FITNESS
good health
Fighting fit at forty
In the forties, the body undergoes hormonal changes and metabolism slows down. Reduced muscle strength and chronic fatigue occur. Age-busting exercises and nutritious diet help us to beat the clock
Anjali Mukerjee

In your forties eat more whole grains, dals, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. These foods provide us with fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, etc to fight many age-related diseases and disorders Thinkstock
In your forties eat more whole grains, dals, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. These foods provide us with fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, etc to fight many age-related diseases and disorders Thinkstock

Black and white sesame seeds are good sources of zinc, which not only sensitises the body tissues to insulin but also helps to minimise sugar cravings and to rev-up immunity
Black and white sesame seeds are good sources of zinc, which not only sensitises the body tissues to insulin but also helps to minimise sugar cravings and to rev-up immunity

Consumption of soy products is beneficial in  ageing diseases like type II diabetes, menopausal complaints, prostrate gland enlargement in men & osteoporosis etc
Consumption of soy products is beneficial in ageing diseases like type II diabetes, menopausal complaints, prostrate gland enlargement in men & osteoporosis etc

We all know that ageing is inevitable but how gracefully you age is up to you. Scientific research shows that we can turn back the clock through a targeted regimen of age-busting exercises and nutrition. By exercising for just 30 minutes a day and eating for maximum health and vitality, we can not only build strength, shed extra pounds, improve flexibility and balance, but also look years younger, even after forty and beyond.

Women often start having weight problems (gaining weight); undergo mild depression and menstrual irregularities as they turn forty. Most men experience lowered libido, reduced muscle strength, chronic fatigue, and bloated abdomen mainly in their late forties. All these are signs of declining hormone levels and changing metabolism which slows down. This ageing process is further accentuated by day-to-day stress. The same diet which worked for you a decade ago would most definitely not work for you after you have crossed forty. While no one can stop the passage of time, you can control the damage and the way you look by taking advantage of the benefits of better nutrition.

It's important to remember that your body behaves differently after forty. Your metabolism slows down, sugar cravings increase and energy levels dip. Your appetite for starchy food (rice, pasta, bread) may increase. At the same time your body needs fewer calories to get through the day. The way to deal with this problem is to make yourself more important than food. Focus on the quality of food rather than quantity. Choose foods dense in nutrients. No matter, how much the exercise or vitamin supplements, the formula for fitness is incomplete without a nutritious diet.

Diet wisdom for keeping fit

A number of strategies can assist an individual to achieve fitness post forty. Following a healthy diet and regular exercise will improve physical and mental health and promote wellbeing.

  • Post forty, include low-fat, high-fibre foods in your daily diet. Eat more whole grains, dals, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. These foods provide us with fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which help in reversing the ageing process whilst arming us with vital nutrients to fight many age-related diseases and disorders.

  • Maintaining an adequate calcium intake will help to slow bone loss. Intake of low-fat dairy products, whole pulses, soybean and black sesame seeds on a regular basis is a must.

  • As age increases, limit your intake of caffeine, soft drinks and alcohol as these leach out the much-required calcium from the bones. It is healthier to switch to plain water, green tea, soups, vegetable and fruit juices, buttermilk and coconut water to hydrate your system.

  • Zinc is an important mineral but becomes even more so after forty as it is shown to sensitise the body tissues to insulin. It also helps to minimise sugar cravings and to rev-up immunity. Most people, who gain weight easily in their forties, are also those who have uncontrollable sugar cravings. Consuming zinc supplements is helpful and so is taking good natural sources of zinc like black and white sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.

  • Avoid table sugar, sugary drinks, excessive intake of sweets completely and indulge in the natural goodness of dates, black raisins, fresh fruits, figs etc.

  • Keep your calorie consumption and saturated fat intake down. Restrict intake of excess salt in foods. Avoid table salt and salty foods, snacks, chips, etc.

  • Reduce intake of animal proteins to not more than once or twice a day. However, try including fish, especially the oily ones like sardines (grilled, steamed or baked) at least 2-3 times in a week. These pack in heart-friendly omega 3 fatty acids.

  • Regular consumption of soybeans is known to benefit in most ageing diseases like type II diabetes, menopausal complaints, prostrate gland enlargements in men, premenstrual syndrome, osteoporosis etc. You can include soya in your daily diet by switching to soya milk. Drink at least one cup of soya milk everyday and eat at least 50 gm of soya flour daily. You can mix it with wheat flour in order to make chapattis, roasted soya nuts and soya biscuits can be used as in between snack foods.

  • Exercise regularly. Regular, weight-bearing exercises (exercises which are done on the feet such as walking, jogging, dancing) are known to slow bone loss. On the other hand, an aerobic exercise (exercise which increases the heart rate) would prove beneficial for maintaining good cardiovascular health and keeping the body's joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons strong and mobile.

  • Adopting appropriate stress-management strategies are beneficial as stress may interfere with the proper functioning of the adrenal glands. Activities such as yoga, meditation, stretching, Tai chi and regular exercise help to relieve built-up tension.

  • Taking supplements of antioxidants along with the B-vitamins goes a long way in delaying the ageing process.

Getting fit and healthy for decades to come after forty is an ongoing process, a journey that keeps you "alive" and "spirited" as you begin to live in a better body.

The writer is a nutritionist. She treats obesity and related health disorders online . She can be reached at ask@health-total.com / www.health-total.com





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