In Part I of this article -- we discussed some misconceptions about what is and isn't healthy for a baby to eat. In Part 2, we'll look at some of the foods that are the healthiest for a baby and why they're so healthy.
So we know that babies are designed to breastfeed for a while, and while they’re breast feeding, they’re getting breast milk, which by definition, is an animal product loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol. So we also know that babies’ systems are inherently set up to break down and assimilate lactose in milk because they have lactase in their systems. Lactase is what we need to break down lactose.
So it makes sense that little babies should be able to utilize animal products from healthy sources and would PREFER to do so.
In fact, the digestive enzymes needed to break down complex carbohydrates (aka rice cereal, puffs and Cheerios) don't show up until about a year of age.
That leads me to believe that babies aren’t designed to initially eat grains (and it is my belief that humans aren’t designed to eat grains EVER but that’s another article).
Grains, even healthy whole grains, are hard for any human to digest and block critical minerals like zinc, calcium, magnesium, and iron from absorbing into your system. Grains are hard to digest because their survival strategy relies on their seeds passing through digestive tracts untouched and intact. Cows and other ruminants have figured out a way to get past these grain-defenses (four stomachs for example), humans have not which is why you see so much gluten sensitivity and other autoimmune issues like Celiac and Crohn's which are associated with grain and wheat consumption.
I’m not saying fruits and veggies are bad for babies, either – not even close. Fruits and veggies are included on the list of foods my kids can eat unlimited amounts of. They’re very much a part of a nutritious and healthy baby diet. But they can’t do the job alone – that’s not how it was set up to work.
While it’s true that fruits and veggies are loaded with micro-nutrients and phytonutrients and antioxidants and lots of other great stuff, they are devoid in many things that are vital for growth and development.
Animal foods contain all the essential amino acids which are the building blocks of protein that our bodies don’t manufacture on their own (and for the record when I say “animal foods” I’m talking about grass fed, pastured, organic, foods from animals that are allowed to eat their natural diets – any animal product from sources other than that are not healthy and should be consumed rarely).
These essential amino acids are needed to make heart, lung, brain and muscle tissue. They are also needed to make important antibodies and hormones that regulate body functions like sleep and wake cycles and regulating body temperature and body weight.
These essential amino acids are necessary for the production of neurotransmitters, digestive enzymes, bones, ligaments, and cell membranes. They also build the signaling substances in the brain that help us lay down memories, process information, or jerk our hands away from a hot stove when it gets too close.
You can get all the essential amino acids from plants but it takes a lot of work and a huge diversity of food options -- which is a tough thing to accomplish with little, picky, kid eaters, and a busy schedule.
Animal products contain taurine, carnitine, CoQ10, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, CLA, butyric acid, carnosine, EPA and DHA, cholesterol and Vitamin D3 which aren’t found anywhere else. And if they weren’t important, our bodies wouldn’t need them.
Animal foods contain nutrients that come in packages that are easier for the body to absorb and use – things like iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and copper (all the nutrients that grains prohibit the body from absorbing).
Also, all those nutrients are present in breast milk so the little baby body is already set up to assimilate them and use them for growth.
Animal products are also loaded with antioxidants including glutathione.
Another positive thing about animal products is that you don’t need to eat as much of them or as often to get tons of nutrients. I’ve sat and watched a toddler eat an entire box of Cheerios the same way an adult can go through a whole bag of Cheetos – because those foods are VOID of nutrients and have no satiating properties whatsoever. Try overeating steak and eggs or cheese. Yeah – you’ll be filled up pretty quick. Ever heard of the Gallon Challenge? It always ends in vomiting.
Most people think that muscle protein is the best source of animal product, but I’m here to tell you that you might need to rethink that. Check out this chart of nutritional information:
Yeah – organ meats are OFF THE CHARTS nutritious and important for a healthy life. Ask your parents and grandparents if it was weird to give babies liver, and they’ll probably tell you no. My grandparents loved gizzards and other organ meats because people used to eat that stuff because it was GOOD FOR THEM.
Our society has just decided that organ meats are disgusting and no one should eat them because they taste gross. Case closed. Nobody eat them anymore.
My response is that taste is a matter of how you cook stuff. If something tastes gross, it means that you didn’t try hard enough to make it taste good -- within reason here, no chef is going to make a pile of dog poop taste great, although he could probably come pretty close.
So eat more organ meats. Taste is on YOU. Be creative. Use this thing called the internet -- hey! you're using it right now! -- to find some recipes or ways to cook foods you're not used to eating.
Plant-only diets have to deal with mineral blockers (as we’ve already discussed), enzyme prohibitors (which means you can’t digest and assimilate foods), protein digestion blockers, poorly absorbed minerals, digestive irritants, and are highly inflammatory. Fruits and veggies aren’t inflammatory, it’s the grains and sugars that add in the inflammation.
Plant-only diets are low in Vitamins A & D, EPA, DHA and AA (which are in fats you need for brain development, immune support and anti-inflammation), cholesterol, CoQ10, Vitamin B12, absorbable zinc and iron, and amino acids which, as we’ve already learned, are the building blocks of your entire body.
OK -- so we’ve seen what babies need and what they need LESS of. So now to answer the main question: what do I feed my baby when he or she is ready to start eating real foods?
Here is my advice:
- soft-boiled egg yolk
- cod-liver oil
- anything coconut
- soup stock (made from grass fed bones)
- mashed banana
- mashed avocado
- other organic fruits and veggies in jars or pouches
Other than mashed banana and avocado, you may be thinking “how in the world am I supposed to feed my baby THAT?” Well, I’ll put some recipes on the recipes tab so you can see how to do it. I’ll also have some good finger foods made from human foods. Just because something is convenient (like rice puffs in a bag) doesn’t mean it’s healthy. There are other things that are just as easy and way more healthy -- you just have to be open to new things.
I never in a million years thought my wife would be on board with the no artificial light thing at night, but she is.
I never in a million years thought she would utter the words “I’ll have some of that bone broth in a while” -- but she did yesterday (I nearly fell over).
So you and those around CAN change. You can do it. You can change your iPhone software so you can do this, too. And at the end of the day after getting all the information you can get, if you decide that rice puffs and Cheerios are enough to give your child all the nutrients he or she needs, then that is totally fine, too.
I would love to hear your thoughts or comments on this issue -- please email me via the contact page.
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