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Healthy habits for women over 50

Some people say 50 is the new 40. Whether that's true or not, women over 50 can use this milestone as a chance to take stock of their health and lifestyle and, where necessary, consider some healthy changes.

For example, it is never too late to quit smoking and get some benefits from quitting.

Nutrition tips for women over 50

It's a simple recipe for optimal ageing: good nutrition plus regular exercise.

As a woman ages, her body naturally loses muscle -- and body fat accrues more easily. Triggering these changes are alterations in a woman's hormonal balance.

Good nutrition and exercise don't just help maintain muscle strength and keep weight under control, they also help a maintain good heart and bone health - helping reduce the risks of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, a broken hip because of osteoporosis, even the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Those risks increase with family history, inactive lifestyle, and a poor diet.

Nutrition and anti-ageing secrets

  • Keep weight gain at bay: Cut back on calories, get regular aerobic exercise, and do strength training -- like lifting hand weights. The more muscle the body has, the more calories it can burn. There's an added bonus: tummy fat melts away when you exercise.
  • Keep bones strong: Get adequate calcium and vitamin D. The NHS says Vitamin D helps control the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, which are needed to keep your bones and teeth healthy. While the body can synthesise vitamin D from sun exposure, as it ages it is less able to process this vitamin D.
  • Prevent heart disease and more: Enjoy the bounty native to Mediterranean countries -- plenty of seafood, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and olive oil. Red meats are eaten less often and wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts. The good nutrition found in a Mediterranean-style diet is thought to help maintain heart health, because it is low in calories and fat, especially trans fats and saturated fats.

Healthy nutrition basics

Advice on proper eating can be confusing. Here are some basic tips for good nutrition:

  • Take a daily multivitamin for your age group, after seeking medical advice. These can compensate for gaps in your nutrition. Women over 50 need less iron than younger women.
  • Boost calcium and vitamin D. Milk and low-fat dairy produce, such as yoghurts have calcium, and some are also fortified with vitamin D. If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free varieties of milk, hard cheese, and yoghurt, fortified products like orange juice, tinned salmon, broccoli, beans and peas. Consider seeking medical advice about taking a daily calcium supplement if there's not enough  calcium in your diet.
  • Eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans. These will give you plenty of antioxidants, more fibre and less sodium.
  • Get enough fibre. Whole wheat pasta, cereals, and breads, oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn, and fresh fruits and vegetables are all high in fibre.
  • Eat the right proteins. Get a balance of lean protein (like skinless chicken), fatty fish like salmon (with omega-3 fats), and vegetable protein.
  • Enjoy a vegetarian meal a few times a week. A plant-based diet is low-calorie and high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Cut salt intake. Too much salt is linked to high blood pressure.
  • Choose fats wisely. And keep them to a minimum. Avoid trans-fats and saturated fats, like those found in butter, margarine, salad dressing, fried foods, snack foods, and sweets. "Good fats" include many vegetable oils like olive oil, some nuts, and fish like salmon and tuna.
  • Curb sweet food and drink. Limit the soft drinks, sugar, and sweets; they can be loaded with calories and contain few nutrients.

If you want to do your part to keep your body vibrant, strong, and healthy, make these simple steps for good nutrition a part of your life as you get older.

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