Category Archives: Good Chemicals

The Decline of Probiotics in a Germophobic World (Part 1)

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In today’s germophobic world it may be difficult to understand the concept of good germs. We have become so fixated on sanitizing everything and washing our hands frequently to get rid of “bad germs” that we have forgotten about “good germs” and their benefits.

Overuse of cleaning products and antibiotics have wiped out the good germs as well as the bad1, and the result is an increasing number of people with unhealthy gut flora. Gut flora is the term used to describe the microorganisms that naturally occur in your intestine. These “germs” do not make you sick but instead help you digest your food and also provide some protection against “bad germs”.

In developed countries children receive an average of 10-20 courses of antibiotics by the time they are 18 years old and there is evidence that not only do their gut flora fail to recover completely but they may also be replaced by unwanted microorganisms1.

This doesn’t mean that antibiotics are bad. Without them we would still be living in a world where common bacterial infections were life threatening. We do, however, need to stop overusing antibiotics.

The best way to help our guts recover after taking antibiotics is to replenish the good germs in our gut with probiotics.

Probiotics have been found to reduce intestinal permeability and increase insulin sensitivity which is hopeful for future diabetes prevention and management3. Multispecies probiotics (meaning a combination of different strains of bacteria and other microorganisms) have been proven to be an effective treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome7.

There is evidence that the microorganisms in your gut also affect your behaviour and can impact stress-related disorders in either a negative or positive manner, depending on the composition of your gut flora2.

An imbalance in gut flora has also been associated with an increased susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease)6 and obesity4.

Reading all of the research related to antibiotics and altered gut flora was a huge eye-opener for me. I used to be a very healthy child who rarely needed to visit the doctor. As I got older (into my teenage years) I started to eat A LOT of junk food and less healthy food which made me more susceptible to colds and illnesses. I was prescribed antibiotics quite often (looking back I probably did not need them half of the time). By the time I was in my 20’s I started having uncomfortable stomach symptoms after eating certain foods that I could previously consume with no discomfort. Eventually I ended up becoming sensitive to dairy and will now get a stomach ache after drinking milk or eating ice cream (yogurt does not pose a problem for me).

If I had known then what I know now I would have only taken antibiotics when I really needed them (when I had something like bronchitis or a sinus infection, not just cold-like symptoms). I also would have eaten plenty of probiotic foods after each course of antibiotics to replenish the good bacteria in my gut.

So what are probiotic foods? Basically foods that have had a chance to ferment under the right conditions with or without the help of a starter culture (usually bacteria or yeast), until a different food has been created (ex. cucumbers–>pickles). The most popular and well-known probiotic food is yogurt. Other probiotic food and beverages that are popular are sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), Kombucha (a fermented tea/tonic), kimchi (a spicier pickled version of sauerkraut), miso (fermented rye, beans, rice or barley), kefir (fermented goat milk and kefir grains), and pickles.

Store-bought yogurt and other fermented food products can contain extra sugar and sometimes other additives to enhance flavour or extend shelf life. To avoid unwanted sugar and additives it is a good idea to make your own. This may seem daunting at first but once you start fermenting your own foods it will become a breeze and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. If you would like to give it a try check out my personal yogurt recipe here.

If you simply don’t have the time to learn how to make your own yogurt then at least try to buy plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit and/or sweeteners.

Personally I eat homemade yogurt every day and so does my toddler, but I wanted to enhance our gut health even further by adding more fermented foods to our diet. I recently tried making my own fermented applesauce (you can find the recipe that I used here), and not only did it turn out wonderful, it is kid-friendly as well (my toddler loves it!). My next goal is to try my hand at making sauerkraut.

When eating probiotic foods bear in mind the following:

1. Heat kills bacteria, even the good kind. Just as cooking food helps get rid of any undesired bacteria that could make you sick, heating fermented foods will kill the desired probiotics. If you fermented your food using sterile dishes and containers then the good bacteria that you added in should be able to ward off any bad bacteria that may try to invade.

2. If you see slime or mold in your fermented food or it looks pink, don’t eat it. Sometimes the fermenting process can go wrong and you may end up with mold or bad bacteria in your food, in which case it is harmful to ingest. So if it doesn’t smell or look right, throw it away.

3. Letting your food ferment for too long can result in alcohol formation. If you don’t refrigerate your food after it is done fermenting, the microorganisms will keep on fermenting which will eventually result in an alcoholic food or beverage. This is more likely to happen when making Kombucha so always do a taste test to make sure you have not made alcohol, especially if you are giving fermented foods to kids. Refrigeration drastically slows down the fermentation process but it does not halt it completely. So if you have had that fermented applesauce in your fridge for a month, taste a little yourself before giving any of it to your children.

