"The child is the father of the man." Or "the mother" for that matter! What children eat when they are young goes a long way in the state of their health as they get older. Children are much more active than elders, and they need enough sustenance to nourish their bodies as they are also growing. They are also exposed to various germs in school, in the playground or even at the mall. They need to have the energy to constantly fight infections. A balanced diet for a child should include a good mix of proteins, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins and minerals. They also need other nutrients which aid in different ways, but these are the big five. Are you making sure that your child is getting enough nutrients to keep them healthy and grow strong?
The big five
Let us take a look at the five important nutrients that are needed to provide a child with a balanced diet.
Proteins are called the building blocks of the human body. Proteins optimize tissue build up and build new cells. They help give you energy for activities. Each and every cell in the human body has proteins. This makes it a very important nutrient. Food like dairy products, eggs, meats, lentils and beans are high in protein content.
Carbohydrates generate the energy that our body needs for our daily activities. It usually forms the bulk of our diet as we burn up the carbs when we go about our daily chores. It helps the brain, nervous system and heart in their functions. Carbohydrates are converted to sugar once digested. This sugar is called glucose. Glucose provides the body with energy. The more active one is, the more carbs one needs to fuel the body. Children are very active usually and burn carbs much faster that adults. If your child is easily tired, then you should up their intake of carbs. Carbohydrates are made of starch and are found in rice, flour, sugar and most other staple foods.
Calcium is essential for the human body as it helps make the bones, teeth etc strong. It is a vital ingredient in a child’s diet as they are in their growing stages. A good dose of calcium in their diet will help the bones grow stronger. Calcium is found mostly in dairy products like milk, yoghurt, cream, cheese etc.
There are different types of vitamins that the body uses for various purposes. They perform a number of roles in the functioning of the body. They make bones stronger, boost the body’s energy, heal wounds, raise immune levels, help vision etc. Vitamin A helps your eyes. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Vitamin B helps the body release energy during activities. Different foods are high in different types of vitamins. For example carrots are a great source of Vitamin A and beetroots and liver are good sources of Vitamin C. A good balance of meat and vegetables will ensure that your child is getting enough vitamins.
Both vitamins and minerals are called micronutrients as they are available only in small amounts in the food we ingest. Some of the minerals that our body needs are iron, fluoride, zinc and copper. Each helps in different ways. They have many functions like protecting the body cells and enhancing enzyme activity to name a few.
There are many ways to incorporate these essential nutrients in your child’s diet. With a diet comprising of a good balance of nutrients your child will grow healthy and strong.