It has been rightly said, “You are what you eat”.

Whatever we consume plays a vital role in maintaining our health. Humans need a wide array of nutrients to lead an active and healthy life, and in order to get these nutrients, a proper diet is required. A well-balanced diet combined with regular exercise is a cornerstone of good health.  Poor nutrition may lead to low immunity, increased susceptibility to diseases, reduced productivity and mental retardation.

Healthy dietary practices begin early in life and recent studies have suggested that lack of nutrition in the womb may set the pace for diet-related chronic diseases in later life. Mentioned below are basic dietary requirements during different stages of life –

Diet for infants

It is very important to ensure that an infant gets proper nutrition in its growing years. Babies must be breastfed for the first 6 months of life. Proper breastfeeding reduces the risk of infections and improves the baby’s immunity. After 6 months you may start feeding the baby with complementary foods along with breastfeeding.

Diet for growing children

A growing child needs almost a good amount of all the 6 nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats, and water). All these are required for the development of immunity, bones and mental growth. The deficiency of any nutrient may lead to a deficiency disorder. Also, teenage girls go under a lot of hormonal changes when mensuration starts. Therefore, special attention must be paid to give them a diet rich in minerals and vitamins to prevent anemia.

Diet for pregnant and lactating mothers

A pregnant woman requires more care and a healthy diet rich in all the nutrients. Extra food is required to meet the nutritional requirement of the growing baby and to improve the birth weight of infants.  Pregnant women are recommended to consume a diet rich in iron and iodine. Iron is needed for the synthesis of hemoglobin while deficiency of iodine may lead to stillbirth, abortion, and cretinism.  For lactating mothers, calcium consumption is a must as it is required for the proper formation of teeth and bones of the baby.

Diet for adults

Adults may not be able to consume a proper diet due to time crunch and a sedentary lifestyle.  The dietary requirements change as one grows up. Adults are suggested to consume a diet rich in fibers which include fibrous foods such as whole grain, vegetables, and fruits.  Adult females must consume a diet rich in calcium and iron. Adults are advised to limit their intake of salts as it may increase the chance of high blood pressure.  One should also avoid canned foods and pickles as it increases the consumption of salt.

Diet for elderly

Elderly people must limit the number of calories as muscle mass reduces with age. They must eat more calcium, zinc, vitamin A and antioxidants to prevent age-related degenerative diseases. The elderly may complain of loss of appetite, therefore, they should consume calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, milk, and green leafy vegetables. Elderly people should also cut down their saturated fats, oily food, sweets, etc.

An endnote

By now you must have got a fair idea of what type of food you should be eating in order to get fit.  But if you want to ensure that you are taking the right type of diet as per your health status and age a dietician can be consulted. You can visit the dieticians at Sehgal Nursing Home, Adarsh Nagar and get the best consultation in the city. Even though diet plays a major role in keeping you healthy, daily physical activity is required to keep your body in shape and moving.  A 45 minutes brisk walk every day along with the right type of food can go a long way in keeping you healthy.