Thursday, July 8, 2010

Infant Nutrition (Part 1)

I get asked a lot about how I feed my son, in light of traditional and real food philosophy. Now, I'm not perfect with this or an expert, but I have tried to use what I've learned in feeding my son. The book Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck gives some excellent advice on this topic, but, frankly, some of it was a little too much for me. I'm still a newb at this, and I can't make baby pate'. But, there is lots of great info, and I definitely recommend it.

I'm going to go through some of the things I did and explain why I decided to do it that way.

Infant Nutrition (Part 1):
Owen did not start eating solid foods until he was about 6 months old. We let him taste things every now and then, but he wasn't eating solids every day until 6 months old, and even then we didn't do much. I did this for several reasons, but the main one was that he didn't need it. He was perfectly fine on breast milk and was growing. I think you'll have a sense for when your infant is ready for food. I remember feeling, especially around 8 months, that solid food was a necessity. He was hungry. I followed his cues in this area.

I did not give Owen infant cereal at any point. This, I feel pretty strongly about, and I have lots of reasons why.
1) Infants do not have the enzymes needed to digest grain.
2) One major argument for cereal is that they need the iron. Well, if they need the iron, did God intend for them to get in in iron-fortified cereal, which has to be fortified with lots of vitamins in order for the grains to not deplete their body of nutrients? I tried to find iron in natural, real foods, like beef and spinach and raisins. Owen's iron levels were never low, when we took him to the pediatrician.
3) Another argument for cereal is that it's the easiest for them to digest. This is not true. It's hard. In fact, many sources and cultures say not to give grains for at least a year, some even say until two years old. Celiac disease is also becoming increasingly prevalent and grain is one of the top food allergens.
4) Much cereal contains unfermented soy, which I have avoided like the plague, especially when Owen was an infant. Soy is also one of the top allergens.

I didn't give Owen anything with soy in it. Traditionally, soy has been fermented to remove enzymes that are difficult for us humans to digest. In the past several years, however, unfermented soy has become one of the biggest staples of our diet. It's in EVERYTHING. Go to the store and try to find products without it in there. It will be extremely difficult.

The evidence on soy is pretty divided. Some say it causes breast cancer, while others say it prevents it. Some say it makes you healthier, some say it depletes health. Here are the undisputed facts on soy.
1) It contains a LOT of estrogen. Plant estrogen, yes, but your body still treats it like estrogen. (When I was in college, I remember getting on a Luna Bar kick. I loved them, and I'd eat one or two a day in place of breakfast or as a snack. My period got completely messed up. I broke out. I cried all the time. It was like starting the birth control pill. Very similar side effects) I don't want MY SON taking estrogen! No way.
2) It is highly allergenic. Many people are allergic to soy. In fact, it is arguably the most allergenic food. This is where you can see the logic of the food industry unravel. Our kids' pediatricians tell us to not feed our kids peanuts or milk or strawberries or shellfish, because of the potential allergic reactions. Yet, no one says anything about soy or wheat, which are definitely in the top 3. I have yet to find an infant formula without soy in it.
3) It's not a traditional food. Soy has been traditionally fermented and used in Asia for centuries. It is extremely difficult to process soy to be used in food. If God wanted us eating "soy lethicin", I think He would have made it easier to get out of the soybean. Just my opinion.
4) High amounts of soy leave a mark! Recently, inmates in Illinois were given a high-soy diet (soy is marketed and used so much, btw, because it is CHEAP!), and they started having some interesting side effects, including:
This is all I have time for today, but I will post more. Next time I'll talk about what I did feed Owen, and why I did it.

Lots more info on infant and child nutrition can be found at the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

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