Intake and Output
Nutritional consideration and exercise play a bigger role as you age.
Today, a number of executive health programs include a nutritional analysis, and even those that don’t recommend an analysis encourage meeting with a nutritionist or dietician, along with getting an evaluation of eating and exercise behaviors. Often, busy executives, particularly those who travel, tend to eat quick meals and fatty foods. They prioritize work over fitness.
As you move into your 40s, your metabolism slows. That means eating and exercise habits need to change. “Most men and women start to see it above the belt,” says Sheah Rarback, director of nutrition at the UM Health’s Mailman Center for Child Development. “Indulging in foods you could handle in your 20s and 30s is not going to work anymore. If someone hasn’t been eating fish twice a week, it’s a good time to start doing that,” Rarback says. She also suggests eating fewer sugary treats, having one less cocktail and resisting the office doughnuts.
There are other things to consider. When nutritionist Kathryn Parker meets with professionals who participate in the University of Florida’s executive health program, she encourages them to examine their drinking habits. “Water is the most important nutrient no matter how old you are or what you do for a living,” says Parker, who also is a program manager for diabetes education at UF Health. “I tell my clients, don’t be thirsty. If you’re thirsty, you’re 2% dehydrated.”
The 50s, Rarback says, is the age when people start having heart issues.
She suggests increasing B vitamins. “This would include consuming beans, fruits such as cantaloupe, oranges and papaya and vegetables such as dark leafy greens.” Rarback encourages setting a goal of five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
Another concern is cholesterol levels often start creeping up. Rarback advises increasing the amount of whole grains, oats, lentils and beans — “you can throw them into a salad.” She also recommends increase vitamin D through foods like fish or shitake mushrooms. “Vitamin D is particularly important for women because of bone health,” she says.
The 60s also present a greater risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. By this age, you need to know how to read food labels, she says. Nutritionists encourage people in their 60s to double efforts to cut back on foods high in sodium and sugar.
In May, the Institute of Medicine concluded that Americans typically consume an average of about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day and should reduce that to 2,300 to minimize cardiovascular risks. Nutritionists recommend cutting back on processed foods and replacing salt with other spices that give flavor and have health benefits. “There are spices such as turmeric that are great anti-inflammatories and add flavor,” Rarback says.
In your 60s, your skin starts to thin, making bruising more noticeable. To help, Rarback advises consuming more foods with vitamin K such as dark greens.
Dr. James Rippe, founder and director of Rippe Lifestyle Institute in Orlando, believes the top nutritional problem Americans grapple with is overconsumption. When patients come for a physical exam at his executive health program, he asks them to arrive with a three-day food diary. “That helps us give the patient specific advice.”
The one thing that changes between the 40s, 50s, 60s is people become less active, Rippe says. “That means you need to pay more attention to nutrition and what you are eating.”