Importance of a Healthy Diet
We can’t overemphasize the importance of a healthy diet. What you eat will directly affect how long you live as well as how much enjoyment you get out of life. For women, your diet will also affect the health of the children you carry in your womb. Let’s talk about why you should be eating a healthy balanced diet.
What you eat will affect how much energy your body has to function. Good nutrition provides the amino acids and enzymes your body needs to break down and assimilate the foods you eat.
The vitamins in the food you eat are essential for vision (Vitamin A), for metabolic processes (Zinc) and to keep your immune system functioning and your connective tissues strong (Vitamin C) .
The importance of a healthy diet includes food combintations. The combination in which you eat all of the above is also vitally important since many need to be consumed together to ensure proper assimilation. For example, saturated fats are necessary to ensure that dietary calcium results in the development of stronger bones. Enzymes are necessary to ensure that the nutrition that you consume is broken down in a way that your body can absorb.
Importance of a Healthy Diet - For Your Family
Everyone in your family should eat a healthy diet, but it is especially important that pregnant women, babies and growing children consume an organic, nutrient dense, whole foods diet.
Why? Because they all have rapidly developing cells that are especially vulnerable to malnutrition and toxins. Organic foods are vitally important because organic farming puts an emphasis on putting nutrients back into the soil. Minerals, in particular, will not be in the food unless they are in the soil.
The importance of a healthy diet also includes foods you should never eat. Not eating certain foods is vitally important for pregnant women, babies and growing children. For example, milk with synthetic vitamin D (D2) will rob your body of magnesium. Consuming sugar will lower your immunity for up to six hours after you eat it as your white blood cells focus on rebalancing the sugar levels in your body instead of protecting you from disease.
When a pregnant woman consumes trans fats, she is more likely to give birth to a low-birth-weight baby. Exposure of the infant to trans fats either in the womb or in mother’s milk, can interfere with the development of the eyes, resulting in reduced visual acuity.
Finally, trans fatty acids will lower the fat content in mother’s milk, often leading to a failure to grow and learning disabilities.
Importance of a Healthy Diet - For Children
We can’t overstate the importance of a healthy diet for children. It should be no surprise that the healthier the diet your children consume, the healthier your children will be. Healthy eating means having children that are developing optimally, get sick less, have more energy, and feel great the majority of the time.
A healthy diet is necessary for your child's overall development, including physical, mental, emotional and behavioral development. Many factors outside of your control, such as genetics, will impact your child’s growth and development. On the other hand, malnutrition, something that you can prevent, can impair your child’s physical. mental and intellectual development.
Why do we bring this up? Because a huge percentage of our children today do not get the minimum amount of nutrition necessary for proper neurological development. Malnutrition abounds in children due to poor eating habits and misinformation about what children should be eating.
Childhood nutrition determines the risk for immediate health problems. For example iron deficiency is associated with poor school performance, eating disorders, obesity, and dental caries. Your child’s nutritional status will have long-term health implications like obesity, coronary heart disease and osteoporosis later in life. B complex vitamins in protein are required for enzyme activity in the brain. Amino acids and Essential fats are critical for children to build neurotransmitters and neurohormones.
Lets discuss specific ways that your child’s development will be impaired by improper nutrition.
Importance of a Healthy Diet - For Optimal Brain development
The importance of a healthy diet to your child's brain development cannot be overstated. Early childhood neurological development occurs from conception until age 6. Children's brain nerve cells form before birth and continue to develop during the first six years. During this time, 75 percent of neurological growth takes place.
The nutritional value of the food consumed combined with the eating habits cultivated by parents and caretakers of young children during this period have a long-lasting impact on a child's brain and overall health.
From the moment of conception until roughly two years of age, your child’s brain and nervous system will be forming new tissue and laying down new networks of dendrites and axons. It is the way that the brain weaves neurons, dendrites and axons into a complex that paves the way for future development when your child is exposed to new learning stimuli.
Your child’s diet must continuously provide all the materials needed for optimal neurological development throughout childhood. Especially important are essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, water and high-quality carbohydrates. Bottom line: without the proper nutrients your child will not be able to fully develop his brain.
