To optimize your health and energy, tailor your diet to your needs
By Isabelle Huot
Menstruation stops completely at around age 52, but many women have perimenopausal symptoms that start long before the onset of menopause. Hot flashes, abdominal weight gain, insomnia, and irritability are common.
You can mitigate these symptoms by eating some of the key sources of phytoestrogens (hormones from plants), including flaxseed and soy products such as edamame, tofu, miso, tempeh, and textured vegetable protein (TVP). Also, reduce your sugar intake and increase your level of physical activity to slow weight gain.
For men, preventing prostate cancer is a key goal. Recommendations include reducing your intake of red meat and deli meats to make room for vegetable proteins (including soy) and fish a few times a week. In addition, reduce saturated- fat intake and eat sources of lycopene every day (tomatoes and tomato products, watermelon), along with sources of selenium (especially Brazil nuts).
In both men and women, the metabolism slows down after age 60 and fatigue is more common.
Reduce your calorie intake slightly and eat nutritious foods to meet your daily needs, especially for calcium (milk, cheese, yogourt, enriched vegetable beverages) and vitamin D (Health Canada recommends 600 international units a day)—key nutrients for bone health.
Age 71 and over
The challenge now is a diminished appetite.
Meet your protein needs. Commercially made chicken noodle soup is not enough. Instead, aim for 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein for each kilogram you weigh, or about 15 to 20 grams at lunchtime and dinnertime. For example, 75 to 100 grams of meat, chicken, or fish, 2 or 3 eggs, ¾ cup of cottage cheese, 1 to 1½ cups of legumes, or 100 to 150 grams of tofu will allow you to reach these goals at each meal. Your immune system is also more fragile—be sure to get your daily requirements of zinc and vitamins A, C, and D.
We’re Eating a Bit Better
That’s what a 2021 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tells us. Led by Benoît Lamarche, a professor at the School of Nutrition at Laval University in Quebec City, the study looked at the diets of 853 volunteers before and after the onset of the pandemic in 2020 and found that the food quality index (a measure of nutrient value) rose from 69 per cent to 70 per cent. Lamarche said that one reason for the increase might be that people are cooking at home more and eating out less since the pandemic began, and that can only be a good thing for eating habits.