By: Drs. Alex and Danika Nachreiner, ChiroSport – Dell Rapids
Fruits and vegetables are key to helping kids develop and grow. But how many do they need? We all know they usually aren’t getting enough, but what’s a good amount?
Most recommendations range from 1–3 cups for fruit and 2–4 cups of vegetables per day. Obviously, it depends on the age and size of the child. A good rule of thumb, though, is that half the food on a child’s plate should consist of vegetables.
Why is it so important to increase our kids’ intake of fruits and veggies—and our own, too? There are four key reasons.
Fruits and Veggies Are Key for Immune Health and Disease Prevention
Because of all of the vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory properties of fruits and veggies, they provide amazing nutrition to all the cells of the body, so you’ll be less likely to catch all the bugs going around. There’s also significant evidence that the increase in flavonoids and antioxidants in fruits and veggies will keep the surface of the body’s cells stronger and more resistant to disease, including cancer.
Eating More Fruits and Veggies Makes Obesity Less Likely
The number of people who are obese has steadily increased over the past few decades. It is now known that one in five kids between ages 6 and 19 are now obese—that’s one in five kids.
There are several reasons for the increase, but two main ones. Kids today don’t get nearly as much physical activity as they did in the past. Kids would rather sit inside on their Xbox than go outside and play some touch football or night games. Technology has become such a common convenience in our lives that people are forgetting to put down the game controller and remote for a few hours and get outside and enjoy nature. Our bodies crave movement and physical activity to live a healthy, pain-free life. The second reason kids are more obese today is they eat highly processed sugar and calorie-filled foods at meals and for snacks. When we eat foods high in carbohydrates and sugars our body has a tough time digesting these foods and ends up storing them as fat on our bodies. Many people today have a wide variety of food sensitives including gluten and dairy where their digestive tracts can’t hand the artificial foods and our body responds by packing on the fat and creating digestive problems.
Fruits and veggies are high in filling fiber, but low in fat and calories. Having kids fill up on these foods instead of prepared snack foods or fast food will help lower their risk of obesity.
Fruits and Veggies Help Promote a Healthier Tummy
Tummy troubles, including constipation, are common among kids. To help the digestive system work properly, you want your kids to get an adequate amount of fiber each day.
How much fiber is needed each day varies depending on your child’s age. Little ones need around 19 grams per day, while teen girls need at least 26 grams and teen boys need 38 grams.
Apples, blackberries, lentils, beans, and spinach all contain 5 grams or more of fiber per serving. Other fruits and veggies have less fiber, but can still provide some fiber toward the daily requirement.
Kids Who Eat More Fruits and Veggies Perform Better in School
Research has found that nutrition has a direct correlation with school performance—affecting thinking skills, behavior, memory, and cognitive development. So eating a healthy diet helps promote a better education. And the opposite is also true.
So what are some simple things we can do, especially for picky eaters?
One suggestion is to shop with your kids so they can pick out colorful foods and learn how to be healthy shoppers. Let them help you cook and prepare veggies for meals, school lunches and snacks. Have put veggies and fruit in containers at their eye level, so they can easily pick healthier snacks.
We have another great solution for you. Our Dynamic Fruits and Greens is an easy-to-mix, great-tasting, superfood formula that provides the equivalent of 20 fruits and vegetables with 100 percent natural fruit and vegetable extracts, vitamins, enzymes, and symbiotic intestinal flora—high in antioxidants, lignans, and plant nutrients. This delicious juice alternative makes fruits and vegetables easy and enjoyable. You and your children will love the the 8 different flavors we offer!
Be sure to call with any questions or to book an appointment with the doctors at 605-428-6656.