The Importance of Macronutrients in the Over 50’s
Macronutrients are clearly defined as carbohydrates, proteins & fats and are important throughout your entire life, but the balance of them becomes a different matter as you age into your 50’s. The sheer definition of ‘macro’ means ‘large quantities’, and as life goes on, certain members of the essential macros increase, and some decrease.
All the ‘macros’ are essential to the upkeep of the human body. They provide both calories and energy in different quantities but provide the bulk of essential nutrients that our bodies need. We also need vitamins and minerals, but in smaller quantities, hence these nutritional properties are called ‘micronutrients’.
Whilst a balanced diet is important throughout life, once you reach the over 50’s age bracket, that balance changes – your total calorific needs decrease, even though proportionally the macronutrients stay the same. As your calorific needs are on the wane, it is vitally important to concentrate on more nutrient-dense foods.
Suggested Calorie Intake (age 50-70) for relatively active people
- Men: 1900-2100
- Women: 1850-2000
Lack of activity at a moderate level will result in weight gain if calorie intake is as above. Moderate activity is regarded as 30-40 minute brisk walk at least once a day, with intermittent spells of activity in between (anything from walking the dog, vacuuming, cleaning, swimming etc.)
Recommended Macro Daily Intake (RDA)
- Men: 55-60g
- Women: 45-50g
- Men: 125-140g
- Women: 125-140g
(more if you have a high level of exercise)
- Men: 60-75g
- Women: 40-55g
- M I N I M U M
Eat a Rainbow!
The ‘Rainbow Principle’ in terms of fruits and vegetables is a solid foundation for health once you reach the over 50’s. A good selection of leafy green and cruciferous vegetables is a must, along with ‘Mediterranean‘ vegetables such as peppers, courgettes, aubergines, olives and chilli peppers.
Watch your Fat Intake
Eat only a small amount of solid fats – try to concentrate on healthy fats (fatty acids) such as Omega 3 fats, found in oily fish and shellfish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring etc. Nuts and seeds and their oil derivatives, such as flax, hemp, walnut, olive, pumpkin and avocado are packed full of nutritional aids. Omega 6 fat properties are also found in most nuts and seeds. Whilst Omega 9 fatty acids are not considered essential, they are also found in most nuts and seeds, as well as avocados and oil derivatives from these foodstuffs. Try always to buy organic.
Try to consume only lean meats, and avoid large amounts of fat, however good it seems to taste – cut it off! Limit the amount of red meat in your diet and concentrate on meats such as chicken and turkey, or fish, legumes and soy products. The most beneficial grains to consume are whole grains.
Follow the OHMS Principle
This does not stand for ‘On Her Majesty’s Service’ but for Oral, Heart, Mind and Skin, the major parts of our anatomy that wear out over the years due to the affect of lifestyle and environment. Free radicals attack the body, so we need to repair the essential parts of us and try to prevent ongoing cell damage.
Vitamins and Minerals
Whilst we have mainly been talking about macronutrients, this is also where micronutrients come into play, with essential vitamins and minerals ‘filling the gaps’ in our nutrition. For further information on essential vitamins and minerals, see our section on Vitamins and Minerals – they are also important in the over 50’s.