As I’ve been working through a pediatrics rotation, I’ve been able to interact with an exciting and different demographic of patients than usual. My interactions have shown me that our country is in need of more accurate information when it comes to what is healthy for both their body and their children’s bodies. One of the most common complaints pediatricians deal with is about infants who have problems with spitting up. When children are young, their lower esophageal sphincter is immature. This allows for most of mom’s milk (which happens to be the most ideal way to nourish an infant) or formula to be able to come right back up once swallowed. The best way to combat this issue is to make sure you’re holding your infant upright for at least 25-30 minutes after feeding. This allows the digestive process of the little kiddo to start moving along by using gravity to aid in that process. Once new mothers and fathers hear this, their children get better 90% of the time. This small instance proves just how powerful knowledge can be when given to parents!
You might be wondering what prompted me to talk about milk. I know, I know, all you Paleo purists can turn away from this article. However, since the 1990’s, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommended transitioning children around age two from whole milk to lower-fat milk. I came across a recent observational study correlating the amount of fat in milk with the predisposition to becoming overweight. It revealed that children who are transitioned off of whole milk to low-fat or skim milk turn out to be at a higher risk of becoming overweight. How so? We have been told that skim and reduced fat milk makes us skinnier for years. Well, milks that have been rid of fats, either partially or completely, deprives us of the fat-soluble vitamins found in whole milk. Fats are required in kids to help with brain and nervous system growth. One study has even shown that kiddos in general have a much higher fat requirement due to the increase in protein and bone synthesis at younger ages.
Often times when whole milk is converted into skim milk, dairy processers will add non-natural ingredients into the milk to make the texture better or boost the vitamin and mineral count. This isn’t the only thing that is added to the milk, most children like to add some chocolate or strawberry flavoring. This instantly doubles the calorie count and adds in more than the recommended value for sugar in one day. I think this quote sums it up best:
“To make dairy products low fat, it’s not enough to remove the fat. You then have to go to great lengths to preserve the body or creamy texture by working in all kinds of food additives. In the case of low-fat or skim milk, that usually means adding powdered milk. But powdered milk contains oxidized cholesterol, which scientists believe is much worse for your arteries than ordinary cholesterol, so food makers sometimes compensate by adding antioxidants, further complicating what had been a simple one-ingredient whole food. Also, removing the fat makes it that much harder for your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins that are one of the reasons to drink milk in the first place.” –Michael Pollan
In previous posts we talked about the link of added sugars to increased weight and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in our population. Our world is full of over marketed, processed foods that have only now caught our attention due to the decreasing health of children. Children require nutritious food to grow properly, and parents can ensure the well being of their child by providing good, wholesome food. The first meal of the day also happens to be the most important one, and giving children cereal with milk is not the answer. So to sum things up, if you tolerate milk, drink it as pure as you can (direct from the cow if possible). My next post will be on a what a nourishing breakfast entails in order to start the day on the right foot.