Especially important to your child’s neurological development is the consumption of plenty of cholesterol. Why? Myelin, the protective sheath that covers communicating neurons, is composed of 30% protein and 70% fat. Throughout childhood Myelin continues to be build around the axons and dendrites in your child’s brain to improve the transmission of nerve signals.
Growing children cannot produce all the cholesterol they need for the formation of their brain and gut. They need to obtain it from a cholesterol-rich diet. Just a few decades ago, experts on child feeding agreed that the best foods for infants were cholesterol-rich foods like egg yolk, liver, butter and whole milk. Today, thanks to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, children are denied these nutrient dense foods that are so important for physical growth and neurological development.
Is it any wonder that so many children have attention and other neurological disorders today? Don’t let poor nutrition hamper your child’s neurological development!
Importance of a Healthy Diet - for Optimal Physical Development
You child will grow at an astonishing rate from infancy through his or her late teenage years. During this time he will be laying down new tissue at an astonishing rate. Children grow from roughly twenty-five pound to well over one hundred pounds, in muscle mass, bone tissues and other structures throughout the body.
You child also needs vitamins and minerals to fuel her enzyme and energy production. Essential amino acids are key to building tissue and synthesize more than three hundred thousand different functional proteins.
Protein in particular is important for optimal physical development because protein provides the materials for growth and repair. Calcium and Magnesium are vital for the development of strong bones and teeth and for helping the nerves work and to regulate growth and for the clotting of blood.
During this time your child will need 30 or more grams of well balanced protein that contains all eight essential amino acids per day. Unprocessed fats from whole foods are also vitally important and should comprise around 30% of your child’s calorie intake.
Importance of a Healthy Diet - For Optimal Emotional Development
From the first day an infant enters the world he begins a journey of learning how to relate to other people and deal with various emotions. The first two years of life make up the nurturing stage, during which a baby develops a bond of security and trust.
Two-year-olds are excited about a newly discovered sense of control. This stage is filled with rapid mood shifts, stubbornness, tantrums and negativism of wanting to do it "my way." It's also a time of clinging to parents, as many toddlers go through what's known as separation anxiety. As they approach their third birthday, they begin to socialize with their peers and identify with the parent of the same sex.
The preschool years (ages 3 to 5) are the "play age." In this stage, children broaden their social life, playing with other children as they learn to cooperate with peers. Preschoolers start becoming competitive and proud of their achievements. Fantasy makes up much of their active play. However, it's also a stage when they can develop several fears, such as being afraid of the dark.
The school-age period (ages 6 through 12) is a transition from fantasy and free-form play to group games and sports. During the school-age stage, children begin feeling guilty about wrong choices. They learn rules of how to relate to others, as well as board game rules and rules of exclusion and inclusion. A healthy school-age child should be able to express emotions. Around age 5, children learn to share and keep secrets. Children ages 7 and 8 become more aware of their private thoughts and feelings. They begin comparing themselves with peers and are concerned about their abilities.
Adolescence is usually a turbulent time when kids want to be free of their parents, yet are still dependent on them. Approval from peers takes preference over pleasing parents. It's a roller-coaster ride of emotions as they struggle to find their own identity.
What you child eats can have a huge impact on his or her emotional development because food causes blood sugar changes and can stimulate or depress your child’s energy levels. These physical states will directly impact how your child interprets his world and interactions with others in that world.
Negative moods and pessimism can be directly related to having low energy caused the blood sugar swings brought forth from poor diet. Chronic illness can cause depression and suicidal thoughts. Digestive issues can cause pain, trigger depression and encourage anti social behavior.
Importance of a Healthy Diet – What next?
Now that you understand the importance of a healthy diet, we are hoping you will want to improve your diet and the food your family consumes. For specific information about what your children should be eating read a Healthy Diet for Kids. (Coming Soon).
To understand exactly what is flawed about the current USDA Dietary Guidelines and for our recommended guidelines read a Healthy Diet Pyramid. (Coming Soon).
If you are pregnant, read
Healthy Pregnancy Diet
to learn what you should be eating to ensure your baby develops optimally. To learn exactly how many servings you should be eating of what foods read a
Healthy Diet for Pregnancy
Probably the best book we have found about diet and nutrition for children is The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Brains and Harming our Children by Carol Simontacchi.
There are many great articles on the Weston A Price website about the importance of a healthy diet including:
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