The typical American diet contains too much omega 6, which mostly comes from processed foods and industrially-raised animals. Nursing mothers pass along the ‘wrong’ omega 6 to omega 3 ratio unless they seek out the right foods. The right foods, with their higher levels of omega 3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. are fish and fish oil, flaxseed and walnuts, canola oil, soybeans, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. For meat-eaters, some studies indicate that the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio is better in cows, pigs and chickens allowed to forage or fed on grass (which is one of the requirements for animals to be labeled organic).
The high-omega 3 foods include vegetables, especially green and orange vegetables, which are also high in vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc. (By the way, the uptake of zinc is damaged by high fructose corn syrup and artificial colorings.). And let’s not forget garlic, one of the world’s perfect products.
Besides health-giving foods, there are foods that parents should do their best to keep out of their children’s mouths: chicken raised with arsenic, beef raised with antibiotics, milk produced with growth hormones, and non-organic strawberries (doused with a particularly carcinogenic pesticide). It’s wise to be cautious about foods high in saturated animal fat, which includes butter, cheese, meat and processed foods, because many persistent chemicals concentrate in this fat.
About meat – one final note: Whether meat-eating is “good” or “bad” for you and your child is, as far as I can tell, still debatable. While one study shows, for example, that the level of toxic chemicals plummet after a five-day vegetarian diet, the benefits of meat eating is championed by others – see the book Nourishing Traditions. If meat is your choice, buy only grass-fed, locally-raised meats, which are less polluting and polluted, more humane and better for animals and the planet; and they do not contain as much saturated fat because of the way they are raised.
Can our nutritional troubles be solved by popping a vitamin pill or eating the ‘superfoods,’ also known as “nutraceuticals,” that our food industry is beginning to manufacture? Will “fat-burning waffles” or tomatoes pumped full of beta-carotene take care of our children’s needs? Dr. Ellen Silbergeld of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health says, “Eating nutrients in their natural state, in food, appears to have more positive effects than taking one chemical such as one specific vitamin and putting it in a pill.”
When your child is an adult and parent or grandparent, s/he will thank you for all this care. First, because s/he will have a lower likelihood of getting sick. Research has confirmed that disorders seeded in childhood set person’s cellular code for life and can cause illness at any time from conception until old age. So defending against these assaults can head off adult and old age diseases, too. And second, because disruptions to the way our genes normally work, whether disrupted by harmful foods or by toxins, can be inherited through several generations. So your child’s good or bad health will likely show up in your grandchildren and on and on.
Part 2: Get Children to Eat Healing Food
For more information:
Reduce your child’s risk from all sources of pollution, including foods: consult the resource appendix in Poisoned for Profit: How Toxins Are Making Our Children Chronically Ill
True Food offers 8 simple, wise steps (in a visually appealing layout) for cooking, eating and cleaning in ways that are healthy for your family and the planet. Washington, DC: National Geographic, by Annie E. Bond, Melissa Breyer, and Wendy Gordon, 2010.
Anticancer: A New Way of Life, Viking Press, by David Servan-Schrieber, September 2008.
Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, Ted Schettler et al, Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Science and Environmental Health Network, Boston, 2009. The same nutritional advice that applies as we age applies to children.
Nuval.com rates food, applying an algorithm developed at the Yale Prevention Research Center, looking at over 30 factors to determine the score, including the calorie density and Omega 3 content. Foods that score 100 are broccoli, blueberries, okra, orange, and green beans.
Feingold.org provides information on ingredients in manufactured foods, including a guide Healthier Food for Busy People.