Nutrition for Mature Adults
This period ought to see you slowing down, but life can feel busier than ever. Alongside performing most of the emotional labour – raising teenagers, caring for elderly parents and running a household – you may also be at the peak of your career. Of course, for women, this is when the menopause strikes too, often bringing with it all kinds of turbulence.
With such a full plate, you may struggle to find a moment to think about your individual needs. But your health remains hugely important at this age. This is especially true of your mental wellbeing. While years can usher in significant physical changes, they can also unsettle your emotional health. Given the sizeable shift in female hormone levels, dips in your mood aren’t surprising. But it’s important to understand these fluctuations in your temperament are natural and temporary. And by improving your lifestyle, you will pay dividends to your mental health. Optimising your nutrition is another valuable tool in your toolbox. Now’s the time to focus on eating simply and healthfully: celebrate wholefoods, pack in plenty of greens, ensure a regular intake of protein and add more fibre to your meals.
To counter fatigue, stress and hormonal unrest, you need to fuel your body correctly. This doesn’t mean turning to unhealthy, ultra-processed treats for a quick energy boost or dopamine hit. Rather, it means ensuring a maximum intake of nutrients to support your overall wellbeing. Because weight gain can become a concern at this stage of life, don’t be lured in by yo-yo diets promising miracle results. Instead, think about balance.
Avoid Fad Diets
Your metabolism can become sluggish as you age. This, coupled with the menopause, can make weight gain more likely for women. Fad diets may seem like the answer. But they aren’t. Be mindful that, although your calorie needs are less, your nutrient needs are still relevant. Veto fad diets in favour of a healthy, wholefood diet with slightly smaller portion sizes.
Eating your greens offers a myriad of benefits at any age, but it serves an especially important purpose now. A source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, E and K, green leafy veggies are packed with goodness to complement your health and hormonal needs.
Fill Up On Fibre
There’s never been a more important time to eat enough fibre, either. Found in vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, fibre supports digestion, facilitates weight loss, lowers cholesterol levels and helps control blood sugar levels. By aiding bowel regularity, fibre also helps excrete oestrogen more efficiently. In the UK, the RDI is 30 grams, yet most people only consume 17-20 grams a day.
Trying to slim down? You need to make protein your best friend. A vitally important macronutrient, protein plays an essential role in metabolic function and satiety. Ensure every meal and snack contains a rich source of protein – be it animal or plant-based. This will stabilise your blood sugar levels and provide your body with a slow release of energy. Meat, fish, eggs, quinoa, pulses and nuts and seeds are all excellent sources.
It’s age-old advice for a reason: water truly is the fountain of youth. Make an effort to drink enough every day. The humble H2O supports healthy circulation, eliminates toxins and supplies nutrients to your vital organs and skin. Aim for two litres daily.
Aim for 10-a-Day
Though attaining your 5-a-day is widely touted as a good benchmark for health, scientists have recently purported aiming for 10-a-day is even better. (1) Find any excuse to pack more fruit and veg to meals. Stir fry? Add mange tout, beansprouts, baby corn and broccoli. Curry? Throw in red pepper, peas and cauliflower. Porridge? Sprinkle on berries, banana and kiwi.
Lifestyle Factors / Health Concerns
Manage Menopausal Symptoms
Hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats – sound familiar? It’s no secret the menopause can lead to a cocktail of emotions. Some women experience relief and exhilaration, bidding farewell to periods and birth control. Others, however, find the rapid hormone fluctuations and physical changes overwhelming. To manage symptoms, add regular physical activity, yoga and calming breathing exercises to your arsenal.
Stress can rear its ugly head at this stage. Make a conscious effort to look after your own emotional needs now. Establish healthy boundaries at home and in the workplace; learn to say ‘no’. Try to carve out you-time every day. Many people find a daily meditation practice, journaling or scheduling in allocated ‘worry-time’ for ruminations can help to ease stress.
