The power of some foods to prevent and even heal childhood illnesses is nigh unto a miracle. If Americans ate better, it’s pretty likely that you wouldn’t find, as you do today, that one out of three American children suffers from a chronic illness –asthma, birth defects, cancer, lead poisoning and mental-behavioral disorders. Mostly those children are sick because of their exposure to the massive load of toxics while in their mothers’ womb or early in infancy. Because their defenses weren’t strong enough, they lost the battle against these toxics.
So it’s a major problem that, in too many families, neither the children nor their pregnant mothers eat the food that defends against toxic assaults. Of course, there’s a toxic point in all people, no matter how well nourished they are, and some children are more genetically more susceptible than others. But the threshold for resistance will usually be lower in poorly-nourished children and children with specific nutritional weak spots.
This is more than just ‘eat an apple a day.’ Today a lot is known about which foods will protect against which specific illness, drawn from recent discoveries about how our body’s systems work.
One field of battle takes place in our immune system, where, as in all mammals, we generally can generate an army of antioxidants whose mission is to fight “oxidative stress.” Oxidative stress is the ordinary result of our body’s perpetual struggle to rid itself of the by-products of normal cellular metabolism. Normally, our bodies win these daily battles.
But then, along come manmade contaminants. Such as PCBs, found in trace amounts in all of us, though those chemicals (once widely used in electrical equipment) were banned decades ago. Many types of PCBs cause a huge amount of oxidative stress, far more than many people’s antioxidant powers can cope with; the stress ends up inflaming the cells that line blood vessels and, in that way, damages the cardiovascular system as well as the brain and nervous system. A child exposed in the womb to a dose that’s the equivalent of one single drop of PCBs in a bathtub can suffer a lowered IQ and a rise in attention disorder, and cardiovascular diseases later in life.
Manmade contaminants especially threaten children because their bodies produce lower levels than adults of the master detoxifying antioxidant, glutathione. And some children make even lower levels, probably because of inherited genetic variations (see my article To Vaccinate Your Child or Not), These children are often the ones with learning and behavioral disorders.