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Top 5 Nutrition Tips For Women To Support Healthy Ageing

Top 5 Nutrition Tips For Women To Support Healthy Ageing

Key nutrients and ingredients such as calcium, vitamin D, HMB and YBG can help promote healthy ageing in women.

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Ageing is a natural process that every woman goes through. Although the passing decades are accompanied by bodily wear and tear, good nutrition and an active lifestyle can help women mitigate declines in muscle and joint health, bone density and skin integrity.

It can also promote good immune health. Understanding how nutrition affects the changes you experience with ageing can help you make informed choices about your health.

What Is Healthy Ageing?

The World Health Organization defines healthy ageing as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age.” In simple terms, the goal of healthy ageing is not only to live longer but also to enjoy life as much as possible in your later years.

One way to think about ageing is on a cellular level. When you are young, your body efficiently replaces old cells with new cells. As you age, your cells eventually reach a state called cellular senescence, where old cells decay and are not replaced as rapidly, leading to the ageing process.

Your lifestyle choices – including what you eat, can affect this cellular-level ageing process.

How Does Ageing Affect a Woman’s Body?

At the onset of menopause, around 45 to 55 years old, muscle mass, bone mass and collagen in a woman’s body start to decline rapidly — a decade or so earlier than they do for men. Women may experience any of the following bodily changes per decade:

  • Joint health: Up to 20% loss of cartilage
  • Bone mineral density: Up to 10% decline
  • Skin health: Up to 30% loss of structural proteins
  • Muscle health: Up to 8% loss of muscle mass

Research indicates that nutritional deficiency can exacerbate these declines, but eating nutritious foods and maintaining an active lifestyle can help reduce them. Ageing well is possible and can foster a better quality of life and more independent living.

Nutrition for Older Adults: 5 Nutrition Tips for Healthy Ageing

According to Dr Nina Mazera Mohd Said, Abbott’s nutrition medical director in Malaysia, nutrition plays an important role in healthy ageing.

Certain nutrients are crucial to maintaining joint, bone, skin, muscle and immune health. Focus on getting adequate amounts of the following nutrients to help keep your body going strong well into your golden years:

1. HMB

HMB is produced naturally by the body from the metabolism of the amino acid, leucine obtained from foods such as dairy products, soybeans, beef and chicken.

HMB works to slow muscle breakdown. One study found that HMB supplementation was an effective strategy to help preserve muscle mass in older populations. 

While HMB is found in some foods in trace amounts, it is hard to secure the beneficial effects of HMB through food alone. That’s why an oral nutritional supplement that includes HMB and protein can be a good way to support muscle health.

2. Protein

Protein is necessary to maintain muscle mass and reduce age-related muscle loss. As per the Recommended Nutrient Intakes for Malaysia (RNI, 2017), it is advised that a healthy adult consume approximately 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of their body weight daily. It is notable, however, that some studies on lean muscle mass and strength in older adults suggest improved outcomes among those who consume more protein than the recommended daily amount.

For example, one study found that people with higher protein intake were more likely to maintain physical function over the span of two decades than those with lower protein intake. This positive association was especially evident in women.

Many older adults do not consume enough protein on a daily basis due to a lack of appetite, dental issues, altered taste buds and trouble swallowing. In addition, metvitamiabolic rates decline as you age, meaning you need fewer calories. These combined factors can reduce the quality of nutrition for older adults. You can help support your muscle health as you age by getting plenty of lean protein from poultry, fish, dairy, soy foods, beans and legumes. 

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for bone health, which is especially important as women age. It is one of the key nutrients for building bone, as it promotes calcium absorption. One meta-analysis found that daily vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduced the risk of hip fracture in older adults by 16%.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 15 micrograms for women ages 51 to 65 years old and 20 micrograms for women older than 65 years old. Older adults are more likely to be deficient because ageing skin has a more difficult time making vitamin D from sunlight. They may also spend less time outdoors than younger adults and use sunscreen as recommended by healthcare professionals, which means they have less natural exposure to the vitamin.

Vitamin D can be challenging to obtain through food alone. Your body makes it through sunlight, but it’s also found in fortified milk and juice, egg yolks and fatty fish such as salmon and sardines. 

4. Calcium

Estrogen is an essential hormone for bone remodelling — the process of new bone tissue replacing old bone tissue — and decreased estrogen levels during menopause can lead to rapid bone mineral density loss. As such, women are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis due to these hormonal shifts.

Calcium is required for muscles to function well, and it is one of the mineral building blocks that gives bones their structure and strength. The RDA for calcium for women ages 50 and older is 1,200 milligrams. Adequate calcium, along with vitamin D, is critical for long-term protection against post-menopausal bone mineral loss. Research found that higher dietary calcium intake in women 60 years and above was positively associated with increased lumbar bone mineral density compared to those with lower calcium intake.

Few foods are considered excellent sources of calcium. Dairy products are a good choice — but not all dairy has equal amounts of the mineral. Dairy milk, for example, usually has far more calcium than yoghurt. Including more calcium-rich foods such as dried anchovies, almonds and other nuts to your healthy eating plan may help to mitigate bone density loss associated with lowered estrogen levels.

5. YBG

YBG, or Yeast Beta-Glucan, is a type of fiber found in yeast. YBG is clinically proven to help strengthen the immune system and is associated with improved markers of immunity, such as higher levels of circulating immune cells, and increased antibody production that strengthens mucosal immunity to help protect against pathogen entry. Research has shown that YBG can reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections. 

Abbott has introduced its latest nutrition innovation, Ensure Gold StrengthPro, which features a dual-action formula that helps support both strength and immunity. Ensure Gold contains HMB—to support muscle health—and Yeast Beta-Glucan (YBG), which is clinically proven to help strengthen the immune system.

Ageing well isn’t a myth. By staying active and making informed choices about the foods you eat, you can help support a healthy ageing process and live better longer.

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