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Low and Slow Early in Life Means Better Outcomes

by Cindy Gray

The way children are fed in the early years of their lives is important for many reasons.  After all, good nutrition leads to proper brain development, a healthy body and strong bones.  New research has found that a low glycemic diet for kids has many benefits. 

Low Glycemic Diet for Kids Has BenefitsA study from the Department of Psychology at University of Swansea has revealed a variety of suggestions for achieving optimal nutrition in kids.  One factor that they have pointed out is that a low glycemic diet for kids is ideal.  They also made other points as well including the fact that if sufficient levels of iron, iodine and vitamin A are not received, it can ultimately damage vision.  They also point out that if not enough iodine and iron is eaten in the first two years of life, the problems that can be caused in general will be irreversible later in life.  But what is a low glycemic diet and how exactly can it help children?  Let’s take a closer look.

What is a Low Glycemic Diet?

The glycemic index was initially established to help those with diabetes, as it can control blood sugar levels.  The general principle is that foods like white bread, cookies and potatoes make blood sugar levels rise.  The goal of a low glycemic diet is to select foods that produce a steady rise in blood sugar levels.  The end result is that people feel more satisfied.

Related: Foods the Health-Conscious Will Want to Avoid

Benefits of a Low GI Diet for Children

One of the major benefits of a low glycemic index diet for children is that it will help control obesity.   Children will feel fuller and will eat more reasonably portioned sizes.  Obviously childhood obesity is a major problem and encouraging eating styles that can tackle it head-on are a major plus.  Further, children will not experience a spike in their blood sugar levels when they eat low GI foods.  

Research from The British Journal of Nutrition also reveals that when children eat low glycemic index foods it can actually assist with learning outcomes.  Their research even shows it can help build confidence levels that are so essential when children head into their teen and adult years.

Protecting Vision through Diet

As the University of Swansea researchers concluded, a low glycemic index diet can help children’s vision.  Part of the reason that this is the case is that low GI foods tend to be rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, E and zinc.  Further, when children are consuming a lot of vegetables instead of white breads and flours, they tend to ingest a great deal of carotenoids.  For example, spinach, kale and broccoli are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin.  How can you start incorporating low glycemic foods into your child’s diet?  Here are some general pointers on what to eat and what to avoid.

Some High Glycemic Index Foods to Avoid:

-White rice

-White bread

-Pretzels

-White potatoes

-Sugary drinks

Some Low Glycemic Index Foods to Encourage Include:

-Peanuts

-Beans

-Carrots

-Fruit (with the exception of bananas, watermelon and grapes)

-Hummus

-Skim milk

-Vegetables (with the exception of pumpkin and parsnips)

As you can see in the above list, the low GI diet includes many foods that children love.  Creating snacks and meals that are low on the glycemic index should be fairly easy for most parents.  At the same time, when you discourage foods like white bread, cakes and cookies, you are also discouraging sugar, empty calories and foods that often contain artificial ingredients.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20077417

http://www.webmd.com/diet/glycemic-index-diet

http://www.kidseatgreat.com/understanding-glycemic-index.htm

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