Nutrition for your 50’s

Subject Expert: Emma Marshall

As we start to age it is more important than ever to limit processed foods and focus on eating a wholefood, healing diet.  Unfortunately, it’s a scientific fact that, as you get older your metabolism slows, so you need fewer calories to maintain the same weight. For this reason, you may need to be more mindful of portion sizes, frequency of meals and snacking.

It can often be really helpful to keep a food diary for a week to highlight your weak spots and make you more aware of what you are eating.

Making simple changes to our diet can be very effective in helping to manage our changing hormone levels.  We want to aim for food choices that are nutritionally dense. 

  • Protein should be lean animal or plant, this fills you up and your carbohydrate choices should be more complex such as whole grains, therefore keeping blood sugar levels stable.
  • Increase your intake of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables – eating a diet rich in lots of vegetables and fruit will help meet your recommended 30gms of fibre a day. Fibre is important for cardiovascular and digestive health, plus maintaining a healthy weight. Some studies have even found that diets higher in fibre might help to balance the production of oestrogen. 

They are also packed with antioxidants which not only slow down the ageing process but also help protect us against chronic diseases.

  • Focus on more cruciferous vegetables – Vegetables in the cruciferous family such as broccoli, cabbage and kale contain compounds called indole-3-carbinol, which naturally helps to balance oestrogen levels. These are also high in fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K and electrolytes that are important for blood pressure and heart health.
  • Eat more seeds – these are the perfect snack.  They are nutritional powerhouses, seeds of all kinds contain essential fats while both pumpkin and sunflower seeds contain good amounts of zinc, which help keep hormones in balance.  Linseeds (flaxseeds) are particularly good.  Buy ground flaxseeds to sprinkle on your food or add to a smoothie and don’t forget to keep them in the fridge to prevent oxidation.

Fill a jar with mixed raw seeds and snack on them.

  • Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are the building blocks for hormone production, they boost your metabolism and help keep you full for longer therefore preventing weight gain. They are crucial for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

These healthy fats are known as Omega 3 fats. We call them essential fats as we cannot make them in our body, we must eat them so it is really important to try and include them in our diet.  They are anti-inflammatory fats and studies have shown that frequently consuming them can support hormone production and menopausal problems, depression and breast cancer.

Apart from the oily fish such as mackerel and salmon other great sources are extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, virgin coconut oil, coconut milk, nuts, seeds and avocado.

  • Keep hydrated at all times.  Water regulates body temperature, helping relieve hot flushes and night sweats.  It is crucial for delivering nutrients to the right destination and to eliminate waste.  Aim for 2 litres a day and sip this throughout the day.  It is a good idea to carry a water bottle with you.
  • Swop your caffeine for herbal teas. Sage tea helps control hot flushes and night sweats, dandelion helps with water retention and is fantastic for liver health and nettle tea improves the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium which is important for bone health. 

Simple home remedy for hot flushes: chop about 6 sage leaves and soak overnight in fresh lemon juice. In the morning first thing, strain and drink the lemon juice diluted in water to taste. It will also aid digestion and cleanse the liver.

Recipe for Red Cabbage Slaw

I regularly make this raw salad, you can serve it as part of a meal, alongside a BBQ or just with a nice piece of cooked fish.

Beautiful in colour, it looks stunning when served

I like using red cabbage as it contains a powerful antioxidant known as anthocyanin, this has many health benefits including skin care, reducing cancer and boosting the immune system.  It is a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family and is high in insoluble fibre, beta carotene, vitamins B1, B6, C, E and K and the minerals magnesium, iron, calcium, iodine and sulphur.

Bright and bursting with health benefits

Serves 8:

100g pumpkin seeds

2 large carrots grated

200g baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced

1 red onion thinly sliced

½ red cabbage core removed and thinly sliced

1 green/red/yellow pepper thinly sliced


2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

6 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch or ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes

1-tablespoon runny honey

Salt and pepper

Turn the oven onto 200c and roast the pumpkin seeds for 5 minutes

In a bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, chilli and honey.  Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

Place the carrots, spinach, onion, cabbage, pepper and pumpkin seeds into a bowl and toss together to mix.

If making the day before, don’t add the pumpkin seeds until ready to serve.

When ready to serve toss the dressing into the salad and sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds.

About the Author:

Emma Marshall DipCNM, mBANT, ANP, CHNC

Emma is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and Functional Medicine Practitioner who specialises in working with cancer patients helping them to optimise conventional treatment outcomes with tailored nutrition and lifestyle support. She enjoys working to establish a deeper understanding of root causes of health conditions which then informs diet and lifestyle prescriptions.

As well as writing for several publications and speaking at wellness events around the country, she runs regular cookery demonstrations and one to one lessons from her home, teaching clients how to thrive through their daily eating.

Tel: 01753 648093/07976 530523


  1. Jess

    Munchy Seeds – scatter mixed seeds onto oven tray and sprinkle on some light soy sauce. Roast until toasty (approx 10 mins moving around half way through) Cool and store in tub. Scatter on salads etc or just snack on!

  2. Jess

    Munchy Seeds – scatter mixed seeds onto oven tray and sprinkle on some light soy sauce. Roast until toasty (approx 10 mins moving around half way through) Cool and store in tub. Scatter on salads etc or just snack on!

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