4. Probiotics need prebiotics to thrive. So in addition to eating probiotic foods you also need to eat prebiotic food in order to keep your gut microorganisms happy. Prebiotics are plant fibers that can be found in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.

For more detailed information on the health ramifications of an unhealthy gut flora, stay tuned for part 2!

References:

1. Blaser, M. Antibiotic overuse: Stop the killing of beneficial bacteria. Nature 476, 393–394 (25 August 2011) doi:10.1038/476393a

2. Cryan, J. F.; O’Mahony, S. M. The microbiome-gut-brain axis: from bowel to behavior. Neurogastroenterology & Motility. Mar2011, Vol. 23 Issue 3, p187-192. 6p. 1 Diagram. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2010.01664.x

3. Corado Gomes, Aline; Bueno, Allain Amador; de Souza, Rávila Graziany; Mota, João Felipe. Gut microbiota, probiotics and diabetes. Nutrition Journal. 2014, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p82-107. 26p. 1 Diagram, 2 Charts. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-60.

4. Fukuda, Shinji; Ohno, Hiroshi. Gut microbiome and metabolic diseases. Seminars in Immunopathology. Jan2014, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p103-114. 12p. DOI: 10.1007/s00281-013-0399-z

5. Holmes E, Li JV, Athanasiou T, Ashrafian H, Nicholson JK: Understanding the role of gut microbiome-host metabolic signal disruption in health and disease. Trends Microbiol 2011, 19:349–359.

6. Luckey, David; Gomez, Andres; Murray, Joseph; White, Bryan; Taneja, Veena. Bugs & us: The role of the gut in autoimmunity. Indian Journal of Medical Research. Nov2013, Vol. 138 Issue 5, p732-743. 12p.

7. Yoon, Jun Sik; Sohn, Won; Lee, Oh Young; Lee, Sang Pyo; Lee, Kang Nyeong; Jun, Dae Won; Lee, Hang Lak; Yoon, Byung Chul; Choi, Ho Soon; Chung, Won-Seok; Seo, Jae-Gu. Effect of multispecies probiotics on irritable bowel syndrome: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. Jan2014, Vol. 29 Issue 1, p52-59. 8p. DOI: 10.1111/jgh.12322

Easy Homemade Yogurt Recipe

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I learned how to make yogurt from my mom. Indians traditionally keep homemade yogurt in the fridge at all times to eat with roti. I didn’t learn how to make it myself, however, until my daughter was old enough to eat it (I made all of her other baby food from scratch so I wasn’t about to feed her store-bought yogurt!). My mother makes it the traditional Indian way (without measurements or thermometers), so I had to work backwards to get measurements and temperature readings that I could put down on paper. There are many different ways of making yogurt but this is how my mother taught me to make it:

Ingredients:

Milk (amount is up to you)
Starter culture*

You will also need a thick glass bowl/jar with a tight-fitting lid and a thermometer. Thicker glass will retain the temperature better.

Directions:

1. Heat milk on medium-high in a pot on stove until it comes to a boil (stir occasionally or keep covered to prevent a film from forming on top). Remove from heat and pour into a glass container with a lid.

2. Allow the milk to cool to about 90*C-110*F (the outside of the glass container should feel warm but not hot). Loosely place the lid on top while cooling to prevent a film from forming, or stir occasionally. If you let it cool too long and the temperature drops lower just reheat on stove until it reaches the right temperature again. Add a teaspoon of the starter culture* to the centre of the warm milk (do not stir!). Make sure the lid is on tight and place in cool oven.

3. Turn the oven light on (the warmth from the light will keep the milk warm enough to allow the fermentation process to occur). Let sit overnight or about 8-10 hours, then cool in the refrigerator before eating. If the milk does not solidify or seems runny, simply leave it in the oven with the oven light on until it thickens.

4. Remove the whey (the runny liquid floating on top of the yogurt) before refrigerating and save it for lacto-fermentation of other foods. Or discard it. But now that you’re a pro fermenter why not save it and try your hand at another fermented food 😉.

*You can buy a powdered starter culture or simply use previously made or store bought yogurt as a starter (if using store bought yogurt make sure it is plain). Each time you make yogurt, set aside a spoonful before you eat it all to use as a starter for the next batch. Or you can do what Indians usually do, and ask a relative, friend, or neighbour for a little bit of their yogurt to use as a starter. If you do not plan on making continuous batches of yogurt then you can also freeze some to use as a starter later (if using frozen starter use a tad bit more than a tsp).

