Healthy nutrition is essential if a child is to develop to their full potential.
This is a complex subject we can’t really do justice to in a blog.
However, the links between various forms of foodstuffs and physical development are well-known and accepted as scientific fact. For example:
- zinc is required for thyroid development – something that helps normal healthy growth;
- vitamin C is critically important in keeping cells, bones and blood vessels all healthy;
- calcium is required for building strong teeth, bones and a healthy heart.
This is only a tiny sample of what kids need to have in order to do well as they develop.
Physical and mental
It is also now scientifically proven that nutrition helps intellectual development.
One study in 2010 showed that children aged two who were not getting the correct nutrition would be 16% more likely to experience academic achievement difficulties later in life.
So, the right nutrition is important both for physical and cognitive development.
Experts recommend that children get their required nutrition from a healthy balanced diet.
Broadly speaking and excluding special medical conditions, if a child is consuming healthy and appropriate portions of protein, carbohydrate, fat and sugars from natural products, they should be getting all the proper nutrition they need.
That means plenty of fruit, vegetables, pulses, grains, some dairy produce and for most, meat and fish. As we have said in previous blogs, if the parents’ lifestyles include vegan and vegetarian practices, it’s important to extensively research (only via qualified medical advice) what that might mean in terms of preparing an appropriate diet for younger children.
Snacking between meals should be discouraged, as should the consumption of “empty calories” – i.e. those foodstuffs high in calories without any significant benefit in terms of high nutrition. Examples there are well known and usually include junk food.
In Australia, we’re fortunate that healthy fresh food is usually plentifully available and access to it is limited only, for some, by money.
The signs of inadequate or inappropriate nourishment can manifest themselves in various ways such as:
- higher susceptibility to infectious illnesses;
- concentration difficulties;
- slower physical development;
- reduced intellectual development.
These can be gauged by health professionals using standard matrices for childhood development.
If you’re in any doubt as to the nutrition children require for good health, there are plenty of dietary professionals who will be only too pleased to advise. Make sure they are well qualified to offer advice, based upon their recognised professional registrations.