BY NOW you’ve probably got parents who are senior citizens. No matter how healthy your lifestyle, even long-time vegetarians may be more than a nervous the possibility of inheriting a parent’s heart disease or breast cancer. Although antioxidants are important throughout life, now is when many people begin to think about aging and get serious about loading up on vitamins C and E and beta carotene. These antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, help neutralize the damaging free radicals that might lead to cancer in the not-too-distant future. The Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Aging Research reports that some 120 studies conducted from the mid-1970s to the present showed a significant reduction in cancer risk with high consumption of fruits, vegetables and antioxidant supplements. Consequently, the National Cancer Institute recommends that everyone eat at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables; seven to nine servings are even more protective. Read more
AS THE CAREFREE DAYS of childhood slip away and you take on the responsibilities of work and family, chances are your life has become much busier. You might be pregnant, or contemplating it. You may be up for 3 a.m. feedings, then off to the office at 8. You could be trying to fit in graduate school, trips to the grocery store, home maintenance projects, get-togethers with equally time-pressed friends…and yoga classes to help you cope with it all. To keep your energy up and stress down, you need to eat. It sounds obvious, but, it’s easy to forget. “When you’re stressed, you forget to honor your own body, to feed your body,” says Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., co-author of Intuitive Eating (St.Martin’s Press, 1 995), which debunks dieting and teaches readers to get in touch with their bodies’ natural appetites and needs. “Remember to never go more than five hours without eating, to keep your blood sugar and your energy stable.”
If you’re a woman, chances are these will be your childbearing years. If you’re even remotely considering conception, you need to make sure that you get 400 micrograms (mcg.) daily of folic acid, a B vitamin found in beans, spinach, brewer’s yeast, fortified cereals, orange juice, wheat germ, asparagus and romaine lettuce among other foods. In 1992, a Hungarian study (New England Journal of Medicine, 327: 1832-1835) proved a clear link between low folic acid intakes and neural tube defects in fetuses, resulting in spine bifida, anencephaly and other birth defects. Since this tube is busy forming before pregnant, all women in this age group should keep up the folic acid. Read more
“TEENAGERS AND YOUNG adults need to be hit over the head with the calcium message,” says Christine Rosenbloom, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Between ages 11 and 17, kids gain 50 percent of their adult weight, and bones are rapidly growing longer and denser, on their way to peaking in density somewhere between ages 25 and 35 Rosenbloom says a great many high school and college-age girls diet constantly, depriving their bodies of the calcium that is so essential to creating strong bones that will resist crippling osteoporosis later on. At 1,200 ma. a day, the RDA for the 11-to-24 group is considerably higher than for older adults, and the National Institutes for Health would like to see that number increased to 1,500 mg. Besides the foods already mentioned for younger children, other good calcium sources include turnip greens, soybeans, kale and broccoli. (Cheese has plenty of calcium, but it’s also high in animal protein, which causes the body to excrete calcium.) Read more
People have varying nutritional needs depending on their age. Toddles should consume more fat than adults, teenagers need to consume more calcium, and menopausal women should cut back on caffeine. A guide to the best nutritional advice for different age groups is given.
A LOT OF NUTRITIONAL advice takes a “one-diet-fits-all” approach. Watch your cholesterol. Eat more calcium. Boost your fiber intake. Such broad generalizations, though, don’t address your day-to-day eating habits–exactly what foods should you emphasize and why? And even more specifically, how does your age affect what food choices you should be making? Human beings are complex and evolutionary, growing from curious toddlers to energetic teenagers, to time-pressed adults. Each stage comes with its own joys, demands, risks and rewards, and each stage has its own unique nutritional needs. How can you figure out what those needs are? Read on for a nutritional trip through the ages and stages of life, complete with tips on how to create a diet that’s fit for you.
BIRTH TO AGE 10
THE FORMULA MAKERS may not like it, but even they admit it in their ads: Human milk is the bestfood for babies. Period. “Breast milk alone provides not only all the essential nutrients, but it also provides immunological factors and possibly growth factors,” says Frances Stewart, M.S., R.D., chief of clinical nutrition at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. “We don’t know for sure yet, but some studies have indicated that breast milk fosters intellectual growth as well as gastrointestinal development.” Breast milk also may help prevent both environmental and food allergies, and breastfed babies have fewer ear infections than formula-fed babies.
Stewart is thrilled to see those rare women who breastfeed their babies for at least a year (less than 6 percent of all mothers); in a perfect world she’d have them nurse two to three years. “There’s a stigma in the United States about breastfeeding for more than a year, and we need to remove that,” she says, citing such benefits as stronger mother-child bonds, effective comforting and continuing immunological protection for as long as you nurse. Read more
When the children of the 1960s became parents nothing was too good or too laborintensive for their offspring. Buy baby food? Not when you can make it.
Why give a young child sugarcoated cereal when he can be nourished with brown rice puree?
Things have changed. Welcome to the new millennium and the new mom.
Parents don’t have time for do-it-yourself toddler foods. While they’re no less concerned with their children’s nutrition than the previous generation was, today’s parents expect more from processed foods, including reduced sugar and fat and fewer preservatives.
“What parents are looking for is less work on their behalf to get the foods that are good for their children into them,” says David Grotto, a Chicago-area registered dietitian and father of three.
No wonder organic foods, wholesome snacks, sugar-reduced breakfast cereals and family-friendly foods are finding a place in the supermarket. And since toddlers don’t know about nutrition but can be easily captivated, consumers can expect to see a bit of whimsy in child-focused foods.
Here’s a look at some of the new product introductions that combine wholesomeness with entertainment and value. Read more