In India, early 20s is mostly about struggling to get the first job, networking, handling love problems, getting married and for some, even starting a family. With so much going around in life, healthy eating often takes a back seat. Researches have shown that high percentage of women in this age group fail to meet their recommended daily nutrition requirements- which mainly include proteins, calcium, iron and folic acid.
The recommended daily amount for protein is 50-60g and 28g for fibre, yet on an average, adults consume only 35-45g and 12-15g respectively. It is important to know that low protein, low fibre, high sugar and high salt diets can contribute to several deficiencies like low haemoglobin, dizziness, disturbed sleep, digestive problems such as constipation and increased risk of diverticular disease and high blood pressure later in life.
Also, it is advised that especially women should focus on their health and dietary habits so that they have healthy and complication free pregnancy.
Now, people in their 30s might have the time to indulge in an occasional pedicure but most people in this group take their health for granted. Only a handful of them work on their diet and fitness. Keeping fit during this period is very important as it involves multitasking with work and family demanding all the attention. It is also the age where people start to see signs of prediabetes, diabetes or hypertension. Reducing 10% of your weight can mitigate your risk of these diseases. Still going back to basics– maintaining protein requirement can help you with the same. It is recommended you include a different type of protein in each meal. It is also important to include fruits and vegetables in your diet because a diet rich in antioxidants will help protect you against heart disease, Alzheimer’s and many types of cancer in coming years.
Further, drinking plenty of water will help you to keep away from risks like hyperurecemia (increased uric acid levels), hypercholestremia (elevated levels of cholesterol), wrinkled skin and digestive disorders.
After the age of 40, the metabolic rate (calorie burning speed) of the body starts slowing down gradually. Many people in this age bracket start to suffer from problems due to lack of exercise. Excess weight, particularly around the ‘middle’ is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and osteoarthritis and the longer you wait before you tackle the problem the harder it becomes.
Another commom problem that women face in their 40s is low iron levels. Often, they start witnessing peri- menopausal effects or require external hormonal assistance. Keeping your iron intake on track is important as iron helps your immune system to function smoothly. Special attention should be given to protein and calcium intake too. Why? Because as you approach menopause, bone-building, starts to decline. Physiologically, you absorb less calcium from the food you eat because your stomach doesn’t make as much acid necessary for absorption. The daily allowance for calcium should be 1,200mg. But consuming adequate amount of calcium alone won’t help. Everything is interrelated and in this case, you need Vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium well. Have a balance of the macronutrients and consume food like mushrooms and egg yolk.
Health problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are the most common in this age group. It is advisable to follow a medium-fat, low glycemic load diet which includes 3-5 portions of vegetables and 2-3 portion of fruit every day. You may be advised to eat less protein but that depends purely on your current co-morbidity issues (in case you have any kidney disorders).
For women, it is a difficult phase too as decline in libido, osteoporosis and heart disease can cause major problems. To counteract this, it is important to eat at least three servings of fat and calcium-rich foods every day. It’s also important that you include some weight bearing exercises such as brisk walking and aerobics. Increasing lean body mass can lead to higher metabolic rate and also help maintain ideal body weight- which is really important for people in this age group.