"This stuff goes through you and your family's body every week. And I need you to know that this is going to kill your children early. How are you feeling?" asks Jamie Oliver, MBE, a British chef celebrity.
Fast food. Once children have taken their bite on those fatty burgers and fries, it seems like there is no way of stopping them. It is because according to Rashi Chowdhary, a Dubai-based nutritionist, "The fats, sugar, and salt in fast food appeal to child's 'primordial tastes'."
This, according to Chowdhary, is how from an evolutionary point of view, "humans are hard-wired to crave high-calorie food as a survival mechanism, so each time we see, smell or eat junk food, many chemicals and neurotransmitters are released in our body."
He adds that fast food also activates the children's brain system, making it secrete dopamine that is responsible for pleasure and excitement, and drives their brains to intensely demand for more.
This love for fast food has made children vulnerable to improper diet. Based on an article by Journal Thorax, researchers surveyed 500,000 kids from 31 countries in two age groups: ages 6 to 7 and ages 13 to 14. "In both groups, kids who ate fast food three times a week or more had increased risks of asthma, rhinitis, and eczema—as much as a 39% increase in severe asthma risk for teens and 27% for younger kids," says the study.
The 2016 Global Statistics of Unicef.Org also states, "Nearly half of all deaths in children under five are attributable to undernutrition which puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections." Moreover, undernutrition is said to lead to stunted growth, "which is associated with impaired cognitive ability and reduced school and work performance."
Proper nutrition plays an essential part in your child's development. Studies reveal that it can also affect your child's school performance. According to the 2010 study from The Journal of Nutrition, "Undernourished 2-year-olds were 16% more likely to fail at least one grade in school, and entered school later than their well-nourished counterparts."
David Just, PhD at Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, validates this finding. "For example, iron deficiency, even in early stages, can decrease dopamine transmission, thus negatively impacting cognition. Deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals, specifically thiamine, vitamin E, vitamin B, iodine, and zinc, are shown to inhibit cognitive abilities and mental concentration. Additionally, amino acid and carbohydrate supplementation can improve perception, intuition, and reasoning."
For Tonya White, associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Erasmus University Medical Center in The Netherlands, there are other factors to consider when it comes to child's brain development.
"Cognitive function is certainly not only related to diet… So, the best thing is to give the child all options; so then there is good environment, good nutrition, and good parents," says White.
"I want you to know that we can all make a difference by making different choices, by buying our food directly from local farmers, or our neighbors who we know in real life. Some people say organic or local food is more expensive, but is it really? With all these things I've been learning about the food system, it seems to me that we can either pay the farmer, or we can pay the hospital," says speaker, author, and youth advocate for local/organic food and regenerative farming BirkeBaehr.
Baehr was 11 years old when he delivered his speech on organic food choice at TED Talks. Imagine how well his parents have instructed him on what is good or bad for his health. This proves that parents have significant influence on their children. To make your kids choose nutritious food over fast food, therefore, you should walk the talk. Take it from Baehr who gave up his dream to become an NFL football player to become an organic farmer instead.
Here are some tips to encourage your child to eat healthy (see link: www.wellnessmama.com):
Model It Yourself. Parenting experts agree that children pick up behavior based much less on what they are told and much more on what they observe. If they see you routinely eating vegetables and enjoying them, they will start to follow after your example. It won't hurt also if you present them with a variety of vegetables in diverse colors.
Make Home Cooking A Priority. Not only is this a productive way of spending your time together as family, it is also a sure way of guaranteeing the health quality of the food on your table. Since you are in control over what goes into your meal, unhealthy options will be eliminated from your menu.
Let Them See Where The Food Comes From. Many kids today actually think that food comes from grocery stores. They grow up with no knowledge or appreciation of how food is grown or raised, and how it gets to their plate. If possible, take your kids to a farm or farmers' market to expose them to a new way of viewing their food.
Explain It To Them. Kids are brilliant little creatures with a God-given ability to learn, and learn fast. Instead of simply putting the food on their plates, tell them what it is, and answer any of their questions. Don't bribe, cajole, or beg. If it is healthy food, it is good for them, and it should taste good, too. Let them learn how making good food choices result to a healthy body.
You may also help your children achieve their nutritional requirement by introducing them to natural superfoods like MoringaOleifera or Malunggay Tree.
An article by Imagine Rural Development Initiative shares, "A serving of fresh leaves contains 7 times the amount of vitamin C in the equivalent amount of oranges, 4 times the vitamin A of carrots, 4 times the calcium of milk, 3 times the potassium of bananas and twice the protein of yogurt. Dried leaves pack the vitamins even denser, with 25 times more iron than spinach; 4 times more protein than eggs; 10 times more vitamin A than carrots; 17 times more calcium than milk; and 15 times more potassium than bananas."
You may also give your children their daily dose of vegetable with MalungaiLifeOil's Kid Stuff – an all natural food supplement that captures the Malunggay nutrients that are needed by your children.
Out in the market today, Kids Stuff banana and mango-flavored Moringa pure extract is readily available and accessible to you and your children.
When it comes to children's healthy eating habit, parents' influence is non-negotiable. And when it comes to their proper nutrition and brain development, going the natural way is the no-brainer route.
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