A healthy diet comprises of variety. Left to themselves, a good eating habit keeps people of all ages healthy as long as they eat from different food groups. However, our increasingly unhealthy lifestyle, picky nature, and finicky food habits have spoiled us for the worse. That is why it is important to plan a healthy diet and stick to it to ensure that we are getting the right nutrition. However, there is no one-size-fits-all diet. People in different age groups have different nutrition requirements. In general, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes are great for all ages.
Dietary Requirement of Children
As children begin their school years, they get into a rapid growth phase. During this time, their nutritional requirement is high and can increase with each passing month. Summers are especially tricky as children grow fastest during the summer.
Kids require foods rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of these nutrients. Growing children need at least 2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables a day. They should also consume 6 servings of bread and cereals to get all the minerals, vitamins, and fiber they need. Children also need their growth fuel, which is mostly comprised of calcium and protein. A lack of either can seriously inhibit their growth. At least 2-3 servings of milk and dairy products are needed to meet their nutritional requirement. Further, to ensure that they are getting the right amounts of minerals like zinc, iron, and other minerals, vitamins, and proteins, one serving of meat, beans, peas, and lentils are mandatory.
Dietary Requirement of Adults
As children grow into adulthood, their nutritional requirement increases, not to fuel their growth, but to just maintain their health. Their routine stays pretty much same as the children when it comes to diet – 2 servings of fruits, 3 servings of vegetables, 6 servings of pieces of bread and cereals, 2-3 servings of milk and dairy products, a serving of meat and its alternatives a day. However, each serving of an adult is much bigger than that of a child’s serving.
By and large, the food habits remain the same, and need not be changed. However, because of the unique lifestyle of adults, some changes to the diet may be warranted. As children move into adulthood, they don’t burn their fat as quickly as before, because of their now sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, slight changes such as low-fat meat instead of regular meat may be incorporated into the diet. Similarly, fruits and bread, which are rich in carbohydrates can be replaced with equal proportions of vegetables and cereals for a balanced diet.
Dietary Requirements of Elders Above 60 Years
As we grow older, our body begins to deteriorate. A lot of dietary care needs to be observed just to repair the increasingly deteriorating body. Lots of protein is required by the body, both as an energy source and to repair the body tissues. 2 servings of lean meat (fish, chicken, lean red meat, etc.) and meat alternatives (nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs, etc.) supply the body’s requirement for protein. Further, bone diseases are a common problem in old age. To keep them at bay, at least 3 servings of calcium-rich foods like milk, yogurt, tofu, almonds, etc. are essential. Moreover, calcium absorption in the body is controlled by Vitamin D, which can be obtained from oily fish, dairy products, lean meat, and eggs, apart from the sunlight. Finally, it is the turn of the brain. To maintain good brain health, at least 1 serving of Vitamin B12-rich foods like chicken, fish, eggs, lean meat, and dairy products is a must.
A balanced diet has an amazingly positive impact on our general health. However, if you are suffering from any conditions, some foods may have to be avoided. Contact your physician to learn about substitutes, to ensure that you are getting your complete daily nutrition.