Troubleshooting tips for yogurt-making:

1. Your yogurt turned out too sour. You either used too much of the starter or added the starter when the milk was not cool enough. Use less starter and make sure the milk is at the right temperature next time. If you prefer a more sour taste then use slightly more starter than stated in the recipe.

2. Your yogurt didn’t solidify. You either used too little starter or allowed to milk to cool too much. Don’t fret – just keep it in the oven with the light on (do not turn on the oven!) and let it sit longer. Use a tad bit more starter next time and make sure the temperature of the milk is right.

3. You forgot about the yogurt and it incubated for too long. Don’t worry. It simply fermented longer so it might be a little more sour than usual but it’s still OK to eat (some people incubate their yogurt for up to 36 hours).

4. You ate all the yogurt and forgot to save some to use as a starter for the next batch. This one requires a preemptive solution – freeze a little bit of your first batch of yogurt to use in emergencies when you or another family member eats it all.

5. Even after following all of the above tips your yogurt still did not form. You may have disturbed the milk too much by either stirring or jostling it, or removing the lid to check on it too frequently. Once you add the starter and place it in the oven, LEAVE IT ALONE! The more you disturb it the less likely it is to form into yogurt.

6. Your yogurt has become increasingly sour/tart over time despite your best efforts to do everything right. You need a fresh starter culture. Using sour yogurt to make more yogurt will only result in endless batches of sour yogurt.

You can eat your yogurt plain or add fresh fruit, honey, granola, or other topping of your choice.

Ginger-Ale or Sugar-Ale?

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When I was a kid my mom would give me ginger-ale every time I had a stomach ache. Even in my teens and early 20’s I would drink ginger-ale every time I had an upset stomach. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I noticed a particular brand (Canada Dry) had “made with real ginger” written on the front label. It made me think: “aren’t all store-bought ginger-ales made with real ginger?”

Apparently not.

If you actually read the ingredients, they’re mostly made of carbonated water and sugar with both natural and artificial colours and flavours thrown in.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/db5/63410078/files/2014/12/img_4980.jpgThe only brand that I’ve seen that makes the claim “made with real ginger” on the label is Canada Dry, but if you read the ingredient list it’s still mostly sugar and additives.

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A pregnant friend of mine recently told me that she drinks ginger-ale sometimes for her morning sickness, because she thought it contained ginger which is a proven remedy for nausea. It made me wonder how many pregnant women out there are unknowingly consuming sugar and harmful artificial additives under the false impression that they are drinking a “healthy” beverage to help with their morning sickness. It also got me thinking about all the parents who probably still give it to their kids for tummy troubles.

If you look at the ingredient list for soda, it’s not much different.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/db5/63410078/files/2014/12/img_4979-1.jpgMost pregnant women wouldn’t drink 7-up to cure morning sickness, nor would most parents give their children sugar filled soda to cure an upset stomach. But store bought ginger-ale is basically the same thing.

As a better option, try boiling some ginger in water and then add a natural sweetener like honey. You’ll get the benefits of ginger without any added sugar, colors or flavors. If you or your kids prefer fizzy drinks, add a little plain carbonated water and you’ve got yourself some homemade ginger-ale.

Oven-Baked Yam Fries Recipe

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Yam fries are one of my daughter’s favorite foods. I’d rather have her eat healthy homemade fries than restaurant versions that are fried in unhealthy oils and batter, so I’ve experimented with a few healthy recipes at home and this one is my favorite. It’s very flavourful and I love that I can eat them without any guilt since they are baked, not fried. You can substitute the yams in this recipe for sweet potatoes if you can’t find true yams.

Ingredients:

3 lbs yams
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425*F.
2. Peel and cut the yams into “fries”.

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3. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and then dump into a large ziploc bag. Pour in the vegetable oil and swirl it around until all of the seasoning is mixed into the oil.

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4. Pour the yam fries into the bag, close it tightly and shake and massage the bag until all of the fries are thoroughly coated in oil and seasoning.

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5. Spread the yam fries in a single layer on a baking sheet (you may need 2).

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/db5/63410078/files/2014/12/img_4849-1.jpg6. Bake for 30-40 mins, until slightly browned. Serve hot.

Quick and Healthy Snack for Older Babies and Toddlers (and Adults Too!)

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Sometimes I need to feed my toddler something that will tide her over longer than usual (for example if dinner is going to take longer than expected, or if we’re going to be out for awhile and I need her tummy to stay full). That’s when I turn to this snack because it’s not only quick and easy but also filling and energy-packed.

