Ladies over 40…your body and mind are changing, so should your diet and lifestyle. Here’s what you should be doing and eating to be at your best during this new chapter.
At this stage in life there are many metabolic and hormonal changes occurring within us ladies, it is not quite the time for the majority to be menopausal, however gradual alterations to our physical make up will begin to become apparent around this age. We may start to notice that foods which we have always enjoyed are causing discomfort and we no longer process our regular diet in the same way. Intolerances can develop, such as comfort food causing bloating and the opposite of comfort! We may not be able to have that after dinner cup of coffee to help digest as it will keep us up all night, and experiencing a physical lull during the afternoon is not a rarity. All this is due to the natural slowing down of our systems, we are obviously ageing but what does that really entail? Don’t be afraid of it, it is going to happen and this is not all happening at once within a few days, it is a long, slow process but something we ought to be aware of in order to convert our lifestyle to manage it best.
Jacqui Justice, specialist in clinical and functional nutrition since 1996, who runs countless highly successful wellness programmes suggests that, “our minds and our bodies are intimately connected, you cannot make your body achieve what your mind does not believe”, and she claims that we can make some simple alterations to our lives in order to live at our best as we pass the 40 mark. This is the basis for all her programmes which have helped thousands of women find their ideal weight, fitness and overall wellness. She insists that women everywhere are far better equipped to deal with the changes happening to them once they are aware of what the body and mind are going through.
As we begin to turn that corner into what was once known as ‘middle age’, the physical changes which are beginning to happen are due to the slowing down of our metabolic rate, we experience a decrease of insulin resistance, digestive enzymes, bone density, our hormones are changing, and we become more at risk of serious illnesses such as cancers, heart disease and autoimmune disorders. All of which contribute to our changes in what we can eat, why we experience bloating, acid reflux, gas, and weight gain, and how we perform on a daily basis. Our hair begins to thin and collagen begins to decrease causing the signs of ageing on the outside. This all sounds quite daunting to hear but as I said, it isn’t all going to happen immediately, it’s a long slow process but one we can be aware of and take into our own hands and slow it down even more with the right choices.
To look and feel our best during this phase in life we can really take the reigns and be in control by first of all making some positive changes to our diet and routine. Our aim being to feel energised on the inside, and glowing on the outside!
The essential pillars of health come into play fiercely at this point; sleep, diet, exercise, hydration, and spiritual balance (this includes minimal stress). We need to begin, or continue to, listen closely to our own body and encourage it to let us know how it’s feeling.
Sleep is unbelievably relevant to our health. We need a good eight hours of uninterrupted comfortable sleep, every night. A regular bed time and pre-bedtime routine really help to achieve this, as does ambience and even the quality of our sheets. Yes, you need a good bed.
Diet is paramount in achieving a healthy body and mind during any stage of life but at this time we need to focus on our new needs. Food wise we need to focus on nutrition, upping our antioxidant intake in order to stabilise our energy levels, and build up the immune system to minimise risk of illness or disease. We need a good intake of Omega-3s and essential fats to help keep our minds sharp and our hearts healthy; try adding some ground flaxseeds and salmon to your diet. Fibre is important to aid digestive health, so let’s focus on our nut intake! These will also provide extra protein, nutrients and essential oils. We also require healthy fats such as avocados to help nourish hair and nails, and lower blood pressure, and extra virgin olive oil to help the anti-ageing process, promote longevity and up the anti-inflammatories. Greens, greens, greens, and berries; get your antioxidants and zap those free radicals, and help to slow down the ageing skin process. Dark leafy greens are high in vitamin k, lutein, folate, calcium, and beta carotene, which can also aid memory function. Add in some probiotics in the form of kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kim-chi, etc. and help to improve immune function, aid the digestive process, boost your mood and keep the gut happy and healthy by boosting the microbiome. And yes, there’s even a treat involved, help yourself to a little 70% plus dark chocolate with minimal sugar content and get your dose of flavonols. These help to protect the heart, reduce risk of diabetes and help lower blood pressure.
Bone density is something we must consider after 40. Garlic is a wonder for increasing our oestrogen levels, and greek yoghurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein as well as active cultures to support a healthy gut. Eggs also provide vitamin D for bone health as well as protein and choline for brain function and muscle preservation. Eat as many varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices per day as you can, add in greens, grains, protein and fibre and you’ll be well on your way to keeping that body and mind closer to forty than fifty! And always, always stay hydrated (yes, that means the proverbial eight glasses per day, minimum).
Follow this up with a good dose of exercise each day, whatever is suitable to your body type and lifestyle but that gives your body an overall workout that it needs. Yoga is a definite positive at this stage of life as it serves to keep us supple and well-balanced in both body and mind. A daily practice will really help to improve strength, flexibility, balance, heart rate, anxiety, and cognitive focus. Good, long, brisk walks are excellent daily exercise, as are swimming and cycling. It doesn’t mean you have to confine yourself to the gym to keep fit, outdoor leisure is far better for the soul!
Balancing our bodies and minds absolutely starts with the connection between them. Diet plays a significantly larger role in this than previously appreciated and so following a healthy plan will definitely serve our mental health as much as the physical. As well as this we need to make sure that our lives are not built around stressful situations and so need to make steps to reduce this, or find ways to relieve it if unavoidable. Meditation is amazing for our spiritual health, and when incorporated into our daily routine can really help us to manage ourselves and how we act and react during any given situation. It allows to live better in the present and ‘be’. Try a guided meditation to help you start off if you’re a beginner, and work your way to being able to practice in your own style and manner as you get more accustomed to it and how it can work for you. Many people find this same balance with exercise, others simply connecting with loved ones or making personal time to do what makes them happy a priority on a daily basis. This is not a selfish act, it is a necessary one for your health and your relationships.
Knowing your own body and mind may come naturally to some by this stage in life, but for most of us it is still a work in progress. Allow yourself the time to really get to grips with who you are and where you are at, and find your own personal path to wellness as you grow. Stay well, stay healthy, stay young!
Looking after your body and mind with holistic therapies
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences we have been providing a holistic education for over 23 years. Our courses have no expiry date or any deadlines – apart form those you set for yourself. This means that you can study and become qualified even with a busy life! For many concerned about diet we offer 8 different courses on nutrition – click on the title for more information:
- Child & Adolescent Nutrition
- Ethical & Sustainable Eating
- Clinical Nutrition
- Advanced Nutrition
- Nutrition for Age 50 Plus
- Plant-Based Nutrition
- Sport & Exercise Nutrition
- Vegetarian & Vegan Nutrition
View our full portfolio of courses – they are over 60 to choose from!