I recall being a teenager and hearing this kind of thing if I chose to eat a salad every now and then. “What are you doing eating salad? You’re still young, so you can eat whatever you want to eat! You won’t gain any weight either. I’m older, so that’s how I should eat.” The theory is that young bodies can “take” the bad foods better, and that youth is the time to enjoy everything.
I think I somewhat believed that back then, but now I realize, that couldn’t be farther from the truth! If anything, it is much more important to eat healthier in younger years than it is when you are older!
We all know that when building a house, the foundation comes first. The foundation is the base upon which the house will be built. The foundation helps to determine the shape and size of the house, and provides strength so that the finished structure will not fall or deform. If the foundation is faulty, then it doesn’t matter how nice the house was; it will mean bad news for the house later on, whether that means noticeable wall cracks, or eventual total destruction.
It’s the same way with our bodies. Think about it…
When we are inside of our mothers’ wombs, it is very important that our mothers eat healthily, since babies rely heavily on the nutrient stores of mothers. If the nutrient consumption of the mother is poor, or for example, the mother overeats, it will make it harder for the baby to be healthy after birth.
Babies rely primarily on breast milk for a while after being born, Breast milk contains many vitamins and minerals, as well as antibodies and other substances that help the immune system of the baby to develop. Babies received enhanced protection from a plethora of diseases, including type 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood cancers, and Crohn’s disease. As children get older, they have a continued need for the best nutrition as they go through the various changes and growth spurts that happen on the pathway to adulthood.
Ironically, type 2 diabetes is now a growing problem among US children and adolescents, according to the CDC. Consider the fact that diabetes used to be considered a disease of old age. Cancers also strike people at increasingly younger ages, but they take many years to develop in the first place. So whereas cancers would be expected to be seen around the ages of 50-60 after having developed over maybe 20-30 years, now we are seeing more people in young adulthood acquiring these diseases.
Now, consider the foods that we consider “young people” foods: Candy, Pizza, Hot Dogs, Soda, Fruit Punch, Cookies, Pastries, etc. Also, consider the activities that we consider to be the norm for young people now: Texting, talking on the phone, video games, listening to MP3 players…many kids do still play sports and go to parks, but all of these listed activities are perhaps more common, and ALL are sedentary. A lot of these things didn’t even exist 30-40 years ago. Why are some of the worst and least beneficial foods and activities considered to be what young people should take in when they are in the foundation-building stage?
So, is it any surprise that we are seeing Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, Cancers, and other previously “elderly” diseases in increasing numbers in young people? Will this have an effect on US life expectancy? Only time will tell.
Point is, youth is no excuse for eating poorly or for living an unhealthy lifestyle. Young people need better nutrition even more than the older population. Let’s throw this myth out!
What do you think? Comment below!