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Importance of Nutrition in Age Groups

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. This includes the food intake, absorption and assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion.

The term diet is all about the regular staple of food that a person takes in relation to its availability, food preparation, and palatability. A healthy diet involves the food preparation and methods of storage, which both are instrumental processes in preserving the food nutrients from oxidation, heat or leaching, as well as from the risk of food poisoning. Nutrients are composed of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and amino acids, and vitamins, as well as water, oxygen, and minerals.

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. The dietary changes are not only due to our changing age but can be due to economic, psychological, and social factors.
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The initial observance of proper nutrition begins at the first six months of a baby’s life, in which nutritionists highly recommend that the mother feeds her baby with her breast milk since it is full of nutrients and antibodies that are needed by the baby. After six months, solid food can already be given to the baby together with the mother’s breast milk.
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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. 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.

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. At this age level, we should still strive to have three full meals but the proportions of food will have to be reduced in portions and snack foods must be on whole grain toast and fruit diet. Normally, most adults eat in small portions than they use to when they were young, so it is best to prepare and cook large meals and freeze the rest of the foods until 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 is, therefore, recommended to buy food, that are already pre-cooked and are equally nutritious, and can be frozen at a long period of time, so that small portions of it can be taken as the need arises.