The true risk of processed foods for children

The current rhythm of life has changed so much the customs in families, that due to lack of time, it is no longer cooked as often as before and it is very practical to buy elaborated food. These processed foods They contain a large number of substances to ensure their conservation or enhance their flavor, which are not exactly good for health and which pose a real risk to children.

To differentiate those foods that should be taken only occasionally from those that we can consume daily, we should pay attention to their level of processing. The latter are usually natural and contain elements that were already present in their original format: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber. In this group are fruits, vegetables, lean meats (without fat), fish and seafood, whole grains, legumes and nuts.

On the contrary, the foods that enter the occasional category are those that have been processed by mechanical or chemical means to modify the state of the natural ingredients with which they have been made. It modifies the flavor, the texture, the color, the aroma or even the nutritional content.

To achieve this, they are added fats, salts or sugar as well as other components to make it more stable and durable. Among these products are the so-called fast food, cookies, pastries, sweets, soft drinks, frozen and partially prepared precooked dishes of the "warm and ready" type.

Advantages of avoiding processed foods

There are many studies that show that some foods with high caloric content, if eaten too often, can have a negative impact on health.

These data, taken from some recent studies, will help you decide what is best for your family:

1. Babies who take a smaller amount of processed foods and more fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop food allergies.

2. Children who take lower amounts of processed foods and who follow a healthy diet during the first 2 years of life are more likely to have an IQ (high IQ) at the age of 8 than those who follow a less healthy diet. Specifically, it is observed that the IQ at that age is up to 2 points higher than that of those who follow a diet with a high proportion of junk food.

3. The risk of hypertension among children and adolescents has increased by 27% in the last 15 years, and is directly associated with excessive salt consumption. If hypertension is not adequately stopped, the child is at risk of suffering a stroke, heart disease or kidney failure at an early age. Eating fast food three times a week or more is associated with an increased risk of developing severe asthma and eczema in children.

Ideas to choose the perfect diet for our children

1. Babies and small children (0-3 years). Good nutrition during the first years of life positively influences cognitive development. If possible, feed your baby exclusively with breast milk for the first 6 months. Also, a greater consumption of natural foods and a lower consumption of processed foods can reduce the risk of allergies.

2. Young children (3-5 years). In this stage the children begin to know the world around them, so we should give them a wide variety of healthy foods so that they can build a varied and balanced diet. Limiting the presence of processed foods may reduce the risk of developing allergies, while helping to maximize your IQ.

3. Children and adolescents (5-19 years). At these ages it is important to offer healthy foods that help reduce the possible development of heart disease, as well as control their weight to a greater extent. Homemade meals are a great alternative in the control of calories and the intake of unhealthy fats. It is best to book meals away from home for special events.

Processed foods are part of our life: we take it for convenience, to save time, because we like it a lot or for logistical reasons. However, having the right information can help us as parents to decide where the balance is.

Deanna Marie Mason. Expert in education and family health. Author of the blog Dr. Deanna Marie Mason. Proactive fatherhood Professional support for the modern family. He has just released his second book: How to educate teenagers with values.

Video: 18 Harmful Foods We Keep Giving to Children

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