Complete Balanced Diet and Nutrition for Kids

A complete and balanced diet plays a crucial role in a child’s overall growth and development. Carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and fiber in required amounts per meal comprise a healthy and balanced diet. These 5 food groups provide nourishment for growing children and each are responsible for providing nutrient-specific benefits.

Carbohydrates provide a source of energy. In a child’s active lifestyle, carbohydrates are a vital source of energy to keep them active 1-3 .

Proteins can be found in meats, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and beans. Due to children’s growth requirements, they need adequate amounts of protein for optimal growth and to repair body tissues. 1,3

Fats make a great source of energy too and are needed by the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats also insulate all nervous system tissues in the body and are the building blocks of hormones. 1,4

Vitamins are important to keep children healthy. 1 An example would be Vitamin C, an important antioxidant that helps with bone formation and the absorption of iron. It can be found in fruits like strawberries and oranges. Vitamin E, found in nuts, seeds and leafy vegetables, is meanwhile a key antioxidant for a healthy nervous system and an important nutrient to support developing cells. 7

Minerals are needed to develop healthy teeth, bones, and muscles when children are in their formative years.  A significant development of teeth, bones and muscles happens during a child’s first 10 years.1 An example of a mineral is calcium which is an abundant mineral in the body and essential for building strong bones, teeth and muscle. Another important mineral is potassium which plays a role in multiple key functions in the body. It is found in vegetables and fruits.

Fiber is important in helping children develop and maintain good functioning intestines as well as supports their body’s immune system and also helps children in having a regular bowel movement.5, 6 Fiber also helps in reducing the risk of constipation and other digestive disorders. Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, also vegetables such as broccoli, collard greens, and swiss chard make great sources of fiber.

References:

  1. National Institute of Nutrition ICMR. Dietary Guidelines for Indians – A Manual.; 2011. http://ninindia.org/DietaryGuidelinesforNINwebsite.pdf endorsed by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations http://www.fao.org/nutrition/education/food-based-dietary-guidelines/regions/countries/india/en/
  2. World Health Organisation. Healthy Diet Fact Sheet No. 394. September 2016. http://www.who.int/elena/healthy_diet_fact_sheet_394.pdf. Accessed October 7, 2016.
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. Accessed October 7, 2016
  4. FAO of the United Nations. Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition.; 2010. http://www.fao.org/docrep/019/i1953f/i1953f.pdf
  5. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews. 2009;67(4):188-205. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x.
  6. Stewart, Nathan, ” The health benefits of dietary fiber consumption of adults in the United States” (2014). Graduate Research Papers. Paper37.http://scholarworks.uni.edu/grp/37
  7. https://pediasure.com/child-development-nutrition/powerful-nutrition-kids