Nutrition is a part of science that studies, as well as analyzes and interprets, the relational effect of nutrient in food and other food substances to the growth, life and health maintenance, reproduction, and diseases of people and also of living organisms. This includes the food intake, absorption and assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion.
The food intake or diet of a person represents the kinds of food he/she eats, and which is determined by the availability of the food, how the food was processed or prepared, and how good the food was. To have a healthy diet, food must be well-stored and properly prepared and cooked so that the food nutrients are preserved and are kept from being oxidized or from being spoiled from heat or leaching or from food poisoning. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins and amino acids, and vitamins, as well as water, oxygen, and minerals are referred to as food nutrients.
As we age, our dietary needs will also change and this interaction of our dietary needs with age will continue throughout the life phases, such that the food nutrients undergo a rational adjustment as we grow older. It is not just the stages of age where the diet of people changes, but there are also factors that contribute in the dietary change, such as economic, psychological, and social aspects.
For the first six months of a baby’s life, nutritionists strongly recommend that mothers must breastfeed their babies since breast milk is complete and full of nutrients and has antibodies which the infants need. After six months, solid food can already be given to the baby together with the mother’s breast milk.
The dietary nutrition for the pre-school age group considers the following food combination – carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy foods, protein and good quality fats, as well as vitamins A, C, calcium, iron and zinc.
As the child reaches school age which is until the teen years, this necessitates the proper feeding of a healthy, balanced diet of nutrients to be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle. What is recommended for this age group is a proportional balanced diet of complete nutrients, including calcium, iron and protein with vitamin supplements, and must be found in any of the three meals each day – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
As we enter adulthood, the majority of our body’s growth and development will be over and the gradual slowing down requires a shift more on adult nutrition to maintain a physically active life. Food intake, at this age level, are smaller in proportions even if taken during mealtimes and snack foods must be limited to whole grain toast and fruits. Because the meal portions, at this age level, are eaten in smaller portions, it is suggested that large meals be cooked so that the rest of the food can be frozen and re-heat for the next meal.
As we continue to age until we reach the elderly stage, our bodies continue to change but the appetite to eat may also change drastically to poor appetite out of biological and hormonal factors, including the limited physical mobility which can hamper in buying and preparing for the right kinds of food. It would be ideal if pre-cooked meals with nutritional value and with longer shelf-life can be bought, so that small portions can be heated as the need arises.
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