In this Chapter, we continue to explore nutrition through the life cycle, this time looking at adulthood to the elderly years.
- 15.1: Prelude to Lifespan Nutrition in Adulthood
- Adulthood begins at the end of adolescents and continues until the end of one’s life. During adulthood, the human body will reach maximum cardiac output specifically between ages twenty and thirty. Bone and muscle mass also reach optimal levels, and physical activity helps to improve muscle strength, endurance, and tone. In order to maintain health and fitness throughout the lifespan, it is important to remain active.
- 15.2: Young Adulthood
- A young adult who is active has reached his or her physical peak and is in prime health. For example, vital capacity, or the maximum amount of air that the lungs can inhale and exhale, is at its peak between the ages of twenty and forty. During this life stage, it important to continue to practice good nutrition. Healthy eating habits promote metabolic functioning, assist repair and regeneration, and prevent the development of chronic conditions.
- 15.3: Middle Age
- A number of physical changes take place in the middle-aged years, including the loss of bone mass in women due to dropping levels of estrogen during menopause. In both men and women, visual acuity declines, and by age forty there can be a decreased ability to see objects at a close distance, a condition known as presbyopia. All of these are signs of aging, as the human body begins to change in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
- 15.4: Older Adulthood - The Golden Years
- Beginning at age fifty-one, requirements change once again and relate to the nutritional issues and health challenges that older people face. After age sixty, blood pressure rises and the immune system may have more difficulty battling invaders and infections. The skin becomes more wrinkled and hair has turned gray or white or fallen out, resulting in hair thinning. Older adults may gradually lose an inch or two in height. Also, short-term memory might not be as keen as it once was.