Dietary habits we adopt in our 20s, 30s and 40s determine our health at 60s, 70s, and 80s.
Nutritional needs vary according to age and gender. In a same-gender group, a college-going person has different nutritional needs than a 65-year-old. Also, a 40-year man has different nutritional needs than a 40-year-old woman.
Experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine said that men develop heart diseases 10 years earlier than women with a warning sign of erectile dysfunction. Although, women suffer more from diabetes complications, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA, men are more prone to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than women. Other notable risk factors of men’s health include smoking, heavy consumption of alcohol, liver disease and respiratory illnesses.
The article provides evidence-based guidelines on men’s nutritional needs at different stages of life and also when they suffer from lifestyle disorders such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiac illnesses and so on.
Fundamental guidelines for all age groups
Whole food-based balanced diet that contains proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are fundamental for all age groups with special attention to men aged over 50 and 65 years. The diet should be simple and convenient, easy to follow, based on locally available foods. A flexible diet based on personal preferences is sustainable. The most important guideline includes incorporating a style of eating which is supported by sound scientific evidence. The guidelines apply to most college-going men.
Nutrition for men over 50 – As men age, their eating should focus on longevity. Plant-focused, Mediterranean-style eating was found to be beneficial to maintain a healthy weight, gut health, brain function in men of this age group. Plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that help in overall health promotion. A cross-sectional study involving 3,039 older adults found a plant-based diet was associated with better cognitive functions.
To eat Mediterranean, Indian men need to include whole fruits, green vegetables whole grains like millets, oats, quinoa, legumes, beans, less spicy curry, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut, and avocado along with limited intake of alcohol, red meat and sweets in their diet.
Nutrition for men over 65 – According to the Healthline, men over 65 years of age need Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet to prevent neurological degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s.
The MIND diet combines key guidelines of Mediterranean and DASH diets, both found to be beneficial for a healthy heart. This diet is easy to follow and asks to consume 10 brain-healthy foods, from different food groups – leafy greens, green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, berries, and fish. The diet suggests limited intake of sweets, red meat, fried food.
Diet for diabetes type 2 – A low-carb, high-protein, healthy-fat, low-calorie diet will prevent and manage diabetes type 2 in both men and women. There are several low-carb diets that target specific health goals. In practice, most low-carb diets in India recommend total carbs intake of no more than 130 grams a day.
There are multiple research studies available that inferred a low-carb diet as diabetes-friendly. A large review of 1,402 randomised controlled trials reported restriction of carbohydrates to 50-130 gm per day helped in lowering the level of glycated hemoglobin, one of the most important biomarkers to assess the severity of diabetes type 2.
A scientifically planned low-carb diet is composed of food sources rich in dietary fibre such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins sources like chicken, egg, legume, pulses, beans, yogurt. Both fibre and protein provide slow energy that help stay full for long and prevent blood sugar spikes.
DASH diet to manage hypertension – DASH diet is a special way of eating to lower blood pressure and promote overall heart health. This diet advises reducing sodium intake along with eating a variety of nutritious food including low-sugar fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
Caerphilly Prospective Study, 2018, which involved 1,867 men aged 55 years on an average, concluded DASH diet was linked to lower cardiovascular disease and stroke risk.
DASH diet was even found to be benefiting people living with type 2 diabetes. A very large metanalysis involving 21,372 cases of known diabetes, from 18 prospective studies, in four world regions concluded that both Mediterranean and DASH diet were equally effective in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20%.
Weight loss diet for men – Losing weight, waist circumference, and developing muscle are primary goals of men’s overall well-being. Central obesity or abdominal fat accumulation is a huge concern for men. Belly fat affects the body’s responsiveness to insulin sensitivity and raises blood sugar levels.
· Protein in each meal is the first step to plan a sustainable weight loss diet. Protein is the most satisfying macronutrient that helps in weight loss while building muscles. However, the protein need varies from person to person and depends on your physical activity level, body weight, and age.
· Choosing healthy fats come next. Add nuts, seeds, avocado, ghee to your daily diet.
· Prefer high-fibre carbs – oats, millets, quinoa, green leafy vegetables.
· Eat low sugar fruits – guava, pears, kiwi, melons.
· Stay hydrated.
To conclude – Several diets are available for men for all ages, customised to specific health and fitness goals. Select a diet that fits your daily routine, offers sustainability, and doesn’t depend on single food or supplements. Working with a nutritionist is the best way to plan a customised diet specific to your health goals. An expert can help you with planning special weight-loss diets such as ketogenic, paleo or intermittent fasting.
(Subhasree Ray, Doctoral Scholar, Clinical and Public Health Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator. She can be followed on her Twitter @DrSubhasree)
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