Dream of waking refreshed? You’re not alone. Quality rest helps to regulate your hormonal health and overall wellbeing. To drift into a deep, restorative sleep every night, avoid drinking caffeine after midday, make your bedroom a tech-free zone 90 minutes before sleeping, spray your pillow with a lavender-based mist, and ensure your sleep sanctuary is cool and dark.
Eat For Energy
Increasingly, being busy is seen as a badge of honour. But this mentality is leading to burn out and exhaustion. If your energy tank is running low on fuel, consider increasing your intake of vitamin D, iron, B vitamins and magnesium.
Consider Bone Health
As your oestrogen levels decline – an important bone-protective hormone – after the menopause, your bone mineral density may be affected. Besides ensuring your diet contains a plentiful intake of calcium, vitamin D, protein, vitamin K and magnesium, weight-bearing exercise (think walking, jogging or dancing) is another powerful tool to support bones.
As you age, it’s natural to experience frustrating bouts of brain fog and forgetfulness. For women, the menopause is partly to blame. Staying hydrated, inhaling undiluted rosemary essential oil, exercising your brain with new hobbies and creative ventures, and prioritising quality sleep every night are simple ways to keep your grey matter healthy. Empirical data suggest engaging in cognitive activities, like reading, may help to slow cognitive decline (2).
Exercise Every Day
It doesn’t have to be hours on the cross-trainer but make an effort to move daily. Tune in to what your body needs: a brisk lunchtime walk, a slow evening yoga flow, or a weekend cycle. Above all, find something you enjoy motivating you to move. You could even take up a new hobby to boost your confidence and cognition. Wild swimming, Nordic walking, martial arts – they’re all beckoning you.
Never before has heart health been more critical. Research suggests having high cholesterol in your 30s and 40s may increase the risk of heart related issues later in life. (3) Packing fibrous fruit, vegetables and whole grains into your diet is one powerful weapon. Finally, make an effort to get your cholesterol checked regularly.
Vitamins & Supplements
More commonly known for its culinary properties, sage is a member of the phytoestrogen family. It has developed a reputation as a popular supplement and seems to work for some. (1) Our ‘sage’ advice would be to add more to your diet.
Given vitamin D’s central role in calcium absorption, it makes sense to safeguard vitamin D reserves. Generally, those with lower bone density are more prone to fractures. (3) To support bone health, especially after the menopause, aim for 25μg of the sunshine nutrient daily.
Like sage, soya is another popular herb at this time. Some evidence suggests soya may play a role in bone health. (2) If you aren’t a fan of soy-based foods, then consider adding soya isoflavones to your diet.
Vitamin K2 is also known to be a key player in the bone health sphere. But its importance doesn’t stop there. Not only does vitamin K2 aid the proper utilisation of calcium; it also helps activate certain vitamin K-dependent proteins. Worryingly, it’s estimated as many as 98% of the population have insufficient intake of this essential nutrient! Look for 75μg in a bone health multi.
Magnesium is often overlooked for its role in bone health. In truth, it’s one of the most vital nutrients for bones. This mineral is also known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ thanks to it supporting normal psychological function. To keep your bones and wellbeing in fine fettle, look for a multivitamin that supplies approximately 250mg of magnesium.
The importance of bone health can’t be overstated at this time. A consequence of the menopause is that there may be a depletion of the body's estrogen stores, it may result in lower bone mineral density. That’s why it’s even more important to follow a bone-friendly diet, in particular, paying close attention to your calcium intake. For healthy bones, choose a multivitamin that delivers around 500mg of calcium.
You may notice your short-term memory failing you on occasion. There’s some evidence to suggest ginkgo biloba may help to maintain normal cognitive function and support memory in the short-term (4).
Struggling with spells of anxiety and sleep stress? Valerian root is a traditional herbal remedy used for the temporary relief of night-time disturbances and mild anxiety.
Biotin is a powerful weapon for your complexion and overall appearance. This nutrient plays a unique role in supporting healthy hair and nails.
St John’s Wort
Emotional fluctuations are extremely common during this time. St John’s Wort is a traditional herbal remedy used for the relief of mild anxiety and low mood. For these reasons, St John’s Wort has always been a big hit.
