Health and nutrition

by Ma. Janice C. Martires

Good health and nutrition are the bases for a happy and fulfilling life. Many people miss opportunities in life just because they were unable to get proper health and nutrition during crucial periods. Conversely, persons who make good health and nutrition choices often reach their goals and live longer and happier lives, and even have the chance to serve their families, friends, and the community to the best of their ability.

Before a child is even born, good health and nutrition already begins. A child’s health is first determined by the conditions within and outside of the womb. Because the child gets nutrition from the food intake of the mother, the mother who is responsible must select healthful food and drink and stay away from harmful substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and dangerous drugs. Before she gives birth, the responsible mother obtains access to a maternal and child health program. She enlists the service of a skilled birth attendant at a safe birthing facility. After birth, she engages in exclusive breastfeeding, subjects the baby to immunizations, and provides the child with micronutrient supplements. She also encourages the full support of the child’s father in providing the family with safe and healthful food choices. Together, the parents nurture the child at the crucial period when his or her body is still developing.

As the child grows up, the parents and other family members promote proper hygiene and sanitation. They wash their hands, use hygiene items such as soap, water, toothbrush, and toothpaste, drink from clean water sources, prepare food carefully by adhering to safety standards, and keep sanitation facilities clean.

The child further develops into an adolescent, and his or her body adjusts according to the hormones. Teens like children must be given guidance and attention so that they are able to cope well during this time of many physical, emotional, and mental changes. They must be provided with information on reproductive health and puberty issues.

As the individual grows to be an adult, his or her attention on health should not wane. Though the bodily changes will not be as pronounced at this stage as in childhood or adolescence, the adult still needs much care and concern as regards his or her health. Stress and anxiety often set in as he or she juggles numerous tasks. Lifestyle choices such as the lack of exercise, or high intake of fat, sugar, and sodium, and frequent smoking and drinking may hamper the achievement of goals. Lack of sleep and rest is also common, especially among those who have various roles to play.

The bottom line is that health and nutrition should never be taken for granted, at whatever point in life. Whether in the womb, during infancy, childhood, puberty, or adulthood, it is important to maintain good health habits so that one reaches his or her full potential.