Sunday, 6 January 2013

Understanding the Benefits of Superfoods for Your Children

The earlier you incorporate superfoods into your diet, the sooner you can benefit from all the advantages superfoods offer. And this is true for your children, too. Get them started eating superfoods at a young age, and you’ll be instilling healthy habits that can serve them for a (perhaps longer) lifetime. Not only that, but you’ll also be helping their immune systems, promoting strong bones and teeth, and helping them maintain a healthy weight, at atime when their young bodies can use all the help they can get.

Protecting kids’ immune systems

The immune system is a collection of systems and reactions in the body that act as its defense mechanism against any factors that may attempt to make the body weak or ill. Foes include everything from bacteria and viruses to inflammation and cancer. It’s a tough job, considering how many different organisms can cause disease. Getting the immune system bulked up, armed, and ready for battle is important at all ages of life. Setting the stage for a healthy immune system starts at birth. Mothers often breast-feed their infants to pass along antibodies (protective immune-system cells) until the baby’s body can produce its own. As children grow, getting them to eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day gives their bodies antioxidants to protect against all kinds of cell damage, and reduces their risk of cancer in the future. Because they’re naturally sweet, fruits are a logical substitute for high-sugar snacks like cookies. Sugar-dense snacks can actually weaken the immune system. 

They’ve also been found to increase inflammation in the body. Once your children are over the age of 3 (due to the risk of allergies), you can grind walnuts, pecans, or almonds and sprinkle them on other foods like cereals, eggs, or sandwiches. You can do the same with chia and berries, too. Often, your child won’t even taste the difference. Garlic has great antibiotic activity. Not only does it boost the immune system to fight against the common cold, but also strong evidence exists that garlic plays a role in reducing your risk for cancer. Because garlic has such a strong taste, you may need to introduce it to your children in graduated amounts — although some kids love the taste, especially as they get older. If your child absolutely refuses to eat anything with garlic in it, you can try having her take an odorless garlic supplement

Building strong bones and teeth

The bones in your child’s body need a rich source of nutrients for a good long time; the most important period of bone growth occurs before the age of 35. Children who eat foods that help build the strongest frame early on have a lower risk of weak bones as they age. Teeth also need certain minerals to become strong and to reduce the risk of cavities. Diets high in caffeinated and carbonated drinks are major contributors to decreased bone strength, which can lead to fractures and fragile bones.

The most important factor for building strong bones and teeth is a calcium rich diet. Dairy is the number one calcium contributor, but there are other great superfood options, such as soy milk or orange juice fortified with calcium. Many green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, and the legume family are also excellent sources of calcium. Children between the ages of 2 and 8 should get at least the equivalent of 2 cups of milk a day. Children ages 9 and older should consume 3 cups or more a day.

Milk has been thought of as the gold standard, but you can actually get more calcium by adding yogurt into a kid’s daily meal plan. Most children like yogurt, and choosing yogurts packed with fruit — or adding your own — gives your child a double nutritional punch. Some children get accustomed to consuming a few foods and put up quite a struggle when faced with change. If your kids are picky eaters, you may want to consider supplemental nutrients to ensure they’re getting all they need. 

Helping maintain a healthy weight

Childhood obesity is rising at a staggering rate, and poor diet and decreasing activity levels are the main causes. Replacing highly processed junk foods (that are full of refined sugar, saturated fats, and calories) with superfoods can be one huge step towards slowing down this problem. 

Getting your children to eat superfoods at a young age will help them grow into lean and healthy adolescents and adults. Add extra superfood vegetables at mealtimes to keep them feeling full without adding lots of calories. Serve superfood fruits and berries as sweet desserts instead of cookies, cake, and ice cream. Nuts and seeds make nutritious between-meal snacks.

The early years of life are some of the most important for the growth and development that will carry your children into adulthood. Staying at a healthy weight by eating superfoods will not only reduce their risk of obesity related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, but the antioxidants and other helpful nutrients will help prevent other diseases as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment