Friday, January 20, 2012

Important nutrients for children

However, lots of information and advice are available and it may be tough to decide which direction to follow. Among others, the following are five basic, important nutrients to boost your child's growth and development.


Protein is an important component of every cell in our body which is essential for healthy growth and development. Protein provides calories and amino acids the body really needs for building new cells and the compounds that direct bodily processes, including enzymes and hormones. Protein needs are highest during infancy and increase again just before adolescence as the body readies for another growth spurt.

Protein is found mainly in animal products such as dairy, eggs, seafood, and meats. And in somewhat lesser amounts, it is also found in beans, nuts, vegetables, and grains. Protein intake is usually not a problem for most kids, even those who don't eat meat consistently. For example, just 453g of milk or yoghurt, or 56g of meat, chicken, or seafood, and an egg satisfy a 3-year-old's daily protein needs.


Calcium helps make strong bones and teeth, maximises bone growth and shores up the skeleton during childhood and beyond. The body withdraws the calcium it needs from bones to maintain blood levels, which is partly why children need adequate calcium every day.

Dairy foods are concentrated calcium sources including milk, cheeses, and yoghurt. Calcium is also plentiful in plant products, such as fortified orange juice and soy beverages, tofu, and certain cereals.


Fibre is a complex carbohydrate without calories. We can't digest dietary fibre to get the energy. But adequate fibre intake provides many benefits for growing a child. It helps to keep the digestive system working well. Fibre's confirmed benefits for kids include preventing constipation and promoting fullness. High-fibre foods, including whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, keep kids fuller for longer in addition to its richness in vitamins and minerals.

Make whole grains, fruits, and vegetables available to your child every day to get the fibre your child needs


Antioxidant nutrients, including vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, etc, are named "superheroes" by many experts They help defend the body against harmful substances, the free radicals, that can damage the cells, which could minimise the risks of chronic conditions including cancer and heart disease.

Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, including berries, broccoli, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and cherries are among the produce offering the most antioxidants.


Red blood cells need iron to ferry oxygen to every cell in the body and keep the body energised. Iron also plays a role in brain development and function.

Both animal and plant foods provide iron, including meat, eggs, fish, poultry, seafood, spinach, beans, dried fruits, and iron-fortified grains.

Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron and you can do it by simply offer kids foods such as oranges, orange juice, tomatoes, kiwi, or strawberries with each meal to make the most of iron

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Poor English skills could leave Thais out in cold


Thailand may find itself at a disadvantage because of inferior English skills when Southeast Asia becomes a single community, academics and an industrialist have warned.

The launch of the Asean Community in 2015 will see a free flow of professionals and skilled workers among the 10 member states of the grouping.

Once the community is formed, Thais will be able to look for jobs outside the country but they will have to brace themselves for challenges from regional competitors over positions in multinational and international organisations based in Thailand that require English as the working language.

This could pose a particular challenge for university students who will be first-time job seekers by that time.

"People from other Southeast Asian countries will compete with Thais for jobs. It's a fact," said Paron Israsena, who sits on several university councils including those of Chulalongkorn and Chiang Mai.

"If we want to be able to compete with other Southeast Asian countries, we have to start at universities now," said Mr Paron.

He pointed to English skills as an obvious weakness of Thai university graduates that needs to be urgently addressed.

"Most Thai students coming out of universities cannot communicate in English," said Mr Paron, who is also the president of the Darunsikkhalai School for Innovative Learning.

The old way of teaching English, which starts with grammar, must be scrapped and replaced with an emphasis on listening and speaking skills so that students are encouraged to speak up, Mr Paron said.

He says the country needs to adopt a lifetime learning process and knowledge-based society vision to make it more competitive in the face of increasing regional competition.

"Competitiveness is the key success factor for Thailand in the Asean Community," he said.

The Education Ministry is apparently aware of the challenges to come when the Asean Community takes off. Its website _ _ reminds readers of the move towards one community.

The Association of University Presidents agreed on Dec 25 that they will adjust their semesters to be in line with the system used by other universities in the region.

By 2015, the first semester will run from September to December, instead of from June to October as is currently the case.

The second semester will run from January to May.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra last month urged the ministry to improve the tertiary curriculum to better prepare university students for competition in the job market in 2015.

More importantly, the ministry has set 2012 as the English Speaking Year. Its aim is to encourage students to converse in English every Monday.

Chinnapat Bhumirat, secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission, admitted that English skills were not a competitive advantage for Thais but hoped the country still had enough time to prepare itself for the eventual change.

"We have a problem with the English language. Countries such as Singapore and the Philippines hold an edge," Mr Chinnapat said at a forum on Thai education and the Asean Community held in September.

"We still have three years to go to produce qualified personnel."

At the same forum, however, Thavorn Chalassathien deputy secretary-general of the Federation of Thai Industries, called for a broader-based skills improvement.

He urged the government to boost skills for workers and technicians to help keep industries in Thailand and to compete with other countries that can offer cheaper labour costs as their advantage to lure investors away from the Kingdom.

"Don't think only about the [English] language. What we really need is skills development," he said.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Healthy diet keeps brain sharp

Eating a diet rich in certain vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids and low in trans fats can help keeping brain healthy and prevent Alzheimer's disease.

A new US research has found a direct link between healthy diet and slower brain aging and shrinking process in elderly people.

A team of researchers from Oregon Health and Science University studied 104 people with an average age of 87, testing the levels of various nutrients in their blood, as well as their memory and thinking skills.

Findings showed that people whose regular diet contained high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids and levels of C, D, E and B vitamins were less likely to experience brain shrinkage, a natural aging process during the grey matter volume reduces.

People with such a diet also showed on average higher mental performance scores than those with diets low in those nutrients, says the report published in the journal Neurology.

“The combination of the B vitamins, the antioxidants C and E, plus vitamin D was the most favorable combination of nutrients in the blood for healthy brain aging in our population,” said senior author Dr. Gene L. Bowman.

Researchers also found that the most unfavorable diet was the one high in trans fats which are most often found in packaged baked goods and fast foods, including cookies, crackers, and potato chips.

“It is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet,” Bowman said.

Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D are primarily found in fish, while B vitamins and vitamins C and E can be obtained from meat, fruits and vegetables, scientists noted.