I’m the mom of two little boys—a 3 month old and 20 month old. Lucky (or unlucky) for them, I am pretty particular about what they eat, put on their skin, and suck and chew on. And why? Because their little bodies and developing brains need good nutrition and I want to reduce the amount of exposure they receive from environmental toxins—both which can be challenging this day and age, sad to say!
Why do babies need good nutrition?
- For growth and development.
- To provide energy.
- To sustain and maintain bodily function and structure.
- To heal from recurrent injuries to our body, whether it be a traumatic injury (ie: fall), microbial (ie: infections), or toxin induced.
Is it just me or do our kids seem to be exposed to far more toxins than ever before and our children seem to eat far less nutrients than other generations???
Why are toxins more damaging to babies than adults? There are actually numerous reasons.
- Babies have immature detoxification systems. They have immature kidneys, an immature digestive system, and an immature immune system, thus less capable of detoxifying and removing toxins.
- Developing tissues are more at risk of damage from toxins.
- Some toxins are more harmful to children due to their unique physiological differences. Ie: air pollutants are specifically more harmful to babies and children due to their larger lung service area, faster respiratory rate, and because their respiratory system isn’t fully formed until age 6.
- Babies have a relatively leakier blood brain barrier than adults which enables more toxins access to the nervous system.
- Toxins accumulate and potentiate the effects of other toxins by blocking the body’s own detoxification pathways which disrupts metabolism.
Can nutrition and nutrient-rich foods protect our kids from toxins? Yes! Here are some examples:
Antioxidants: protect against the effects of radiation. Antioxidants include: Vitamins C, A, E, D, and K, Carotenoids (think carrots, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin), Selenium (ie: seafood), CoQ10
Iodine: reduces thyroid cancer-causing effects of radiation. Iodine sufficiency also reduces the toxic effects of fluoride, chloride, and bromide.
-Food sources of iodine? Examples include: iodized salt, kelp, seafood, cod, seabass, haddock, perch
Selenium: renders mercury less toxic to the body.
-Food sources of Selenium? Examples include: seafood, organ meat, brazil nuts, eggs, dairy
Molybdenum: decreases sensitivity to sulfites.
-Food sources of Molybdenum? Examples include: legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils, grain products, nuts
Taurine: protects the liver and testicles from toxic effects of cadmium.
-Food sources of Taurine? Examples include: seafood, meat
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) and Molybdenum: break down acetyl aldehyde. Acetyl aldehyde is an air pollutant from tobacco smoke and VOC’s from building material.
-Food sources of Thiamin? Eggs, meat, legumes, nuts, seeds, dried milk
Saturated Fatty Acids: protect the liver from medications.
Calcium and Zinc: reduce the toxic effects of lead and excess manganese.
Vitamin B12: supports methylation, which is one of the main detoxification pathways in our body.
Vitamin A: sufficiency minimizes vaccine reactions.
Probiotics: bind heavy metals and other toxins which allows them to be more readily excreted with the stool and out of the body.
Vitamin D: reduces the effects of UV rays and thus decreasing skin cancer risks.
Providing my kids with a well-balanced diet, full of nutrients is a mindful way of optimally nourishing them in order to safeguard them from modern day illness and to allow them a chance to be healthy! This is call Protective Nutrition.
Here are Six Simple S’s for Protective Nutrition:
1. Seek out foods that live and grow naturally (ie: eggs, meat, green veggies)
2. Supplement with probiotics, high-quality cod liver oil, and vitamin D. These are the three supplements Dr. Katherine Erlich almost universally recommended for children.
3. Soak seeds, grains, nuts, and beans to make them more digestible. Soaking them allows the body to absorb the nutrients better.
4. If you salt your food, choose sea salt (Celtic or Himalayan) to provide minerals. Celtic salts provides up to 80 trace minerals so should be seen as a source of health rather than the way we view modern salt as the dietary evil it is.
5. Supply sauerkraut and other fermented foods to provide probiotics and aid digestion. Fermented foods help increase the acid in your stomach which allows you to digest your food better. Examples: pickles, yogurt, Kefir, coconut Kefir, kimchi, Kombucha, and apple cider vinegar.
6. Stay away from sugar, soy, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, MSG, numbered colors and dyes, and genetically modified foods.
I hope you have been inspired to learn more about nutrition and make some positive changes in your home.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
Erlich, Katherine, MD and Genzlinger, Kelly CNC, CMTA. (2012). Super Nutrition for Babies: The Right Way to Feed Your Baby for Optimal Health. Fair Winds Press.