Last week we popped into town on Sunday afternoon to browse around and have a cup of coffee at a local coffee spot. While there , I overheard a conversation between a lady and the waitron. He seemed to be expressing surprise at something and the lady replied enthusiastically ” yes , and they come in all different flavours.”
I glanced over and was pretty disgusted to see that what she was referring to was baby food – or rather some muck with an extended shelf life disguised as baby food !
I have recently seen this stuff on the store shelves , sitting there proudly with a shelf life of months – purporting to be organic !
What I really found disturbing is that this baby food contains no additives or preservatives and is made in a foreign country – So my question is – HOW does the food in those packets stay fresh ? For months ? What has it been reduced to that is does not spoil ?
I see that there is a whole variety of these foods popping up world wide , all claiming to be organic. I do wonder if this claim is legitimate considering the general scarcity of organic vegetable and considering that this must be a pretty big industry to be supplying major chain stores world wide. These are foods being mass produced and shipped thousands of kilometers to sit on shop shelves for weeks before bought or eaten. How is this a good food for a baby ??
A friend of mine posted a photo he took of the nutritional values on a box of baby cereal . Aside from the list of additives and preservatives –Wheat flour, Skimmed milk, Sucrose, Palm Olein, Caramel, Low erucic rapeseed oil, Coconut oil, Sunflower oil, Sodium phosphate, Calcium carbonate, Vitamins, Ferrous fumarate, Vanillin, Bifidus culture, Zinc sulphate, Potassium iodide, it was really disturbing to see that the sugar content is 16.5g per serving ! That is 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Babies do not need any added sugar yet baby foods are so sugar loaded that many of these infants are consuming MORE sugar in a day than their parents and we wonder why we have fat or attention deficient kids !
Where does it begin?
There is mounting scientific evidence that shows what a mother eats during pregnancy may predispose her baby to lifestyle diseases.
Epigenetic control of genes is part of what allows a tiny cluster of identical cells in the womb to grow into a fully formed baby. By switching certain genes on and off, some cells become heart cells while others become brain cells. Epigenetics is critical in determining a child’s risk of developing problems ranging from autism to diabetes.
As DNA, the blueprint of your body, is rolled out during development, it gets copied. While that copying occurs, the things you are experiencing – what you eat, the toxins you are exposed to – can stop that copy machine from working properly. This basic principal of epigenetics means that, while we can’t control what genes we pass on to our children, we may be able to control which genes get turned on or turned off.
For those who are interested in more information have a look at this interesting article Science of epigenetics
My point here is that if our babies are sensitive to what WE eat when they are in utero how are they affected by the foods we feed them after birth ?
What about breast feeding ?
A study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that rats fed a diet of processed junk food such as doughnuts, muffins, biscuits, crisps and sweets during pregnancy and lactation gave birth to offspring which overate and had a preference for junk foods rich in fat, sugar and salt when compared to the offspring of rats given regular feed. The research team behind the study believe the findings have implications for humans. This means is that it is possible that eating large quantities of junk food during pregnancy and breastfeeding could impair normal control of appetite and promote a taste for junk food in offspring. Research has shown that junk foods rich in unhealthy fat and sugar inhibit the satiety signals while promoting hunger and stimulating the reward centres.This may well explain why some individuals find it more difficult to control their junk food intake later in life.
Given this data it would be prudent for breast feeding mothers to eat a nutrient dense whole food diet, cutting out processed and refined foods as well as added sugar.
The importance of gut flora
Aside from the issue with sugar, studies show that microorganisms in the human gastrointestinal tract form an intricate, living fabric of natural controls affecting body weight, energy, and nutrition.
An article in Science Daily reported on the featured findings, stating “The microbes in the human gut belong to three broad domains, defined by their molecular phylogeny: Eukarya, Bacteria, and Achaea. Of these, bacteria reign supreme, with two dominant divisions — known as Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes — making up over 90 percent of the gut’s microbial population… Within the bacterial categories… enormous diversity exists.
Each individual’s community of gut microbes is unique and profoundly sensitive to environmental conditions, beginning at birth.”
What all of this research suggests is that healthy gut bacteria is crucial to maintaining normal weight and metabolism. Unfortunately, several features of the modern lifestyle directly contribute to unhealthy gut flora including a diet high in refined carbohydrates , sugar and processed foods.
We also know that infants that aren’t breast-fed and are born to mothers with bad gut flora are more likely to develop unhealthy gut bacteria, and that these early differences in gut flora may predict overweight and obesity in the future. See the study here.
Implications of poor maternal diet and weaning onto sugar rich food ?
The fall in the age of onset of type 2 diabetes is driven by the increasing obesity in the younger age group. Hillier et al. showed the inverse relationship between obesity and age of diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Obesity has increased by 70% in adults aged 18–29 years and type 2 diabetes increased by 70% in adults 30–39 years of age making young adults the fastest growing group for both conditions. Associated with the rise in obesity is the concomitant increase in metabolic syndrome. Features of metabolic syndrome in childhood in particular, obesity, abnormal glucose metabolism and dyslipidaemia, are predictive of onset of type 2 diabetes in adults below 30 years of age.Of concern is the rise of obesity in childhood and adolescence which has led to the rise in diabetes-associated hospitalisations among young adults.
Given these statistics , how do we justify feeding our babies a sugar rich diet ?
So what should we be feeding our babies ? Fresh food ! What else ?
Fresh food does not come in packets and boxes . It does not contain additives and preservatives and it definitely DOES NOT have a shelf life of more than a couple of days.
Weaning a baby onto sugar rich cereals is not a smart idea. “there are multiple lines of evidence that an animal-based diet best supports human brain development in infants and young children.” What is best for growing brains?