Tuesday 3 July 2012

Growing Healthy Babies....Naturally pt.2

OK, so part 2 of the “Growing Healthy Babies” workshop with Soulla was extremely eye-opening for me. While part 1 was reinforcing a lot of the information I already know, this session sufficiently filled my brain with new concepts. It was also a longer session, so there is no way I will be able to fill you in on everything, but I will give you a little food for thought and some places to look for further info.

I also want to say right off the bat that some of you may not agree with the concepts discussed. That is fine – everyone is entitled to their own views and opinions. The important thing, I believe, is in understanding why you feel a certain way. If it is simply because the alternative “just isn’t normal”, then perhaps you might consider opening up to new ideas and possibilities….just sayin’.

First off, something non-controversial (hopefully)…..BREASTFEEDING!!

Image source: www.news.com.au
That’s right – if you breastfeed, you too can look as hot as Miranda! 

Not sold? Fine. Let’s go through some other reasons why breastfeeding is the bees’ knees.
Soulla describes breast milk as “nature’s perfect food”, and I couldn’t agree more. What’s in it that makes it so special (1)? This calls for a list:
  • Protein to provide essential amino acids for growth, protective factors (immune health), vitamin carriers (folate, vit.D, vit.B12), hormones (thyroid and stress hormones), enzymes such as amylase and lipase (to break down carbohydrates and fats also found in the milk).
  • NOTE: maternal nutrition affects the protein composition of breast milk. Read: what you eat is what your baby eats – get it right! If you are vegan/vegetarian, chances are you are not getting adequate protein in your diet. I know what you’re thinking “that’s why I have soy!”. To that I say, for the love of God, please put the tofu down!! While it may provide protein, it has other components which can disrupt the hormonal balance of both mum and bub. Please don’t.
  • Fat! Majority of breast milk is fat (around 50%), mostly triglycerides (holy moly my baby is going to get heart disease!!). This is a perfect example of how important fat is. Fat is essential for growth and energy, but most importantly for retinal (eye) and neuronal (brain) development.
  • Carbohydrates, mostly lactose, but also oligosaccharides and bifidus factors which help to build the good bacteria in baby’s gut.
  • Vitamins and minerals. Again “when maternal vitamin status is low, human-milk contents are correspondingly low”. I’m not going to go over which vitamins and minerals, because they are all in there….all of them, but only if mum is getting adequate nutrition (which should look like this).
  • Natural anti-biotic – apparently breast milk is good for ‘sticky eye’! Who knew?
A baby is born with a completely sterile gut. This highlights the importance of probiotics, which are obtained through breast milk, but also via passage through the vaginal canal. These two factors are so important for life-long immunity and gut health. Studies have shown that babies born via caesarean or who are not breastfed are more susceptible to allergies, asthma and other gut-related conditions (i.e. EVERYTHING!). If you cannot do either of these things, I suggest looking into a good baby probiotic supplement.

So what about formula?

Unfortunately all of the formulas available are pretty dodgy and don’t even come close to the real deal. In fact, they can potentially be quite damaging to the digestive system and can wreak havoc on the hormones. If you can’t breast feed, buy Chris Kresser’s Healthy Baby Code (also see banner at side of page) or Sally Fallon’s “NourishingTraditions”, both of which provide nutrient-dense home-made formulas without the added nasties you would get from a store-bought formula.

Interesting fact:  “It is estimated that an infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day” (www.ppnf.org)

Now that’s just wrong! If you must buy formula from the store, please check the labels and avoid soy at all costs!

There are also benefits of breastfeeding to the mum, including bonding, losing baby weight faster, hormonal activity and also protection from osteoporosis and cancer!

Milk production works in a “supply and demand” fashion. Frequent feeding will ensure milk supply is adequate. Also note that it may be quite uncomfortable at first, but try to stick with it – it’s worth it!

