4 Mantras To Make Adolescents Solid And Smart
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India is home to the largest adolescent population in the world with nearly 253 million people between the age of 10–19 years.
Adolescence is the second fastest growing period of life after early childhood. During these crucial years, girls and boys experience maximum physical, mental, psychological and behavioral changes.
It is important to be healthy, well-nourished, and fit during adolescence. Healthy growth, development and well-being of this youthful human resource holds the promise and potential for a strong and healthy India.
What are the 4 Mantras for adolescents to be solid and smart?
To stay healthy, well-nourished and full of energy during adolescence:
• Eat healthy and iron-rich balanced diet
• Prevent anemia and iron-deficiency
• Stay healthy by preventing worm infestation
• Maintain personal hygiene and sanitation
Why are the 4 Mantras important?
Adolescence is a period of accelerated growth and the nutritional needs of boys and girls increase sharply during this period.
The 4 Mantras will provide adolescents with vital nourishment that is a basic prerequisite to sustain life. During this important phase of their lives, adolescents can utilize the 4 Mantras to stay healthy, energetic, disease-free and be able to joyfully carry out their daily activities at school, home and in their
Mantra 1: Eat Healthy And Balanced Diet
Energy giving foods (helps in being energetic and active) - Rice, wheat, millets such as jowar and bajra, potato, jaggery, sugar, oil, ghee etc.
Body building foods (help body growth and development in girls and boys) - Dals/pulses such as lentils and legumes, peas, horse gram, soyabean, groundnuts, beans, milk, eggs, meat, etc.
Protective foods (help to fight infection and illness) - Sprouted legumes increase vitamin C content. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, fenugreek, bathua, mint, mustard leaves, drumstick leaves, other seasonal vegetables including red-yellow vegetables and fruits like carrot, pumpkin, guava, tomato, citrus fruits like orange, gooseberry, papaya, lemon, etc.
Adolescents need to eat a variety of food items every day that provide all the nutrients to their bodies. An easy way to remember the Tiranga thaali is through the colours of the Indian National Flag – Orange, White and Green.
Try to include in every meal and especially during lunch and dinner, the food groups of each of the three colours of the Indian National Flag.
Orange (orange-colored fruits and vegetables)
White (carbohydrate rich foods – cereals like rice and dairy products)
Green (Green vegetables especially green leafy vegetables)
Mantra 2: Prevent Anemia And Iron Deficiency
Poor availability of iron to the body and poor formation of haemoglobin in blood results in anemia.
During adolescence, the requirement of iron in the body increases. One of the most common causes of anemia is deficiency of iron to meet the requirements of the body. It can be caused by low dietary intake of iron or when iron from the diet is not absorbed.
In addition, deficiency of iron can also be caused due to loss of iron from the body, such a loss could be a result of chronic infections, malaria or worm
infestation. Adolescent girls are at higher risk of such loss of iron due to menstruation.
Poor nutrition negatively impacts the scholastic achievements as well as physical work and output.
• Adolescents with anemia have low immunity marked by frequent infections leading to absenteeism from school.
• They are also unable to concentrate in their studies resulting in poor performance in school.
• It can lead to irregular menstruation in girls.
• Adolescent girls growing up with anemia suffer later in adulthood as it poses higher risk during pregnancy for both mother and child. If anemia
persists and is untreated, it can later affect the newborn child born to an anemic mother.
The best method to identify anemia is by testing the levels of hemoglobin in blood.
Other methods described below help recognize anemia:
• Examination of lower eyelids, tongue and nails. Not healthy pink in colour but look pale and dull.
• Feeling of persistent tiredness, laziness. Poor participation in physical activities or games.
• Easy onset of breathlessness. Feeling tired and out of breath even while undertaking simple physical exercises such climbing stairs.
Weekly consumption of one blue IFA tablet helps the body to build hemoglobin and prevent anemia. Prevention of anemia improves
physical stamina and mental capacity. It improves appearance, helps to remain active and look fit. As mental and physical capacity improves, girls and boys
become more enthusiastic in learning activities thus, preventing absenteeism in schools. It also help skin and hair to remain healthy and glowing.
is the blue tablet?
The blue IFA tablets are provided free of cost in government, government-aided and municipal schools to all boys and girls of classes 6th to 12th.
For out-of-school girls, between 10–19 years of age, weekly IFA tablet is provided at the Anganwadi centres and helps the body to build hemoglobin and
prevent anemia. As mental and physical capacity improves, girls and boys become more enthusiastic in learning activities thus, preventing absenteeism in schools. It also help skin and hair to remain healthy and glowing.
Include these foods in your diet to prevent anemia-
Iron rich foods like green leafy vegetables, radish, carrot, dates, sesame, jaggery, lentils, legumes, drumstick leaf, ripe papaya, etc. in the diet.
• Consume flesh foods such as eggs, meat, chicken and fish if traditionally acceptable and affordable. Iron from flesh food is well absorbed by the body.
• Include vitamin C rich foods like: fresh coriander, (green) chutney, lemon juice squeezed into dals, sprouted dals, vegetable salads, gooseberry (amla), lemon, waterlemon, guava, oranges etc. to increase absorption of iron from food.
Mantra 3: Prevent Worm Infestation
Walking bare feet, use of unclean hands and consuming unhygienic water and food leads to entry of worms in the human body. This results in
infestation of the body with worms and is called “worm infestation”.
Worms take away the nutrients from the food and deprive the host body of essential nutrients causing undernutrition and anemia. Infestation with
worms such as hookworm, leads to loss of blood and results in anemia.
How to prevent it?
Consumption of one deworming tablet (Albendazole) every six months is crucial to prevent and treat worm infestation. The deworming tablet is provided free of cost to all adolescent girls and boys in schools and to adolescent girls in Anganwadi centres.
An important approach to prevent worm infestation is by maintaining personal hygiene and cleanliness in the surroundings. Worms enter the body through naked feet so it is important to wear footwear while going to the toilet and while stepping outside the house.
Mantra 4: Maintain Personal Hygiene And Sanitation In Surroundings
Personal hygiene refers to conditions and practices that help adolescents to maintain health and prevent the spread of diseases. It includes all circumstances including maintenance of hygienic sanitation conditions in premises, lifestyle choices and commodities that help create a safe and healthy
Many common diseases like diarrhea, stomach ache and other infections including worm infestation are caused by micro-organisms that enter the body
through unclean hands and feet and also, due to consumption of unhygienic drinking water and food. is personal
How to maintain personal hygiene?
Personal hygiene means maintaining cleanliness of the body and surroundings. Maintaining hygiene helps prevent infections like diarrhea, flu and worm
It is important to wear footwear, wash hands with soap and clean water after using the toilet, before cooking and eating. The following practices will help
adolescents maintain personal hygiene and achieve the goal of good health:
• Take bath every day using clean water and soap.
• Always wear clean clothes.
• Brush your teeth twice every day.
• Wash your hands with soap and clean water after using the toilet and before cooking or eating.
• Keep nails clean and well cut.
• Prevent head lice by washing hair regularly.
• Always wear footwear especially while going to the toilet and outside the house.
It is very important that girls maintain hygiene during menstruation to prevent infections.
• Taking bath every day during menstruation helps maintain personal hygiene.
• Sanitary napkins or clean cotton cloth should be used during menses. In case of cloth, it should be thoroughly washed with soap and dried in the sun
prior to reuse. Clean surroundings and sanitation hygiene also help in preventing infections.
(Poshan Abhiyaan- An initiative by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, government of India)