Noticed the odd wrinkle appear on your brow? Found in the dark-skinned fruits blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, anthocyanidins are the all-singing, all dancing compounds known to support the body’s production of collagen. There’s some evidence to suggest these powerful agents may help to protect the skin against sun damage. (Oh, did you know 90% of wrinkles are caused by UV exposure?!)
A soothing cup of tea is often recommended to restore calm and balance, but what is it about the nation’s favourite brew that makes us feel so much better? Some experts have attributed the naturally occurring amino acid, L-theanine, to the restorative success of tea. For a moment of tranquility, consider supplementing with caffeine-free L-theanine.
Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil
In recent years, sea buckthorn has won wide acceptance as a nutritional supplement thanks to its impressive antioxidant properties. It’s also touted for its rich omega 7 essential fatty acid content. No wonder sea buckthorn berry oil is popular in scores of beauty products.
Though omega 3 essential fatty acids play a crucial role at every stage of life, they serve an especially important function at this time. Crucially, DHA and EPA – two omega 3s abundant in oily fish – contribute to the normal function of the heart* and to the maintenance of normal blood pressure.** * A beneficial effect is obtained with a dietary intake of 250mg of DHA and EPA daily ** A beneficial effect is obtained with a dietary intake of 3g of DHA and EPA daily
That Korean Ginseng is one of the bestselling adaptogen herbs in the world shouldn’t come as a surprise. With more than 24 powerful compounds classified as ginsenosides, Korean Ginseng is known to have mild stimulatory properties, helping to complement busy lifestyles.
Often referred to as ‘Indian Ginseng’, ashwagandha is thought to possess similar adaptogenic properties as other ginseng herbs. This potent root extract makes for a perfect partner to magnesium, vitamin D and L-theanine.
As you age, so too does your eye health. Abundant in dark green leafy vegetables, the carotenoid, lutein, is often recommended for vision and ocular health. Research purports diets low in this nutrient may result in diminished levels of lutein in the macula of the eye. (5) To ensure a plentiful supply, you may want to consider supplementation alongside a diet rich in colourful fruit and veg.
Did you know CoQ10 is found in the mitochondria of your cells? Notably, this is where glucose is converted into the energy your body needs. Interestingly, the heart contains the densest concentrations of CoQ10. There’s some evidence to suggest cholesterol-lowering medication can deplete the body of CoQ10, so it may be worth considering a supplement (6).
These plant sterols have far-reaching health benefits. Most notably, they have a similar structure to cholesterol and may help to support the cardiovascular system at relevant levels.
Your dutiful liver performs many important jobs in the body, from producing cholesterol, proteins and bile to storing minerals and vitamins. Crucially, it also breaks down toxins, like alcohol. Keeping your liver in good shape is vital for your overall health. Choline is often recommended for maintaining normal liver function.
Bommer. S, Klein. P, Suter. A. First time proof of sage’s tolerability and efficacy in menopausal women with hot flushes. Advances In Therapy. 2011;28(6):490-500.
Ma D. et al., Soy isoflavone intake increases bone mineral density in the spine of menopausal women: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Nutrition. 2008;27(1):57-64.
Bener. A., Saleh N., Low vitamin D, and bone mineral density with depressive symptoms burden in menopausal and postmenopausal women. Journal of Mid-Life Health. 2015;6(3):108.
Silberstein R. et al., Examining Brain-Cognition Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Extract: Brain Activation in the Left Temporal and Left Prefrontal Cortex in an Object Working Memory Task. Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine. 2011;2011:1-10.
Disclaimer: The information presented by Nature's Best is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications.
Keri Filtness has worked in the Nutrition Industry for 19 years. She is regularly called upon for her professional comments on health and nutrition related news. Her opinions have been featured by BBC3, Prima, Vitality, The Mirror, Woman’s Own and Cycling Weekly, amongst others. She has also worked one to one with journalists, analysing their diets and health concerns and recommending changes and additions, where appropriate.