‘You are what you eat’. And a good diet plays a cardinal role in a teenager’s life in bringing the best out of them. Teens are probably the best and also the most formulative years of a person’s life. On an average a teenager’s life is physically much active when compared to an adult’s sedentary lifestyle. Thus their dietary needs are also different. Due to this the pediatric industry A teenager’s lifestyle today is far different than the scenario 10 years ago. Today, they are more involved in multiple activities from academics to gaming over the internet. Increased peer pressure has also lead to rapid hormonal changes. Hence to meet with their demands it is essential to formulate a balanced diet.
A teenager’s balanced diet- We are well aware of the basic nutrition pyramid with carbohydrates occupying the lower levels emphasizing larger proportions and fats occupying the upper smaller triangle signifying its lesser need to the body. However, that is true for a healthy adult. Few modifications have to be made when it comes to teens. Let’s take an example. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) of fat for an adult accounts for up to 45-75 grams of fat per day but that of a growing teen is 55-80grams per day. Also, it must be noted that certain micronutrients like calcium and iron are of more importance. Here’s a list of certain minerals and vitamins whose importance is quite confined to a teen and why is it so. Calcium: The absorption of calcium from the bloodstream into the bones is quite high during adolescence. It is at this time that their bone density strengthens the most and gradually keeps decreasing as they mature further. Also the epiphyseal end plates of long growing bones which are responsible for the length of long bones aren’t fused. Those who have their bone densities low are at an increased risk of osteoporosis as early as in their 30’s. No wonder we saw our ancestors holding babies in the early morning sunlight. Exposure of the dermis to just the right amount of vitamin D 15-30 minutes per day can go a long way in increased calcium absorption. Some of the foods rich in calcium are listed below as • Milk. Its all said and done. We have emphasized the importance of milk in a diet time and again. Dairy products like cheese and curd are reservoirs of calcium. There’s an increasing fad of using skimmed milk for weight loss. It might be beneficial for obese adults but teens must not be encouraged to replace their morning breakfasts with skimmed milk as it is devoid of quite a good number of nutrients along with fats. Also if your teen drinks a lot of coffee and claims to drink milk, it is alarming! Its time you took a look at it! • Broccoli and Kale • Walnuts, Almonds and Brazil nuts • Apricots, Oranges and dried figs Iron: Haemoglobin is the carrier of oxygen in our RBCs. The heme group structurally consists of iron. Any deficiency in the ratio leads to ‘Iron deficiency anemia’. The blood loss in teen girls due to menarche is the reason why many of them develop anemia. Therefore it is essential to consume iron to keep up with the loss of haemoglobin. Rich sources of iron are • Beans and legumes: Chickpeas, kidney beans, white beans. • Lentils: Green grams, pigeon pea, moong. No wonder dal one of the staple diets in our Indian culture. • Green vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, fenugreek, you name it! Remember how Popeye the sailor man had his energy from spinach? It’s true child! Eat your greens. • Poultry: Meat is one of the richest sources of iron. So is seafood especially fishes like sardines and tuna.
Folic Acid: The production and maturation of RBCs are largely dependent on folic acid. Its deficiency causes folic deficiency anemia. It also prevents the risk of Alzheimer's in old age. Folic acid is of more importance to a teenage girl. Rich sources include: • Spinach and Broccoli • Oranges and lemons • Cereals, lentils Along with the ones listed above proteins and carbohydrates also cannot be ignored. The former is essential for the development of muscle fibers. Meat, fish and eggs are excellent source of proteins. Other sources include dairy products, nuts, and legumes. Eating habits that are a RED FLAG... Eating junk food seems inevitable. The highly saturated fats and high levels of sugar can take a toll on your teen’s health. Obesity is among the leading risk factor for many health ailments. Researchers have it that India’s obesity rate has almost doubled since the past decade. Today as much as 5% of the population is obese. The sugar in processed drinks is alarming. Yet we seem to get tricked by the ‘zero calories’ drinks. Parents must aim at coming up with tastier recipes and there are so many available on the net.
‘Watch more sunsets than Netflix’ they say. Indulging in a sports activity is of extreme importance to a teen. While a good diet can help keep risk factors for diseases at bay, consistent physical activities can do the same. Teenage is an age that needs to be embraced. Eat well, be fit and live it to the most! We wish you ‘Happy Healthy Teen years’!