Nutrition

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Food Guidelines for Children

2017 July 28 by

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Healthy options #1

 

Nutrition is a cornerstone of disease prevention and maintenance of good health in children. Here are some guidelines for children’s diets. Choose the most nutritious foods you can. Focus on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein sources. Avoid toxic exposure and highly sweetened foods. Maintain a variety.

Children may thwart these well-designed principles. They will gravitate to the sweetest foods possible. Our culture seems bent on subverting your best intentions, bombarding children with advertisements for various sugar products that masquerade as a wholesome breakfast, and tempting them with candy tie-ins to their favorite cartoon characters. Unfortunately, our culture is a modern, western model that includes fast foods, inordinate amounts of sugar, indiscriminate use of pesticides, and a commitment to excessive carbohydrate consumption.

Rules of the house

Here are some suggestions for rules of the house. Do not keep candy in the house. If it is not there, children will only eat it on very unusual occasions. Your children may not ever develop a taste for sugar and chocolate if their exposure in early childhood is minimal. Buy packaged foods carefully, and read ingredient lists. Avoid foods with added sugar, corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated fats. Bake your own cookies. Use fruit as dessert.  Be a nutritional role model for your children. If you eat well, if you base your diet on healthy principles, rather than cravings and addictions, then so will your children.

Offer your children a variety of healthy, nutritious foods. Tell children that it’s best to eat foods the way they grow in nature, not from packages and boxes. Keep fresh fruit readily available at all times. Provide choices at mealtime and do not be deterred by petulant refusals. Continue to offer foods even if your child has refused them in the past. Children will often become accustomed to a new food or taste only after repeated exposure.

What to eat

Children require a diet with a large percentage of calories coming from fats. Children also need the energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals derived from whole grains. Most children need a higher percentage of calories from carbohydrates than adults, although some children clearly do not respond well to gluten products and thrive on gluten-free diets.

Proteins in grain, especially gluten, are difficult to digest. Soaking grains will partially break down gluten and other proteins into simpler components that children can absorb more safely. Soaking grains also allows enzymes and helpful bacteria to neutralize phytic acid. All grains contain phytic acid bound to phosphorus in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid combines with minerals including calcium and magnesium, blocking their absorption.

Children also need the vitamins and antioxidants they derive from fruits and vegetables. And of course children need protein and calcium sources.

The food group portions table provides general guidelines for feeding children based on the Rule of 3. This includes three daily portions from the groups whole grains, vegetables, dairy, and meat/eggs, 3-6 fruit portions each day, and some nuts or beans.

Food group portions  –  The Rule of 3

Fruits: 3-6 per day

Vegetables: 3 per day

Whole grains: bread, pasta, cereal  2-3 per day

Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese  2-3 per day

Animal products: Chicken, turkey, beef, eggs 2-3 per day

Nuts and beans: 1-2 per day

 

These general rules will need to be adjusted for specific circumstances. Many children do not digest and process grains or dairy. Children with developmental problems or food sensitivities may require restrictions and elimination diets. A holistic practitioner can provide guidance in these areas.

As children grow into the teen years they express their food preferences more vigorously, and they make make choices that are not always ideal. However, they will still look to parents for guidance around weight concerns and help with growth and athletic prowess. Take these opportunities to  reinforce the principles of healthy eating.

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Diet Controversies

2011 September 7 by

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Bill Clinton this week probably did more for the vegan lifestyle than any other single event in the history of dietary controversies. When the former president announced that he has adopted a vegan diet, news media picked up the story with TV specials and coverage over the Internet and YouTube. Of course, Bill’s motivation is to prevent recurrences of his previous heart problems, and more heart surgeries. He has adopted the diet programs of the vegetarian proponents Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in hopes of actually reversing his heart disease. Ornish’s program of a vegetarian diet, exercise, and meditation has been proven in studies to remove plaque in artery walls.

This brings up the controversies and uncertainties about the best diet to prevent disease. On one hand are the vegetarians with their theory that a plant-based diet prevents and treats heart disease and cancer. Their argument is that cultures where eating meat is the norm have more of these diseases, which are relatively unknown in vegetarian cultures. However, the science to back up this argument, presented in books like The China Study, has been criticized as less than convincing. Nonetheless, the reasoning that raising large mammals for food is not sustainable or healthy for the planet seems cogent. And the conventional meat industry is clearly a horrific nightmare, as presented in several recent documentary films.

On the other side are the Paleolithic diet promoters who assure us that the human body was designed to eat meat and plants in the form of fruits and vegetables, but not grains.
Some cultures also have historically included dairy. Their contention is that a high protein and low carbohydrate diet will prevent diabetes and the various forms of inflammation that contribute to chronic disease. Limiting or eliminating starches and grains is the key to staying fit and lean. Then there is the Weston A Price (Nourishing Traditions) diet that advocates plenty of healthy fats, especially saturated fats and animal products, along with fruits, vegetables, fermented foods, and some soaked grains.

