By Dr. Mercola
As a parent, one of the best gifts you can give your child is a strong nutritional start. The first years of life represent a time of rapid development, during which your child's language, cognitive, social and motor skills are developed.
During the first three years of life, the brain also grows at its fastest rate, and this represents a crucial window of development during which proper nutrition is essential.
If your child does not get healthy foods (and ideally breast milk) during this time, his future intelligence could be impacted.
A 2010 study1 revealed just how big an impact a poor nutritional start can have on your kids. Those who ate a predominantly processed food diet at age 3 had lower IQ scores at age 8.5. For each measured increase in processed foods, participants had a nearly two point decrease in IQ.
As you might suspect, the opposite also held true, with those eating healthier diets experiencing higher IQ levels.
As a parent, it is important to carefully consider the types of foods you give your child at home and in restaurants, as research has shown that repeated exposure builds taste preferences very quickly.
Potentially reduced IQ is not the only health risk your child faces if he eats a diet consisting mainly of processed foods and snacks.
A junk food diet can also set the stage for obesity, asthma, eczema, and a variety of allergies, behavioral problems—from hyperactivity to aggression—as well as inflammatory conditions and autoimmune diseases. In fact, many of the top diseases plaguing the United States are diet-related, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The National Institutes of Health even states that four of the six leading causes of death in the US are linked to unhealthy diets.
So the importance of proper nutrition simply cannot be overstated. Yet despite all this knowledge, food and beverage companies and even supplement makers are foisting products on children that are FAR from health-promoting, making your role as an educated parent all the more important...
Girl Scolds McDonald’s CEO
At a recent shareholder meeting, nine-year old Hannah Robertson had some pointed questions for Don Thompson, CEO of McDonald's Corp2.
"Something that I don't think is fair is when big companies try to trick kids into eating food that isn't good for them by using toys and cartoon characters," Hannah told the attendees at the meeting.
"If parents haven't taught their kids about healthy eating then the kids probably believe that junk food is good for them because it might taste good... I make cooking videos with my mom that show kids that eating healthy can be fun and yummy.
We teach them that eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies makes kids healthier, smarter and happier because that is the truth... Mr. Thompson, don't you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and happy life?"
Thompson’s reply? "... [W]e don't sell junk food, Hannah," he said. He also denied marketing to children. His response left her unimpressed, and rightfully so, if you ask me. Children are clearly a primary market for McDonald’s. In fact, America’s 52 million kids under the age of 12 represent one of the most powerful markets for American businesses, influencing adult spending worth $700 billion a year.
Children age 2-11 now see an average of more than 10 television food ads per day, and 98 percent of food advertisements viewed by children are for products that are high in fat, sugar or sodium, like McDonald’s and other fast food joints.
This is a Flash-based video and may not be viewable on mobile devices.
Absurd Lies Told By McDonald's CEO
A related article3 pointed out the many lies spouted by McDonald’s CEO during this shareholder’s meeting, including but not limited to:
- Claiming “chicken nugget Happy Meals and fat-free milk” are healthy...
Chicken McNuggets contain roughly 30 ingredients, including: sodium phosphates, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate and calcium lactate. The “fat-free milk” Thompson touted numerous times is actually chocolate milk, containing 10 grams of added sugar...
- “We provide high-quality food, we always have. It’s real beef, it’s real chicken, it’s real tomatoes, real lettuce, real fruit, real smoothies, real dairy, real eggs.”
Really? The “real eggs” in an Egg McMuffin are “prepared with” the following: Liquid Margarine: Liquid Soybean Oil and Hydrogenated Cottonseed and Soybean Oils, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene (Color).
- “Globally, we follow guidelines on responsible marketing to children.”
... Just last month, McDonald’s was fined $1.6 million by the consumer protection agency in Sao Paulo [Brazil] for violating local laws on targeting children... A report from Yale University found that... “Although McDonald's pledged to improve food marketing to children, they increased their volume of TV advertising from 2007 to 2009.” Preschoolers saw 21 percent more McDonald's ads and older children viewed 26 percent more ads in 2009 compared to 2007...
- “And we are not marketing food to kids.”
Two words: Happy Meals.
The author, Michele Simon, a public health lawyer specializing in industry marketing and lobbying tactics, suggests adding your voice by signing the petition created by Corporate Accountability International, urging CEO Don Thompson to stop marketing McDonald’s to children.
What’s in That Big Mac?
A cross-sectional study of 1,877 adults and 330 school-age kids who regularly ate at fast-food chains revealed that meals consumed at these restaurants were very high in calories, and that both children and adults underestimated the amount of calories their meals contained. As reported by Time Healthland4:
“The investigators collected receipts from the participants in order to calculate how many calories the participants consumed from their meals. They also asked the volunteers to estimate the number of calories they had just ordered. At the time of the study, none of the restaurant chains included calorie information on their menus, as many now do.”
On average, each adult fast-food meal came out to 836 calories, teens’ meals were about 756 calories, and kids consumed a whopping 733 calories in one sitting. But it’s not all about calories per se, because a calorie is NOT a calorie. What matters most is the source of those calories, and this is where fast food fails miserably. The ingredients used simply cannot be compared to whole, unprocessed foods.
As a general rule, "food" equals "live nutrients." Nutrients, in turn, feed your cells, optimize your health, and sustain life. Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and heart attacks are hallmark diseases associated with a fast food diet – a CLEAR indication that it does not provide the appropriate nutrition for your body. And, if lack of healthful nutrition isn't enough of a deterrent, perhaps the fact that some fast foods have been found to be impervious to decomposition, even after more than a decade, will get you to reconsider feeding it to your children.
Thompson denies McDonald’s sells junk food. However, looking at the lists of ingredients in McDonald’s meals, I find this to be an undefendable stance. When you consider the fact that a large number of the ingredients in a fast food meal exist nowhere in nature, but are rather concocted in a lab, it’s just not ‘real food’; it's junk. As just one example, what kind of bread can lie out for years on end without developing so much as a trace of mold? According to McDonald's website5, their hamburger buns consist of:
"Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzymes), water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide, soy flour), calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin."
