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BioBlog – Building a Healthy Child with Biological Medicine

By Dr. Melina Roberts, ND, Advanced Naturopathic Medical Centre of Calgary

Did you know that food allergies in children have increased by 50 percent over the last decade? It’s true. According to Food Allergy Research and Education, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy, which can lead to chronic diseases later in life. Children with a food allergy are two-to-four times as likely to have additional allergic conditions such as asthma or eczema. But it doesn’t have to be this way if, as parents, we understand how a baby’s body grows and how it processes nutrients.

When I was a kid, I had really bad allergies and eczema and no one in my family could figure out why. Fast forward to my adulthood and eventually my parenthood. When I found out I was pregnant, I wondered: Is it possible to prevent allergies in my child?

Turning my gaze to the past, I reflected on my family’s history. My dad died of pancreatic cancer when I was in my early 20s and my mom had a major stroke that left her relearning to talk. My “less-than-ideal” biological history of chronic disease coupled with my personal history of childhood allergies was what propelled me to go in search of natural, unconventional ways to effectively treat illness.

One of the approaches I found was Biological Medicine. After seeing many patients in my practice with chronic disease and cancer, I have come to know that we can heal allergies, chronic disease, and even cancer through our diet, nutrition, and understanding digestive health.

Moreover, that healing can begin even before we are born. When we zoom out, we can get a wider view of how what we take in to our bodies (and in what order) will create the trajectory for our health for years to come.

Back to my own motherhood. When I looked at most food introduction programs for babies, I realized that they weren’t building a foundation of health in our children. This life experience led me to put together a food introduction program based on three principles that would enable me to give my child the best start in life and build her digestive health properly from the beginning.

The First Principle: Build a Healthy Microbiome

What is the microbiome? The microbiome is the ecosystem of bacteria and fungi that live in our digestive tracts and are essential for processing nutrients, proper immune function, and preventing disease. We form the foundation of our microbiome between birth and age three. This is the microbiome that we will have for the rest of our lives. This means that we have a small window of opportunity where we can actually build a solid foundation of health in our children.

The way we build this healthy foundation–this microbiome–is in the way we introduce foods to our babies.  When we have more diversity of healthy microbes, the healthier we are and the longer we’ll live. The result is a healthy, resilient child poised to have a strong immune response.

The Second Principle: Know When to Introduce Food

Most parents do not know when their baby’s organs mature. Supporting proper child development by introducing foods in line with organ maturation is vital to creating a healthy baby.

Ontogeny (ontogenesis) is the origination and development of an organism (both physical and psychological, e.g., moral development) from the time of fertilization of the egg to adult. Ontogenetics is the study of human development from embryo to adulthood. Our organs begin to develop in the womb, then once we are born each organ continues to mature and reaches its full maturation at different stages as we get older.

If we want to support the proper growth and development of our babies, we need to introduce foods in line with how their organs are maturing. For example, our pancreas does not reach its full maturation until approximately age two. So that means that if we feed our baby grains before age two, they don’t have sufficient amounts of amylase (made by the pancreas) to break down those grains.

It makes sense that when we introduce foods in lock-step with organ development, the result is a fully matured organ system that can ease its own toxic load and function optimally even if the fuel given to it is not ideal.

The Third Principle: Eat Real, Nutrient-Dense Foods

Since the beginning of human existence, we have been hardwired to metabolize real food, not processed, packaged, chemically-laden foods. Our food supply is infiltrated with chemicals including pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, preservatives, additives, and dyes.

We need to feed our children food that their bodies can recognize, food that they can turn into useful fuel and helpful building blocks. The result is a child whose body is strong, robust, able to self-regulate, self-heal, and function optimally for years to come.

When we have the ability to avoid common digestive disturbances in our babies such as colic, constipation, and diarrhea, we can eliminate childhood health issues like skin rashes, allergies, eczema. And we can prevent chronic disease–even cancer–in adults by the way we feed our children, by building a solid foundation for long-term health.

Please join me on Tuesday, May 7th at 12:00 ET for an informative and eye-opening BioBites presentation called, “Building a Healthy Child,” that will benefit both parents and non-parents alike. We will look ahead to building a healthy child for those planning to have a family, and we will look back to see how our own diets may have played a role in how we developed childhood illnesses or allergies. This food for thought may spark a needed change in your own lifestyle or that of your family’s. Stay tuned!

Register today using this link.

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