables and “fish with bones is a good source of calcium, vitamin D and healthy fats.”