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Guys, as you mature, your diet should too! Stay healthy as you age with these tips

June 13, 2013

Last week, in observance of Men's Health Month, I wrote about some of the medical recommendations for men by age group - now I will cover some of the dietary recommendations to keep our guys as healthy as possible. It is never too late to start being mindful about your dietary choices, but it's best to start before something goes wrong! Here we go...

In your 20s

It is time to change your diet habits. In your 20’s is when your levels of muscle-building hormones (testosterone, DHEA, growth hormone) hit their peak, so now is the best time to pack on muscle!

This can be a stressful time with college, new career, family and omega-3 fatty acids can help improve your mood by working on the cerebral cortex. Add these fatty acids by adding 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed daily sprinkled on salads, vegetables, cereal, or mixed into a smoothie.

Be sure to get enough folate to help prevent irregular DNA production, which could lead to some cancers. Eat one cup of folate-fortified cereal 4x/week. Folate-fortified cereals include Total Raisin Bran, MultiGrain Cheerios. Add ½ cup blackberries, raspberries, strawberries for increased antioxidant properties.

Don’t have time or know how to cook yet? Try some vegetable-and-lean-meat frozen meals such as Birds Eye Voila! or Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine Skillets. These usually provide at least three servings of vegetables.

Interesting facts from recent studies:

  • Harvard study - for every one serving increase in daily vegetable intake, risk for heart disease is decreased by four percent.
  • Journal of the American College of Nutrition - men consume at least 1,000 calories each time they visit a fast-food restaurant, and eat 500 more total calories on the days they use the drive-thru.

In your 30s

A man’s metabolic rate drops by one percent every four years, a decrease in testosterone means it’s harder to build muscle and maintain a healthy weight, so hopefully you jumped on the muscle-building bandwagon in your twenties. If not, there's still time! You just have to work a little harder.

Be sure to get your omega-3 fatty acids (ex: 3-6oz servings of cold-water fish weekly: salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod). This can slow down cartilage degeneration and reduce inflammation, reducing risk for arthritis.

Often blood pressure increases in your thirties due to stresses in life. A higher intake of potassium than sodium has been proven by the DASH diet to reduce hypertension. For example:  ½ cup beans, a banana, or a handful of raisins daily increases potassium by 400mg/day.

Be sure to snack on the right foods to help hinder that slowing metabolism. Snacks should be low in sugar, rich in protein (ex: one slice of cheese (cheddar, Swiss, provolone), one cup low fat plain yogurt, stick of beef jerky or a handful of almonds.)

In your 40s

Remember your skin! According to the National Cancer Institute people with highest intake of carotenoids were six times less likely to develop skin cancer than those with the lowest intake; beta-carotene plants itself in your skin, helping to deflect sunlight. One great way to get beta-carotene is to eat two sweet potatoes a week.

The average man loses six pounds of muscle by the time he is 50. So eat high quality proteins, such as tuna fish, to nourish your muscle.

Try some grapes! The antioxidants in the skin of red grapes have been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol and preventing clogged arteries. Try 12-15 grapes a day or 1-4oz glass of red wine.

In your 50s

Be sure to get your selenium in. Harvard researchers found that men with the highest levels of selenium had a 48% lower incidence of advanced prostate cancer. Try Brazil nuts – 3 nuts a day = 200mcg of selenium.

According to the National Institute of Health those with highest lutein consumption are 43 percent less likely to develop macular degeneration. Lutein helps filter clue light, preventing damage to retinal tissues. Get your lutein with two servings of greens per day; one serving = ½ cup of cooked broccoli spinach or Brussels sprouts.