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Nutrition Throughout the Human Life Cycle

Proper nutrition keeps your body functioning in top shape, allowing it to grow, heal and fight illness more efficiently. Nutritional needs vary drastically based on your age. Throughout the human life cycle a person requires different levels of calories, nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Proper nutrition helps you gracefully grow from infancy to old age.

Infants from birth to 6 months require only breast milk or formula and no other foods. The National Institutes of Health states that breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed a baby because breast milk the perfect balance of nutrients. It also has antibodies that protect a baby from getting sick, which formula does not have. Once a baby turns 6 months old she can begin eating soft, pureed foods in addition to breast milk or formula.

Children from the ages of 1 to 5 years grow at a rapid rate. The government’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines for healthy eating encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and whole grains every day. According to the Weight Control Information Network, a child’s school lunch is an important part of his nutritional intake, which should include foods like low-fat yogurt, nuts and fruits instead of chips, candies, soda and cookies.

According to the Weight Control Information Network, about 17 percent of teenagers in the United States were overweight during the years of 2003 to 2004. Though it depends on the teenager’s height, weight and physical activity level, teenagers generally need around 2,000 calories per day, states the Weight Control Information Network. In order to prevent excess weight gain, it recommends teenagers eat fruits and vegetables every day and choose healthy fats like avocados instead of eating pastries and fried foods.

While the government’s five major recommended food groups of grains, dairy, fruits, vegetables and meats, beans and nuts still apply as the recommendations for adults, some important health issues facing many adults include obesity, cholesterol and blood pressure. The Weight Control Information Network recommends that adults watch their portion sizes and limit their intake of fats, especially saturated fats.

Nutrition is incredibly important for the elderly. According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, less than 10 percent of the elderly population eats the recommended daily amounts of dairy and grains. In addition to getting fiber from whole grains and calcium from dairy, elderly individuals also need to make sure they drink enough water to stay hydrated, as dehydration is another concern.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.