An Expert On What To Eat In Your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s And Beyond

By Anthia Koullouros

As our body changes, our diet should too… 

At The Beauty Chef, we firmly believe that ‘Beauty begins in the belly’. Our diet plays an integral role in our skin health and can be one of the most effective ways to give our complexion a radiant glow. Not only that, our diet impact how we feel too. Consuming a well-balanced diet can be just the thing to help us jump out of bed in the morning and embrace life.

What’s tricky, though, is that as we age, our nutritional needs can evolve and change. The same diet may not suit you from one decade to the next.

With over 27 years of experience under her belt, naturopath Anthia Koullouros, who practices out of Apothēca By Anthia in Paddington, Sydney, is one of the leaders in her field. Here, she explains exactly what to eat in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.

The Best Foods To Eat At Any Age

As I shared in my book I Am Food: Eating Your Way to Health, there are a few principles of basic nutrition that can then be adjusted according to genetics, gender, stress levels, environment, medications, and specific health requirements. 

  1. Eat what we have evolved to eat.

Our anatomy and physiology dictate this. A modern hunter-gatherer, which is what we are, is meant to eat a diet rich in fresh, whole foods. Vegetables, fresh and cultured, whole fats and proteins from healthy pastured animals, and non-farmed seafood. Some well-prepared nuts and seeds, small amounts of seasonal fruit, and whole, unprocessed cultured dairy. 

We are addicted to carbohydrates, particularly wheat, soy, corn, and sugar, because every convenient, ready-to-eat food is made of them. They are made available to us in absolute abundance because of mono-cropped industrialised farming and are often genetically modified. Carbohydrates are addictive because they are essentially sugar. We are also addicted to chemically processed vegetable oils and fats found in the same ready-to-eat foods. 

I recommend eating organic vegetables and fruit as your primary carbohydrate source and whole, unprocessed fats and oils sourced from healthy plants and grass-fed animals. I recommend pastured or grass-fed animal meat, eggs, dairy, and sustainable or wild fish and seafood.

  1. Source well.

Eat what we can grow, raise, hunt and gather naturally in nature. If we farm, we must farm to encourage valuable, rich nutritious soil to grow our food. Nurtured soil is full of life and full of nutrients. For example, meat from grass-fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain-fed feedlot animals. Support and buy food from farmers that support this natural system that works and flows with nature, the health of our animals, plants, environment, seasons, and climate. Eat seasonally, eat locally (to the best of your ability) but most importantly, eat fresh, whole, unprocessed food.

  1. Prepare well.

Look to our ancestral and cultural food preparations and traditions. The lost art of food preparation has occurred because we live in a fast-paced society with convenience as a preference. Preparing food well preserves food increases nutritional density, and is better digested and assimilated. Eat raw when suitable or soak, ferment, marinate and sprout to assist digestion and optimal absorption of nutrients.

The Foods To Steer Clear Of

Avoid processed food devoid of nutrition. Processed food contains additives such as preservatives, colours, flavours, emulsifiers, and thickeners. These foods are filled with refined ingredients such as refined salt, sugar and vegetable oils, instead of real nutrition.

Malnutrition is prevalent in modern society even though we consume an abundance of food, a variety of food, fortified food, and supplements. Our soils are supplemented, our plants are supplemented, our animals are supplemented, and we are supplemented, yet we may still be deficient. 

What To Eat In Your 20s

The decisions that you make now about food can shape your future health. The power of eating enough is vital for healthy hormones and a healthy menstrual cycle. When periods and ovulation disappear, undereating is usually to blame. So alongside well-sourced and well-prepared foods, eat your macronutrients on each plate: protein (including fish, seafood, pastured meat, dairy, and eggs), carbohydrates (including fruit, vegetables, grains, and legumes) and fats (including nuts, seeds, avocado, and extra virgin olive oil).

What To Eat In Your 30s

According to recent statistics, the average age for women to have babies in Australia is 29.3. This also seems to be the case in America and other developed countries. With this in mind, food for fertility health can be paramount in your 30s if you’re planning to conceive. Women are also conceiving in their 40s, and fertility health is also a priority in this decade. Organs meats are recommended pre-conceptionallysuch as liver, which is a nutrient-dense food. 

Now is the time to address food allergies and food intolerances, support a healthy gut for optimal digestion and a healthy intestinal microbiota. Eat fermentable dietary fibres to fuel healthy beneficial bacteria. This includes sweet potatoes, white potatoes, apples, berries, oats, citrus fruits, chia seeds, bananas, cassava and taro.

What To Eat In Your 40s

This is the decade you may experience symptoms relating to hormone changes—welcome to peri-menopause. Symptoms such as changes in your menstrual cycle, mood swings, and hot flushes can be experienced 10 years before menopause. 

Eat foods that support progesterone, help metabolise oestrogen and reduce inflammation. These include the brassica family: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and kale. During this decade, also include omega 3 rich foods, such as grass-fed meats, wild fish, and pastured chook eggs. Finally, eat foods rich in minerals (e.g. calcium, zinc, and iron) and fat-soluble vitamins (e.g. vitamins A, D, E and K2) for healthy bones. This includes bone stock broth, pastured dairy milk products, pastured meats, and wild fish.

And don't forget to reduce alcohol, which impacts your liver's ability to metabolise oestrogen healthily.

What To Eat In Your 50s And Beyond

Your diet in your 50s is similar to your 40s. Now is the time to implement a diet low in sugar, alcohol, vegetable oils, and refined salt. The focus is on maintaining a healthy weight, reducing inflammation, and supporting immunity. 

If a woman is in menopause, research shows the role of dietary protein and vitamin D in maintaining musculoskeletal health is paramount. Protein and vitamin D-rich foods include whole eggs, preferably pastured, which increases their vitamin D content, and omega 3 essential fats, which are anti-inflammatory. 

Calcium-rich foods for healthy bones include sesame seeds, collard greens, sardines with bones, yoghurt, and cheese. Calcium and other minerals require fat-soluble vitamins for absorption, including A, D, and K2. Choose whole-fat, pastured dairy for optimum absorption. 

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