Are 40s the new 20s for men?

A body in its 40s doesn't build muscle or burn fat like earlier but getting the right nutrients can help ward off ailments, suggests Abhilasha V

food

The 40s are filled with vitality and stress in equal amounts. One’s health can either be at its best in their 40s or can be a starting stage for many lifestyle diseases. Work, family, financial stress together can compound health issues at this age, so it becomes even more necessary to stay healthier than ever before.

Mid-life health issues if addressed early can lead to very healthy 50s, 60s and 70s. The most common health problems seen in this age group are high cholesterol levels, pre-diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, hypertension or high blood pressure and also a lot of back pain and joint pain issues. Also, frequently seen are fertility issues and prostate-related issues.

Good nutrition

Men need balanced nutrition in their 40s, especially one that focuses on strength, stamina, and antioxidant-rich diet to slow down ageing. The main areas of nutritional focus would be on heart health, reproductive health and also muscle health. Since the metabolism slows down every decade, extra care must also be taken to manage one’s weight and physique well. Diet primarily focuses on the inclusion of good protein, healthy fats, whole grains, adequate fibre, plenty of antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits and also good fluid intake. In this, special focus can be placed on ensuring good structured meal times and balance in all meals for better health.

Precautions to be taken

In addition to good nutrition, it is important to add adequate sleep, hydration, and regular physical exercise, good stress management, cutting down on caffeine and quitting smoking and drinking (or at least cutting down drastically).

Weight management can prevent many health disorders too. Focusing on regular complete health checks are important to prevent lifestyle diseases. Periodic health checks can ward off many problems and help address issues from compounding.

Some foods to have...

Foods to consume would largely focus on good protein, whole grains, good fats, fibre and fluid. 

Good protein: Protein from plant sources, lean meat, eggs, omega-3 rich fatty fish, nuts, low-fat dairy can have a lot of benefits in this age group. Care must be taken to consume 1 gram per kg body weight of protein daily and not to overdo it.

Whole grains: Foods like oats, broken wheat, millets, red rice can give sustained energy to function throughout the day. They are good for heart health due to their Vitamin B complex content and also ensure good bowel health.

Good fats: Fats in the form of avocados, olives, cold-pressed oils, nuts and seeds can all have a protective effect on men’s heart health.

Fibre: Fibre has an overall protective effect on BP, cholesterol and helps in weight management. Fibre consumed in good amounts in a day keeps you full for longer thereby preventing cravings and binges. It prevents blood sugar from spiking and thereby prevents diabetes by preserving insulin function. Fibre also acts as prebiotics to improve gut function and gut flora. Fibre from fruits and vegetables, in addition to adding roughage to diet, can also add antioxidant benefits which can help in the prevention of cancer. Foods for prostate health that are beneficial are broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, cauliflower, green tea, cooked tomatoes, walnuts, berries and healthy fish rich in omega-3 etc., which help maintain good prostate functioning.

Fluids: Hydration becomes very important to maintain muscle function and good kidney functioning. 2.5-3 litres is recommended.

For those bored of plain water — infused water, herbal teas, cold-pressed juices and natural thirst quenchers like lime juice and tender coconut a day will do wonders for overall health.

Foods to avoid

Excessive caffeine can be avoided to prevent acidity and heartburn — all common in the 40s.

Deep-fried food, packaged foods can be limited due to their fattening and artery-clogging properties.

Foods with high salt can be cut down to prevent BP from rising and also to protect the kidneys.

Cutting back on alcohol can be quite beneficial to prevent liver disorders and to reduce inflammation in the body.

Stay healthy in your 40s, as they are the new 20s!

(The author is a senior clinical nutritionist)