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Importance of Nutrition in Age Groups Nutrition is a part of science that studies, as well as analyzes and interprets, the relational effect of nutrient in food and other food substances to the growth, life and health maintenance, reproduction, and diseases of people and also of living organisms. The study includes such processes of food digestion, absorption and assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion. Diet of a person refers to what food the person regularly eats with respect to the food availability, how the food was prepared and cooked, and how the food tasted. 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. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins and amino acids, and vitamins, as well as water, oxygen, and minerals are referred to as food nutrients. 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. 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.
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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. A combination of solid food and breast milk should be fed to the baby after six months.
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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. At this age group level, nutritional requirement that contains proportional balanced diet of the essential foods including calcium, iron and protein with vitamin supplements must be found in the three meals taken 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. 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 continue to age until we reach the elderly stage, our bodies continue to change but the appetite to eat may also change drastically to poor appetite out of biological and hormonal factors, including the limited physical mobility which can hamper in buying and preparing for the right kinds of food. 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.