Great article on how your body ages @weightwatchers @loselikeaman

Posted: July 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

How Your Body Changes as You Age (and What to Do About It)

Read this decade-to-decade guide to help you manage physical changes.
Article By: Eboni Booth
How Your Body Changes as You Age

It’s hard not to have a love-hate relationship with the inevitable process of maturing. Life experience, in theory at least, makes you more wise and capable of making smarter decisions. But Father Time is a tough foe when it comes to your body. “Many people think aging affects your lifestyle, but I think it’s just the opposite. Your lifestyle affects how you age,” says Andy Bellatti, a nutrition blogger (smallbites.andybellatti.com). “It doesn’t have to be all downhill after forty if you make conscious efforts as you get older.” Use the following decade-to-decade guide to know what you should be doing right now, and in the future.

Your 20s
“Now is the time to lay the foundation for healthy eating habits and exercise,” says Stephen Brewer, M.D, medical director of Canyon Ranch Tucson. Establish a routine of consistent physical activity and a diet that isn’t anchored by beer and pizza. “This is a good time to strike a balance between a physical regimen and those social activities that might put on extra pounds and unnecessary calories,” says Lisa Cohn, MMSC, RD, a dietician with Park Avenue Nutrition in New York. Cohn recommends avoiding too many white flours and sugars, and stresses the importance of finding exercise that is enjoyable. “Be creative and try different things—rowing and hiking are examples of fun activities that use the whole body.”

Try to keep your diet rich in calcium (dairy), Vitamin K (green leafy veggies), Vitamin D (the sun, supplements) and magnesium (nuts, legumes, bran). These nutrients are crucial for bone health. “The combination of diet and fitness is extremely powerful for men in their 20s,” Cohn says. “If you can avoid keeping on too much weight, you will have an easier time for the rest of your life.”

Your 30s
“The biggest window for weight gain in many men is actually the post-college years,” Cohn says. What she refers to as the “occupational hazards of sitting”—less physical activity and more casual eating—become an issue as you settle into the work force. “The best thing to do in your 30s is keep an eye on your caloric intake,” Bellatti advises. “You need less calories as you age, and the lower your metabolism the less efficiently it burns calories.”

According to Cohn, this is also a good time to do more food shopping and cooking at home. Be creative about keeping healthy snacks like fruit, nuts and hummus in your kitchen and it will be easier for you to track the source of your calories and nutrients. Stress from work, relationships and social commitments can become an issue for the first time in your life now, too. The best cure: Exercise, which reduces stress and gives you something to do instead of nervous eating.

Your 40s
The main problem now becomes maintaining muscle. A gradual decrease in testosterone over time results in a slower metabolism, faster weight gain and the loss of lean muscle mass. “This is the major factor separating men from women,” Brewer says. “On average, men experience up to three percent testosterone loss each year starting at age 30.” Testosterone loss occurs naturally, but it is exacerbated by obesity, diabetes and alcoholism. In order to promote muscle growth and overall strength, Brewer recommends incorporating weight-bearing activities such as lifting weights, yoga, golf and even brisk walks into your activities. You should also start scheduling regular physicals and health exams. “It’s never too early for regular check-ups,” Brewer says. “You don’t want to wait until you’re in your 50s to start thinking about these things. Men have heart disease approximately 10 years earlier than women.” Open a dialogue with your physician about tests that might lower your risk for cardiovascular complications, cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension.

Your 50s
“Men in their 50s should limit the amount of high-fat red and processed meat in their diets,” says Brewer. Try to eat more leafy greens and vegetables, as well as monounsaturated fats like avocado, olive oil and nuts. Your body’s ability to synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight weakens as you age, so Vitamin D absorption is important now. Brewer recommends 1,000 units daily from supplements, yogurts, fish oils and some cereals. Now is also the time for regular checks for prostate and colon cancer. “Men can consider being evaluated for prostate cancer as early as their 40s,” Brewer says. “There is also an increased risk of colon and prostate cancer for men who are physically inactive.” Know your family history. Familiarize yourself with medical patterns in your family and establish a regular routine of testing.

Your 60s
Continue to monitor the amount of unhealthy fat in your diet and focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean sources of protein. “Men in their 60s see shifts in their social lives,” Cohn says. “A lot of socializing tends to be done around food, so maintenance of a healthy diet is important.” Continue with exercises like walking, swimming and bicycling. You also may need to take Vitamin B-12 supplements if you’re having trouble absorbing this nutrient or not getting enough (check with your doctor) to help keep your heart and nervous system healthy as you age. Your eyes can use some help at this age too, so maintain consistent intakes of zinc (dairy and whole grains), Vitamin E (nuts, olives, asparagus) and leafy green vegetables. Finally, your thirst mechanisms might not work as well as they did when you were in your 20s, but you still need to drink just as much water as ever to stay hydrated.

Your 70s and beyond
“It’s never too late to start exercising and eating right,” says Cohn. Don’t agonize if you think you’ve been a bit slack in the nutritional and physical departments. Continue to keep a diet rich in vegetables, greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids may help prevent joint problems, tissue inflammation, arthritis and strokes. And remember that the 70-year-old version of you is a wiser, hipper version of your twentysomething self. “By the time you are in your 70s, you can make smarter decisions,” Brewer says. “You have a bigger and better understanding of life.”

 

About the writer
Eboni Booth is a freelance writer living in New York City.

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