3 Factors That Affect Your Nutritional Needs

There are many factors that affect the type and amount of nutrition our bodies need. Here we discuss the top 3.

Age

As we age, we can experience several changes – muscle loss (sarcopenia), reduced mobility and activity, increased frailty, digestive issues, poor nutrient absorption, chronic disease – all of which can influence our nutritional needs as we progress through life. To combat some of these changes, for example sarcopenia, it may be beneficial to consume higher levels of protein, > 1 gram per kg of body weight, in combination with physical exercise like walking and resistance training to help sustain muscle function (1). Consuming more calcium and vitamin D will help maintain bone health as you age as studies have shown that the gut tends to absorb less calcium as we get older (2).

Sleep

Good sleep can help to regulate the hormones that control fullness (leptin) and appetite (ghrelin). Sleep deprivation has been shown to be a key factor in reducing leptin and raising ghrelin levels (3), which increases appetite, which can lead to excess calories consumed and weight gain. Partial or total sleep deprivation has also been shown to elevate cortisol levels in the body the night after the sleep disruption occurs (4). Elevated cortisol levels give rise to increased blood glucose levels which in turn stimulates insulin production which can lead to increased fat storage over time.

Pregnancy

Expectant mothers have additional nutritional requirements to support the growth of their babies. For example, the daily calorie requirement for pregnant women increases by an additional 300 calories in the second and third trimesters, calcium requirements are 1200 milligrams per day, folic acid is 600 – 800 micrograms per day while iron requirements are 27 milligrams per day (5). The old saying of you are eating for two when pregnant is not 100% accurate but you do indeed have additional nutritional needs during this wonderful time.

Yours in health and happiness,

JP

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