Interestingly, analyzing this list of ingredients offers clues not only for how these buns remain unblemished for years on end, but also to some of the health ramifications you may experience when eating a McDonald's hamburger. For example, if you've ever felt it just "sitting" in your gut like a brick, perhaps the plaster of Paris, aka calcium sulfate6 isn't quite as digestible as you'd hoped. Or if you've had to run to the bathroom shortly after your meal, perhaps the ammonium sulfate and the ammonium chloride are to blame. Both of these chemicals cause gastrointestinal irritation with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Processed Food Contains Many Potentially Dangerous Ingredients
Fast food hamburgers are not the only type of heavily processed food that is questionable in terms of whether or not it should be considered real food. The following are just a few more examples, but you get the idea – any time a food is heavily processed, it typically ceases to be beneficial for your child’s health. Many processed foods also contain dangerous MSG, to give the otherwise bland mixture some flavor.
- Chicken McNuggets, for example, have made it into mainstream news because of the potentially hazardous additives they contain.
- Soda can contain any number of health harming substances, from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to benzene and aspartame.
- French Fries are loaded with the worst types of fat on the planet -- typically highly refined and genetically modified omega 6 oils, such as corn, canola, and soybean oils.
- Breakfast cereals are little more than disguised forms of high fructose corn syrup and many are loaded with genetically engineered grains.
Diet Soda Found to Be as Bad as Meth or Crack Cocaine for Your Teeth
A recent article in the New York Daily News7 highlighted study8 findings that a steady consumption of diet soda can result in the same type of tooth decay and erosion as that caused by methamphetamines and crack cocaine:
“The report, which was recently published in the journal General Dentistry9, found that a woman in her 30s who drank two liters of diet soda every day for three to five years had eroded teeth similar to those of a 29-year-old meth addict and a 51-year-old longtime crack user. ‘You look at it side-to-side with 'meth mouth' or 'coke mouth,' it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage more or less the same,’ said Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia.
Diet and regular soda are highly acidic, like methamphetamine and crack cocaine. Paired with poor dental hygiene, the citric and phosphoric acid in soda can lead to substantial damage and decay, Bassiouny said.”
The American Beverage Association (ABA), which represents soft drink manufacturers, issued a statement noting that the woman did not receive dental health services for more than 20 years, and that “To single out diet soda consumption as the unique factor in her tooth decay and erosion — and to compare it to that from illicit drug use — is irresponsible.” The ABA also stated that these findings do not justify never drinking soda again; rather you should be aware that soda is highly acidic, and that you should rinse your mouth after drinking it, and brush your teeth twice a day.
I disagree. Soda, whether regular or diet, has no positive place in a healthy diet. There’s simply no reason to ever give your child soda. To learn more, please see this previous article, where I review my many reasons for this hardcore stance.
Why Do Kids' Vitamins Contain Aspartame, GMOs, and Hazardous Chemicals?
Another industry that is shockingly irresponsible when it comes to children’s nutrition is that of dietary supplements. Take Flintstones Vitamins, for example, which is marketed as the "Pediatricians' #1 Choice" of supplement for kids. A recent article by GreenMedInfo.com10 reveals several of the horrid ingredients in this well-known kids vitamin—ingredients that can have adverse health effects severe enough to warrant a trip to the hospital.
Flintstones Vitamins is produced by the pharmaceutical company Bayer. I’ve revealed some of the many skeletons in Bayer’s closet in the past -- including their numerous drug-related lawsuits and intentional selling of AIDS-infected drugs in Europe and Asia. With that in mind, perhaps it’s not so surprising to find that their wildly successful kids vitamin contains some shockingly unhealthy ingredients, including:
Aspartame, perhaps the most dangerous artificial sweetener on the market, aspartame converts into toxic methanol and formaldehyde in your body. The featured article lists over 40 adverse health effects of aspartame11 found in the biomedical literature, including neurotoxicity and carcinogenicity Cupric Oxide, listed as the 'nutritional' source of 'copper,' supplying "100% of the Daily Value (Ages 4+). However, the European Union's Dangerous Substance Directive lists Cupric Oxide as a Hazardous substance, classified as both "Harmful (XN)" and "Dangerous for the environment" (N) Coal tar artificial coloring agents (FD&C Blue #2, Red #40, Yellow #6). All of these are well-known for their adverse effects on children and are banned in certain European countries for this very reason Zinc Oxide. Also widely used in sunscreens, the EU's Dangerous Substance Directive classifies it as an environmental Hazard, "Dangerous for the environment (N)." It causes the death of phytoplankton (the plankton absorbs it until they burst) Sorbitol. Higher amounts have been linked to gastrointestinal disturbances from abdominal pain to more serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome Ferrous Fumarate, the form of iron used in Flintstones Vitamins, is actually an industrial mineral not found in nature as food. It is extremely toxic, and accidental overdose of products containing this form is "a leading cause of fatal poisoning in children under 6" Hydrogenated soybean oil. This is one of the most harmful ingredients in processed foods. Part of the problem with hydrogenated soybean oil relates to the health hazards of soy itself. An added hazard factor is the fact that the majority of soybeans are genetically engineered. Hydrogenated soybean oil has been linked to over a dozen adverse health effects, from coronary artery disease to cancer, violent behavior and fatty liver disease Genetically engineered corn starch. According to the featured article, the 'vitamin C' listed as ascorbic acid in Flintstones is likely produced from GMO corn. (Bayer's Ag-biotech division, Bayer CropScience, donated $381,600 to defeat California’s Prop. 37 GMO labeling bill)
Kids Chemotherapy Rebranded as ‘Superformula’
Yet another area where kids are being increasingly targeted for brainwashing is with regards to pharmaceuticals. One of the most shocking and recent examples is the rebranding of chemotherapy as ‘superformula’ for children. As reported by iO9.com12:
“Chemotherapy is never fun, but A.C.Camargo Cancer Center in São Paulo is trying to make it easier for children to accept the treatment. They're rebranding the treatment as 'superformula' and using comics to help kids understand chemo.... [T]he cancer center is working with ad agency JWT, which also works with Warner Bros. The idea was to help children believe in the power of chemotherapy to make them ultimately better. They're not just covering the chemo cases with superhero logos; they're also giving pediatric cancer patients comic books in which the heroes experience something similar to cancer and must receive a similar treatment formulated by doctors. And in the comics, the cases for the treatment bags look just like the cases the kids get over their own chemo bags.”
How Do You Determine Whether or Not a Supplement Is a Good Choice?
