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Benefits of Eating Healthy From Early Childhood

For parents, the most difficult task is to get their children to eat anything. The task becomes Herculean if they have to make their children eat healthy vegetables and fruits. The children crave sweets, chocolates, chips and other such unhealthy and junk food that contain sugar and carbohydrates. The children also need other nutrients to support their growth and proper all-round development. There are a lot of benefits to eating healthy from early in childhood. The list of cons weighs heavier in the case of junk foods that not only affect a child’s physical health but can also affect mental health and development.

An unhealthy diet can cause the following long-term and short-term problems to the child:

  • Obesity– The intake of a lot of unhealthy and junk food can cause obesity, which leads to lifelong health problems. The diseases caused by obesity are diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, among others. And the times that we are living in, obesity in children might also lead to a negative self-image.
  • Unhealthy brain– Children lacking a proper healthy diet may also face serious psychological disorders and learning disabilities. Poor nutrition deprives a child of adapting properly to certain situations.
  • Weak immune system– A child consuming an unhealthy diet is prone to several diseases. The lack of nutrients weakens the immune system, thereby resulting in a kid falling ill too often. The wounds take longer to heal and the child will take longer to recover. A weak immune system can affect the child’s health throughout his/ her lifetime.
  • Effect on education– An unhealthy child will fall ill more often and thus, will miss school, which will affect the studies and overall education. The child will get tired easily and will contribute to stress that will result in other health and mental problems.

While the lack of a nutritious diet can cause the above-mentioned problems, the symptoms of an unhealthy body are as follows:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Dry and rough skin
  • Dry hair
  • Bleeding gums
  • Cavities
  • Crowding of teeth
  • Frequent flu and illness

It is of utmost importance that the parents should be well aware of the benefits of healthy eating habits in early childhood.

Mentioned here is a list of the benefits of developing a habit of eating healthy in early childhood:

  • Proper development of the body– A child’s body develops at a rapid pace in the early years. The proper development of body leads to a happy and healthy life and hence, serves as a great benefit of eating healthy in early childhood. Nutrients and their function in the development of a healthy body are as follows:
  • Proteins maintain and repair body tissues.
  • Calcium helps build strong teeth and bones.
  • Iron provides healthy blood.
  • Vitamins protect cells from getting damaged and help in healing wounds.
  • Brain development– One of the most important benefits of eating healthy from early in childhood is the development of the brain. The brain’s capacity and structure are shaped in the early years. A healthy diet supports the development of the brain to a large extent.

Nutrients and their function in the development of the brain are as follows:

  • Proteins promote mental focus and concentration in children.
  • Fat help the brain cells to send and receive information and thus impact communication in the brain.
  • Vitamins and antioxidants promote the growth of new brain cells.
  • Strong immunity– A healthy diet boosts a child’s immunity. Even in cold and harsh weather, the child is protected from illness such as flu and other allergies.

Nutrients and their role in boosting immunity:

  • Vitamin A helps to keep tissues in the mouth, intestine etc. healthy and thus protects from infections.
  • Vitamin E works as an antioxidant.
  • Vitamin C stimulates the formation of antibodies.
  • Zinc helps to heal wounds.

Being armed with the proper and adequate knowledge of the benefits of eating healthy in early childhood, the parents just have to then plan a healthy diet for their little ones. Mentioned below is the list of essential nutrients and their food sources:

  • CARBOHYDRATES
  • Bread, cereals, pasta, rice
  • Vegetables such as potatoes, green beans, corn
  • Sugar, honey, soft drinks
  • PROTEINS
  • Meat, fish, egg, milk
  • Yogurt, cheese
  • Dried beans, peas, nuts
  • CALCIUM
  • Milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Vegetables such as kale, collards, mustard greens
  • PHOSPHORUS
  • Meat, fish, eggs, milk
  • Dry beans, peas
  • VITAMINS
  • Fruits like grapefruit, honeydew melon, kiwi fruit, orange, papaya, strawberries, sweet potatoes
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, collards, carrots, pumpkin, peas
  • Peanut butter, dried beans, bread, cereals
  • Meat, fish, eggs, milk

There are many more essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, copper, iodine. Apart from the intake of all these nutrients, the key to a healthy life is WATER. Two-third of our body is represented by water. Water has the following importance:

  • It is a part of all the living cells
  • It helps maintain body temperature
  • Transports nutrients all over the body
  • Is a medium for digestion, absorption, and excretion
  • It acts as a lubricant

Summing up the benefits of eating healthy in early childhood, here are some tips that the parents should teach their children for a healthy and happy life:

  • Always eat breakfast as it kick-starts the body and provides energy.
  • Choose healthier snacks such as fruits, air-popped popcorn, unsalted nuts etc., instead of chips and biscuits.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Stop when the tummy is full, overeating can also cause problems.
  • Eat slowly, so that they chew their food properly.
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