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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A diet rich in proteins is important for a child’s growth and to boost immunity

The best way to meet the daily nutritional requirements of your child is from having a protein-rich diet which includes milk, cheese, egg, chicken, fish, pulses, vegetables and nuts.

By: Parenting Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 16, 2020 3:10:25 pm
protein rich diet for kids, protein deficiency, protein rich foods for children, children and healthy eating, parenting, health, indian express newsRely on foods like fruits and vegetables, which have nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and antioxidants. (Source: Pixabay)

By Dhruv Bhushan

Most conversations around health today are exercise and goal oriented. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has made the general population realise what experts always knew: health is a lifestyle, and good nutrition is far more important than exercise to be healthy. The habit of a balanced nutrition must be inculcated from a young age. 

One of the most important components of good nutrition are proteins. They are the building block of the body. They are important for proper functioning of the cells, muscle growth, stronger memory, greater strength and faster metabolism. They also play an essential role in recovery and repair of tissues, and support cells important for immunity like lymphocytes (WBCs), cytokines (messengers of immune response) and phagocytes (damages bacteria and viruses). It is critical that your children have adequate protein intake. 

As per ICMR guidelines, even children need up to 1.2 g per kg of body weight every day to lead a healthy life. As per studies, more than 85 per cent of our diets lack protein, and as per IMRB, 73 per cent of our population is protein-deficient. This deficiency is a leading cause of modern lifestyle diseases and stunted growth of children.

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The best way to meet the daily nutritional requirements of your child is from having a protein-rich diet which includes milk, cheese, egg, chicken, fish, pulses, vegetables and nuts. At the same time, include other fruits and grains to provide enough energy and other nutrients. In case it is difficult to do so, nutritional drinks can also be consumed, but not as the primary source.

Beware of the nutritional drinks for children available in the market. They are mostly malt-based, have low protein, and high amounts of sugar. They are sold and marketed to children as a way of having with your milk every day, and supposedly aiding growth. Do not fall into this trap. Regular consumption of these can be harmful for your child, and can lead to obesity and diabetes. That is why health experts, doctors and pediatricians suggest that you stay away from these sugar-rich drinks, rely on regular diet and read labels carefully. Go for a brand that has at least 40 g protein and not more than 5 g sugar in 100 g, along with other good carbs, fats, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

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During monsoon season, and especially during the coronavirus crisis, children are at greater risk of diseases. Microbes grow and thrive in this damp and humid weather. As they say, prevention is better than cure. Thus, special care is needed to ensure they get the right nutrition to maintain their well-being and immunity. There is, however, no magic pill that can increase or boost immunity. Don’t waste your money on products that make these claims. Immunity is built over time, and is dependent on your lifestyle and diet. Make sure they get enough protein from diet or good protein-rich nutrition drinks for children. Rely on foods like fruits and vegetables, which have nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and antioxidants. Keep them hydrated with 6-8 glasses of water. Have varied and balanced meals, ensure the children are physically active, and engaged in hobbies beyond just schoolwork. 

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Remember that health is not about short-term goals or cures for diseases. Health is about taking small steps every day, regularly. Health is a lifestyle. Health is a habit. And it would do our children and the future generations a world of good, if we inculcate the habits of good nutrition and active lifestyle from a young age.

(Dhruv Bhushan, is a first-generation serial entrepreneur and the founder of Habbit.Health, a nutrition-tech platform for daily lifestyle.)

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