I have many clients in their 40s, and they all seem to follow the same trend when they come to me for advice. They tell me that their clothing does not fit the way it used to and that they have lost the energy the once had in their 20s and 30s. They are usually confused why these things are occurring, given that they have experienced no change in their diet and exercise routine. That, in fact, is the problem. Once you hit your 40s, loss of muscle and hormonal changes cause you to burn less calories at rest. Due to the decrease in metabolism, your body can rapidly change if you don’t make changes to your lifestyle.
The following nutrients all have one major trend; they are all plant heavy. Adopting a vegetarian diet into your 40s may help to decrease weight gain caused by a decrease in metabolism. This type of diet will also ensure plenty of calcium to combat the increased risk of osteoporosis in your 40s.
- Calcium/vitamin D
Due to hormone changes, vitamin D levels tank around 40 and absorption of calcium decreases. Since calcium absorption is truly affected by vitamin D levels, you cannot exclude vitamin D when taking calcium; they go hand in hand. Sources of calcium include sardines (here you can get a double dose of omega 3s through the fish and calcium through the bones), spinach, broccoli, kale, tofu, calcium-fortified cereals and of course the normal animal-based sources such as low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, buttermilk. Most experts believe that the amount of vitamin D absorbed through food is small and supplements are really the best way to go. On the flip side, a few recent articles question the mega doses of vitamin D that Americans are being supplemented. Having a discussion with your physician on the amount of vitamin D supplementation that you’ll need in your diet is highly suggested.
Now more than ever, you'll want to protect your heart. Fatty acids in the kitchen are a way to do this. Most of us know that salmon and other marine animals provide a great source of fatty acids, but we can also consume plenty of plant-based omega-3-rich foods as well, such as: hemp seeds, walnuts, cabbage, chia and tofu. You can also consume omega-3 fortified foods such as eggs, orange juice or lean meats. You can also supplement with cod liver oil or DHA.
Metabolic rate significantly decreases we you get into your 40s and weight may creep up without warning even though your overall eating and exercise habits have not changed. Think plants! Grains such as quinoa, farro, spelt, buckwheat, oats, millet, amaranth and Freekeh are high in fiber and protein and lower in carbohydrates. Also consume plenty of fruits and veggies especially raspberries, split peas and artichokes as well as legumes such as nuts, beans and lentils.
Finally, you may want to determine if you’re getting enough Zinc in your diet as well. Zinc has been found in several studies to protect immune function in aging. Zinc can be found in oysters, baked beans, cashews, fortified breakfast cereals, low-fat yogurt, lean meat, poultry, eggs and legumes.