To optimize your child’s health, your BEST solution is to choose the highest quality foods possible, and serve a wide variety of whole locally grown minimally processed organic foods. But how do you pick a high quality supplement, should you or your child need one? For starters, make sure it has the following characteristics:
- It is as close as possible to its natural (whole food) form, and ideally certified organic
- Use independent third-party labs that check the raw materials for contaminants and correct dosage.
- Follows industry standards for quality assurance including ISO 9001, ISO 17025 and Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications.
- The utmost care has been taken in all phases of its production, from growing its ingredients, to manufacturing, testing for potency and quality control.
- It works! I always try to select from companies that have a long track record of providing high-quality products that produce good clinical results.
Your Child's Healthy Diet Is Up to You
Children will simply not know which foods are healthy unless you, as a parent, teach it to them. Remember, wholesome food is "live" food, and the hallmark of live food is the fact that it will wilt and decompose. The fact that fast food burgers, buns, and fries do not decompose, even after a decade, is a clear sign that it's just not real food and serves no beneficial purpose as part of your diet. It’s very simple: Kids need real nutrients, not man-made chemicals that are nonexistent in natural food! These substitutes are NOT equivalent to the real deal.
Food is a part of crucial lifestyle choices first learned at home, so you need to educate yourself about proper nutrition and the dangers of junk food and processed foods in order to change the food culture of your entire family. To give your child the best start at life, and help instill healthy habits that will last a lifetime, you must lead by example. If you're not sure where to start, I recommend reading my nutrition plan first. This will provide you with the foundation you need to start making healthy food choices for your family.
The simplest way back toward health, for children and adults alike, is to focus on WHOLE foods -- foods that have not been processed or altered from their original state; food that has been grown or raised as nature intended, without the use of chemical additives, pesticides and fertilizers. You, a family member, or someone you pay will need to invest time in the kitchen cooking fresh wholesome meals from these whole foods so that you can break free from the processed food diet that will ultimately make you sick.
By doing this, and eating meals together as a family, your children will receive the proper nutrition their bodies need during the important developmental years while also developing a love for whole fresh foods that will last them a lifetime.
How the Sugar Industry Hoodwinked You about the Dangers of Sugar, Using Big Tobacco Tactics
Obesity Epidemic Not Due to High Fructose Corn Syrup?
By Dr. Mercola
I’ve warned you of the potential dangers of genetically engineered (GE) foods for many years now, pointing out that such crops might have wholly unforeseen consequences. In recent years, such suspicions have increasingly proven correct.
One of the latest pieces of evidence supporting the suspicion that GE crops are in no way, shape or form comparable to their natural counterparts is a nutritional analysis that shows just how different they really are.
Inherent differences are essentially implied by the fact that GE crop seeds can be patented in the first place. And in many ways, I believe Monsanto is slowly but surely inching its way toward patenting nature itself, in the same way others are fighting to maintain patent rights for human DNA.1
These companies are trying to patent “life,” and they likely will unless they’re stopped by the courts. But it’s quite clear that humans cannot outsmart nature.
The latest nutritional analysis of GE corn couldn’t be more relevant as the recently passed Agricultural Appropriations Bill (HR9332) included a hotly detested provision (Section 735) that places Monsanto above the law. As noted by the featured article:3
“With the recent passing of the Monsanto Protection Act, there is no question that mega corporations like Monsanto are able to wield enough power to even surpass that of the United States government.
The new legislation provides Monsanto with a legal safeguard against federal courts striking down any pending review of dangerous genetically modified crops. It is ironic to see the passing of such a bill in the face of continuous releases of GMO dangers.”
At present, the only way to avoid GMOs is to ditch processed foods from your grocery list, and revert back to whole foods grown according to organic standards.
Analysis Finds Monsanto’s GE Corn Nutritionally Inferior and High in Toxins
A report given to MomsAcrossAmerica4 by an employee of De Dell Seed Company (Canada's only non-GMO corn seed company) offers a stunning picture of the nutritional differences between genetically engineered (GE) and non-GE corn. Clearly, the former is NOT equivalent to the latter, which is the very premise by which genetically engineered crops were approved in the first place.
Here’s a small sampling of the nutritional differences found in this 2012 nutritional analysis:
- Calcium: GMO corn = 14 ppm / Non-GMO corn = 6,130 ppm (437 times more)
- Magnesium: GMO corn = 2 ppm / Non-GMO corn = 113 ppm (56 times more)
- Manganese: GMO corn = 2 ppm / Non-GMO corn = 14 ppm (7 times more)
GMO corn was also found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, compared to zero in non-GMO corn. This is quite significant and well worth remembering.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “safe” level for glyphosate in American water supplies is 0.7 ppm. In Europe, the maximum allowable level in water is 0.2 ppm. Organ damage in animals has occurred at levels as low as 0.1 ppm... At 13 ppm, GMO corn contains more than 18 times the “safe” level of glyphosate set by the EPA.
This is truly disturbing when you consider the fact that in countries like Argentina, glyphosate is blamed for the dramatic increase in devastating birth defects as well as cancer. Sterility and miscarriages are also increasing. This may be due to its similarity to DDT, which is well-known to cause reproductive problems, among other things.
Another health hazard associated with glyphosate is its effect on gut bacteria. Not only does it promote the growth of more virulent pathogens, it also kills off beneficial bacteria that might keep such pathogens in check—both in the soil, and in the gut of animals or humans that ingest the contaminated crop.
It's important to understand that the glyphosate actually becomes systemic throughout the plant, so it cannot be washed off. It's inside the plant. And once you eat it, it ends up in your gut where it can wreak total havoc with your health, considering the fact that 80 percent of your immune system resides there and is dependent on a healthy ratio of good and bad bacteria.
An additional disturbing piece of information is that GMO corn contained extremely high levels of formaldehyde. According to Dr. Huber, at least one study found that 0.97 ppm of ingested formaldehyde was toxic to animals. GMO corn contains a staggering 200 times that amount! Perhaps it’s no wonder that animals, when given a choice, avoid genetically engineered feed.
Next Up: Genetically Engineered Apples, Using New GE Technique
Besides so-called Roundup Ready crops, genetically engineered to resist otherwise lethal doses of glyphosate, there are other types of GE food crops. Another equally troublesome one is Bt crops, engineered in such a way as to contain a toxic protein within the plant itself. These were created by inserting a foreign gene into the plant in question.
Now we’re looking at yet another type of genetic engineering technology: RNA interference (RNAi), also known as post transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS).
