Should Women Transform their Nutrition while they Age?
Many cultures view advanced aging as a sign of divine blessing and great wisdom. However, in others, aging can often scare women as they got through changes in their health such as menopause.
Menopause is a new chapter in life of for woman and many may experience changes in hormones and a decline in estrogen and progesterone. Unfortunately, it can also be accompanied by symptoms such as hot flashes, headaches, bladder infections, cold hands and feet, forgetfulness and the inability to concentrate.
There are many ways to use nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to support women during this stage of life.
It’s important to consume foods rich in fiber in any stage of life. Optimal intake of fiber reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels and strengthens the colon walls. Research studies show that fiber helps support healthy blood sugar and can prevent insulin resistance. One study has found that women who consume a high-fiber diet (35-75 grams per day) have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than those who do not.
Flaxseeds are a rich source of phytoestrogens and contain matairesinol and secoisolariciresinol which are known to have estrogenic activity. These lignans are used by intestinal bacteria to create other lignans that are absorbed in circulation and have both estrogenic and antiestrogenic activity (help support hormone balance). One study found that women who ate 2 tablespoons of flaxseed twice per day have substantially decreased occurrence and intensity of hot flashes.
An easy way to add more flaxseeds to your diet is to blend them with your smoothies, add to baked goods or sprinkle on your salad.
It’s important to consume heart-healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught salmon, sardines and mackerel. Numerous studies suggest that the regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, depression, arthritis, eczema and lower inflammation.
You may have heard the word inflammation before. Modern lives and fast-paced lifestyles combined with chronic stress often contribute to chronic inflammation. Inflammation is an important function of our body and is often triggered by numerous factors, such as stress, toxic exposures and highly-processed foods and sugar.
When inflammation is not addressed, our bodies will produce pro-inflammatory cells and molecules called interleukins (ILs), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB) prostaglandins. To simplify, all these molecules can cause damage to our bodies and often can be the underlying issues of many chronic and autoimmune health issues.
It’s a good idea to have your healthcare provider check your level by ordering a test called C-reactive protein (hsCRP). It’s a sensitive marker for determining inflammation and also potential high risk for cardiovascular risk. Here’s how to determine your risk:
- Low risk (<1 mg/l)
- Average risk (1-3 mg/l)
- High risk (>3 mg/l)
If your inflammation is high, as it can often happen as we age and get older, it’s a great idea to eat a Mediterranean-style diet with a high omega-3 to omega-6 ratio for decreasing your inflammation and supporting healthy aging.
It can be easy to incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Examples include, grilling, roasting or baking wild-caught seafood with a side of roasted veggies, salad, rice or pasta.
For more mouth-watering recipes, check out some of our other blogs.
Optimal Intake of Vitamin D, K2 and Calcium
Many older women are at higher risk for osteoporosis. The most common risk factors include:
- Age (50-90 years old)
- Small stature
- Prior fragility fracture
- Parental history of hip fracture
- Current tobacco smoker
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Primary hyperparathyroidism
- Low levels of vitamin D
- Genetic variations of vitamin D receptors
In childhood, bone mass rapidly increases and then slows in the late teens. Most women achieve their peak bone mass around age 28-30 and then slowly start to lose an average of 0.4% of bone mass each year.
After women go through menopause, the rate of bone loss is faster with an average 2% loss during the first 5-10 years.
It’s important to consume optimal levels of vitamin D, K2 and calcium to support healthy bone mass. Optimal intake of these nutrients will help prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Research studies done in menopausal women found that optimal intake of vitamin D, K2 and calcium supplements compared to placebo have decreased hip fractures by 29%.
Vitamin D rich foods
|Cod liver oil||1 tablespoon||1,360 IU|
|Wild-caught salmon||3 ounces||447 IU|
|Mackerel||3 oz||306 IU|
|Tuna fish||3 oz||154 IU|
|Fortified milk||1 cup||124 IU|
|Sardines||2 sardines||47 IU|
|Eggs||1 egg||41 IU|
|Caviar||1 tablespoon||37 IU|
Vitamin K2 rich foods
|Natto||1 ounce||313 micrograms|
|Beef liver||1 slice||72 micrograms|
|Chicken||3 oz||51 mcg|
|Hard cheeses (Pecorino, Romano, Gruyere)||1 oz||25 mcg|
|Egg yolk||one||5.8 mcg|
|Whole milk||1 cup||3.2 mcg|
|Grass-fed butter||1 tablespoon||3 mcg|
|Sardines||1 cup||569 milligrams|
|Yogurt or kefir||1 cup||488 milligrams|
|Raw milk||1 cup||300 milligrams|
|Cheese||1 ounce||202 milligrams|
|Kale (raw)||1 cup||90.5 milligrams|
|Okra (raw)||1 cup||81 milligrams|
|Bok Choy||1 cup||74 milligrams|
|Almonds||1 ounce||73.9 milligrams|
You might have seen collagen listed in your favorite body lotion, skin cream or a supplement. You might be wondering what collagen does for your body? And why should you include it in your healthy lifestyle for optimal aging?
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in our bodies, especially type I collagen. It’s found in numerous tissues in our bodies from muscles, bones, tendons, digestive health and blood vessels. Did you know that our gut is made up from 2/3 of collagen?
Collagen gives our skin strength, elasticity, and helps replace dead skin cells. It’s also vital for our joints and tendons as it helps to make tissues stronger and resilient to withstand stretching.
As we get older, our natural production of collagen declines. We often can see the signs of collagen decline and aging as sagging skin, wrinkles and joint pain. In addition, eating a diet high in sugar and smoking can further deplete collagen levels in the body.
Research studies indicate that collagen-related diseases are often caused by low intake of collagen-rich foods and digestive malabsorption of nutrients.
It’s important to consume collagen-rich foods to help support your skin, hair, nails, gut, muscles and tendon health to slow the aging process.
Sources of Collagen
Eating an amino acid-rich diet ensures adequate collagen supply. Some natural sources of collagen are:
- High Protein Food: soy, legumes, eggs, meat, fish, and poultry.
- Animal bone broth provides ample amounts of collagen. You can prepare it by simmering bones in water and a little bit of vinegar for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Zinc foods like shellfish, legumes, whole grains, and nuts.
- Vitamin C-rich foods: Citrus fruits, bell peppers, leafy greens, tomatoes, and berries also supply collagen.
- Other Foods: Chicken, fish, cows, beef, pork skin, chicken skin, and fish
Aging can be an exciting chapter of every woman’s life. It’s important to eat a nutrient-dense diet and ensure the intake of key nutrients for optimal health and wellness.
If it seems overwhelming, and you are not sure where to start, our health coaches would be happy to guide you and start you on a healthy journey to reach your health goals and prevent many age-related chronic conditions.
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