Many adults adopt a healthy diet after realizing the effects of nutrition on one's health. Studies are now showing that childhood diets are also important in determining a person's future health.
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Childhood Diet Can Have a Long Term Impact
Nutrition can affect both your mental and physical well-being in many ways. After all, you are what you eat. However, when it comes to children, they’re at that critical stage where their development isn’t over yet which is why good nutrition is crucial. With mounting evidence that childhood diets can have long lasting effects well into adulthood, paying attention to your child’s eating habits is more important than ever.
Impact on gut health
Your gut contains healthy bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms forming the gut microbiome. Your gut microbiome has far-reaching effects on your heart, immune system, digestion and even your mood. Part of promoting gut health is having a healthy diet. A new study conducted on mice suggested that a child's unhealthy diet may have permanent effects on their gut health even after adopting a healthy diet during adulthood. The mice who were fed a high fat and sugar diet had long-lasting damage to their gut microbiome.
The takeaway as quoted by lead researcher Theodore Garland, is that "You are not only what you eat, but what you ate as a child!" So that daily chocolate bar you've been spoiling your child with may not be so harmless after all.
Impact on heart health
Eating foods high in sugar, salt and fat can increase a child’s risk of having certain health complications as an adult including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Eating fruits and vegetables is known to lower your risk of getting heart disease. And yet despite their importance, there’s nothing harder than convincing a child to eat their veggies!
A recent study showed that children who ate more vegetables were 25% more likely to have high coronary calcium levels, a good heart disease risk indicator, as adults. This is all the more reason to encourage your child to eat their veggies!
Increased risk of developing certain conditions
Another condition that is more common in those who had poor childhood nutrition is osteoporosis. As for obese children with an unhealthy diet, getting obesity earlier on in life increases the chances of developing future complications. In fact, one study suggests that even after obese children lose weight later on in their life, the effects of their childhood obesity may still be profound. Obese children have a greater risk of developing a plethora of conditions later on in life including diabetes type 2, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, infertility and more.
Why dealing with your child’s diet is tricky
Unlike adults, young children usually don’t know any better than eating whatever they want. The tricky part about caring for your child’s nutrition is that putting them on a diet is actually dangerous. Whether you’re dealing with a young child or a teenager, putting them on a restricted diet can lead to your child developing eating disorders like overly obsessing over what they eat.
Try instilling healthy eating habits from an early age. Most children will eat certain foods if they get used to them. Your child might not like certain foods but healthy food doesn't have to be bland and boring so get creative. The process of changing your child's habits can be slow and can take a lot of effort.
If you're worried about your child's eating habits then consult your doctor. A doctor can help you find out if there's a reason behind your child's eating habits.