A healthy diet at any age

A healthy diet at any age

A balanced and varied diet is an important basis for physical and mental health and performance. This is the only way to ensure that the body receives all the nutrients it needs for its various functions and in sufficient quantities.

If the diet is poorly balanced, it can never do justice to the task in store. This can lead to deficiency symptoms and nutritional disorders. The consequences of a bad diet are often not immediate, but only noticeable after decades. In a series of articles, our SanLucar nutritionist Lisa Ebben writes about healthy nutrition in the different stages of life. Lisa is a nutritionist and works in the Quality Department of SanLucar. (And she’s also a new member of the SanLucar Blogger Team! Welcome to the team, Lisa!)

Part 1: The Basics

There have been endless recommendations for the right nutrition for many thousand years now. Concrete nutrient recommendations, as we know them today, have existed only about 150 years ago. The goal is to avoid hunger and disease due to deficiencies, to build nutrient reserves and to avoid over-supply with certain substances – in other words, health maintenance and health elevation. In German-speaking countries, there are the so-called DACH reference values. They are the standard for nutrient recommendations. At www.dge.de you can have a look at them yourself.

Each nutrient fulfils very specific tasks in the body as well as in the entire metabolic process. It is a highly complex interplay of all nutrients. The DACH reference values apply only to healthy persons. In the case of diseases, metabolic disorders or regular drug use, the requirements may differ in some cases from the recommendations listed. They also do not represent a rigid target size and do not need to be met every day. Rather, the values are defined as the daily average over a week and are intended for orientation. In addition to the main nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fats – vitamins, minerals and water play a special role. The supply of them is not quite as easy to guarantee as with the main nutrients.


Without vitamins, almost nothing happens in the human body. They act as catalysts and are urgently needed for many metabolic processes. They are essential nutrients that must be absorbed with food. They are basically divided into water- and fat-soluble vitamins. The latter can only be absorbed by the body in combination with fat. Vitamins are found both in animal and plant foods and are very sensitive to water, heat and light. This should be taken into account when purchasing, storing and preparing food. Persistent inadequate intake can lead to vitamin deficiency.



Minerals are found only in small amounts in the body. They control metabolic processes, nerve activities and are also the framework and support substances. Depending on the average amount in the body, minerals are divided into bulk elements and trace elements. The body requires bulk elements, as the name implies, in certain quantities, which differs from mineral to mineral. On the other hand, the body requires trace elements only in very small amounts – that is, only traces. Nevertheless, they are also vital. Examples of minerals include sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, iodine, zinc, chloride and phosphate.

The adequate supply of minerals (and vitamins) is made much easier by eating a fruit and vegetable diet.


The body of an adult consists of 50-60% water. A sufficient intake of liquid is thus of great importance. Water is both a building material and a solvent and a means of transport. It also regulates body temperature. Adolescents and adults should consume about 1.5 litres per day, children slightly less. Because the body constantly excretes water via the skin, lungs and kidneys, regular intake is essential. In exceptional cases, such as heavy physical exertion, high heat, high sodium chloride and protein intake, as well as fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, the water requirement can be much higher than the values mentioned. Just about a litre of the daily water requirement should be absorbed through the food. Fruit and vegetables are particularly suitable for water intake through food, since they consist largely of water.

It is not always necessary to pay attention to every detail. But, in the long run, one-sided food can lead to health problems, since certain nutrients are consumed in excess nowadays, while others are urgently deficient. For a healthy and varied diet, it is often sufficient if a few principles are observed. For example, the nutritional pyramids of the DGE can be used as an orientation aid. Since the body needs many different nutrients, the diet should be as varied as possible and at best five small portions of fruit and vegetables taken in daily.

If your interest in healthy diet was aroused, simply follow our line of healthy nutrition. In a nutshell, there is information about the right diet in the various stages of life (childhood, pregnancy, menopause, age), but we also go into specific nutritional forms such as vegetarianism.

Literature and links for more information:

Web pages: http://www.dge.de/ and http://www.aid.de/


Biesalski, H.K.; Grimm, P.: Taschenatlas der Ernährung. Thieme-Verlag, 4th Edition, 2007.

Schek, A.: Ernährungslehre kompakt. Umschau, 3rd Edition 2008.

Elmadfa, I.; Leitzmann, C.: Ernährung des Menschen. Ulmer UTB Große Reihe, 4th Edition, 2004.