How long? 6mths exclusive (i.e. nothing else to supplement) and continue to 2+ years. The world average for breast feeding is 4.7yrs!! I know many of you are turning your noses up in disgust now, but why? Is it due to our perception of what is “normal”? As Soulla points out, this doesn’t mean you are going to pop the boob out for your child to have a drink in the middle of a restaurant. At a later age, feeding may be as infrequent as 1-2 times per day, and this can be done in the privacy and comfort of your own home – no-one needs to know!

Next up – introduction of solids

Again, I cannot recommend highly enough Chris Kresser’s Healthy Baby Code – it covers EVERYTHING you need to know, pre  and post birth and is not just nutrition, providing a very holistic approach to baby-making. It’s a little exxie, but then again if it helps, it’s worth it, right?

Cue cute baby shot:

Yes, she is chewing on a T-bone and no, this photo was not set up! This is Chloe, the gorgeous and robust daughter of Billy and Paula of Plus Fitness in Thornleigh. Chloe is a "primal baby" and is absolutely thriving - living breathing proof that this stuff matters!

Contrary to popular belief, rice cereal is NOT a good first food: 1)it is nutrient poor and 2)it may contain “anti-nutrients” which affect the baby’s nutritional status. Same goes for other grains, especially wheat, which are hard to digest and lacking in nutrients.  Also avoid fruit juices and dried fruits, which are high in sugar and many have preservatives and/or damaging vegetable oils (I’m looking at you Sunbeam Sultanas!).

First foods should be nutrient-dense, yet easy for the baby to digest due to having an immature digestive system. Great foods to start off on at 6mths are egg yolks (cooked, but still soft; NOT egg whites), liver, and cod liver oil (Green Pastures), and banana (if you really want to do the whole mashed fruit thing). Later on, when you start to add vegies, make sure you add some coconut oil or butter to provide some fat, which is needed to absorb all of the vitamins. If you want a full solids schedule, I suggest you get Chris's Baby Code, or pop me an email.

Remember that it can take up to 15 tries to get your child to like a certain food. If he or she doesn’t like carrot this week, it doesn’t mean they never will. Leave it and come back to it next week. Be persistent! 

What about later on? I can’t deprive them of cake and chocolate and [insert other crap here]….

I’m sorry, but this gives me the shits. I know, I’m not a mother so I don’t know what it is like, but as I mentioned before, Soulla is a mother and holds the same views. Think of it this way, while you may be depriving them of cakes, sweets and lollies and all that "fun stuff", you are also “depriving” them of long term health and behavioural complications, such as diabetes, ADHD, obesity, auto-immune conditions. The eating habits you instil in them at a young age are carried through with them for the rest of their lives. So again – get it right. And remember, you are their parent first, not their friend. 

Easier said than done? Yes, there will be times when your kids go to parties or play dates and they are exposed to less-than-optimal foods and beverages. So what do you do? Well you could go with them, be a helicopter parent and smack the fairy bread out of their hands as soon as they touch it and scream “POISON”, then hose them down, bundle them up and take them home right away yelling “WITCH” at the host as you pass her.

OR…..you could make healthy alternatives (yes, these can still be tasty – go to www.chowstalker.com or www.dessertstalker.com for ideas) and present them as a gift to the host. When Soulla first mentioned this to me a while back, I asked her if the parents hosting the party/play date were offended. On the contrary, she said most were very grateful and she is constantly asked for recipes by other mums! Give it a try! If you feel like you are being judged, just tell other mums that your kids have allergies – can’t argue with that!

In terms of what they eat at other times – that is entirely on you, the parent. Especially when they are young – it’s not like they are going to go down to the shops and buy themselves a pack of Allen’s lollies. If you don’t have it in the house, if you don’t give it to them, they won’t eat it. Soulla also recommends explaining to your kids why they should and should not eat certain foods – have a conversation with them, rather than just telling them they can’t have something.

Some great blogs to check out for tips and recipes on raising healthy kids are:
Other excellent resources for topics we have covered today:
OK, I think I am going to have to make this a 3-part series. I feel that this is enough info this week (and my hands are too cold to type any more!). As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and questions!

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