Nutrition needs to change with increasing age. This is because of the aging effects on morphology, cells, molecules, cognition, and organs as a result of several important nutrients deficiencies. At age 50, our brains and hearts change in subtle but measurable ways. With increasing age, the brain begins to shrink in volume, particularly in the frontal cortex, the myelin sheath surrounding the fibers of your neurons begins to degrade, and brain receptors slow down which may increase the risk of stroke, Alzheimer's disease, thinking problems, and traumatic brain injury.
Image source: Harvard Health
As you get older, several changes occur in the heart and blood vessels such as decreased heartbeat, heart muscles slightly degenerate, and blood vessels gradually become stiffen. These changes in the heart and blood vessels with age often occur as a result of plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries over time which may cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, and diabetes.
But fortunately, a selection of healthy food choices in your 50s can help you improve your brain and heart health function if they are consumed regularly.
1. Oily fish
Image source: iStock
Oily fishes like herrings, sardines, tuna, and salmon are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that help build membranes around each cell in the body, especially the brain cells. They can also improve the structure of brain cells, promote cognition, and improve thinking abilities, all together can boost brain function. The omega-3 fatty acids can also lower blood pressure, decrease triglyceride, and reduce blood clotting that significantly improves heart function and lower the risk of heart attack or heart failure. Thus, they are highly recommended for people in their 50s and above.
2. Whole grains
Image source: Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials
Studies show that people who eat brown rice(commonly known as 'ofada' rice), oatmeal, and whole-grain bread in their 50s and above have good heart and brain health. This is because whole grain contains nutrients that reduce LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and reduces the risk of heart diseases by up to 30%. Its vitamin E content, an antioxidant, can also help to reduce oxidative stress, slow aging, reduces the risk of dementia, boost the immune system, and improve memory. These benefits of whole grains make them important in the diets of aging people.
3. Cruciferous vegetables
Image source: Everyday Health
Vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and turnip are low-calories foods that contain a good amount of dietary fiber, glucosinolates, vitamin C, and flavonoids that can reduce oxidative stress, lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and boost the brain and heart health. Its nutrients and minerals contents can lower aortic calcification to improve heart health.
4. Nuts and seeds
Image sources: Eat This, Not That
Eating almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and other nuts and seeds can support the brain and heart health in older age. This is because of the omega-3 fatty acids and other antioxidants found in these foods that can reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals to promote better brain functions. It also contains nutrients that can lower LDL cholesterol, reduce inflammation, blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart diseases.
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