Role of Nutrition in Kids Health, Kids Growth & Kids Development
In today's competitive world, parents not only want their children to be intelligent but also healthy and fit. Preparations start even before conception such as keeping a check on pre-pregnancy weight of the mother, iron and folic acid status of her body etc as these determine the pregnancy output. At each stage, from infant to toddler to teenager, body's demand for various nutrients change as children grow and develop through each stage differently. Not only is the caloric intake increased, but servings from each food group vary. Good nutrition is very crucial during the growing years due to rapid muscle and bone development in children as strong muscles allow us to stand, walk and even talk - functions that are vital for a good quality of life. Therefore it's important to maintain a good balance in the consumption of carbohydrates, protein and fats as a part of their diet.
Kids Health - health benefits of exercise in children
Developing good dietary and exercise habits since childhood help kids have strong, healthy bones throughout their lives. Several lifestyle factors, particularly nutrition, physical activity, and sun exposure can substantially influence the gain of bone mass during childhood and adolescence. Kids that are more active, eat better and stay healthier. Their development is above average on all fronts, including emotional and social. Studies have shown that kids who eat more fruits and vegetable, consume enough dairy and protein and are active 40-60 minutes daily are less likely to develop chronic preventive diseases such as diabetes and heart disease in adulthood.Newborn nutrition needs
The most important and foremost step towards road of normal growth for kids is exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life. Mother's milk is sufficient to meet all the nutritional requirements of children till 6 months of age. Gradual introduction to family foods becomes essential to meet increasing body demands of the following nutrients:
- are the body's main energy source. It is important to get 55 percent to 65 percent of daily calories from carbohydrate foods. Emphasis should be given to complex carbohydrate foods in the diet, especially whole grains, cereals, breads, pasta, legumes, beans, starchy vegetables, fruits and milk. Intake of sugars in the form of candies and sweets should be limited or avoided. Adequate amount of carbohydratess are necessary to build strong muscles in a child's body. For vegetarians a combination of cereal & pulse (For e.g Dal-rice, Idli, dhoklas, dal paratha, etc) ensure optimum protein availability.
- are the kids body's building blocks. They form important component of muscles and other tissues and also help the kids body defend against infections. Adequate protein consumption helps in tissue repair (wear & tear of the body) and synthesis of amino acids which enables the kids muscle development. Protein plays a key role in acquiring bone mass. During kids growth, insufficient caloric intake and protein can severely impair bone development. Good sources of protein include lean meat, eggs, fish, poultry, whole dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc) soy foods, legumes etc.
- Include healthy fats like nuts (almonds, walnuts, groundnuts, pistachios etc), oils like olive oil, sunflower oil, rice bran oil can be included in the kids diet. Saturated fats including foods cooked in butter or cream, bakery foods and junk foods should be limited or avoided altogether.
- are the nutrients required by the kids body in trace amounts and help in the release of energy stored in food especially B-vitamins.
- Vitamins affect the learning curve positively and are also needed for good nutrition and optimum growth. Vitamins such as vitamin A is necessary in kids for the maintenance of good eyesight and skin and is found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek, orange and yellow colored fruits and vegetables like pumpkin, papaya, carrot, mangoes and milk and milk products. B vitamins can be obtained from whole grain cereals and pulses and help in metabolism of food in the body. Ascorbic acid i.e. vitamin C-the healing vitamin is found in citrus fruits. Vitamin D is necessary in the absorption and deposition of calcium and phosphorous in the bones and teeth. Dietary sources of Vitamin D include fortified milk and cooking oils, nuts, fatty fishes etc. Sufficient exposure to sun also improves the synthesis of Vitamin D.
- Minerals form part of body structural component and are essential to ensure adequate growth of tissues. Minerals such as an adequate intake of -
- Calcium is associated with increased peak bone mass & bone development: Good sources include dairy products, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, parsley, carrots, sprouts, radish, bony fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, etc. as well as soy foods.
- Phosphorous imparts rigidity and strength to the bone. Low amounts of dietary phosphorous can lead to de-mineralization and loss of calcium through urine. Good sources include dairy products, fish, lean meat, poultry, eggs, whole cereals, nuts, legumes & vegetables.
- Magnesium - Adequate intake of magnesium rich foods increases bone density in both boys and girls. Good sources include fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and poultry.
- Iron is essential for formation of hemoglobin and plays an important role in transport of oxygen. Iron deficiency (when the body's iron stores are becoming depleted) can be a big problem for some kids, particularly toddlers and teens. Iron deficiency can affect a child's growth and may lead to learning and behavioral problems. Iron rich foods that can make family's diet more nutritious are dark green leafy vegetables, red meat, eggs, salmon, tuna, dry fruits, iron fortified cereals etc.
- Water is critical for good health. During our normal daily routine we lose water through our breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For the body to function properly and to prevent dehydration symptoms, we must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. Therefore an intake of 8-10 glasses of fluids like water, fruit juices, dairy, soups, etc is necessary for optimum functioning of the kids body.
- Good night's sleep of at least 8 hours is very essential for maximum muscle growth to occur along with good nutrition. Don't forget the age-old saying "Early to bed & early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy & wise".
- Kids must be encouraged to participate in sports and outdoor activities to the maximum, let them play or take part in activities of their choice like swimming, running, playing in the park, cycling etc. As being active will not only help their muscles grow and develop better but also improve their concentration abilities in school, productivity and mood. Physical exercise improves the efficiency of heart and delays the incidence of chronic lifestyle related diseases.
Such habits can be inculcated in kids since the beginning as good nutrition in childhood is a lifetime investment in your child's future.
By. Ritu Jain,
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