By: Erica Singer, PA (Pediatric Health Associates, Plainview, NY)
March is National Nutrition Month! This month The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses on spreading the word about the importance of nutrition education. They strive to spread their message to more people in hopes of building a ‘world where all people thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition’. The Allied team works hard to promote this mission too with its patients and their families. Nutrition is important at ALL ages, but now, more than ever, we are learning that an early positive nutrition foundation leads to a healthier tomorrow! Allied providers are working to instill this in patients every single day and particularly this month!
It may just sound like all things you’ve heard before, but these facts below help to serve as a reminder of why we work so hard to get our kids to eat the right things and build healthier habits. We all know it’s not easy as a parent, but trust us, your efforts are worth it! Here’s the proof…
DID YOU KNOW?! Nutrition Fact #1
According to the CDC, The Journal of the American Dietetic Association and The Journal of School Health, studies from 2005-2009 show that children who eat a healthy breakfast have improved cognitive function, especially memory, reduced absenteeism from school and improved mood.
DID YOU KNOW?! Nutrition Fact #2
According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines from the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines put forth from the US Department of Health and Human Services, healthy eating can help children to maintain a healthy body weight, consume vital nutrients for growth and development and reduce the risk of health conditions such as: heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, iron deficiency, dental cavities, and cancer.
DID YOU KNOW?! Nutrition Fact #3
According to Mayo Clinic studies, proper nutrition increases blood flow to the brain, even starting from early infancy and through adolescence. During those crucial developmental years, increased blood flow works to protect brain cells and help prevent diseases seen in older populations, such as Alzheimer’s. Foods that are healthy for the brain are rich in healthy unsaturated fats and vitamin E. Try to include dark fruits and vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, blueberries, raspberries, plums and cherries; almonds, walnuts, pecans, avocado, and salmon. Avoid foods which are fried and try to bake, steam or grill whenever possible.
DID YOU KNOW?! Nutrition Fact #4
Calcium is more important than ever during the adolescent and teen years, as this is when the majority of bone mass is built. Don’t fret if your child is not a milk-lover, calcium can be consumed through dairy or non-dairy sources. Try to consume dark leafy green vegetables or fortified whole grains such as oatmeal or whole grain bread to reach your calcium goals. Also remember, starting in adolescence, children should be consuming more and more water. Yup, eight glasses is a good target for little Johnny too! Water makes up more than half a child’s body weight and is needed to keep the body functioning properly (just like in adulthood)!
DID YOU KNOW?! Nutrition Fact #5
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics children and adolescents should be getting at least 45 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise 4 days per week or the equivalent of 20 minutes of exercising daily.
DID YOU KNOW?! Nutrition Fact #6
In addition to educating children on healthier habits, food insecurity is also a big problem in our country; that is children that lack access to healthy meals. In conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians play a key role in identifying children at risk, getting them enrolled in the necessary federal nutrition programs and connecting them to community resources available. As of 2016, 16 million children in our country live in a household that lacks adequate food, even children right here in our local area! The Allied team, with your help, is helping to minimize barriers and get our children the healthy food their bodies need. Ask how you can help!