I’m the mom of two little boys — a 3 month old and 20 month old. I am pretty particular about what they eat, put on their skin, and put in their mouth. At this age, they're constantly sucking and chewing on things. But why does all this matter? Because toxins are everywhere (food, water, environment, toys, etc.), and they're harmful, especially to little, growing bodies and developing brains. It's sad to say, but avoiding toxins can be challenging this day and age, so here are some tips that have been helpful for me and my husband.
Why Do Babies Need Proper Nutrition?
- For growth and development.
- For energy.
- To sustain and maintain bodily function and structure.
- To heal from recurrent injuries to the body, whether it be a traumatic injury (ie: fall), microbial (ie: infections), or toxin induced.
We are in a time when our kids are exposed to far more toxins than ever before and they seem to eat far less nutrients than other generations!
Why Are Toxins More Damaging to Babies Than Adults?
There are numerous reasons why toxins are more harmful for our little humans:
- Babies have immature detoxification systems. They have immature kidneys, an immature digestive system, and an immature immune system, thus they're 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 free radicals, radiation exposure, and supports phase 1 of liver detoxification. Antioxidants include: Vitamins C, A, E, D, and K, Carotenoids (think carrots, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin), Selenium (ie: seafood, brazil nuts)
Iodine: reduces thyroid cancer-causing effects of radiation. Iodine sufficiency also reduces the toxic effects of fluoride, chloride, and bromide.
Food sources of iodine: iodized salt, kelp, seafood, cod, seabass, haddock, perch
Selenium: renders mercury less toxic to the body.
Food sources of Selenium: seafood, organ meat, brazil nuts, eggs, dairy
Molybdenum: decreases sensitivity to sulfites.
Food sources of Molybdenum: legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils, grain products, nuts
Taurine: maintains a healthy bile consistency in the liver, and protects the testicles from the toxic effects of cadmium.
Food sources of Taurine: seafood, meat
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): breaks 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
Vitamin C: activates phase 1 detoxification in the liver, in a favorable way.
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.
Cruciferous Vegetables: supports phase 1 and 2 detoxification in the liver, in a favorable way.
Examples: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, radishes, turnips, collard greens, arugula, rutabaga
Providing your kiddos with a well-balanced diet, full of nutrients, will go a long way to safeguard them from modern day illness and allow them 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, veggies, fruits)
2. Supplement with probiotics, high-quality cod liver oil, and vitamin D. These are the three supplements 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. Kiddos don't need salt, but if you use some salt while meal prepping, 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. Himalayan salt is mined and can contain Aluminum, a toxic mineral you want to avoid.
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 (ie: they contain Aluminum), and genetically modified foods.
I hope you have been inspired to learn more about nutrition and make some changes in your home. Even the smallest changes matter!
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.