Featured Image Caption: Macronutrients
Include macronutrients in your child’s nutrition plan from childhood to adolescence. Macros are part of the nutrition basics for growth and development.
We all want our children to grow to their fullest potential. If possible, we would enroll them at the most prestigious schools and spoil them with all the riches we could offer. But, alas, we are no superhuman although we can boost their abilities by ensuring their best health.
With the loud diet culture and persistent health advertisements, it is already basic knowledge that food and its nutrients are essential to our health. For a growing small body, nutrients are a must. Nutrients have two subclasses: macros and micros.
Macros, the abbreviated form of macronutrients, are nutrients your body needs in large amounts. These nutrients provide energy in the body in the form of calories or kcal. Macronutrients also comprise three types, which are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. In contrast, commonly known as vitamins and minerals, micronutrients—or micros—are nutrients your body needs in smaller amounts.
Both types of nutrients are essential in the growth and development of a child’s body. However, a human body cannot naturally produce these nutrients on its own. Hence, our children’s optimum growth all boils down to a nutritious and balanced diet.
If you are new to this whole parenthood journey, never fear! You don’t need to turn your kitchen upside down in panic. Read further to our macronutrient guide for your child’s ideal growth and development.
The Three Macronutrient Classes
Carbohydrates include sugars, starches, and fibers in fruits, grains, and vegetables. Carbs, considered as human fuel, are the body’s energy source. They break down into glucose which the muscles and brain use for complex functions.
The American Dietetic Association has advised that children one-year-old and above are required to have at least 130 grams of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should be in roughly half of children’s diets, as these nutrients promote normal brain functions.
It is also wiser to choose better kinds of carbohydrates for your child’s carb intake. Simple carbohydrates in sweets and white bread have simple chemical structures that the body quickly absorbs. The fast release of glucose out of the bloodstream contributes to insulin spikes and low blood sugar levels, which can cause diabetes.
Nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates in fruits and vegetables have more complex structures that allow for extended digestion and healthy insulin levels. Your child’s carb intake should focus on complex carbs, with the occasional consumption of simple carbs.
Are you torn between giving your child an apple or apple juice for his snack? You should choose the apple. Carbohydrates filled with dietary fiber are the better choice. The body does not digest dietary fiber, but it still aids in proper digestion. Dietary fiber also prevents cardiovascular diseases, lowers blood cholesterol levels, and improves bowel movement regularity.
The ingestion of protein is essential in the stimulation of growth in infants and children alike. Proteins contain amino acids that maintain and repair body tissues. Just like carbohydrates, proteins also supply the body with energy.
Experts at Harvard Medical School state that a month-old baby uses almost two-thirds of protein intake. As children grow in years, they will use nearly 90% of proteins to maintain their body. Moreover, 20% of the child’s daily caloric intake should be protein to ensure optimal regulation of body processes.
Animal products such as eggs, lean meats, and dairy products are good sources of protein. The health benefits of organic milk should convince you to include it in your child’s diet as a protein source. Plant proteins such as beans and nuts are good protein sources as well.
The body may utilize fats to dissolve vitamins A, D, E, and K so these nutrients can be delivered into the body. Fats also aid in the maintenance of the nervous system. They also help in the insulation and protection of organs and bones.
Although fat is not preferred, it is also known for providing the body with energy. Thirty percent of a child’s diet should be fat.
Fat has gained quite a reputation in the health community, but your choice of fat comes with benefits. Unsaturated fats, which lack hydrogen in their chemical chains, are known to trigger good cholesterol production. They also help in metabolism regulation and maintenance of cell membranes and blood flow. These also promote cell growth and regeneration.
Meanwhile, saturated fats send messages to the liver to produce bad cholesterol. Although there’s the risk that this type of fat can cause heart diseases, a healthy amount of saturated fats can aid in metabolism regulation.
It is better to choose foods that contain unsaturated fats such as nuts, fish, and vegetable oils. Only 10% of your child’s daily caloric needs should be saturated fat-rich foods.
Health truly is wealth. Excellent health and well-being are what we want best for our children.
To reach this goal, we should monitor their food intake. Nutrients in their diets help in the proper growth and development of our children’s bodies and bodily functions. In line with this, you should include healthy levels of macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into your children’s diets.
By Maricar Yabyabin
who is the General Manager of Advanced Nutritional Technologies (ANTECH) Inc., the exclusive distribution and marketing partner of HiPP Germany in the Philippines. HiPP is the world’s baby food experts for more than 120 years and the pioneer of organic farming. Today, HiPP Organic is Europe’s number one organic milk formula brand.