According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA),5 apples modified using this technique are slated for approval by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sometime this year. The apple will not require approval by the FDA, which is responsible for human food and animal feed. It only needs approval by the USDA, which is responsible for protecting agriculture from pests and plant diseases.
The new GMO Arctic® Apple does not turn brown when sliced or bitten into. For the cosmetic “advantage” of these genetically engineered apples, you get to be a test subject for yet another untested genetic modification technology. How’s that for a bargain?
According to OCA, non-organic apples are already among the most pesticide-laden foods sold. In the Pesticide Action Network’s analysis of the most recent USDA data, apples tested positive for 42 different pesticides, including two endocrine disrupting pesticides (organophosphate and pyrethroid). The additional risk of untested tinkering with the RNA is not a step in the right direction if we want safer, healthier foods. The OCA writes:6
“[U]nlike the case with GMO corn or salmon, scientists aren’t injecting pesticides or genes from foreign plants or animals into the genes of apples to create the Frankenapple. While most existing genetically engineered plants are designed to make new proteins, the Arctic Apple is engineered to produce a form of genetic information called double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). The new dsRNA alters the way genes are expressed. The result, in the Arctic Apple’s case, is a new double strand of RNA that genetically 'silences' the apple’s ability to produce polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme that causes the apple to turn brown when it’s exposed to oxygen.
Harmless? The biotech industry, OSF and some scientists say yes. But others, including Professor Jack Heinemann (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Sarah Agapito-Tenfen (from Santa Catarina University in Brazil) and Judy Carman (Flinders University in South Australia), say that dsRNA manipulation is untested, and therefore inherently risky.
Recent research has shown that dsRNAs can transfer from plants to humans and other animals through food. The biotech industry has always claimed that genetically engineered DNA or RNA is destroyed by human digestion, eliminating the danger of these mutant organisms damaging human genes or human health. But many biotech scientists say otherwise. They point to evidence that the manipulated RNA finds its way into our digestive systems and bloodstreams, potentially damaging or silencing vital human genes.”
OCA also points out the indirect health consequences. The chemical compound used in the RNA manipulation process is one that also combats plant pests. So what might conceivably happen when you compromise the fruit’s ability to fend off insects? As noted by OCA, most likely, growers will have to start using more pesticides—on a fruit that’s already among the most heavily sprayed. In the end, all those pesticides end up in your body and, certainly, avoiding toxic exposures is important if you want to protect your health.
Despite What You Are Told GE Crops Are NOT the 'Most Tested' Product in the World
It’s important to realize that genetically engineered (GE) foods have never been proven safe for human consumption over a lifetime, let alone over generations. Monsanto and its advocates claim genetically engineered crops are “the most-tested food product that the world has ever seen.” What they don’t tell you is that:
- Industry-funded research predictably affects the outcome of the trial. This has been verified by dozens of scientific reviews comparing funding with the findings of the study. When industry funds the research, it’s virtually guaranteed to be positive. Therefore, independent studies must be done to replicate and thus verify results
- The longest industry-funded animal feeding study was 90 days, which recent research has confirmed is FAR too short. In the world’s first independently funded lifetime feeding study, massive health problems set in during and after the 13th month, including organ damage and cancer
- Companies like Monsanto and Syngenta rarely if ever allow independent researchers access to their patented seeds, citing the legal protection these seeds have under patent laws. Hence, independent research is extremely difficult or nearly impossible to conduct. If these scientists get seeds from a farmer, they sue them into oblivion as one of their favorite tactics is to use the legal system to their advantage. Additionally, virtually all academic agricultural research is controlled by Monsanto as they are the primary supporters of these departments and none will risk losing their funding from them
- There is no safety monitoring. Meaning, once the GE item in question has been approved, not a single country on earth is actively monitoring and tracking reports of potential health effects
Middle School Student’s Brilliant Experiment
Speaking of research; while there’s no research to support the long-term safety of GMOs, studies do show that organic foods are safer than their conventional counterparts in terms of toxic exposure, and likely far more nutritious as well.
Three years ago, middle school student Ria Chhabra created a science fair project to help settle a debate between her parents, revolving around whether or not organic foods have merit. Now 16 and a sophomore at Clark High School in Plano, Texas, Ria’s continued research into the effect of organic food on fruit flies has earned her top honors in a national science competition, and her work was recently published in the respected scientific journal, PloS One.7 As reported by the New York Times:8
“The research, titled Organically Grown Food Provides Health Benefits to Drosophila Melanogaster, tracked the effects of organic and conventional diets on the health of fruit flies. By nearly every measure, including fertility, stress resistance and longevity, flies that fed on organic bananas and potatoes fared better than those who dined on conventionally raised produce.
While the results can’t be directly extrapolated to human health, the research nonetheless paves the way for additional studies on the relative health benefits of organic versus conventionally grown food...
The difference in outcomes among the flies fed different diets could be due to the effects of pesticide and fungicide residue from conventionally raised foods. Or it could be that the organic-fed flies thrived because of a higher level of nutrients in the organic produce. One intriguing idea raises the question of whether organically raised plants produce more natural compounds to ward off pests and fungi, and whether those compounds offer additional health benefits to flies, animals and humans who consume organic foods.”
While the scientific merit of organic food continues to be studied and debated among scientists and laypeople alike, the issue has been settled in the Chhabra household. According to Ria, all the fresh produce the family buys is now organic.
Viral Gene in Genetically Engineered Foods Could Promote Disease
How Glyphosate Destroys Your Gut Flora
By Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett
Most people take it for granted that when a baby starts on solid food he will be spoon fed baby rice or mush, one taste at a time, in a schedule decided by his parents. And although most parents hope their child will turn out to be a 'good eater,' the reality is often very different.
The path to relaxed and healthy family meals turns out to be far more difficult than it should be for many families. Mealtime battles, food phobias and fussy eating are just some of the things that parents can face when they start to introduce their little ones to solid food. Many children end up with a limited diet – often based on soft, processed foods – and childhood obesity is on the rise.
In response, a growing number of parents are rejecting the conventions of spoon feeding, turning instead to an approach called baby-led weaning (BLW), which is fast gaining a reputation as a better way to establish long-term healthy attitudes to food in children.
Weaning is used in its fullest sense here – the gradual move away from a milk-only diet, starting with the baby’s first taste of solid food through to the last breast or formula feeding, and taking anything from six months to several years. With baby-led weaning there’s no hurry, and no spoon feeding or baby food. Instead, this is what happens:
- Babies are allowed to join in with nutritious family meals and feed themselves 'real' food with their fingers as soon as they are ready.
