4 Foods to Avoid After 50—and 5 to Eat More Of

Wednesday Oct 1 | BY |
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Foods to Avoid

Lunchmeats have been linked with an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Avoid after 50!

Let’s face it—things change after turning fifty. You may find that you’re sleeping fewer hours at a time, taking more naps, eating smaller meals, hanging out with different friends, or enjoying different activities than you did even ten years ago.

Probably one the things that gets our attention most as we age is the belly—it’s just not as tolerant as it used to be. Whereas you could easily put down a whole pizza in your 20s, it’s not the same anymore.

If you’re in this age group, you’re probably not downing pizzas by the pound, but there may be other things you’re eating that aren’t especially good for a body at middle age.

  1. Sugar. You don’t have to cut sugar completely out of your life, but the truth is that it ages you. A 2009 study reported that the lifespan of animal yeast cells increased when glucose was decreased in the diet. “Thanks to this study,” the researchers wrote, “the link between the rise in age-related diseases and the over-consumption of sugar in today’s diet is clearer.” Sugar also ages the skin. A 2010 study found that glucose and fructose cross-link collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, producing glycation end products (AGEs) that accelerate the appearance of wrinkles and sagging. Cut back on sugary treats and watch labels for added sugars in condiments, yogurt, soups, breads, and more.
  2. Soft drinks. This goes with number two, as soda pops are one of the leading sources of sugar in the American diet. But even sugar-free versions aren’t the best for bodies 50 and older. A 2013 study review found that those who regularly consume diet soft drinks are at an increased risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The researchers found that the drinks actually throw off the metabolism and blunt the body’s response to sugar, causing hormones to spike even more when we actually eat the real stuff. We need more studies to know exactly what’s going on, but suffice to say that diet sodas are best enjoyed in very limited quantities, especially after the age of 50 when the metabolism is already slowing down.
  3. Processed meats. This includes things like lunchmeats, bacon, sausage, and hot dogs. A number of studies have linked these foods to common diseases. In 2010, researchers found that eating processed meat was associated with a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes. At the same time, the researchers found no increased risk of heart disease or diabetes in those who ate unprocessed red meat such as beef, pork, and lamb. Processed meats have also been linked with an increased risk of cancer. In 2008, for example, researchers found that those who regularly consumed processed meats were more at risk of colon cancer—higher than those who consumed fresh red meat. Bottom line: if you want it, eat the real, unprocessed stuff.
  4. Fried foods. They’re tasty, but they’re hard to digest and they’re high in calories. When you’re older, your stomach isn’t quite as robust when it comes to breaking down fatty foods, and you may end up with bloating and other issues. Worse, high-calorie foods deliver a lot of energy, which you’re not likely to use with a slower metabolism. Ergo, weight gain. A 2013 study found that seniors who ate a diet high in fried, sweet, and processed foods were 53 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease and 36 percent more likely to die of other causes than those who ate healthier diets.
5 Foods to Eat More Of

While you’re cutting back on the five items above, try eating more of the following to protect your health as you age.

  1. Oats: They’re easy to digest and can help lower cholesterol levels, which tend to creep up as we age.
  2. Salmon: They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your skin and can help lower blood pressure.
  3. Cherries: Studies have found that the antioxidants in cherries can help combat gout and arthritis.
  4. Spinach: Dark, leafy greens have been linked with lower levels of cognitive decline in older age.
  5. Eggs: Used to be these were off the list because of cholesterol concerns, but recent studies have cast doubt on that theory. Meanwhile, a 2004 study found that eggs were ideal for seniors because they are high in protein. You can always go with egg whites if your cholesterol is already high.

Have you noticed changes in your ability to eat some foods after turning 50? Please share your tips.

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Antoine E. Roux, Alexandre Leroux, Manal A. Alaamery, Charles S. Hoffman, Pascal Chartrand, Gerardo Ferbeyre, Luis A. Rokeach. Pro-Aging Effects of Glucose Signaling through a G Protein-Coupled Glucose Receptor in Fission Yeast. PLoS Genetics, 2009; 5 (3): e1000408, http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1000408.

Danby FW, “Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation,” Clin Dermatol., July-August 2010; 28(4):409-11, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20620757.

“Prof: Diet drinks are not the sweet solution to fight obesity, health problems,” Purdue University, July 11, 2013, http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q3/prof-diet-drinks-are-not-the-sweet-solution-to-fight-obesity,-health-problems.html.

“Eating processed meats, but not unprocessed red meats, may raise risk of heart disease and diabetes,” Harvard School of Public Health, May 17, 2010, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/processed-meats-unprocessed-heart-disease-diabetes/.

Santarelli RL, et al., “Processed meat and colorectal cancer: a review of epidemiologic and experimental evidence,” Nutr Cancer, 2008; 60(2):131-44, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18444144.

Chris Kaiser, “Western Diet Doesn’t Make for Healthy Seniors,” MedPageToday, April 17, 2013, http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Prevention/38506.

Kang JH, “Fruit and vegetable consumption and cognitive decline in aging women,” Ann Neurol., May 2005; 57(5):713-20, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15852398.

Kristin L. Herron, et al., “Are the Current Dietary Guidelines Regarding Egg Consumption Appropriate?” J. Nutr. January 1, 2004, 134(1):187-190, http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/1/187.short.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

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