Nutrition: Does one size fit all? Know from the expert
By Dr Pratibha Babshet
It is a known fact that the food we consume has a huge impact on our general health and well-being. Consuming a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet ensures that your body gets what it needs for maintaining good health and helping combat diseases. A combination of physical activity (exercise) and a nutritious diet ensures that our minds and bodies are healthy.
The ideal food for any individual is determined by one’s body type, weight, age, and physical activity. However, the daily nutritional requirement for a child, an adult, and a senior citizen differs largely. This difference may not be just in portions that are consumed but overall nutrition requirements too.
Understanding a Balanced Diet
Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water are six vital nutrients that our bodies require for healthy functioning. A balanced and nutritious diet combined with regular exercise increases one’s resistance to mental stress and physical diseases. Nutritional requirements, on the other hand, differ from one phase of life to the next. It is, therefore, essential to understand the balanced diet requirements across different stages of life:
- During Infancy: Breast milk should be the sole source of sustenance for infants at least for the first six months of life. WHO also recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. An infant’s gastrointestinal tract isn’t equipped to handle solid foods, and babies lack the oral motor skills necessary to safely swallow. Breast milk is particularly important to fulfil the nutrient demands of infants. If breast milk is insufficient, then infant formula maybe used. It is created and regulated to ensure that it is safe and nutritious. The theme for National Nutrition Month this year “feeding smart right from start’’ is an important reminder to ensure proper nutrition from the beginning of our lives for a healthy body.
- Young children: Children’s nutritional requirements vary greatly based on their age and degree of physical activity. During this stage, calcium and phosphorus are essential with Vitamins D and K in order to support bone health. To promote the overall health and development of children during their formative years, parents can add a nutritional drink to their meals that contains key ingredients like milk protein, almonds, colostrum, tulasi, and gotu kola. The vitamin and mineral requirements of a child differ with age, like energy requirements. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and pulses should be eaten.
- Adults: Among adults, lifestyle can significantly impact the food that is eaten. Multitasking, long working hours, and an active lifestyle require high energy and stamina. To meet the demands of an active lifestyle, it is important to consume the right nutrients that help enhance the ability to endure physical and mental stress. Adding a nutritional supplement that contains high-quality proteins, essential vitamins and minerals along with the goodness of herbs like moringa, guduchi, ginger, hadjod, and shankhapushpi helps bridge nutritional gaps and keeps adults fit and energized.
- Seniors: As people age, their requirements change, but a good diet and staying active can help prevent potential health problems and play a key part in aging well. As people get older, they tend to eat less and have deficient levels of required nutrition in their bodies. Older people should eat food that is easy to digest, high in calcium, rich in protein, high in fiber and lower their intake of saturated fats and sodium. The list includes eggs, lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy foods, legumes, fruit and vegetables, and wholegrain bread and cereals in moderate quantities.
This National Nutrition Month, let’s make a promise to understand the nutritional requirement and healthy lifestyle that our bodies and minds demand and deserve. After all, it is a healthy body and mind that helps in attaining overall well-being.
(Dr Prathibha Babshet is an Ayurveda Expert of R&D at Himalaya Wellness Company)
(The opinions expressed are personal and do not necessarily endorse the views of Times Now)