Nutrients for women aged 56 and over

Nutrients for women aged 56 and over

As we get older, our bodies produce less of glucosamine, a type of amino sugar needed to keep our joints pain-free. Glucosamine does this by nourishing our cartilage – the smooth, gel-like shock-absorbing material that prevents adjacent bones from touching. Less glucosamine reduces the ability of the cartilage to act as a shock absorber, thereby leading to wear and tear of the joint.

Many people think of this deterioration as a normal part of the ageing process. It doesn’t have to be. Supplementation of glucosamine has been found to promote joint repair and supplements of 500mg daily can even reverse mild arthritis (take the supplement with food to minimise digestive upset).

Memory also is an issue at this age, and the first piece of advice I give to a patient wishing to improve their memory isn’t to start taking a handful of pills that’ll help improve blood flow to their brain and nourish their nerves cells. It’s to stay mentally active.

The people who age faster are the ones who don’t really engage in mentally stimulating activities, whether playing cards, doing crossword puzzles (start today with the one in this newspaper) or even reading. The old adage “use it or lose it” really is true.

But what if all you want is a pill to do it for you? Luckily, such a pill does exist and it’s called gingko biloba. As various studies have found, not only does gingko have the ability to boost brain power in healthy individuals, but it also appears to stabilise, and in many cases improve, mental performance in those with mild to moderate dementia. Look for a supplement containing between 40 and 80mg of what’s known as standardised extract – the usual dose is 40-80mg three times a day.

For food, there are two rules: more “super” foods and less sugar and refined carbohydrates. Super foods are foods that have a very high antioxidant capacity (antioxidants neutralise substances (called free radicals) in the body that contribute to ageing). While some of these are expensive, most are everyday foods and available widely. They include carrots, sweet potatoes, watercress, peas, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, sukuma, cabbage), garlic, prunes, tomatoes, strawberries and watermelon.

And why less sugar and refined carbohydrates? Are they that bad for you? Well, these foods contribute to the development of diabetes, which in turn can lead to a wide range of other health problems. And in terms of skin, sugar can age your skin as much as smoking. So in addition to feeling older, you’re going to look older too.

By SONA PARMAR