Fuel your child with the right food- Carbohydrates

  • Jinal Pasad

    Bsc. Food and Nutrition, PG in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics with specialization in Pediatric Nutrition.

  • Posted On July 01, 2017

These days several FAD diets recommend the reduction or even the complete elimination, of carbohydrates from our diets.   We relate no or low carbohydrate diets with the elimination of energy providing cereals and millets like wheat, rice, jowar , bajra, barley, ragi and many more that nature provides.

However these cereals and millets are important because they are responsible for vital bodily functions. Our traditional Indian thali contains a good amount of cereals and there is a lot of science behind its role and function in our body. However a reduction of certain types of carbohydrates may be beneficial for our children’s growing bodies, reducing or omitting all carbohydrates is not appropriate for their development. We must feed our children good quality carbohydrates to keep them energetic, active, alert and full of life.

Why are carbohydrates so important for children?

  • What do we do when the fuel tank in our car is empty? Refuel it right. If we keep driving when the tank is almost empty we will not be able to go far and will need to refuel immediately. Similarly the primary role of carbohydrates is to provide the body with energy, and for the brain and nervous system carbohydrate in the form of glucose the preferred fuel source.
  • Carbohydrates contain soluble and insoluble elements; the insoluble part is known as dietary fibre, which promotes regular bowel movement and regulates the rate of rate of rise in blood glucose levels in the body.
  • When the body receives sufficient carbohydrates from the diet it spares protein to regulate its functions for bone and teeth development, muscle development and boost immunity. In case of lack or deficiency of carbohydrates proteins stored in various tissues are utilized to provide the body energy for its vital functions.

 Carbohydrates are a must in every child’s diet and must be included in all the 3 major meals of the day including breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Let us learn the types of carbohydrates..

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES:-                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

  • Complex carbohydrates are starches and broken down more slowly and raise blood sugar levels slowly and used up for energy.
  • They are healthy as they are macronutrient and micronutrient nutrient dense. This means they contain a large amount of nutrients in relation to the number ofcalories they provide.
  • Whole grain cereals and millets like wheat, jowar, ragi, oats, rice, brown rice, amaranth, buck wheat, bulgar wheat and many more .
  • These are also found naturally in foods such as potato, sweet potato, yam, tapioca and other root vegetables.
  • Simple carbohydratesare broken down quickly by the body to be used as energy.
  • Simple carbohydrates are rapidly broken down and peak the blood glucose rapidly compared to complex carbohydrates. They are also found in processed and refined sugars such as candy, table sugar, sugar syrups, honey, jaggery, jams, ready to use sauces, ketchup, soft drinks, processed and packaged foods.
  • However these must be consumed in restricted portions. Simple carbohydrate’s like fresh fruit juices and serve as a hydrating liquid as well as an energizer during and post sport activities.
  • Dietary Fibre: Fibre is a non-digestible complex carbohydrate. Fibre cannot be digested in the stomach and travels through the gut and encourages growth of beneficial bacteria in the lower gut.

There are two types of dietary fibre based upon whether or not they dissolve in water namely soluble fibre and insoluble fibre.

  • Insoluble fibre binds water as it passes through the digestive tract. This makes stool softer and heavier, thus reducing the risk of constipation. Adding bulk to stool makes bowel movements easier.

Food sources of insoluble fibre include wheat, wheat bran, wheat   pasta, wheat bread, legumes, nuts and oilseeds like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and sesame and sunflower seeds.

  • Soluble fibre attracts water to form a gel during digestion, thereby slowing the process of digestion and providing satiation for a longer period of time.
  • Foods high in soluble fibre help to slow the emptying of the stomach and prevent instant spikes in blood glucose levels. Food sources of soluble fibre include oats, oat bran, barley, fruits like apple, guava, pear, orange, grape fruit and vegetables like turnips, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, snake gourd, carrots, psyllium husk and many more.

Our Fitterfly Food diary gives a sneak peak into the types of fibres consumed by the child.  

Conclusion - Include foods containing complex carbohydrates and soluble and insoluble fibre in your child’s diet. Thus Carbohydrates are important and necessary for a child's optimal growth, development and performance.

CAUTION:  

  • Foods containing simple carbohydrates may also be consumed but in lesser and limited amounts as they provide empty calories with not much nutrition and excessive intake of sugars lead to increased dental carries, low cognitive ability and hyperactivity in children.
  • Many children tend to consume more simple and refined carbohydrates which have a high-glycaemic index such as sugar, candy, sugary breakfast cereals, cakes, doughnuts and ice creams.
  • According to American Heart Association children should not consume more than 6tsp or 25g of sugar per day. The best carbohydrates for kids are the slow-digesting, unprocessed, high-fiber carbohydrates.
  • These types of carbohydrates tend to be the highest in vitamins and minerals as well as other nutrients necessary for your child's optimal growth and health.
  • The Indian Academy of Nutrition carbohydrates should account for 50 to 60% of total daily calories in your child's diet. This percentage may increase or decrease depending on the child’s body composition, lifestyle and physical activity pattern.

CONCLUSION :- 

Foods containing complex carbohydrates , soluble fiber and insoluble fiber must be a part of the diet but in limitation as it is essential for optimal growth and development of the child.

Load your children with enough fuel and energy to keep energetic, active and alert throughout the day. Start Today!!!!!!

About Fitterfly:

Fitterfly is a wellness company run by doctors, nutritionists and wellness experts with an aim to empower people with knowledge and tools for good health. Our qualified Nutritionists at Fitterfly provide detailed customized guidance according to your child’s age, health condition, cuisine and personal preferences. To know more download and use ‘Fitterfly’ app from play store or app store or write to us at nutrition@fitterfly.com or just call us at +917045065225

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Disclaimer: All information here, including text, images, tables, videos and any other content is for your knowledge only and we do not guarantee any specific result by following these recommendations as it may vary from person to person. The information is not a substitute for qualified medical advice from a doctor or other medical health expert.