Although the general principles of health are relevant at all times, there are some factors that are more important at certain stages of your life.
A child’s diet is important for growth and development and it can influence eating habits later in life. For the first six months, it’s relatively simple – babies receive all their nutritional requirements from a milk-based diet. Thereafter a child should generally consume three balanced meals a day.
Proteins like fish, lean meat, eggs, milk, yoghurt and cheese are essential for a number of important functions, including growth, brain development and healthy bones. A source of carbohydrate is also important in each meal, but avoid wholegrain before 13 months old as it can be difficult to digest. Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day are recommended. Dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese are nutritious, providing the body with calcium and vitamins A and B12.
Routine check-ups for your kids’ growth and development should include measuring weight and height, checking blood pressure and looking for any visible problems. They can also cover scheduled immunisations to prevent illness, and provide an opportunity to talk about any concerns, for example behaviour, sleep, eating or social habits.
Nutritional needs vary depending on your sex, size, age and activity levels. However, there are some basic rules that apply to most people. An adult can cope with more wholegrains than a child, but also requires five fruit and veg a day. More fish, poultry, beans and pulses are recommended, and less red meat. Your food should be low in fat, sugar and salt.
As an adult, the key to a healthy diet is calorie control. You need to balance what you eat with the energy you use. Men are recommended to have around 2,500 calories a day, and women should have around 2,000.
This age group should make regular visits to the doctor to keep a check on things like blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, weight and BMI. Other periodic examinations should include your teeth, eyes and skin. Colorectal cancer screening often begins from the age of 50 and continues until 75.
Women are recommended to have regular pap smears, breast checks and mammograms.
Men might consider prostate cancer screening from the age of 50.
As well as a balanced diet, extra care with minerals and vitamins like vitamin D and B12,calcium and iron may be helpful.
Watching your weight becomes important. Some people experience a loss of appetite with age, but others put on weight. Your metabolism slows down so you’ll need fewer calories than before. In addition, you may have less energy and more muscle or joint problems and struggle to burn calories through physical activity.
Certain medical conditions become more common like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and osteoporosis. Your doctor may recommend changes in your diet to help prevent or treat these disorders.
In addition to your adult checks, some extra care may be needed. Hearing loss is more common and so regular hearing tests are
recommended. Your bones need protecting as you get older, and a bone density test to check
for osteoporosis may be necessary. There are also certain vaccinations that might be
recommended for the elderly – like protection against pneumonia, shingles and flu.
Article taken from InHealth, Issue 15 2017. Click here to download the publication.