I’m in the middle of an assignment for my module ‘Nutrition across the Lifespan’ and am finding out some really interesting information that I wanted to share.
One area I am considering is what determines how healthy we are.
There is strong evidence that our health is shaped by events that happen throughout our life course, from the point of conception to the moment of death. Nutrition is a key factor and there is strong evidence that suboptimal nutrition leads to a range of non communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
The dietary choices made at each life stage can have a positive or negative impact on our health.
- A poor maternal diet can have detrimental impact on the developing foetus,
- Protective effects can be seen from breastfeeding
- Positive energy balance can lead to obesity in children
- Adolescents who make poor nutritional choices can harm natural growth and development.
- Risk factors such as high cholesterol and blood pressure may be diagnosed, modified and treated in adulthood.
- Low vitamin D intake can lead to poor absorption of calcium and weaker bones in older adults
Lifestyle choices we make also have an impact and there is evidence of the following:
- Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index reduces your likelihood of diseases such as type 2 diabetes
- Eating fruit and vegetables helps protect against illness and disease
- The more affluent you are the more fruit and vegetables you eat
- Smokers have a higher intake of meat and saturated fat and lower fibre diet
- Older adults gravitate to softer foods high in sugar and fat due to oral sensitivities
- Adults in the UK eat too much fat
- A diet high in fat can clog up your arteries and cause heart disease (see image illustrating blocked arteries)
- Resource deprived communities may have less access to healthier food choices
- Habits formed in childhood are carried through to adult hood
- Those who join a new social circle will adopt the habits of the new one
- Body composition changes is older adults (65+) and energy requirements are lower
- Adopting a Mediterranean diet can help prevent obesity, at all ages
I’m having a great time reading the many journal articles on the subject but reading is not enough I need to share my findings and encourage others to make changes. So next time you choose a packet of crisps or sugary drink, over a healthier alternative, think the health implications are long lasting and may catch up with you later in life. Switching to healthier meals and snacks, increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables, or having a cool drink of water will improve your health status now and you’ll reap the benefits into old age.