There are some areas where both sides agree. Highly processed foods are not good for you. Eating whole foods as close as possible to their state in nature is best. Corn syrup is terrible. Everyone should stay away from artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors, and chemicals and preservatives derived from petroleum products. Organic produce is best because pesticides and antibiotics are associated with various disease processes, and because organic produce has more vitamins and antioxidants. Animal products, if consumed at all, should be organic, and the animals raised in healthy and humane conditions, i.e. cage-free birds and grass-fed cattle.

Many studies have shown the benefits of eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables, for example the Mediterranean diet studies. Limiting junk food and fried food has also been shown to reduce disease. Controlling weight, building muscle and reducing body fat prevent heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Obesity is a guarantee that inflammation and chronic disease will strike sooner or later.

Different diets may be more suitable for different folks. Generally, anyone who is immersed in these controversies is probably eating a better diet than most of the population. It is hard to imagine Americans giving up hamburgers and fries altogether, but it is clear that a lifestyle that includes organic eating, exercise, and good health habits is a growing and welcome trend.

If Bill Clinton can shed unwanted pounds and overcome a lifetime of poor food choices, then so can the rest of us.

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Back to School Health Checklist

2011 August 27 by

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Lunches

Packing lunch for school can be hard on parents. I suggest you sit down with your kids and make a list of things they want to eat in their lunches. This can lead to (yet another) discussion of the foods that are nourishing and foods that are not so good for your body.

Putting food choices into a context that kids can understand can be helpful. The traffic light model works well. Green light foods are good for you. Eat as much of them as you like. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, nuts, and organic meats and dairy. Red light foods are those kids should not eat, like corn syrup, diet foods with Nutrasweet, caffeine products, and artificial colors and flavors. Yellow light foods are those you should slow down on, like desserts, processed white flour products, and juice.

A healthy packed lunch includes fruits such as organic blueberries, strawberries, grapes, or apples, some protein like peanut butter or meat and cheese sandwiches on whole grain bread, yogurt (without corn syrup), nuts or trail mix, organic chips, carrot sticks, seaweed snacks, or cheese sticks.

Beware of lunch boxes. Plastic lunch boxes may contain BPA (bisphenol-A), a synthetic estrogen that contributes to hormone disruption and cancer. The vinyl lining of lunch boxes and lunch bags marketed for children often contains lead. Seek out a BPA and lead-free tag on the bag to ensure that the food in your child’s lunch is not exposed to these toxins. Legal action was taken by the FDA and the Center for Environmental Health against lunch box manufacturers, but some of these may still contain toxins.

Supplements

Keep your kids healthy by supporting their immune systems. Exposure to other children with viruses is bound to pass colds around the classroom, but you can help to minimize symptoms by giving some specific supplements during the school year. Several types of supplements can help boost immune function.  Adaptogenic mushrooms are one of the most potent immune system activators. An excellent formula that also includes astragalus and elderberry is Immunoberry by Designs for Health. A probiotic formula with lactobacillus and bifidobacteria species will also help to protect children from viruses. Vitamin D3 is an essential supplement in the winter months (2,000 IU per day). And a colostrum or whey protein supplement to supply immunoglobulins and lactoferrin will also boost immune function.

Vaccines

Do not allow yourself to be pressured into giving vaccines to your child. Make an informed choice rather than just conceding to the pressure of school requirements. Consider the likelihood of exposure, seriousness of the disease, and side effects of the vaccine. Vaccines being forced on school age children these days include pertussis in DTaP (whooping cough), measles (MMR), and HPV (cervical cancer). Read about the vaccines in my book, The Vaccine Guide, or search the NaturalNews website for information about each vaccine before you comply with routine vaccination. Remember, an exemption from vaccination is always available to you.

Exercise

Schoolwork can be demanding, and homework time consuming. Many schools have limited the amount of time devoted to PE. Make sure that your kids are getting some form of exercise every day, either in an organized sport or bike riding or just running around at the park. Staying fit is important for mental function as well as physical health.

 

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Reduce Your Exposure to Cancer-Causing Petrochemicals

2011 July 5 by

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Petrochemicals cause cancer. They are also hormone disruptors, capable of contributing to hormone imbalances and premature puberty in children. We are all exposed to these chemicals every day, but we can also limit our exposure by taking simple measures in our daily lives. Some products, like air pollutants, are not in our control. However, there are many household items including the foods we eat and the fumes we breathe that may include hidden petrochemicals.

Children are especially susceptible to these carcinogens. It is estimated that children have at least three times the risk factor of adults for the development of cancer from these chemicals. Children’s relatively undeveloped livers are less effective in the metabolism of toxic chemicals. And small children who play on the floor have more exposure to products that settle from the air.