- They choose what to eat, how much and how quickly.
- There is no pressure for the baby to eat a set amount of food or any particular food group – the emphasis is on allowing him to explore and discover a range of healthy food in his own time.
- The baby sets the pace for progress with solid foods and decides how quickly he cuts down his milk feedings.
The result is a slower and more enjoyable transition than has been the case for many babies in the past, avoiding many of the common mealtime challenges faced by families, and with potentially healthier outcomes for the infant.
How Does Baby-Led Weaning Work?
Baby-led weaning is based on how babies develop in their first year. It starts when the baby shows signs of being ready to pick up food. This is usually at around six months of age, when he is able to sit upright with little or no support and reach out accurately to grab things with his hands. At this age, most objects get taken to the mouth automatically, as part of the baby's exploratory play – baby-led weaning extends this natural curiosity to the discovery of food.
Research shows that around six months is also the age that babies' gastrointestinal and immune systems become able to cope with food other than breastmilk or formula, and their ability to move things around their mouth is mature enough to deal with non-liquids. This is why it's the age recommended by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics as the optimum time for solids to begin.
However, the research so far has focused almost exclusively on when to introduce solids, rather than how. Baby-led weaning questions the common assumptions about how babies should be fed.
Spoon feeding babies of six months and older mashed or pureed food has no research to support it. It's simply left over from when solid foods were given to babies when they were much younger, before they were really ready. Spoon feeding is unnecessary for healthy babies of six months – they are able to feed themselves.
The physiological readiness of babies for solid foods coincides with their developing abilities to take food to their mouths and begin to chew. If they have the opportunity, many babies will show their parents they are ready simply by helping themselves to food from someone's plate.The benefits of allowing a child to follow their instincts for this important part of development may be considerable.
The potential advantages include:
- Healthy food choices – babies are allowed to explore the tastes, textures and smells of nutritious family food, rather than the blandness and combined flavours associated with baby foods. Some research suggests children who have done BLW as babies make healthier food choices. Most parents report that BLW babies are adventurous, non-fussy eaters.
- Less obesity – babies are allowed to eat according to their appetite. They can stop eating when they are no longer hungry and are not encouraged to eat more quickly than they want to, have 'one more spoonful' or 'make a clean plate'. Many non-BLW babies have their natural appetite recognition overridden and are encouraged to eat more than they need from the earliest age. Research suggests lower BMI in children age 2-6 years who have done BLW.
- Natural jaw development – babies experience a range of textures from the start, allowing chewing skills to develop naturally. This may facilitate speech development and help to reduce the need for orthodontic treatment later. And, because food that requires chewing spends longer being mixed with saliva in the mouth, BLW may promote enhanced digestion.
- Improved hand-eye coordination and dexterity – BLW babies have lots of practice exploring different shapes and textures in food, learning how to grip them and get them to their mouth, and later how to manage silverware.
- Confidence and enjoyment at mealtimes – No pressure to eat means no mealtime battles, making eating as a family more relaxed and enjoyable. Shared mealtimes also allow babies to copy siblings and parents, learning to share and take turns, and developing social skills.
Baby's First Foods
Baby-led weaning revolves around shared mealtimes, where the whole family eats food that is nutritious, safe, and – as far as possible – free from added salt, sugar, chemicals, and other extras unsuitable for infants. Because the digestive tract of a six-month-old is ready for solid foods, there is no need to restrict the baby to one new food at a time. Almost any healthy family food is suitable, although the way it is presented may need to be adapted so that the baby can handle it easily in the early days. The exceptions are the same as for spoon feeding and include honey, raw eggs, and types of fish that may contain high levels of mercury. Any foods linked to a family history of allergy should be introduced under the guidance of a physician.
Only very small amounts of solid food are needed at first – mainly to supply additional iron and zinc – and it will usually be several weeks before there is any noticeable change to the baby's appetite for his milk feedings. This allows the baby's gut to adjust at a natural pace and ensures that milk feedings are not cut back too soon.
All babies are different, but most babies will not need significant amounts of solid food until they are around nine months. This means that babies naturally develop the ability to feed themselves with these foods before they begin to need them – and they are skilled at eating a range of foods by the time this need kicks in.
How to do Baby-Led Weaning:
- Choose a time when the baby is not tired or hungry. The baby doesn't yet know solid food can fill his tummy – his appetite is still satisfied by the breast or bottle. Food will be just an exciting new toy at first, and he won't be able to relax or concentrate on exploring it if he is tired or hungry.
- Sit the baby up to the table with everyone else. He can be either in a high chair or on an adult's lap – supported, if necessary, so that he can use his hands and arms freely. Make sure he is sitting upright to handle food, not lying back or slumped.
- Dress the baby in a protective bib – or just a diaper, if the house is warm enough - and cover the area under his chair with a large clean cloth or plastic sheet, so that dropped food can be handed back. BLW can be very messy in the beginning but babies learn quickly and, with the opportunity to practice whenever anyone else is eating, they rapidly become skilled eaters and make less mess.
- Offer the baby a few pieces at a time of the same healthy food as everyone else (or a selection from it), in a shape and size that he can handle easily and a consistency that is firm enough to grasp while being soft enough to chew. To start with, this means sticks or strips of food but, gradually, he will show that he can manage smaller pieces and a variety of consistencies. Plates and cutlery may be distracting at first so pieces of food can be offered on the highchair tray or clean table top.
- Allow the baby to explore the food and to eat at his own pace (if at all). This means no hurrying or trying to persuade him to eat, and allowing him to squidge, smear and examine the food as much as he needs. Don't expect him to eat much at first – he will eat when he is ready.
- Offer water in a small shot-sized cup, which will be easy for the baby to pick up, but don't be surprised if a breastfeeding baby continues to prefer to use the breast to quench his thirst for several weeks or months after he has started to eat solid foods.
- Don't allow anyone but the baby to put food in his mouth – making sure he is in control of what goes into his mouth is an important part of keeping your baby safe.
- Don't offer small, hard foods – small foods, such as grapes and cherry tomatoes, should be cut in half; stones should be removed from fruits such as olives or plums. Nuts, whole or in pieces, are not suitable for babies.
