Balanced Diet according to life stages

Identify/Describe/Explain how the components of a balanced diet vary according to the life stages of individuals. The nutritional needs of the human body change at different life stages. To maintain a good health, it’s essential to complete the needs placed on your body by these changes. To meet your body’s expected nutritional needs, you should have a mixed diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, greens, dairy foods and lean meats can perform these vital needs. Infancy (0-3 Years) When babies are born, they usually increase their length by 50% and weight by 300% between birth and one year into life.

In the first 0-6 months, the only form of food that a baby can get all its nutrients from – is their mother’s breast milk. A mother’s breast milk provides just the right blend of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and calories and also contains enzymes to aid digestion and minerals, such as calcium and iron, in a form in which a baby’s body can almost completely absorb. Breast milk also contains antibodies, which help protect a baby from infection and disease, however if the mother chooses not to breastfeed their baby, formula milk is used; modified cows milk that usually comes in powder and needs preparing. Although it acts like breast milk, it does not provide the antibodies like it.

Any other type of milk, such as cow’s milk or any other dairy product should not be introduced until 1 year of age. A baby’s kidneys are not as yet developed strongly enough to handle the high protein and mineral content fully until that age. The same applies to solid foods. Its strongly discouraged to introduce solid foods into the diet before 6 months because a baby is still developing their digestive system and cannot process solid foods initially. To start a baby on solids earlier than the recommended age may cause diarrhoea impair growth, likelihood of obesity, and the increased risk of allergies.

After 6 months some forms of solid food can be introduced into a baby’s diet. The way to begin this is to start off with a few teaspoons of dry plain cereal mixed with either enough formula or breast milk to make a soupy solution. Giving this once a day then finishing it off with their daily milk feed helps them to get used to the solid food slowly. At first babies will tend to eat very little, due to milk still being the main source of her diet and also trying to learn how to swallow takes time. Once a baby gets used to the cereal solution, its best to add other food, adding less solution to make thicker solution helps them develop their swallowing and chewing.

In this period, mothers may decide to wean their baby, in other words stop breast feeding their child. As a baby is steadily weaned from the breast or bottle and new solids are introduced, there may be reduced body stores of iron and vitamins C and D. To keep nutrient body stores mothers or carers – should not add salt or sugar to their baby’s food, introduce foods one at a time to avoid confusion, expose their skin to sunlight adequately to provide them their vitamin D requirement and to feed frequently – up to 4 to 6 times a day.

On the other hand as solids are introduced into the diet, the amount of milk being consumed will decrease making it easier for weaning however milk still is encouraged until the age of 1, because it’s still a main source of nutrition in their diet. In the second year of life the rate of growth and development slows down. The rapid rate of growth in the first year of life slows during the second year. Relatively, a baby’s appetite reduces also. They may tend to express their preference in foods and refuse to eat certain foods.

Children (4-10 years) After the age of 2, 3 years, low fat or skimmed milk cow’s milk could be used in the diet. A child’s diet should resemble the rest of the family, with 3 healthy meals and 2 nutritious snacks each day, making a good habit further on in life. Once a child is begins to eat solids, they are often picky with food but should be encouraged to eat from a wide variety of foods. During childhood, children’s food needs differ widely, depending on their growth and their stage of physical activity and like energy needs, a child’s full protein, vitamin and mineral requirements boost with age. Ideally, children should be building up stores of nutrients in preparation for the rapid ‘growth spurt’ experienced during adolescence.

The growth spurt as children move into adolescence needs plenty of energy and nutrients. For girls, this generally occurs around 10 to 11 years of age, while for boys it occurs later, at around 12 to 13 years. Foods that are high in calories can be eaten without causing excess weight, as long as the adolescents are physically active, and also dairy products should be involved in diet to boost calcium intake for strong bones.

Adulthood (18+) During adulthood, the general rules apply on having a balanced and healthy diet. Individuals should include something from all five main food groups in their daily diet. The five groups are: 1. Bread, cereals, grains and potatoes These provide energy in the form of carbohydrates along with fibre, vitamins and minerals that are vital to our body processes. Wholegrain choices such as granary bread or brown rice are high in fibre which helps maintain the digestive system well.

2. Fruit and vegetables The good source to get vitamins, minerals and fibre which also help prevent heart diseases, cancers and many health conditions that arise with age, it is encouraged that individuals east 5 portions of fruit or vegetables each day. 3. Meat and meat alternatives (fish, eggs, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds). Foods from the meat group provide strong sources of protein and amino acids that are vital for growth, development and for the repair of the body cells. Besides they contain important vitamins and minerals. Health experts recommend individuals to aim for a minimum of at least 2 servings from this group per day.

4. Dairy products (milk, cheese and yoghurt) Dairy products are an important source of calcium, essential for strong bones and teeth. They also provide protein, vitamin A, phosphorus, vitamin D and vitamin B2. Fit adults should have 3 servings from this group each day. 5. Fat and sugars This food group should be kept minimum, because of the danger to your health from high level of fats and sugars; you should keep foods such as pastries, crisps, desserts, sweets, cakes at the minimum level.

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