As we get older, our bodies change and our metabolism adjusts. We go through a roller coaster of hormonal shifts and have babies. So it’s a good idea to pay attention to what you are eating depending on how old you are. Take stock of your diet to make sure you are eating the right foods for your age.
The right foods – Your early twenties
Your metabolism is at its highest during your twenties. But whilst it’s working well, it also coincides with the years when your diet might not be at it’s best. Your early twenties usually start with you finishing higher education (drinking, late nights, stressful studying and surviving on toast) to the frantic world of starting a career at the bottom of the ladder. This might mean long hours and low pay – not something that goes hand in hand with healthy eating.
Make sure you’re getting those five fruits and vegetables a day into your diet. Especially if you feel it’s balancing out any processed food you’re eating. Blending smoothies is an easy way to pack all those vitamins and minerals into one hit. Try putting blueberries on your porridge or sprinkling sweetcorn over your pizza for an easy fruit and vegetable win. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can help stabilise blood sugar levels. This is because their lower glycemic loads prevent blood sugar spikes that have you reaching for a sugary snack to get you through the day. Snack on raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries instead.
The right foods – Your late twenties
Your bone mass – the amount of bone you can attain – peaks in your early twenties. Sadly that means by your late twenties it’s declining. It sounds worse than it is, women tend to experience a minimal change in total bone mass between age 30 and menopause. It’s still a good idea to up your calcium intake as calcium is essential for your bone health.
Almonds are a great source of calcium so keep them in your desk drawer for snacks, they are also packed with magnesium and some studies have also shown magnesium can help reduce cramps and even PMS headaches. Alternatively, sprinkle calcium-rich chia seeds or sesame seeds on your morning porridge or greek yoghurt and add broccoli or dried figs into your diet.
If you’re feeling the pressure of work, relationships and having children and need a feel-good boost, add salmon to your diet. This fatty fish is full of Omega-3 acids which boost our serotonin levels – the feel-good neuro-transmitter in your brain. Not only will it boost our mood but will also help you to get better sleep.
Hormones and your twenties
Our cycles and hormones affect our moods and behaviour, so keeping an eye on how you feel to see if there are any shifts in your menstrual cycle is a good idea. Use an app to track how you feel like Clue, Flo or Cycles can really help you to pinpoint any changes. Eating the right foods for your cycle can help. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are loaded with antioxidants and can help prevent inflammation. They also reduce stress, lowering cortisol levels and helping balance oestrogen. Perfect to add to your evening meal when things get stressful.
The right foods – your early thirties
Your early thirties are often characterised by balancing careers with young families and possible pregnancies so making sure you are eating the right foods is important. Your energy levels are probably taking a hit as you juggle the pressures of life. And it’s easy to reach for carb-heavy or sugary foods when you are feeling tired.
Try snacking on water-based foods like watermelon, iceberg lettuce and grapefruits. They are packed with vitamins, are hydrating and fill you up for longer. Bananas are amazing at giving you a fast but healthy energy boost. The sucrose in them acts slowly so doesn’t make your energy levels crash and stabilises your blood sugar. They’re handy to keep in your bag especially when you are on the go and are not only rich in B6, but packed with potassium which stops your body from retaining too much water and bloating. In a recent clinical study, B6 was seen to reduce the PMS symptoms, particularly depression and irritability. Ginger tea is full of antioxidants and can give you an energy boost without caffeine.
The right foods – Your late thirties
You may start to notice a few lines appearing on your face as you reach your late thirties, from the natural ageing process but also from sun damage and pollution. Swap your Tetley for Green Tea, as it contains polyphenols, making it antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It’s also great for your skin as it flushes out toxins, clearing your skin up and can reduce dark circles under your eyes. Walnuts speed up collagen production because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids and improve your skin’s elasticity.
Avocados for skin
Avocados are a great source of vitamins A, D and E, which help decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on your skin. They have plenty of other health benefits – they are fibre-rich, packed with nutrients, and can help protect you from heart disease, diabetes, cancer and degenerative eye and brain diseases. We also love that you can make a simple face mask with a ripe avocado – just mix the flesh with natural yoghurt for an instant face mask!
Read our Selfish Darling feature on Autumn Skincare Essentials to see what products help your skin as the weather gets colder.
The right foods – Your early forties
As you get older your metabolism starts to slow and you may find you put weight on more easily or notice it’s harder to shift. Foods like brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa are all slow-releasing carbs which help to make you feel fuller for longer and keep insulin levels stable. Green tea has been seen to help boost your metabolism and is packed with antioxidants too. Adding spices to your cooking is a really easy way to boost a sluggish metabolism; studies show that cinnamon, garlic and ginger can help you burn more calories. (Sounds like a delicious curry to us!)
Promoting skin elasticity in your forties will help those fine lines and wrinkles that appear more rapidly now. This is largely to do with the breakdown of collagen in your skin as you age, causing your skin to sag. Focus on foods that are high in fibre, to avoid your blood sugar fluctuate. As this, in turn, has an effect on the collagen in your skin. Chia seeds (sprinkle on your breakfast or salads), raspberries for snacks, popcorn and pears are all great sources of fibre.
Lemons for brighter skin
Lemons are packed with Vitamin C and help your blood circulation, strengthen your skin tissue and help make your skin brighter. Swap your morning coffee for hot water with a slice of lemon in it. It will kick start your digestive system and hydrate you too. Red grapes are also great at improving how your skin looks. Packed with antioxidants like Vitamin A, they not only protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays, but Vitamins C and E will improve the skin’s elasticity too.
The right foods – Your late forties
The bone density issue comes up again here as you enter the perimenopause and losing bone density seems to speed up. This is thought to be down to the reduction of oestrogen levels during this time among other things. Increasing your calcium intake during your forties is a good idea, but this doesn’t mean eating more dairy. Whilst dairy is a great source of calcium, you can find it in green vegetables like spinach, okra, watercress and broccoli. Nuts, seeds and fish such as salmon, sardines and anchovies are all great sources of calcium.