By Janis Jibrin, MS, RD
Middle age has a lot going for it—seriously! You’re more wise and powerful than ever, and according to some studies—happier. But you do have to work harder at staying in shape than you did when you were younger. I’m going to direct this blog to women, because the body changes that happen before, during and after menopause are often more dramatic than men’s at this age. You can blame dwindling estrogen levels for much of it!
At an upcoming health conference for women in Pittsburgh, I’ll be talking about how to counter the effects of menopause. Here’s a preview:
OK, the bad news first. Middle age puts you at higher risk for:
- Weight gain—particularly “visceral” fat, the type that lodges deep in your abdomen. This type of fat raises risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
- Bone loss, which raises risk for osteoporosis (a bone-thinning disease)
Now the good news: You can prevent or greatly mitigate your risk of these conditions if you:
- Stick to a healthy weight. I know, easier said than done! And it takes more work around the time of menopause as you tend to burn fewer calories—200 fewer according to some studies. But it’s never too late to start improving your diet…
- Keep your waist circumference to 35 inches or less. Above 35 inches and risk for chronic disease goes up.
- Eat a healthy diet (along the lines of a Mediterranean-style diet like The Pescetarian Plan).
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D to protect bones. Have two calcium-rich foods daily (see “Get Your Calcium” below). As for D, you might have to supplement with 800 IU to 1,000 IU daily if you’re limiting sun exposure. (Which is smart; it not only keeps skin looking younger but reduces skin cancer risk.)
- Exercise–but you knew that! It combats visceral fat, reduces blood sugar, and benefits your body in every other way. It’s the ultimate anti-ager!
Some suggestions on how to follow these recommendations:
- Shave off 200 calories a day by limiting sweets, but also by tweaking healthy foods, as in the example below:
2. Make sure that most of your meals follow this template: