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. In order to gain a healthy diet, food must be cared for in such a way that it is stored well, prepared and cooked properly, so that the nutrients in it are preserved from oxidation, heat or leaching, and from the risk of food poisoning. Nutrients that are organically derived are made up of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and amino acids, and vitamins, as well as water, oxygen, and minerals.
It has been studied and observed that our dietary needs change as we age and this occurrence will continue through all the stages in life; therefore, the food nutrients will also be affected such that they undergo a relational adjustment as we grow older. Contributary factors to the dietary change, aside from the aging process, are economic, psychological, and social aspects.
Good and proper nutrition starts at the first six months of an infant, wherein nutritionists highly recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies with their breast milk since it is full of nutrients and antibodies which the babies 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.
When the child reaches school age, which stretches to puberty, proportions of the nutritional requirements according to their age and physical, mental and social activities will now vary, such that it is imperative that a healthy balance of food nutrients be afforded to ensure a healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet packed full of nutrients including calcium, iron and protein with vitamin supplements is recommended for this age group, which must be contained in the three full meals everyday.
Growth and development will be almost over when we reach adulthood, such that this signals on the direction for the body to shift to adult form of nutrition to continue in maintaining 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 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. What is suggested, when this situation happens, is to buy pre-cooked meals, which are nutritionally balanced, which can be frozen for a longer period of time, so that small portions can be heated as the need arises.
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