20 September 2019 | Opinion | By Tasneem Fidvi - Assistant Director, Administration at Saifee Hospital
An unhealthy diet carries the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, dental cavities and certain types of cancer
It is said that health is one’s greatest wealth and should be treasured above everything elss; and for the growing youth, this statement stands especially true. But between new found freedoms, round-the-clock studies, the pressure of planning ahead can drive all thoughts of a balanced meal far from the mind. This is a slippery slope, leading to a multitude of health problems that begin manifestation during this period in life. An unhealthy diet carries the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, dental cavities and certain types of cancer. The growing body of the youth requires extra care and regulation, as this period constitutes all round development and nurturing. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet during this period is guaranteed to offer immense benefits that will last for a long time. Research has shown that students are able to learn better when they’re well-nourished and eating healthy meals has been linked to higher grades, better memory and alertness, and faster information processing. One reason for this is that foods that are rich in fibre, protein, and healthy fats keep the body feeling full longer, providing enough energy to focus and stay alert throughout the entire day.Some of the ways it can help a growing adolescent are as follows:
Helps regulate weight gain:
Multiple studies have shown that obesity mostly begins during adolescence, making it absolutely crucial to pay attention to healthier eating habits. The fundamental cause weight gain and obesity is the imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure which is caused by consumption of energy-dense foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar. A balanced and healthy meal offers nutritional and developmental benefits while helping regulate weight and providing essential calories.
Gives more energy:
A healthy diet has the benefit of providing essential calories, nutrients and vitamins that give the adolescent a boost of energy and help them feel more alert and aware, both mentally and physically. As teenage years are a time when kids are juggling between multiple educational and extra-curricular activities, healthier foods will give them the boost they require without causing harm.
Improves brain function, concentration and grades:
A healthy mind comes from a healthy body, and that can only be accomplished with the help of exercise and a balanced diet. Eating meals on time and supplementing them with fresh fruits and dry fruits results in increased brain activity and better concentration, which helps in achieving educational goals.
Aids in better development of the body:
The adolescent’s body is still growing and needs the right kind of fuel for best results. Nutrients like protein, iron, calcium and zinc are crucial in this mission and they can be obtained from eating lean red meat, poultry, fish, beans, green vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
Following a healthy lifestyle is of immense importance and setting up good habits early on create benefits that last for a long time. Some of the ways one can incorporate better habits in their day-to-day life are as follows:
Eat the rainbow:
This is a phrase used by nutritionists to remind people to incorporate more types of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Colourful fruits and vegetables offer a host of benefits such as increasing immunity, lowering cholesterol, preventing ulcers, fortifying the heart, improving eyesight, memory, bone structure and cell renewal.
A handy tip for everyone, no matter their age, keeping oneself hydrated is always a good idea. Drinking enough water can help boost metabolism and encourage cell reproduction.
A little exercise goes a long way:
In addition to the many physical benefits offered by regular exercise, it also has many positive effects on mental health due to release of endorphins. These are hormones that promote happiness and good feelings and aid in reducing risk of stress, depression and other mental health issues.