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How to Best Nourish Your Mind: Nutrition and Mental Health in Women Over 60

By Joan Senio April 06, 2024 Health and Fitness

It’s no secret that what we eat has a direct impact on our overall health and well-being throughout our lives. Healthy choices help our bodies to function well, and also help us to fight disease. What is less well known? What we eat becomes even more important as we age. And our dietary habits impact not only our physical health, but our mental health, too.

In fact, proper nutrition in our 60s and beyond can help us to maintain brain health and mental well-being as well as cognitive function, mood, and emotional wellness.

Let’s talk more about the vital role nutrition plays in mental health and wellness for women over 60.

Nutrition and Mental Health: The Gut-Brain Connection

Research has shown that there is a strong link between the gut and the brain, often referred to as the “gut-brain axis.”

This connection plays a significant role in regulating mood, cognition, and overall mental health.

By consuming a diet rich in fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics, women over 60 can support a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn can positively impact their mental well-being.

Essential Nutrients for Mental Health

Research has shown that there is a strong connection between nutrition and mental health. There are certain nutrients that play a vital role in maintaining good mental health, especially as we age.

Our diet can completely supply the nutrients necessary for our brains to function optimally, if we make healthy choices.

Read on to learn more about key components of a healthy diet to support mental health and cognitive function.

Hydration and Brain Function

Staying hydrated is key to maintaining optimal brain function, yet it is often overlooked.

Dehydration can lead to cognitive decline, fatigue, confusion, and mood swings, all of which can have a significant impact on mental well-being.

Women over 60 should aim to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to support their cognitive function and overall mental health.

How much is enough? That can be difficult to know.

But a good approach can be to keep a full water bottle within reach all day – and to make a conscious effort to continually take sips in an effort to consume the contents every hour or two.

The Role of Vitamin D in Mental Health

Women over 60 should ensure they are getting enough vitamin D either through sunlight exposure or dietary sources such as fortified foods or supplements to support their mental well-being.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of depression and cognitive impairment, particularly in older adults.

How Balanced Macronutrients Support Mental Health

Ensuring a well-balanced diet that includes a healthy mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats is essential to mental health and brain health in women over 60. Each food group plays a different role in helping us to maintain our well-being.

  • Complex carbohydrates from whole grains help provide a steady release of glucose to the brain, supporting cognitive function.
  • Adequate protein intake is important for neurotransmitter production, which helps regulate mood.
  • Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts, have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health.

How Antioxidant-Rich Foods Support Mental Health

Antioxidants play a key role in protecting the brain from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Foods rich in antioxidants can help protect brain cells from damage and promote overall brain health.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially those vibrant in color, provides a wide array of antioxidants.

Incorporating berries, leafy greens, and colorful vegetables like sweet potatoes and bell peppers can help support brain health.

Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Important for Women Over 60

Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for brain health and can help reduce the risk of inflammation in the brain and cognitive decline.

These foods have also been associated with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in some studies.

Sources of omega-3s include fatty fish like salmon and sardines, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

How B-Vitamins Support Cognitive Function and Mental Health

B-vitamins, including folate, B6, and B12, play a key role in brain health and neurotransmitter production.

Ensuring adequate intake can help support cognitive function and mood regulation.

Leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, and lean meats are good dietary sources of these essential vitamins.

Practical Tips to Maintain Proper Nutrition as a Woman Over 60

Making nutrition a priority at any age can be empowering, especially for women over 60.

Here are some practical tips to help:

  • Aim to incorporate a variety of nutrient-dense foods into each meal. Include a good source of protein (such as lean meats, fish, or plant-based protein), whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
  • Practice mindful eating to improve both physical and mental digestion. Slow down, savor each bite, and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
  • Regular physical activity not only supports physical health but also promotes mental well-being. Engage in activities that you enjoy, whether it’s walking, swimming, dancing, or yoga.
  • For personalized guidance, consider consulting with a registered dietitian who can tailor nutritional recommendations to your specific needs and goals.
  • Preparing your own meals gives you control over the ingredients and allows for creativity with flavors and textures. Experiment with new recipes and involve family or friends in the kitchen for added enjoyment.
  • Social connections positively impact mental health. Consider joining a cooking club or engaging in community or senior center activities that promote social interaction around food and nutrition.

Nutrition and Mental Health in Women Over 60

The connection between nutrition and mental health is undeniable, especially for women over 60.

Nourishing your body and mind takes time and effort.

By prioritizing nutrition, making conscious choices, and focusing on a well-balanced diet, you can empower yourself to not only maintain but enhance your mental well-being, cognitive function, mood, and emotional well-being as a woman over 60.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

But incorporating basic dietary principles into daily life, staying physically active, and seeking professional guidance when needed can greatly contribute to thriving in our later years.

Nourish your body, embrace your age, and empower yourself to live an even more mentally and physically fulfilling life!

Thank you as always for reading.


Let’s Start a Conversation:

What are your favorite foods to eat that support mental health in women over 60? Are there particular recipes or dishes that you have found that support mental health but are also family crowd pleasers? Do you find it easier to manage your diet or get enough exercise? What inspiration do you have to offer other women seeking to take better care of themselves? What hobbies or interests do you enjoy that boost your mental health? Do you have other suggestions for women working to support their mental health and cognitive function?

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Most women do not eat enough protein, fat or calories. Eat more fatty meat.

Diana Everett

Vegetarian here, no thanks.


I’m really interested in the gut-brain axis. 6 years ago I went to an exhibition at the Royal College of Surgeons in Copenhagen about gut health. The first thing it went into was the connection between the brain and the gut and how in times of stress the wiring becomes confused. I know this has happened to me on a number of occasions and am sure a great many of us have experienced this.

The British TV station Channel 4 did a great series a couple of years ago called “Know Your S**t” which went into detail, it featured a number of medical experts in the fields of nutrition, diet and gut health and was really informative. It also helped people with lives affected by gut health issues get back on track.

Stephanie Bryant

Can the series be seen in the US?

The Author

Joan Senio is the founder of KindCompassCoach. She is an entrepreneur, author and consultant. Joan is passionate about the study of positive psychology and is an active personal development mentor and coach to women of all ages. Joan can be contacted at

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