why do teenagers have to eat healthy
Adolescence is a time of growth for children, for both physical and mental development. A healthy diet is essential for teenagers because of their heightened nutritional needs, but also because the foods they eat as teenagers can impact their health when they reach adulthood. Healthy eating also promotes good food habits to last a lifetime. Teenagers need to consume more calories because their bodies are growing rapidly. According to HealthyChildren. org, adolescents need more calories each day than at any other point in their lives. In general, teenage boys need to consume 2,800 calories each day and teenage girls need to consume 2,200 calories per day. These caloric needs are even higher for teens who play sports or are otherwise very physically active. Teenagers should eat foods in the right proportions. Approximately 50 to 60 percent of the calories should come from carbohydrates, HealthyChildren. org notes, with the majority of these coming from complex carbohydrates. Fat should make up less than 30 percent of a teenager's calories. These guidelines will also ensure that teenagers get enough protein, which is notable because teenagers consume, on average, twice as much protein as they need, HealthyChildren. org reports.
Vitamins and minerals are also critical for teenagers because they are needed to help the body make new tissues and function properly. Teenagers should eat a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to make sure that they get all of the vitamins they need. Milk is a healthier choice than sodas for most teenagers because it provides calcium and vitamins A and D and helps with making new bone during growth spurts. Unless your teenager has been diagnosed with a vitamin deficiency, it is better to get vitamins from food rather than supplements because these foods provide fiber and other important nutrients needed for proper growth, KidsHealth. org. As teenagers mature into adulthood, they may continue some of the eating habits they developed earlier in life. A diet high in sugar and fat can promote weight gain and poor health later in life, particularly once the teenager's metabolism slows down. A diet high in sugar can also increase a teenager's risk of developing heart disease later in life, the American Heart Association explains, as it can cause teenagers to develop poor cholesterol levels that persist into adulthood.
Teens have so much to worry about among school, homework and their friends that they may not think twice about what they put in their mouths.
But eating healthy as a teen can set the stage for good eating as an adult. Plus, a healthy diet offers a number of benefits to teens right now. Since 1980 obesity rates in teens have tripled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This may be because most of the calories in a teen's diet come from calorie-dense foods such as sweets, pizza and soda. Healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, are not only low in calories but also filling, which might make it easier for teens to keep their calorie intake balanced and help them maintain a healthier weight. Making better food choices can also improve a teen's energy levels. Just like gas in a car, food is fuel for the body. When teens eat mostly junk food, their bodies may not run efficiently. Carb-containing foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, are the body's preferred source of energy.
In addition to the carbs, teens need B vitamins, found in foods such as whole grains, lean meats and leafy greens, to utilize the energy from the food they eat. Eating regular meals, especially breakfast, may help teens do better in school. Students that eat breakfast have improved attention spans and concentration, and also tend to do better on tests, according to the website Nutrition411. People who eat breakfast also tend to eat healthier. Even if teens are short on time, they can still eat a healthy breakfast on the go such as a fruit smoothie or whole wheat bagel with peanut butter. What teens eat also affects their growth. The teen years are a period of rapid growth, with some teens gaining several inches in several months. Protein, iron, calcium and zinc are all important nutrients teens need to grow properly. Lean red meat, poultry, fish and beans, provide teens with protein, iron and zinc, while low-fat and nonfat dairy foods provide calcium. Including these types of foods in their diet might help teens meet their full height potential.
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