• Amy Margulies

Calling BS on 'Aging Gracefully'

Whoever coined the phrase, “aging gracefully,” certainly wasn’t a 50-something-year-old-perimenopausal woman.

There is nothing graceful about night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, cravings and mood swings. My lifelong friend and co-author, Lori Klein, LCSW-C, and I plan to write a series on this stage of life. Our interests in healthy living and enjoying all things in moderation have put us on a collective journey. While the journey is different for everyone, “the change” is a shared experience, and we need to talk about it.

We are lucky to be alive...and aging, but it sometimes feels like we need to be in a constant state of vigilance -- our changing bodies compel us to change our mindset to maintain physical, emotional and mental wellness. During this pandemic winter, take the time to focus on YOU. If you create healthy and mindful habits now, you will benefit when normal life returns. There are plenty of dietary needs that become more critical as we age. Good nutrition and regular exercise are important for heart health and mind, but they are also essential for bone health. Most women pay attention to calcium intake when pregnant or nursing, but it sometimes gets forgotten afterward. Genetics play a big role, but if you do not consume or absorb enough calcium and vitamin D throughout your life, you are at risk for developing osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis or “porous bone,” is a disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from just sneezing or minor bumps. If you have concerns about stress fractures and/or broken bones, contact your physician. Daily Calcium WOMEN: 50 years old and younger = 1000 mg/day 51 years old and older = 1200 mg/day MEN: 70 years old and younger = 1000 mg/day 71 years old and older = 1200 mg/day Vitamin D is key to calcium absorption WOMEN & MEN: 50 years old and younger = 400–800 IU daily 51 years old and older = 800–1000 IU daily Keep in mind, the safe upper limit of vitamin D is 4,000 IU per day for most adults, so do not overdo it. More is NOT always better! There are supplements, but food and nature are excellent sources. Calcium sources: Fortified soy milk and other plant milks Low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt) Some dark green leafy vegetables (e.g. broccoli, kale, collard greens, bok choy) Tofu (made with calcium sulfate) Figs Blackstrap molasses Fortified breads/flours Fortified orange juice Sardines or canned salmon with bones Vitamin D sources: Vitamin D-fortified cow’s milk Fortified soy milk or other plant milks Skin exposure to sunlight, defined as 10-to-15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to your arms, legs, abdomen and back. Best time for exposure is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., but be sure to follow up with sun protection.

LORI’S BONE BOOSTING SMOOTHIE Getting 1200 mg a day of calcium is a challenge. I don’t eat dairy, and I refuse to try sardines or canned salmon with bones. I found that Planet Oat’s oat milk has the most calcium per cup at 350 mg! I use unsweetened, as I get plenty of sweetness from the other ingredients. Cacao nibs, chia seeds, avocado & Greek yogurt (if you eat dairy) are great additions! INGREDIENTS & PREP 1 cup frozen fruit (mango, strawberries, banana) ~35 mg calcium 1 cup frozen spinach or 2 cups fresh spinach ~80 mg calcium 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses ~14 mg calcium 2 cups Planet Oat oat milk ~700 mg calcium 1 Tablespoon nut butter (Almond: ~45 mg calcium)

Throw it all in blender! Approximately 874 mg of calcium.

AMY’S KALE AND CHICKS Kale is that overachieving friend who is just good at everything. You know the type! Kale supports your body’s natural ability to produce digestive enzymes and loads you up with folate, calcium, antioxidants, vitamin K and polyphenols. It is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Cook it up with chickpeas for a plant-based protein.

INGREDIENTS 1 pound kale, washed, stems removed, chopped into bite-size pieces ~608 mg calcium 2 Tablespoons olive oil 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 teaspoon coriander

1 15-ounce can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained ~ 157 mg calcium

Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste PREPARATION

Place cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, garlic and onion. Sauté until browned, 5–7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, coriander and kale. As kale begins to wilt, 4-5 minutes, stir in chickpeas. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Place in serving dish. Makes 4 side-dish servings or 2 lunch/dinner servings. Approximately 765 mg of calcium. The cost of your good habits is in the present. The cost of your bad habits is in the future. ~James Clear