A healthy, nutritious diet helps children grow and learn. It also helps prevent weight-related diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Children need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages. They need to eat three meals daily and have healthy snacks in between. The more active your child is, the more calories he or she needs. Here are some ways to encourage your child to follow a nutritious diet:



Sodium is an essential mineral for life. It is regulated in the body by the kidneys. It helps control the body’s fluid balance, affects muscle function and helps send nerve impulses. An Australian study showed the brain responds to sodium in the same way it responds to substances such as cocaine and heroin, which may explain why we tend to overindulge in high-sodium foods.



A balanced healthy diet should contain a variety of nutritious foods and sufficient vitamins and minerals. Such a diet can help you maintain a healthy body weight and reduce your risk of many diet-related problems, such type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. It’s recommended men have around 2,500 calories a day and women 2,000 calories a day. Studies indicate eating a typical Western diet filled with packaged meals, takeout foods, processed meats and sugary snacks may lead to stress, high rates of depression....


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Sun Exposure:

Too much sunburn and sun exposure (radiation from UVA and UVB rays) can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.


Certain germs such as bacteria and viruses are linked to certain cancers. For example, there is a link between human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. People infected with the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus have an increased risk of developing liver cancer.

Genetic Make-up:

Some cancers have a strong genetic link. For example, in some childhood cancers, the abnormal gene or genes that trigger a cell to become cancerous are inherited. Common examples are inherited breast cancer and ovarian cancer genes. People with Down’s syndrome may develop malignancies such as testicular cancer and leukemia.

Weak Immune System:

People who have a poor immune system are at a higher risk of developing certain cancers, especially people with AIDS or those on immunosuppressive therapy.

Lifestyle Factors:

These, along with your diet, can increase or decrease your risk of developing cancer. Fruits and vegetables are rich in minerals and vitamins and contain antioxidants, so eating plenty of them will reduce the risk of developing certain cancers. The recommendation is to eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables daily. If you eat a lot of red meat or too much fatty food, if you drink too much alcohol, if you do not exercise regularly and are obese, your chances of developing certain cancers increases.

Most cancers occur due to a combination of the factors mentioned above. Cancers that are linked to certain behaviors can be prevented. Choosing to quit smoking or drinking alcohol reduces the risk of several types of cancer, especially of the lung, liver, mouth and throat. Skin cancer can be prevented by staying in the shade and protecting yourself with a hat, wearing a full-sleeved shirt when in the sun and using sunscreen.

Sources and Resources:


The body is made of billions of tiny cells, and cancer is caused by changes (mutations) to the DNA within the cells. Cancer starts when cells grow out of control and crowd out normal cells, making it hard for the body to function optimally. It can start anywhere in the body and can spread to other parts of the body. Each cancer is different according to its biology and pathophysiology.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States. The number of new cancer cases is expected to rise by about 7 percent in the next 20 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Doctors don’t know for sure what causes cancer. However, each cancer is thought to start initially from one abnormal cell. Perhaps certain vital genes that control how cells divide and multiply are altered or damaged and make the cell abnormal. If the abnormal cell survives, it may multiply out of control into a malignant or cancerous tumor.

Certain risk factors that may increase the chances of one or more cells becoming abnormal and leading to cancer include:


The older you are, the more likely you are to develop cancer,


which could be due to an accumulation of damage to cells over time. Also, the body’s defense system for fighting abnormal cells may weaken as you become older.

Chemical Carcinogens:

A carcinogen, such as radiation, can damage a cell and may make it cancerous. The more exposure to a carcinogen, the greater the risk in most cases. Workplace chemicals such benzene, asbestos and formaldehyde could lead to the development of certain cancers if you worked with them without protection. Exposure to nuclear fallout and radioactive materials can increase the risk of leukemia and other cancers.


Smoking causes nearly one in four of all cancers; about one in 10 smokers die from lung cancer. If you smoke, you are likely to develop cancer of the mouth, throat, bladder, pancreas, esophagus and lung.


Harleena Singh is a professional freelance writer with a background in teaching and education. She has a keen interest in food and health related issues and can be approached through her website Checkout her blog and network with her on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

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