Are our children well fed?
“You can’t leave the table until you have eaten all of your veggies!”
This was a common phrase used in my household when I was a child and whether or not this created a positive association with food (I am not here to judge) consequently consumption of a variety of foods occurred. In Australia today it can be ascertained that a majority of the population are falling short of the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables and consequently showing signs of nutrient deficiencies affecting our health, not only in adults but also in our children.
There is a rising concern that despite being well-fed that in fact our children are malnourished and are not achieving a sufficient intake of essential nutrients, both macro and micronutrients required for their growth and development. There is a definite relationship between poor growth and development and malnourishment however, it is now well established that poor nutrition and insufficient intake of micronutrients can affect psychosocial development and areas of the brain affecting behaviour, mood and learning. Macronutrient intake which includes protein, fat and carbohydrates can be easier to consume in adequate amounts, however deficiencies in good quality proteins is often observed in children and may have an impact on energy levels, behaviour, muscle development and optimal growth.
Micronutrients are nutrients found in food that are required in smaller amounts however, are essential for biochemical processes and pathways in our body required for energy production and function of many organs. Some of theses specific micronutrients include zinc, vitamin c, d, e, magnesium (to name a few) and have specific functioning in immune health, digestive function, musculoskeletal health, cognitive health and affects on mood and behaviour.
We all know that feeding our little loved ones a nutrient dense diet can prove to be a difficult task for a variety of reasons. Some of our children are fussy eaters, have allergies, poor appetites, are very active or may have an underlying condition that is affecting digestion and absorption of key nutrients. In such circumstances, alongside a whole food diet, supplementation may be required to assist with any suspected nutrient deficiencies, which should be under the supervision of a health care professional. Despite our children being well-fed they may be nutrient deficient highlighting the importance of a nutrient dense diet. As parents or care givers of our children, our intentions are to support our children to thrive in their growth and development. Addressing dietary intake of essential nutrients through a whole food diet is of priority in addition to identifying any underlying factors that may be contributing to symptoms.
As a Naturopath I see many children and parents in clinic looking for solutions to help them and their child optimise their health through diet and lifestyle choices in conjunction with addressing any underlying conditions that may be present. If you have any concerns about your child’s health please feel free to book an appointment for a free 20 minute health assessment to discuss your health priorities and how I can help.