Why is a healthy diet so important? Tips from child nutrition expert Martina Backhausen
We all know how important it is to have a balanced, healthy diet. But do any of us know why? It’s actually quite logical when you think about it: the body can only make use of the substances it is fed. It can’t conjure up vitamins or minerals from sugar and fat. A lack of such vitamins and minerals leaves us feeling tired, listless and unfocused. For healthy development, a strong immune system and bone and muscle growth, children also need the right mix of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Here, child nutrition expert Martina Backhausen, with whom we have cooperated on developing all of our GoKids products, gives us some tips on healthy eating. If you can think of any more questions, write to us.
How many snacks should you plan on eating a day?
The best time for snacks is in the morning between breakfast and lunch and in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. Healthy snacks stop blood sugar levels from dipping, helping you to continue to perform and stay focused and preventing you from having food cravings. Snacks can also be a wonderful addition to main meals. A lack of vitamins in your lunch, for example, could be compensated for with the right snack in between meals.
How much protein do 3–7-year-old children need?
Proteins are essential for a range of key functions such as growth, brain development and healthy bones. 20 % of the human body is made up of proteins, which in turn are made up of amino acids. Many of these proteins can be found in our muscles, bones and skin. The amino acids in the proteins we absorb through our food ensure growth and constant tissue renewal. This makes them vital. 20 % of the energy contained in a meal should therefore come from proteins – and this is what we are aiming for when developing GoKids products.
Why is GoKids paying special attention to how children’s bodies use different types of sugar?
Glucose can be used by any of the body’s cells. As soon as we consume it, insulin is released, which turns food into energy. Around 20 % of it ends up in the liver, while the other 80 % is distributed to other organs and the muscles. If we eat a meal containing too much glucose, this is temporarily stored in the liver as glycogen and subsequently used when we need energy.
Fructose works in a different way. It doesn’t trigger a release of insulin and has to be transported to the liver. Our liver is the only place for the fructose to go. Small amounts of fructose are converted by the liver into glycogen, while large amounts are stored in the liver as fat. Incidences of children with fatty livers are no longer uncommon.
GoKids products therefore contain:
- less sugar;
- less fructose; and
- are not high in fructose (balanced fructose to glucose ratio).
High levels of fructose caused by fruit and agave syrup can be balanced out by using dextrose. The addition of dextrose to high-fructose food improves tolerance levels in the body. Take porridge, for example: a little agave syrup sweetens the porridge, while the addition of an exact amount of dextrose balances out the product. This prevents putting too much strain on the liver, keeps the amount of sugar low and is also satisfying.