Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Rest of the Story ...

So. Now that I've got the whole non-vaccinating thing out in the open and ya'll know about it, here's the rest of the story.

You can't just not vaccinate your kids and expect them to magically stay healthy. Would that be convenient? Absolutely. Is it reality? Sadly, no.

But, by the same token, you can't just vaccinate your child and expect them to stay healthy either.

Whether your choice is to vaccinate, delay vaccines, or not vaccinate at all, your child's diet is what matters more. 85% of your immune system is in your gut. If your gut isn't healthy, you won't be healthy either.

The first thing that is of great importance to your child's gut health is to breastfeed immediately after birth. I understand this isn't always possible, but it is imperative that your child have the chance to get colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk your body makes - that thick, yellowish discharge you saw from your breasts in the last weeks of your pregnancy? Yep. That's it. Truth is, at birth, your baby isn't actually hungry! (He just spent nine months gaining weight - why would he need to eat?) Colostrum actually feeds the good bacteria that's colonizing your baby's gut right after birth. It also seals the intestines against bad bacteria which is a big deal when you're coming into a world full of bacteria!

Unfortunately, not every baby has the opportunity to get the best start in life (READ: I am not criticizing you for not breastfeeding by stating it is the best start. Just stating a fact.). So you have to look at the next best thing. If for whatever reason your baby needs formula, research it. Don't just put baby on whatever the doc prescribes, do your best to find a formula or milk that best meets baby's needs. You could use goat milk (closest in composition to human milk - second only to camel milk, but alas; I don't know anyone who milks camels.). You could find a donor. You could go through a milk bank. There are many more ways to feed your baby that are much better for him than formula.

Moving on to babyhood ... A breastfed baby can be exclusively breastfed up to two years of age and not need any other source of nutrition. Most babies are eating solids by then, but the way you introduce solids is important as well. Parents today are advised to start with rice cereal. Really? Rice cereal (no matter how fortified the package claims it is) has no nutritional value and is just a filler. Wouldn't you rather fill baby up with something that's at least a little healthy? Contrary to popular belief, when baby is ready for solids, he'll tell you. It's not like someone flips a switch right at six months and POOF! baby needs purees shoveled in his mouth with a spoon. Baby-led weaning is (in my semi-educated opinion) the best way to introduce baby to solids; in other words, let him introduce himself!

The quality of your child's food also plays a HUGE part in their health. If your kid lives on mac & cheese and fruit snacks, expect illness. If the only veggies they ever eat come in the can of chicken & stars, expect sick days. If your child thinks fruit is best with chocolate syrup or sugar all over it, expect doctor visits. So here are the shockers: Milk is bad for you. Soy is not a super food. Animal fat lowers cholesterol. All corn (even organic) is genetically modified to withstand pesticides. Aspartame (in anything labeled low fat, light, or diet) is a huge contributor in behavior disorders in kids. Five of the seven colors of food dye we use in the US are illegal in other countries. High fructose corn syrup and MSG is illegal in Germany. Genetically modified products are either labelled or illegal in other countries. Not here, though. No way. In the US, nothing is labelled. And we are the unhealthiest country in the world. We have the highest rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, ADD, ADHD, Autism, cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease ... the list is endless!

Solution: Eat real food.

Buy vegetables that still have dirt on them. Fruit that has to be peeled. Meats that are well marbled. Eggs from free range chickens. Raw milk from a local dairy. Dried beans. Real rice. Where possible, grow a garden. When you're able, buy local, organic eggs and produce. Meat is healthiest when the animals are pastured and not grain fed.

Is it easy to feed your kids well? Not always. It's not as convenient. A lot of people will tell you it's too expensive to buy organic, but last I checked, diseases and hospital stays are more expensive than organic food! In order to build a healthy immune system, your child's body has to be well prepared. There is nothing healthy about breakfast cereal, packaged snacks, fruit snacks, powdered juice mix, chips, ravioli, or anything else that comes in a box/package/can.

If you think you must have the convenience of cans, take the time a couple of times a year to preserve your own food. You could can fruit, veggies, beans, applesauce, soups, tomatoes, and just about any other food you can think of. You could also consider dehydrating foods for later use; I dehydrate veggies for soups, make apple chips for snacking and adding to oatmeal, puree a couple different kinds of fruit and dehydrate to make fruit leather. You can make jerky with any kind of meat and any seasoning. The possibilities are endless!

Unfortunately I don't have the time to put into this post everything I had hoped, but hopefully it's enough to make you think; to make you want to do some of your own research.

As always, you do what's best for your family and I'll do what's best for mine. Take the information you need and leave the rest.

<3 ~SMF~

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