Baby-led weaning works best when the focus is on opportunities for play and learning, rather than on eating. As the baby's skills develop, he will gradually eat more at shared mealtimes and his appetite for milk will reduce. Provided the parents are responsive to the baby's cues, the changeover from milk to family meals will happen naturally, led by the baby.
Learning to Chew and Swallow Food Naturally and Safely
Babies naturally develop eating skills in a set order (in much the same way as they always learn to sit up before they learn to walk). The normal sequence that babies follow in the period between five and seven months of age is:
Bringing things to the mouth
Biting and munching
Allowing the baby to remain in control ensures that this sequence is not rushed and keeps the baby safe. Most early bites of food will fall forward, out of the baby's mouth. This protects his airway until he is mature enough to swallow safely – and if he is not able to bite off a piece of food, he is probably not ready to chew it. This is why it is important that no one should try to 'help' the baby by putting pieces of food in his mouth for him.
Gagging (or retching) is common in the early stages of BLW. The gag reflex prevents food being pushed too far back without having been chewed adequately, and it is particularly sensitive between six and eight months. As the baby matures, he becomes more skilled at chewing and the point at which the gag reflex is triggered moves farther back in his mouth, so gagging occurs less often. Although gagging can appear alarming to parents, babies are rarely bothered by it, and it may be that it is an important part of helping them to learn not to overfill their mouths.
Working with Babies, Not Fighting Against Them
All healthy, able-bodied babies roll over, sit up, crawl and walk when they are developmentally ready, provided they are given the opportunity. Most people wouldn't dream of deciding the date for a baby to start walking, and of introducing a 'walking programme' on that day. They would also consider it positively cruel to prevent the child from walking before this designated day arrived. Yet the conventional approach to introducing solids takes exactly this line.
Baby-led weaning is based on the understanding that most feeding difficulties and mealtime battles stem from the fact that the goals of the parent are in conflict with the instincts of the child. Now that we know there is no need to introduce solid foods until six months – and certainly no need for jars or mush – it's time to look again at what babies can do, and accord them the respect, autonomy and 'real' food they deserve. The result will be happier – and healthier – shared eating experiences for all.
About the Authors
Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett are the authors of Baby-led Weaning: The essential guide to introducing solid foods – and helping your baby to grow up a happy and confident eater and The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook: 130 recipes that will help your baby learn to eat solid foods – and that the whole family will enjoy, both published in the USA by The Experiment. Gill and Tracey are also the authors of Baby-led Breastfeeding: Follow your baby's instincts for relaxed and easy nursing, by the same publishers. All three titles are published in the UK by Vermilion, under their original titles. You can find more information from Gill and Tracey by visiting www.baby-led.com and www.rapleyweaning.com
By Dr. Mercola
More than 3,000 food additives -- preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients -- are added to foods in the United States.
While each of these substances are legal to use in the US, whether or not they are safe for long-term consumption -- by themselves or in combination -- is a different story altogether. Many have been deemed too harmful to use in other countries.
When you consider that about 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes toward processed foods loaded with these additives, it’s no wonder most people are carrying a hefty toxic load that can wreak havoc on their health.
A list of ingredients that are banned across the globe but still allowed for use in America recently made the news. The list is featured in the new book, Rich Food, Poor Food, authored by nutritionist Mira Calton and her husband Jayson.
The banned ingredients include various food dyes, the fat substitute Olestra, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate (aka brominanted flour), Azodicarbonamide, BHA, BHT, rBGH, rBST, and arsenic.
Seeing that the overall health of Americans is so much lower than other industrialized countries, you can’t help but wonder whether toxic ingredients such as these might play a role in our unhealthy conditions.
Meanwhile, Russia has announced that it plans to extend a ban on U.S. beef, pork and turkey imports coming into effect this month, due to the feed additive ractopamine in the meats. Ractopamine is a growth stimulant banned in several countries, including Russia.
Processed Foods Depend on Additives
When foods are processed, not only are valuable nutrients lost and fibers removed, but the textures and natural variation and flavors are also lost. After processing, what's left behind is a bland, uninteresting "pseudo-food" that most people wouldn’t want to eat.
So at this point, food manufacturers must add back in the nutrients, flavor, color and texture to processed foods in order to make them palatable, and this is why they become loaded with food additives.
Most commonly, additives are included to slow spoilage, prevent fats and oils from going rancid, prevent fruits from turning brown, fortify or enrich the food with synthetic vitamins and minerals to replace the natural ones that were lost during processing, and improve taste, texture and appearance. When reading product packages, here are some of the most common food additives1 to watch out for:
- Preservatives: sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, TBHQ
- Sweeteners and artificial sweeteners: fructose, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K)
- Artificial colors: FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2
- Artificial flavors
- Flavor enhancers: monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract
Top Offenders to Avoid
According to the Caltons, the following 13 additives are the worst of the more than 150 individual ingredients they investigated during their six-year long journey, which took them through 100 different countries.2
Ingredient Found in Health Hazards Coloring agents: blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6 Cake, candy, macaroni and cheese, medicines, sport drinks, soda, pet food, and cheese Most artificial colors are made from coal tar, which is a carcinogen Olestra (aka Olean) Fat-free potato chips Depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids. Side effects include oily anal leakage Brominated vegetable oil (aka BVO) Sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas Competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, which can lead to hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and cancer. The main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous, corrosive chemical, linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss Potassium bromate (aka brominated flour) Rolls, wraps, flatbread, bread crumbs, and bagel chips See bromine above. Associated with kidney and nervous system disorders, gastrointestinal discomfort Azodicarbonamide Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods Linked to asthma BHA and BHT Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer BHA may be a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent. BHT can cause organ system toxicity Synthetic hormones: rBGH and rBST Milk and dairy products Linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers Arsenic Poultry EPA classifies inorganic arsenic as a "human carcinogen"
What’s With the Double-Standards?
The food industry has already formulated safer, better products for other countries, in which these and other harmful ingredients are banned. So why do they insist on selling inferior versions in America? For clear examples, take a look at a recent article on 100DaysOfRealFood.com.3 In it, Vani Hari shows the ingredient labels of several common foods sold in the US and the UK, such as Betty Crocker’s Red Velvet cake mix, McDonald’s French fries, and Pizza Hut’s garlic cheese bread. Amazingly, while these foods can be created using a bare minimum of additives in the UK (and sometimes none), in the US, they’re absolutely LOADED with chemicals.
