Healthy Diet for Children begins in the Womb
In the Womb
How they grow
Is it possible to overemphasize the necessity of nourishing and nurturing our children from the time they are growing in the womb until they have completed their physical and mental growth processes? I don’t think so. The formative years, beginning in the womb, are so crucial to the success or failure of a child’s ability to perform at an elevated cognitive and physical level.
More than twenty years ago I took a class in child development thinking I may be a teacher one day – and the lessons I learned in that class opened my eyes to the reality of how we mature and all the mistakes I had made before then in disciplining and treating my young nieces and nephews. I don’t have children, but my siblings do, and I had a hand in their development when they were babies. I remember screaming at my brother’s 2 –year-old thinking he really understood me and could respond as a small adult. That was totally not the case. Children, until the age of 5 – 7 do not think rationally. They don’t understand “NO,” they don’t have a sense of measurement or time, they are not capable of discerning right from wrong, or dangerous situations like hot surfaces and heights. Their little brains are still forming.
The Myelin Sheath
The process of myelination is the change or maturation of certain nerve cells whereby a layer of myelin forms around the axons, or connecting fibers, which allows the nerve impulses to travel faster. Since the myelin sheath is made up mainly of fatty tissue, mothers or caretakers need to take particular care with the food that they feed infants and small children to make sure that they get enough fat in their diets. Human breast milk contains about 55% of its energy in the form of fat! That is a very high-fat diet. What 'Mother Nature' is telling us is that infants need a lot of fat...partially to help the infant's body complete the development of the myelin sheath. Babies are born with an incompletely developed nervous system, so fat in the diet is really important, especially for the first 2-3 years of life. What happens when babies are fed formula instead of mother’s milk, which is certainly the trend?
Nutrition, not empty calories
When newborns don’t breast feed they lose out on the initial dose of colostrum found in mother’s milk that acts as the first defense against disease and reinforces the intestines and digestive system. Also, bonding is stronger between mother and child when breastfeeding occurs. Sometimes moms can’t breastfeed for physical reasons, but the trend has been to just buy formula and bottle-feed newborns that, I believe, is the beginning of the problems that can affect infants. Let’s go back further to the womb. The epidemic of obesity, child diabetes, autism and other ailments in modern children is a direct result of how our eating habits have changed since the fast-food chains have become our major source of meals. Everything that enters the mother’s system through ingestion or topically affects the newborn, including smoking, prescription drugs, sugary drinks, high cholesterol diets from hamburgers and processed foods, and of course illegal substances like crack or cocaine. Babies are born addicted to substances from their mother’s vices, and then are not breast fed and/or given a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and whole foods. This is the possible scenario for ghetto babies that grow up to be in gangs and live a life of crime. Frankly, their brains never completed a proper myelination process and they have little chance of success. It is a vicious cycle. They have problems learning because they don’t have the nerve connections required for cognitive skills. ADD is prevalent in children. My suspicion is diet and lack of exercise is the main reason for this modern disorder.
There is an amazing video by Jamie Oliver about how we need to teach every child about food and nutrition. He says we are cutting off at least 10 years of their lives by feeding them as we do with fast and processed foods. I offered it on another article and offer it again here. It’s a must see. One segment shows him in a grade school with a basket full of vegetables that most of the first graders cannot identify. It is shocking. Food allergies are a big problem with toddlers now – my niece’s son cannot eat wheat, corn, peanut butter, peanuts and a host of other foods. Consequently she has to cook whole foods, and he is finally growing and learning at an improved rate. He suffered from rashes, fevers and diarrhea before the allergies were discovered. I consider him the lucky one. Kids who don’t develop allergies to these foods full of high-fructose corn syrup that is ubiquitous in the processed food supply tend to be overweight and at risk of diabetes at an early age. It is a travesty our nation allows this “toxic chemical concoction” to exist in our foods. It requires vigilance, time and knowledge to develop a healthy diet for children and adults. It is past time that we wake up and stop indulging in the “Super-sized” mania of big gulp soft drinks, fatty bacon and cheese burgers on huge white-floured buns and our obsession with all –pervasive French fries, chips, cookies and candies.
Especially our children need a balanced diet of whole foods, green vegetables, fresh fruits, protein, plenty of purified water, no sugary carbonated drinks and NO PROCESSED FOODS, or very little. Bake oatmeal raisin cookies for a sweet treat. Stay away from the doughnuts and pizza. Pregnant moms affect the way their children will eat. If they don’t eat whole foods or vegetables, the children will have a harder time liking them. Food is our first line of attack against dis-ease. Until we change our terrible eating habits as a nation we will continue to discover more and more ailments in our precious children and adults.