Generally, nutrition is defined as a branch of science which studies and interprets the relational effect of nutrients and substances in food to the life growth, maintenance, reproduction, health and illnesses of people, including that of other living organisms. Food digestion, absorption and assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion are processes that are taken up also in nutrition.
The term diet is all about the regular staple of food that a person takes in relation to its availability, food preparation, and palatability. 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.
When we age, our dietary needs will change and this kind of process will continue all through life, and with that, the food nutrients that we take will also undergo adjustments 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. The feeding of solid food takes place, normally after six months, combined with breast milk.
The early years of the pre-school age group should start with these nutritional requirements: carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy foods, protein and good quality fats, as well as vitamins A, C, calcium, iron and zinc.
For school age group up to puberty, the nutritional requirement further progresses and a healthy balance of these requirements must be observed for the child or teenager to live 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.
When we reach the age of adulthood, our growth and development slows down and, therefore, our main focus then would be how to maintain a physically active life with a proper balance of adult form of nutrition. The dosage of food intake, at this age level, should be limited into individual portions but not forgetting to still have three meals a day and that snacking should be choosing healthier options, like whole grain toast, 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 reach the elderly stage, our bodies will continue to change and will experience limitations in mobility, and this is a factor that can hamper the continued maintenance of balanced nutrition, since the restricted mobility can result into not being able to buy the right ingredients and, more so, cook a balanced meal. 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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