Protein is our body’s nutritional powerhouse and is very important for children at every stage of growth. But are we giving them enough of it in through our everyday food?
Protein deficiency in India is on the rise as more and more people are switching to ‘convenience’ foods that are carbohydrate- and sugar-rich, and low in protein content. This has caused increase in lifestyle problems.
Myths about protein
On an average, Indians consume only 70% of their ideal protein requirement. A staggering 85% of Indians have a stigma where they feel high protein intake will cause them to put on lots of weight. Misconceptions about protein are also very common amongst our people, such as- ‘Regular diet is enough for protein needs’, or ‘Protein is only important for people who work out or have health problems’.
How will protein help your children
Proteins are vital building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Hair and nails too are mostly made up of proteins. Proteins help in building new cells in the body and repairing tissue damage. Proteins also play a critical role in muscles, hormones and enzymes which are very important for body functions. They are essential in building muscles and maintaining strong immunity. They also provide energy- each gram of protein provides 4 Kcal of energy.
Why should children eat foods rich in protein?
When children eat protein-rich foods, their body breaks the protein down into amino acids which they need to grow and function properly. The most obvious impact of low protein intake is stunted growth in children. According to the Nutrition Institute of India, children below the age of 5 especially require energy and protein rich diet. Milk, dairy products, eggs, meat, chicken, fish, beans, nuts, seeds and grains can all help your child get an adequate amount of protein each day. It is important to incorporate a variety of these foods into their everyday diet so they get maximal nutritional benefits.
Protein recommendations for your child
Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. We know that children need proteins for tissue growth and repair, and here’s a chart that shows how much calories and proteins children in different age groups need to consume every day in their diet. Protein requirements increase with increasing age and are highest during adolescence. Any intake lesser than this will cause difficulty in performing everyday tasks and have long term health consequences.