“The food industry does not want us to pay attention to the ingredients nor do they care about the negative effects from eating them. They certainly don’t care about the astronomical medical bills that are a direct result of us eating the inferior food they are creating,” Vani Hari writes.
“...We as a collective nation must stop this trajectory of sickness and rising health care costs, by understanding the ingredients we are putting into our bodies. We must challenge the U.S. food industry to discontinue the use of banned ingredients that are not allowed elsewhere in the world. We deserve to have the same quality food without potential toxins.”
Russia Issues Long-Term Ban on US Meat
In related “questionable food” news, Russia recently banned US meat supplies after discovering it contains ractopamine—a beta agonist drug that increases protein synthesis, thereby making the animal more muscular. This reduces the fat content of the meat. As reported by Pravda,4 Russia is the fourth largest importer of US meats, purchasing about $500 million-worth of beef and pork annually.
Effective February 11, Russia will no longer allow US meat imports, stating the ban “is likely to last for a long time.”5 All meat suppliers wishing to sell their meat and meat products to Russia must certify their meat as ractopamine-free—a condition the US has so far refused to comply with.
The drug is banned for use in 160 countries, including China and Russia, but allowed in 24 countries, including Canada and the United States. While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers ractopamine safe and doesn’t test for it, Russia’s chief health inspector, Gennady Onishchenko, claims there are “serious questions” about the safety of the drug. He previously told the New York Times:6
“For instance, use of ractopamine is accompanied by a reduction in body mass, suppression of reproductive function, increase of mastitis in dairy herds, which leads to a steep decline in the quality and safety of milk.”
Ractopamine is also known to affect the human cardiovascular system, and may cause food poisoning, according to Pravda.7 It’s also thought to be responsible for hyperactivity, muscle breakdown, and can increase death and disability in livestock. While other drugs require a clearance period of around two weeks to help ensure the compounds are flushed from the meat prior to slaughter (and therefore reduce residues leftover for human consumption), there is no clearance period for ractopamine.
In fact, livestock growers intentionally use the drug in the last days before slaughter in order to increase its effectiveness. According to veterinarian Michael W. Fox, as much as 20 percent of ractopamine remains in the meat you buy from the supermarket. Despite potential health risks, the drug is used in 45 percent of US pigs, 30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys.
What’s the Simplest Way to Avoid Harmful Food Additives?
Ditch processed foods entirely. (If you live in Europe you may have more options than Americans, as you may be able to find some processed foods that do not contain any synthetic additives.) About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods, so there is massive room for improvement in this area for most people.
Swapping your processed food diet for one that focuses on fresh whole foods may seem like a radical idea, but it's a necessity if you value your health. And when you put the history of food into perspective, it's actually the processed foods that are "radical" and "new." People have thrived on vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits and other whole foods for centuries, while processed foods were only recently invented.
If you want to eat healthy, I suggest you follow the 1950s (and before) model and spend quality time in the kitchen preparing high-quality meals for yourself and your family. If you rely on processed inexpensive foods, you exchange convenience for long-term health problems and mounting medical bills. For a step-by-step guide to make this a reality in your own life, simply follow the advice in my optimized nutrition plan along with these seven steps to wean yourself off processed foods.
When it comes to staying healthy, avoiding processed foods and replacing them with fresh, whole foods is the "secret" you've been looking for. Additionally, the more steps your food goes through before it reaches your plate, the greater your chances of contamination becomes. If you are able to get your food locally, you eliminate numerous routes that could expose your food to contamination with disease-causing pathogens.
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By Dr. Mercola
A recent article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) throws conventional dietary advice on its ear. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), Americans should not reduce their consumption of omega-6 fats (think vegetables oils), and might even benefit from eating a little more.
The AHA has long promoted and still currently recommends getting at least 5 to 10 percent of your energy requirement from omega-6 fats, and teaches that reducing omega-6 PUFA intakes from current levels would likely increase your risk for coronary heart disease.
Unfortunately, this will worsen rather than improve your health, as eating too much damaged omega-6 fat and too little omega-3 sets the stage for the very health problems you seek to avoid, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression and Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, just to name a few.
Most people, especially Americans, are guilty of this lopsided omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, and to correct it, you typically need to do two things:
- Significantly decrease omega-6 by avoiding processed foods and foods cooked at high temperatures using vegetable oils
- Increase your intake of heart-healthy animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil
Previously Missing Trial Data Confirms Harms of Too Much Omega-6
The myth that vegetable oils (rich in omega 6 fats) are healthier for you than saturated animal fats has been a tough one to dismantle. But the truth cannot be quenched forever. According to a BMJ press release:1
“Dietary advice about fats and the risk of heart disease is called into question on bmj.com today as a clinical trial shows that replacing saturated animal fats with omega-6 polyunsaturated vegetable fats is linked to an increased risk of death among patients with heart disease.”
The latest in-depth analysis of the health effects of omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) on coronary heart disease was not possible until now because data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study was missing.
This was a randomized controlled trial conducted from 1966 to 1973. Researchers from the US and Australia recovered the original data, and using modern statistical methods, they were now able to compare the death rates from cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, as well as all-cause mortality.2
“Their analysis involved 458 men aged 30-59 years who had recently had a coronary event, such as a heart attack or an episode of angina. Participants were randomly divided into two groups,” BMJ writes.
“The intervention group was instructed to reduce saturated fats (from animal fats, common margarines and shortenings) to less than 10 percent of energy intake and to increase linoleic acid (from safflower oil and safflower oil polyunsaturated margarine) to 15 percent of energy intake. Safflower oil is a concentrated source of omega-6 linoleic acid and provides no omega-3 PUFAs.”
The control group received no particular dietary advice and was allowed to eat whatever they wanted. Both groups kept food diaries for an average of 39 months. The results showed that:
- The omega-6 linoleic acid group had a 17 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease during the study period, compared with 11 percent among the control group (those who did not receive any particular dietary advice)
- The omega-6 group also had a higher risk of all-cause mortality
I’ve repeatedly stated it’s very important to maintain the proper ratio balance between omega-3 and omega-6, and medical researchers are also starting to realize and stress this importance. Jane Collis, an independent researcher not affiliated with the research commented on the study:3
“Commercial food processing destroys a significant amount of EFAs, along with their oxygenating ability... Polyunsaturated oils are unstable and very quickly become rancid. Oxidized fatty acids are dangerous to our health.
Lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress are important factors in this damage. Further damage is also caused by heating polyunsaturated fats in cooking (particularly frying foods).
Many omega 3 research trials did not consider the omega 3/6 essential fatty acid ratio which is vital to the eicossanoid balance. The correct omega 3/6 ratio is fundamental to holistic health for all. I believe that with simple dietary intervention diabetes complications such as retinopathy and nephropathy, could be ameliorated or prevented. ...
Healthy fertility and reproduction fundamentally rely on good nutrition, including EFAs [essential fatty acids] in plentiful supply. Poor maternal health is a cause for concern and may predict poor health in the next generations.”
Southern Diet Sends Stroke Risk Soaring
In related news, researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham recently presented the results from a study at the annual International Stroke Conference in Hawaii,4 which found that people who regularly ate a traditional “Southern” diet, known for its many deep-fried foods, had a whopping 41 percent increased risk of stroke. African-Americans had the highest risk — an incredible 63 percent higher compared to those who abstain from such foods. Lead researcher Suzanne Judd, PhD told ABC News:5
"Diet is an understudied risk factor for stroke. What was surprising about what we found was that when eating certain foods in the southern diet -- fried foods, organ meats, gizzards, sweet tea -- even when you account for other factors such as smoking, obesity, and physical activity, people still experienced a 30 percent increase in stroke risk."
Balance is Everything...
The science is loud and clear: the correct balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is essential if you want to be the healthiest you can be. There are actually two problems related to how these fats are being consumed by most Westerners today:
- Most people are consuming far too many omega-6 fats compared to omega-3 fats. The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is 1:1, but the typical Western diet is between 1:20 and 1:50.
- The typical Westerner is consuming far too many polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) altogether, which is a problem in and of itself.
So, most consume the wrong amount — AND the wrong ratio of these fats. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fats are PUFAs and they're both essential to your health, but when omega-6 is consumed in excess, it becomes problematic — and even more so if it’s damaged through processing. As a group, when consumed in the wrong ratios, PUFAs tend to stimulate inflammatory processes in your body, rather than inhibit them.
One of the problems with PUFAs is that they are very chemically unstable, and highly susceptible to being altered and denatured by what's around them. Think about what happens to the oils in your pantry — they are susceptible to going rancid as a result of oxidation. In your body, PUFAs undergo a similar process when exposed to the toxic byproducts of proteins and sugars — especially fructose. This is one of the reasons why most fish oil supplements have such a short shelf life, and many are already oxidized before they hit the bottle.
Consuming oxidized fats (whether in the form of processed vegetable oil high in omega-6, or rancid fish oil, high in omega-3) can do your body more harm than good. When you eat too many PUFAs, they are increasingly incorporated into your cell membranes.
Because these fats are unstable, your cells become fragile and prone to oxidation, which leads to all sorts of health problems, such as atherosclerosis. I believe a lack of omega-3 is one of the most serious health issues plaguing contemporary society today, in addition to being seriously deficient in vitamin D. But on the flip side is the problem of simply consuming far too many processed and damaged omega-6 fats in the wrong balance with omega-3.
How to Balance Your Omega 6:3 Ratio
The primary sources of omega-6 that you would benefit from by reducing include:
Corn oil Canola oil Soy oil Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats Margarine Shortening
Just look at the labels on the foods and condiments you buy and you’ll see just how overabundant these oils are. It’s very difficult to find any kind of processed or prepackaged food that does not contain one of these oils. I strongly recommend you avoid all of the above as they will only worsen your omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Acceptable oils include:
- High quality extra virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Organic, grass-fed butter
- Rendered fat from cooking healthy animals can also be used
Another way to improve your omega 6:3 ratio is to change the type of meat you eat. You could consume more game meat like venison, or other game animals that are raised exclusively on grass or free-range diets. Keep in mind that because nearly all cattle are grain fed before slaughter, if you eat traditionally raised beef it will typically worsen your omega 6:omega 3 ratio. Free-range and/or grass-fed beef, however, contain better ratios of these two fats, and are a far better option.
Limiting Omega-6 During Pregnancy May Be Key for Healthy Baby Weight
As mentioned by Collis above, fertility and reproduction rely on good nutrition, and essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are absolutely critical in this regard. EFA’s is a term referring to the PUFAs your body needs but cannot produce (or convert from other fats), so they must be obtained from your diet. Traditionally, only two fats were considered "essential" — ALA (an omega-3 fat) and LA (an omega-6 fat). However, we now know it's the long-chain derivatives — arachidonic acid, DHA, and EPA — that your body needs the most. (Although you have the enzymes to convert LA into these longer-chain fats (ALA, DHA and EPA), the conversion isn't efficient enough for optimal brain growth and development.)
According to recent research,6 limiting your intake of omega-6 fats and boosting intake of omega-3 during pregnancy can result in a healthier, more muscular baby. The researchers examined the relationship between the mothers’ levels of PUFA’s and the body composition of their babies in 250 mother-child pairs. Levels of omega-6 in the mother’s blood during pregnancy was positively correlated with their child’s fat mass at ages four and six. One of the co-authors of the study, Dr. Rebecca Moon, told Food & Drink Europe:7
“Omega-6 and omega-3 PUFAs seem to act in opposite directions on fat mass; previous trials have attempted to use omega-3 supplementation to reduce fat mass, but our results suggest that such an approach might work best when combined with a reduction in dietary omega-6 intake.”
Do You Need an Omega-3 Supplement?
It is my belief that most people would benefit from taking a high quality animal based omega-3 supplement, in addition to reducing the amount of omega-6 — which you get plenty of from processed foods. In my view, krill oil is clearly your best option when it comes to obtaining important high quality animal based omega-3 fats. It contains essential EPA and DHA in a double chain phospholipid structure that makes it far more absorbable than the omega-3s in fish oil.
Krill oil also contains vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D and natural astaxanthin, which is a potent antioxidant that helps prevent it from going rancid. Research has shown the antioxidant potency of krill oil is, in terms of ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorptance Capacity) values, 48 times more potent than fish oil.
As discussed above, the importance of proper omega-3 to omega-6 balance simply cannot be understated. If you want to increase your overall health and energy level and prevent health conditions like heart disease, cancer, depression and Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and a host of other diseases, one of the most important strategies at your disposal is to increase your intake of omega-3 fats and reduce your intake of processed omega-6 fats.
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