The Nutrients Growing, Resilient Kids Need

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Let’s face it, we all want to feed our kids the nutrients they need to grow into healthy, strong, and resilient people. I don’t think there’s a parent out there who would say otherwise. Yet in this information-packed world of ours, even a trip to the grocery store can be confusing. The answer to what to feed them while also nourishing them at the same time comes down to an understanding of the essential (and simple) basics. Here’s a quick summary of the essential nutrients our kids need. 

Water

Water is often overlooked and yet is such an essential player when it comes to the health of our growing children. We need it more consistently than anything else we consume (well, aside from air).

Water is vital to our detoxification systems. It helps our kidneys maintain the proper pH balance. When we become dehydrated, our bodies shift into an acidic state. Acidic states are breeding grounds for disease. It facilitates fat metabolism and nutrient absorption. Water also provides clarity of mind. Our brains are approximately 75% water and proportionately hold the largest amount of water in our bodies. We feel dehydration first through brain fog, fatigue, or irritability.

It’s so essential that our bodies even have mechanisms for getting us to drink more water in the form of cravings. The next time your kids feel hungry too soon after eating, it might just be water they need – so drink up!

Protein

Protein wears the pants in the family for growth, energy, repair, and mood. It is essential for producing enzymes (chemical reactions) in our body, the key to our hormonal functioning. It helps regulate the sugar surges in our bloodstream (essential for weight control, energy, and mood). Protein builds muscle.

It’s a good idea to consume one gram of protein per pound of body weight to meet basic daily needs. But keep in mind protein demands go up with increased activity levels.

Fat

Fat is by far the most vilified nutrient ever, and it’s a myth that needs to stop. The craze is unfounded scientifically and traditionally; it’s just plain unhealthy not to eat fat.

We need fat for firing. One of the top priorities for dietary fat consumption is to support a healthy brain. Our brains are approximately 60% fat. We are swimming in fat up there and need to be because cholesterol is the mother of all hormones. Hormones in the brain are called neurotransmitters, and fat supports their creation and the firing between receptor sites to keep us functioning. We don’t have healthy brains without fat, and we certainly can’t GROW a healthy brain without it. And since a baby is born with a head size that is proportionately bigger until she reaches adult age, this is a key organ to grow wisely.

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed via fat. Without it, we don’t benefit from the nutrients. Ever wonder why you feel satiated after a meal with fat? It’s because you truly are. Fat slows down the digestion of food, which means we stay fuller longer, AND our bodies get to digest that food at a pace that’s not rushed.

Nature’s ratios are right. The right balance between pro-inflammatory fats Omega 6s and anti-inflammatory ones Omega 3s are right in nature. We need both, but balance is essential. Processed foods lean heavily towards the pro-inflammatory 6s and not enough 3s. That’s why omega-three supplementation is often a wise choice.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals can’t be made in the body (except for vitamin D, which is a hormone), and if you can’t make them, you must eat them. Minerals are key players within our detoxification systems and assist in maintaining a proper pH balance. Vitamins and minerals work together, transporting essential nutrients where needed throughout the body for many functions (which is why they’re essential).

Modern commercial farming practices do not replenish the compliments of mineral reserves the way our old organic farming standard did. Nutrient profiles are diminished in today’s conventionally grown produce crops. For example, an apple of yesteryear had a nutrient content of approximately two times higher than today’s version. The same goes for animals raised under commercial practices. The final products are quite different from the pasture-raised variety. Even the fat profiles are altered in an unhealthy way due to commercial farming. For this reason, this is an area where buying organics makes a difference (be it animal or plant).

Probiotics

Probiotics are the missing link in nutrition. Scientists are now beginning to understand the importance of a good gut micro-biome for digestion and assimilation of what we eat – in so doing – supporting immunity. The building connection between the GUT and mind is now proving that your mood starts in your GUT—probiotics aid in eliminating food to ease problems with constipation and bloating.

Providing a variety of pro-biotic-rich foods every day, such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, unpasteurized pickles, and sauerkraut (kept in the refrigerator section), to name a few, is a good plan.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates take care of themselves with a diet that includes plenty of whole foods. Deliberately adding them is not necessary. They are already in the foods you choose and can harm your child’s health when overdone (as with processed foods and sugar).

Reach for whole food from complex carbs that burn slowly and give you steady fuel. Avoid regularly reaching for refined, simple carbs in processed foods (think ready to eat, fast foods). They provide fast energy that will spike your blood sugar. This contributes to mood swings, energy crashes, and a setup for many health problems, including diabetes. Carbohydrates in whole food form (plants) come with nature’s carb balancer – fiber. Fiber slows down digestion for slow-burning steady energy without peaks and crashes.

Growing kids need all of the above nutrients. Where your child is on the growth scale determines how you balance one over another. A teenage athlete will want to bump up the protein, whereas a growing toddler needs plenty of high-quality fat for that growing brain. By consistently balancing your meals around all of these nutrients found in whole food choices – think MADE BY HAND, NOT MACHINE – you will be providing the basic building blocks for growing and resilient kids.

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Arlene equips moms with life rhythm tools and teachings to restore joy, sanity, and self - because when a mom can show up for her role from a place that’s full and vital - everyone wins. Arlene is an experienced career woman, wife, and homeschooling mother of three. She began the journey into health and wellness over 20 years ago when she cured her own IBS after conventional medicine failed (not one Doctor thought to ask about diet and lifestyle). Then, she became a mother and suffered from anxiety for the first time in her life when she became overwhelmed in her role. It wasn’t more information she needed, it was an application of smart and practical tools for living in a healthy life rhythm. So she built her tool kit to get back on track and started implementing new practices. Using experience as one of her greatest educator, combined with training, she helps moms restore, replenish, and revitalize their lives. Visit Arlene at https://arlenefigueroa.com/

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