The Importance of Food & Nutrition Over The Age Of 40

Food Fit Over 40 – The Importance of Nutrition as We Age

If you’re a Kieser client of middle age and beyond, you are likely acquainted with the health benefits of strength training; Osteoporosis prevention, fast-tracking and preventing recovery from an injury, and helping to stay fit, to name a few1. As we age, our bodies have different needs. So, maintaining a healthy diet, providing particular attention to some imperative nutrients, is also important. This will also support good health and help reduce the risk of, and treat, a number of current health concerns2.

Trending at Midlife and Beyond 

Our susceptibility to specific health problems and injuries increases with age. Conditions causing the most health burden are similar between Australian men and women of specific age groups and we’ll look at mid 40s to mid 70s in this article.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the leading cause of health burden for men aged 45 and over, followed by lung cancer between ages 45 to 74. Musculoskeletal disorders are the leading cause of health burden in women aged 45-64, and breast cancer and CHD, between ages 65-843.

Excess body weight can creep up in later life leading to overweight/obesity, and is more prevalent in postmenopausal women (56%) due to a drop in the breakdown of fat. This results in more abdominal and gluteal fat, that is often more difficult to budge4. However, poor eating habits also contribute to weight gain for men and women, increasing the risk of other conditions, including Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and certain cancers5.

Diet and Disease

High salt, alcohol and saturated fat intake increases weight, blood cholesterol and blood pressure - all preliminary risk factors of CVD6. A diet low in saturated fat that is high in fibre and plant foods can substantially reduce the risk of heart disease. Vitamin E can help protect against “bad” cholesterol5.

Large, frequent intakes of processed meats such as salami, bacon and sausages are linked to an increased cancer risk. Plant-based foods (fruit and non-starchy vegetables) contain natural compounds called phytochemicals that protect against cancers, including lung cancer. Antioxidants, including Vitamin C, E and selenium, reduce cell damage, which would otherwise contribute to the risk of cancer. B group vitamins (folate), calcium and Vitamin D also play a role in cancer prevention Studies have also shown that most people (75%) with breast cancer are deficient in Vitamin D. A healthy diet will also help control the risk of overweight/obesity which itself is linked to an increased risk of many cancers, i.e. breast cancer7.

10% of bone mass is lost in the first five years post menopause due to reduced oestrogen production. Postmenopausal women are also at an increased risk of osteoarthritis as reduced oestrogen production causes cartilage thinning8. A healthy diet can help prevent and manage osteoporosis and related musculoskeletal disorders by helping produce and maintain bone. Calcium is a major building block of bone and Vitamin D assists your body in absorbing calcium. Protein, fruit and vegetables and vitamins and minerals (Vitamins B6, A and K, magnesium, and zinc) also contribute to bone, muscle and joint health, all of which help to prevent osteoporosis9.

How are we doing?

Compared to the Australian Dietary Guidelines’ recommended serves from each of the five main food groups, Australian adults are consuming:

  • Approximately three serves of vegetables and beans/legumes per day with less than 4% consuming the minimum recommendation of five serves per day
  • 31% meet the recommended two serves fruit per day with males more likely than females to consume the recommended amount (33% and 28%)
  • 7.2% women meet the recommended dairy and alternatives serves per day (varies depending on age) compared to 12% men
  • 14% of adults meet the recommended serves of lean meats and alternatives
  • Males are more likely to meet guidelines for grain (cereal) foods than females (35% and 25%)

Interestingly, in the 2011-12 dietary survey, 35% of adult total daily energy intake came from foods and beverages high in saturated fat, trans fat, salt, sugar and alcohol which is recommended to be eaten sometimes and in small amounts10.

Ways to Improve in order to Prevent 

To consume a nutrient-rich diet to maintain good health, consume a variety of foods from the five food groups daily. Also, try to consume foods and beverages that are packed with energy but have few nutrients only sometimes and in small portions. Examples are chips, cakes, sweets, cookies, chocolate, ice cream and alcohol11,12.

Pick foods that are low in saturated and trans fats and high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats i.e. seeds, nuts, avocado, fish and eggs2.

For bowel health, fibre is important. Eat whole-grain breads, pasta and cereals, whole grains and seeds, including barley, oats, spelt, bulgur, corn, psyllium, rye and legumes and pulses including black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, and split peas along with plenty of fruits and vegetables2. Phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables include carotenoids in red, orange, yellow, and some dark-green vegetables, polyphenols in herbs, spices, vegetables, green tea, apples, and berries and Allium in chives, garlic, leeks and onions. Folate (Vitamin B2) is found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and fruit juices, dried beans and peas.

Protein sources for musculoskeletal health include meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, dairy products and eggs. Vitamin E sources include corn, nuts, vegetable oils and wheat germ. Vitamin C sources include red and green capsicum, tomato, broccoli, brussel sprouts, mango, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries and oranges. Vitamin D-rich foods include cheese, butter, margarine, fortified milk, cereal and yoghurt, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, salmon and egg yolk13. Calcium-rich foods include fortified cereals, soy milk, fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, canned fish with soft bones, tofu, milk, cheese and yoghurt2.

Modifiable lifestyle factors are known to be effective against age-specific injury and disease and nutrition is an important one. To obtain tailored advice about how your diet stacks up at age 40 and beyond and what the incorporation of these specific nutrients may look like for you on a day-to-day basis, please contact one of the experienced Dietitians at Quality Health Matters located inside Kieser Malvern for a nutrition consultation. We can also help you with a range of diet related conditions, including specialty gut related health.

Appointments – or call 0412 318 445. Skype consultations are also available. No referral is needed.


Kieser. Training Benefits [Internet]. [cited 2018 March 4]. Available from: Sharon Denny. Special Nutrient Needs of Older Adults. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2018 March 6]. Available from: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Older Australia at a Glance [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2018 March 6]. Available from: Fernando L, Guillermo G. Estrogen Deficiency and the Origin of Obesity during Menopause [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2018 March 6]. Available from: 10.1155/2014/757461 Better Health Channel. Heart Disease and food [Internet]. [cited 2018 March 7]. Available from: Heart Foundation. Reducing risk in heart disease: An expert guide to clinical practice for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2018 March 7]. Available from: ASCO. Doctor-Approved Patient Information. Food and Cancer Prevention [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2018 March 8]. Available from: National Institute of Health. Osteoporosis: Peak Bone Mass in Women [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2018 March 8]. Available from: International Osteoporosis Foundation. Nutrition [Internet]. [cited 2018 March 9]. Available from: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Health Survey 2011-12 [Internet]. [cited 2018 March 6]. Available from: Medicine Plus. Nutrition for Seniors [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2018 March 8]. Available from National Health and Medical Research Council. Healthy Eating When You’re Older [Internet]. [cited 2018 March 4]. Available from:’re-older National Institutes of Health. Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals [Internet]. [cited 2018 March 5]. Available from:

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