Saturday, July 14, 2012

Eating Well for Longevity

Longevity: n. a long duration of individual life.

The amounts and kinds of foods that we consume should be selected based on human nutritional needs at every stage of growth and development. Infants, children, teenagers, adults, and seniors all have different energy and dietary requirements that should be adjusted as they age. Understanding how to nourish the body will increase the chances of living longer and enjoying a better quality of life.

Stages Defined
1) Infants- ages 0-12 month
Infants from birth to 6 months require only breast milk or formula and no other foods.The National Institutes of Health states that breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed a baby because breast milk the perfect balance of nutrients. —It also has antibodies that protect a baby from getting sick, which formula does not have.Once a baby turns 6 months old she can begin eating soft, pureed foods in addition to breast milk or formula.
2) Children- ages 1- 12 years
Children from the ages of 1 to 5 years grow at a rapid rate. —The government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines for healthy eating encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and whole grains every day. According to the Weight Control Information Network, a child's school lunch is an important part of his nutritional intake, which should include foods like low-fat yogurt, nuts and fruits instead of chips, candies, soda and cookies.
3) Teenagers- ages 13-19
According to the Weight Control Information Network, about 17 percent of teenagers in the United States were overweight during the years of 2003 to 2004. —Though it depends on the teenager's height, weight and physical activity level, teenagers generally need around 2,000 calories per day, states the Weight Control Information Network. In order to prevent excess weight gain, it recommends teenagers eat fruits and vegetables every day and choose healthy fats like avocados instead of eating pastries and fried foods.
4) Adults- ages 20-50
While the government's five major recommended food groups of grains, dairy, fruits, vegetables and meats, beans and nuts still apply as the recommendations for adults, some important health issues facing many adults include obesity, cholesterol and blood pressure. The Weight Control Information Network recommends that adults watch their portion sizes and limit their intake of fats, especially saturated fats.
5) Seniors- ages 51+
Nutrition is incredibly important for the elderly population. According to the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition," less than 10 percent of the elderly population eats the recommended daily amounts of dairy and grains. In addition to getting fiber from whole grains and calcium from dairy, elderly individuals also need to make sure they drink enough water to stay hydrated, as dehydration is another cause for concern.

Source: "Nutrition Throughout the Human Life Cycle"

Things You Should Not Do (At Any Stage)
  • Smoke or use tobacco
  • Consume alcohol
  • Use illicit drugs  
  • —Abuse prescription drugs 
  • Consume excessive amounts of sugar, caffeine, energy drinks, fast food, sodium, refined (packaged) foods
  • Eat pork in any form

Other Considerations
  • Level of physical activity (Sedentary vs. Active)
  • Health condition (Healthy? Sickly? Pregnant? Injured?)
  • Type of work performed (White-Collar vs. Blue Collar)

Ten Tips to A Great Plate:

1) Balance calories by eating enough to sustain daily activities

2) Enjoy your food, but eat less of it

3) Avoid oversized portions of food

4) Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy

5) Make half your plate fruits and vegetables in a variety of


6) Switch to low-fat dairy

7) Make at least half your grains whole grains

8) Cut back on foods that have extra fat, added sugar, and

excess sodium

9) Compare sodium labels and opt for low-sodium choices

10) Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks

Additional Reading: "Does Sugar Affect Children's Behavior?"

Be good to yourself! More next time...

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