CH04 Nutrition Across Life Stages
Appropriate nutritional requirements must be achieved across life stages to gain maximum growth potential.
NUTRITION FOR INFANTS & TODDLERS (0-24 months)
The first two years of life is a critical period of growth and development and optimal nutrition during these years is important to prevent mortality, reduce the risk of diseases and aid overall development. For all round development, health and safe nutrition, infant must be exclusively breastfed for up to 6 months of life.
- Protein for growth of muscles and tissues
- Calcium to support bone growth and development
- Vitamin D to build strong bones and absorb calcium
- Iron for red blood cell formation
- Omega 3 Fatty Acid for cognitive development
- Gradually introduce complimentary feeding along with breastfed milk to meet the nutritional needs after 6 months
- Introduce one food item at a time to identify any potential allergy or intolerance
- Introduce liquids such as water, diluted milk and semi solid foods such as kheer, ragi malt, mashed fruits & vegetables etc.
- Introduce variety of foods for the child to get used to different flavors and textures
- Ensure hygiene practices while preparing and feeding.
- Introduce the foods in small amounts
- Avoid force feeding
NUTRITION FOR CHILDREN
Childhood is a period of continuous growth and development, to ensure that this is achieved optimally, it is important to give children a nutritionally adequate & well-balanced diet.
- Protein for growth & repair of tissues and muscles and support the transition to puberty
- Calcium for bone growth and development
- Vitamin D for strong bones and absorption of calcium
- Iron & Folic Acid for red blood cell production and prevention of anaemia
- Vitamin A to support eye health and prevent infections
- Vitamin C for immunity
- Include all food groups to ensure optimal nutrition, along with adequate intake of water.
- Make the plate colorful by including variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Encourage involvement in food preparation for easy acceptance of new foods.
- Encourage physical activity for optimal growth.
- Ensure sufficient consumption of milk and milk products.
- Present finger foods to preschoolers.
- Emphasize on the child's likes and dislikes.
NUTRITION FOR ADOLESCENTS
Adolescence is a period of change from childhood to adulthood and witnesses speedy physical and emotional development. These changes also demand for specific nutrient requirements
- Protein is necessary to support the growth and pubertal changes
- Calcium to support the bone growth that occurs on an everyday basis in this stage.
- Zinc is needed to support the pubertal growth and changes
- Vitamin D should be included support skeletal growth
- Iron is needed to support the increase in hemoglobin concentration and increased blood volume. Adolescent girls need additional iron requirement to replace monthly menstrual loss of iron through blood
- Ensure that they do not miss any meal of the day
- Avoid their consumption of empty calories through carbonated beverages
- Make the food colorful by including various pulses, fruits and vegetables to make it look attractive
- Encourage them to detach emotions from eating habits
- Boost their regular physical activity, it helps the adolescents to prevent onset of obesity and other lifestyle disorders.
NUTRITION FOR EXPECTANT & LACTATING MOTHER (0-6 months)
Pregnancy is a critical stage of a woman’s life and requires utmost care and proper nutrition. Adequate nutrition during pregnancy & breastfeeding impacts the health of both mother & baby.
- Protein essential for the rapid growth of fetus and adequate milk production.
- Iron needed for formation of hemoglobin and to make up the losses through child birth and breastfeeding.
- Zinc deficiency during pregnancy can increase the risk of low birth weight baby, and preterm delivery.
- Calcium for the calcification of fetal bones, maintain calcium reserves of mother & prevent the risk of osteoporosis in later life
- Dietary Fibre needed, as one of the complications of pregnancy is constipation. Dietary fiber intake helps relive constipation and helps maintain normal bowel movements.
- Dietary Folate essential for the normal growth and development of red blood cells. Deficiency can lead pregnancy induced hypertension and a development defect in the babies called spina bifida.
- Include small, frequent meals
- Avoid fasting or missing meal for long hours
- To avoid gastric distress, avoid strong flavored vegetables and excessive seasoning
- To stimulate more milk production effective galactagogues such as fenugreek, garlic etc., can be included in daily diet
NUTRITION FOR ADULTS
Adulthood is perhaps the most active and productive stage of human life. You require the peak amount of energy to balance multiple actions and changes in life.
- Protein intake is important to repair and replace your wornout hardworking tissues.
- Calcium is required to support the peak bone mass and prevent onset of osteoporosis.
- Iron demand is more in women as they are in their reproductive stage, along with menstrual loss and blood loss during childbirth, iron must be replaced to prevent anaemia.
- Antioxidants like Vitamin A, C & E are required to fight out the harmful effects of oxidative stress.
- Dietary Fibre must be consciously included in daily balanced diet to have a healthy digestive system.
- Eat balanced diet and include variety of foods
- Eat on time & do not skip any meals
- Include good fats from nuts & seeds, avoid more of saturated and trans fats.
- Drink adequate amount of water.
- Engage in moderate physical activity.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Get adequate quantity and quality of sleep.
- Eat limited amounts of sodium/salt & sugar.
NUTRITION FOR ELDERLY
Good ageing is not just seen by the longevity in years but also by physical, social and mental wellbeing. Specific nutrients are required to suit the physiological changes that one goes through aging.
- Energy- Low energy or low calorie is required as there is deceased BMR and physical activity.
- Protein- Moderate amount of protein intake must be ensured to support the declining muscle mass and ease digestion.
- Calcium- There is increased requirements of calcium to support the bone mineral loss.
- Antioxidants- Vitamin A, C & E are required to fight out the harmful effects of oxidative stress.
- Vitamin D- Its deficiency risk increases and must be taken care sufficiently through daily diet
- Dietary Fibre - Must be taken daily in adequate amounts to prevent constipation
- Limit the consumption of salt and sugar.
- Limit the intake of caffeine
- Easily digestible and well-cooked foods must be included
- Maintain healthy weight
- Avoid stress
- Get enough amounts of quality sleep
- Do not miss out on daily walks.
Consuming a balanced diet will fulfil your daily requirements and help meet the age wise nutritional milestones, along with adequate physical activity proper nutrition will help you lead an active healthy lifestyle
- Srilakshmi, B. (2002). Dietetics (Revised. New age international publication.
- WHO - Adolescent Health
- WHO - Infant and Young Child Feeding
- UNICEF Early childhood nutrition
- Infant and Young Child Feeding: Model Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. SESSION 1, The importance of infant and young child feeding and recommended practices.