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Our nutritional needs change with different life stages. To be fit and healthy, it is important to require into consideration the additional demands placed on your body by these changes.

To meet your body’s regular nutritional needs, you ought to consume:

  • A large consume of nutritious foods
  • Water as each day routine
  • Enough energy, with carbohydrates because the preferred source
  • Adequate protein for cell maintenance and repair
  • Fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins
  • Essential minerals like iron, calcium, and zinc

Foods have plant-derived Phyto – chemicals, aid in protection against heart condition, diabetes, cancers, arthritis, and osteoporosis.

A composite diet that will include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, dairy foods, and lean meats will be able to meet these basic requirements.

Babies – birth to six months of age

Infants usually double their length and triple their weight between birth and one year old. Breast milk given to a baby is having all the required nutrients in specified amounts, fluids, and energy up to about six months old. Where possible, breast milk is preferred to formula, because it contains many protective and immunological factors that benefit the baby’s development.

Breast milk or correctly prepared infant formula provides enough water for a healthy infant to interchange any water losses. However, extra water should be given to all infants once solid foods are introduced in their diet.

Babies – six to 12 months old

Solids should be introduced around six months old. Different societies have their own traditions about which food is more appropriate to begin with. In case of nutritionally active condition appropriate foods and preparation methods should be encouraged.

As a baby is gradually weaned from the breast or bottle and new solids are introduced, there is also reduced body stores of iron. To keep up nutrient body stores:

  • Give your baby foods that are rich in iron, like iron-enriched infant cereals. Iron enriched rice-based cereals are frequently recommended because the first food to be introduced, as there’s the extra good thing about the lower risk of a reaction due to allergy.
  • Fruits and vegetables should be introduced after the cereals as they are equally important for acquiring vitamin and mineral content and also introduces new textures, tastes, and colors in the diet.
  • All the nonveg foods like meat, poultry, fish, and whole eggs are usually last in the list.
  • Foods should be introduced one at a time. New foods should be offered every three to four days to avoid confusion and to have less chance of allergy and sensitivity.
  • In case of feeding babies during illness and after illness ample liquids should be included in case of baby having diarrhea.
  • At times of occasional exposure of the skin to sunlight the baby get enough supply of vitamin D requirements but this will vary from season to season and with skin tone.

Young children

Once a baby is eating solids, offer a large range of foods to confirm adequate nutrition. Young children are often picky with food but should be encouraged to eat from a good type of foods. During childhood, there should be variation in the food intake (spontaneously) to match their growth patterns. Children’s food needs vary widely, betting on their growth and their level of physical activity. Like energy requirement a child also needs proper increase in protein, vitamins and minerals with age.

Ideally, children should be accumulating stores of nutrients in preparation for the rapid climb spurt experienced during adolescence.

In case of young children, the food-related problems include overweight, obesity, decay, and food sensitivities.

Recommendations include:

  • If a baby is gaining inappropriate weight for growth, limit energy-dense, nutrient-poor snack foods. Increase your child’s physical activity. You will also limit the frequency and quantity of television watching.
  • Tooth decay is also prevented with regular brushing and visits to the dentist. Avoid sugary foods, especially if sticky or acidic.
  • Make sure that your child has enough fluids intake throughout the day, especially water.
  • Be alert to foods possibly to cause allergies, including peanuts, shellfish, and cow’s milk. Care should be taken just in case of a case history of allergic reaction.

Children at the verge of entering their teenage:

The growth of children as they move into adolescence needs plenty of energy and nutrients. For girls, this requirement of nutrients occurs in the range of 10 to 11 years of age. For boys the need occurs later, at 12 to 13 years of age.

Recommendations include:

  • The energy required for growth and physical activity must be taken from foods that will provide nutrients rather than only calories.
  • There should be a proper balance between the junk and fast foods with nutrient-dense and healthy foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals, fruits, legumes, nuts, vegetables, fish, and lean meats.
  • Dairy products should be promoted more to aid in boosting calcium intake. This is very important for growing bones.