In Your Diet

Foods that are not organic may contain hidden pesticides. Animal products are a primary source. Cows will concentrate petrochemicals in their fat and milk. Buying organic milk and meat will ensure that you are not inadvertently getting pesticides from the grains these animals themselves eat. Similarly, organic chickens are not fed grains treated with pesticides. Eating organic eggs and chicken will decrease your exposure from these sources. Most fish is not safe to eat. Farm raised fish contain high levels of pesticides, large ocean fish contain high levels of the mercury, and fish imported from Japan may be radioactive.

Some produce is more heavily treated with pesticides. The Environmental Working Group tests produce, and publishes a list of fruits and vegetable with the highest and lowest levels of pesticides. This year their list of the worst fruits includes apples (highest on the list), strawberries, peaches, blueberries, and imported grapes and nectarines. Make sure that these products are organic and you will avoid the worst of the crops that are heavily sprayed. The safest fruits include pineapple, mangoes, grapefruit, kiwi, and watermelon. I recommend that most vegetables be organic when possible, especially leafy greens like lettuce and spinach. Celery is one of the highest on the list of pesticide residues.

Artificial colors and artificial flavors in packaged foods are made from petrochemicals. Even natural flavors are often disguised petroleum products.

In Your Home

There are many other sources of petrochemicals as well. One way to avoid them is to only buy environmentally safe products for your home. This includes cleaning products, laundry detergents, and dishwashing soaps. Never use air fresheners except for those made only with essential, aromatic oils.

Have everyone take off their shoes before entering your home. This will prevent  tracking in oil and pesticides from streets and lawns. If you have any exposure to chemicals in your work, change your clothes as soon as you arrive at home.

Your skin is especially effective at absorbing chemicals. Any chemicals you apply to your skin enter your bloodstream. For this reason you should use only organic shampoos, hand soaps, shaving products, and skin moisturizers.

Taking these simple and inexpensive measures will decrease your risk of cancer.

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Do your children need nutritional supplements? Part II

2011 May 8 by

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Dr. Randall Neustaedter

You know the perfect diet for your children. Breast milk for the first year at least. Then solids in the form of pureed fruits and vegetables starting at six months until twelve months. Then fresh fruits and vegetables all through the day, whole grains, clean protein products in the form of eggs, dairy products, and poultry, nuts, and maybe some grass fed beef, and all preferably organic. Do your kids eat that diet?
Most of us are lucky if our kids will eat one or two favorite vegetables. And once they leave the protected nest of your organic home, then they will be exposed to processed foods. If they are school age, then they probably want pizza and hot dogs and fast food and candy. Plus they have cravings that drive us all crazy. And some kids limit themselves to just eating a few starchy white foods no matter how much cajoling and bribery we use to broaden their diets.
Children should not eat fish or other seafood. The dangers of possible exposure to mercury, pesticides, and radioactive elements far outweigh the possible benefits. Children should also not eat seaweed, kelp, or algae supplements for the same reasons unless parents are certain they are not grown in areas with high radiation levels.
Some cooperative kids will eat a wide range of fresh foods. If you have one of those, then rest assured they are getting most of the nutrients they need. But most kids will benefit from some supplements. And picky eaters need supplements to prevent deficiencies. Vegetarian families have specific needs. And kids who have food sensitivities or allergies may also require some specific supplements.
Some supplements are suitable for every child regardless of the quality of their diets.
All kids need to take vitamin D3 in the winter months to ensure proper immune function. The dose is about 35 IU per pound of body weight. Infants need 400 IU, toddlers 800-1,000 IU, and school age kids 2,000 IU.
Omega-3 fats in the form of fish oil, krill oil, or organic flax seed oil will ensure proper brain development and help prevent inflammation that takes the form of nasal congestion or allergies. All children could use an omega-3 fat supplement. Be sure that fish or krill sources are from Arctic or Antarctic waters.
Most children would also benefit from a multivitamin and mineral supplement. The ideal is organic, food-based nutrients, rather than gummies and synthetic vitamins. IntraKids by DruckerLabs.com and Children’s Chewables by mercola.com are some of my favorites.
If children have limited dairy products because of choice, allergies, or sensitivity to dairy then they need a calcium/magnesium supplement. Children under two years of age can take a liquid mineral supplement. MRM (Metabolic Response Modulators) Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc is a good one. Preschool and school age children can take chewable calcium tablets. Kids need at least 500 mg of calcium per day. Older children need 800 mg.
Vegetarian children will need additional fats. Organic coconut oil will provide saturated fat, and a supplement with vitamin B12 is also necessary.
Try packing some nutrition into healthy smoothies with coconut oil, flax oil, whey protein powder, and fruit.
At this time of exposure to radioactive fallout, older children can take a chelating supplement in the form of powdered fruit pectin (econugenics.com) or zeolite to eliminate heavy metals. Antioxidants such as reduced glutathione, vitamin E, CoQ10, or alpha lipoic acid taken either through a multivitamin or a separate supplement will help to detoxify radiation and its resulting damage. Of course antioxidants from fresh fruits are a welcome source for kids as well.

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