“Many things can wait but the child cannot. Now is the time when his bones are formed, his mind developed. To him, we cannot say tomorrow, his name is today.” – Gabriela Mistral
Food has always been an important aspect of any living being and humans are no exception. Survival of human being is, in fact, dependent on food from the moment one is born. Nature has endowed the greatest gift to the newborn in the form of breastfeeding by mother. The needs of the newborn are taken care by the mother exclusively well up to 6-12 months of its life. Thereafter the infant is gradually introduced to other food besides milk. Knowledge of right type, quality, quantity of food offered to him from this phase is essential so that adequate growth and development continues uninterrupted.
The requirement of nutrients like protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients like iron, zinc, copper, potassium and calcium are required in very minimal quantity and also which is needed by the human body in childhood only. When these requirement are fulfilled, the chances of the child being healthy are high. But, there is also another aspect to it which includes nutritional needs of children differs from the type of nutrition required for a sick child.
Often it is observed that children during illness lose appetite and are unable to eat optimally even though their requirement actually increases during illness due to the catabolic state that they are in. And hence, providing the right diet to the child becomes a challenge besides the number of diseases encountered among the children where dietary restrictions are required example in mal-absorptive conditions like celiac disease cystic fibrosis or even inflammatory bowel disease. Constipation in children is another problem encountered by pediatrician and dietitians. It can be considered as a consequence of faulty diet pattern which requires appropriate dietary counselling for the parents and caregivers.
There is an increase in number of children presenting with type 2 Diabetes mellitus in childhood. Similar to the adults, what and how much a child should eat is based on insulin management. Most often, the dose of insulin also needs to be based on the dietary intake of the child. This is where the role of medical nutrition therapy comes in. There is another very common entity presenting in children that is seizures and epilepsy. It is largely known in case of uncontrolled seizures and is medically proved that ketogenic diet reduces the duration and increases the intervals between the attack of epilepsy or seizures in children.
Obesity is another common disease seen in young children nowadays and is majorly due to sedentary lifestyle characterized by the consumption of junk or fast food which are mostly processed food items that contain preservatives. Maintaining a good BMR that is the basal metabolic rate can take care of overweight among children.
Dr. Vikas Kamath
Naturopath & Pediatric Nutritionist
Sri Sri Tattva Panchakarma