Older teenagers and young adults

At the time of moving away from home, due to work or study, there occurs a change in lifestyle. This usually occurs in the case of the late teens and early 20s. This can cause dietary changes that may not always be positive to good health.

Recommendations include:

  • Try hard and make all efforts to keep yourself physically active.
  • Avoid or have limited alcohol intake.
  • Lower the intake of fats and salt in the daily diet.
  • Be cautious to include foods rich in iron and calcium in the diet.
  • Build and promote healthy eating habits that will be carried on throughout the life.

Pregnant women

A pregnant woman should focus mainly on increasing her nutrient intake, not her energy intake, particularly in the initial first and second trimesters. Hence pregnant women are expected to gain about 10–13 kg during pregnancy. However, this also depends on the pre- pregnancy weight of the mother.

Recommendations include:

  • Avoid ‘crash dieting theory’, as this will lead to a negative impact on the baby.
  • Should not eat for two, as this will lead to sure weight gain.
  • One should concentrate on quality of diet rather than quantity of diet.
  • One should accommodate the cravings raised, but it should not be less nutritious foods.
  • Nutrients which are required on higher side during pregnancy are folate, iron, and iodine. Iron supplements taken should be advised by the doctor. Folate is a very important component required in the three months before and in the first trimester of pregnancy to avoid neural tube defects in the baby. Hence  women of childbearing age should consume high folate foods or take a folate supplement as recommended by a doctor.
  • The recommended intake of calcium will not increase during pregnancy. But for sure it is of utmost concern that pregnant women should fulfill calcium requirements during pregnancy.
  • Since there is no awareness of the safe limit of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, so it is highly recommended to not drink at all.
  • Being physically active adds to many benefits. If you are active and fit throughout before pregnancy and experiencing a normal pregnancy, then it is very much likely that you can remain physically active during your pregnancy.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, it can be water or any other healthy beverage.
  • Smoking should be quitted. Both direct and passive smoking can lead to growth retardation, risk of spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, complications in placenta, and low weight of baby.

Breastfeeding mothers

  • Breastfeeding mothers have a requirement of extra energy to cope with the demands of breastfeeding. This extra energy will be obtained in the form of nutrient-dense foods which will aid in both meeting the nutrient and extra energy required while breastfeeding duration.

Recommendations include:

  • Eat enough food. Breastfeeding burns through extra calories.
  • Eat foods that are nutrient dense, especially those foods that are rich in folate, iodine, zinc, and calcium.
  • Eat and drink regularly. Breastfeeding can aid in increase of risk of dehydration and can cause constipation.

Menopausal women

  • Bone thinning is very much common in postmenopausal women due to hormone-related changes.

Recommendations include:

  • Eat rich in calcium foods like milk or, if required take calcium supplements prescribed by a doctor.
  • Weight-bearing exercises to be started as walking, or weight training which will strengthen bones and help in maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • A diet high in fiber, low in fat and salt, high in phytoestrogens will help to reduce many symptoms of menopause like hot flushes. Good food sources are soy products (tofu, soymilk), cracked wheat, barley, chickpeas, flax seeds, lentils.
  • A diet should have nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, legumes and soy-based foods, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.

Older people

  • Many people reduce their diet as they get older. This can have negative effects on health as the diet should have enough variety to fulfill the nutrition required.

Recommendations include:

  • Be as active as possible and do regular exercise to improve your appetite and maintain the body muscle mass.
  • Remain healthy with a balanced eating and regular exercise.
  • Include foods in diet that are nutrient dense and not energy dense like eggs, lean meats, fish, low fat dairy foods, legumes, fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breads, and cereals, nuts, and seeds.
  • Take out some time daily outside in the sun to boost your vitamin D synthesis for healthy bones.
  • Limit foods in diet that are high in energy and low in nutrients like cakes, sweet biscuits, and carbonated beverages.
  • Add foods that are naturally high in fiber to have good digestion.
  • Add less table salt, especially during cooking.
  • Have plenty of fluid intake.

 

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