She didn’t initially like this snack when I first introduced it but after a few tries she started to enjoy it. After eating her leftovers the first few times I found that I also enjoy it so I will prepare it for myself sometimes too! It’s a great post-workout snack.

Ingredients:

1 banana, mashed
1-1 1/2 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp chia seeds
Dash of cinnamon

Directions: Simply mix all of the ingredients together and wait 10 mins for the chia seeds to soften, the serve.

Sweet and Sour Veggie Quesadillas

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I used to make quesadillas using barbecue sauce, but then one day I read the ingredient list and I was not impressed 😒. It’s hard to find a good barbecue sauce without added caramel coloring or other unwanted additives so I decided to try making my own.

My attempt at making barbecue sauce failed but I ended up with a great sweet and sour sauce instead. As luck would have it, sweet and sour sauce tastes great in quesadillas so here is my new quesadillas recipe:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (equivalent to 1/2 cup dry or 1-15 ounce can)
3 zucchinis
6 bell peppers, assorted colors
1 large onion
1/2 tsp sea salt
8-10 whole-grain tortillas
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Sauce:
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

1. Dice all of the vegetables and sauté in a little oil until tender. Add 1/2 tsp salt as well as the cooked black beans and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmer, stirring often, until the sauce thickens to a very dense syrup-like texture (about 20 mins). Add to cooked veggie and bean mixture and stir until coated (you may not need all of the sauce so add it gradually while stirring).

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3. Spread the mixture evenly across half of each tortilla, sprinkle a handful of grated cheese on top (optional) and fold the tortilla in half.

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4. Place the quesadillas on a baking sheet and bake them at 375*F for about 10-15 mins (until lightly browned underneath), then broil the tops until lightly browned. Remove from oven. Cut in halves (or thirds) and serve with sour cream.

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Makes 8-10 quesadillas (depending on how much stuffing you put in each quesadilla).

Veggie Taco Salad

I love hard tacos but I hate the mess created when eating them. I am a messy eater as it is, and having my food fall apart on me halfway through my meal doesn’t help matters.

That’s why taco salad is great. It’s basically a sloppy, broken-up hard taco that you eat with a spoon. My vegetarian version uses beans in place of the meat (meat eaters can substitute chicken or beef), and some extra greens. Because you can never eat too many greens!

Ingredients:
2 cups dry pinto beans
1 onion, diced
2 cups kale or spinach, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup salsa
3 cups shredded lettuce
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 bag whole grain tortilla chips
Taco sauce

Taco seasoning:
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chili powder

Directions:
1. Rinse the beans and boil them in a pot of water until soft. Once cooked, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the rest. Mash the beans with a potato masher and mix in the taco seasoning as well as reserved water.
Note: if you prefer a spicier taste, you can add red pepper flakes to the seasoning as well.

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2. Sauté the onion in a little oil for about 5 mins until tender. Add the kale (or spinach) and cook until soft. Add the tomato and cook a few mins more.

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3. Add the mashed beans and salsa to the cooked vegetables, and stir until combined.

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4. Scoop about a cup of the bean mixture into a bowl and add a handful of shredded lettuce, grated cheese and drizzle a little taco sauce on top. Add the chips and crush them into the mixture.

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Easy Veggie Moussaka Recipe (gluten free!)

I love moussaka but finding a good vegetarian recipe is not easy, especially one that is gluten free.

My recipe is a combination of Jamie Oliver’s veggie moussaka and Martha Stewarts’s meat moussaka with my own variations thrown in. I pre-bake the veggies in the oven instead of pan frying them to save prep time, and the typical bechamel sauce is replaced with a feta and ricotta cheese mixture to make this moussaka gluten free.

Although this recipe is quicker than others, making moussaka is time consuming so save this for a day that you have a little extra time to put dinner together. It is worth the effort though, and even meat eaters find this veggie moussaka to be delicious.

Ingredients:

1 LARGE eggplant
2 medium zucchini
4 small red potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
12 tbsp Coconut oil  (or Vegetable oil)
1/2 cup Sprouted green lentils (regular lentils will work too but take longer to cook)
1 red onion
1 jar (25 oz) of Pasta Sauce
1 cup Feta cheese
1 cup Ricotta cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400*F.
2. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-1inch slices. Combine the salt and pepper with 6 tbsp olive oil on a baking sheet and toss with the eggplant. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking sheet (you may need more than one). Place the baking sheet(s) in the oven and bake for 20-30 mins until soft and fully cooked (the eggplant slices will shrivel and shrink a bit).

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3. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Cut the zucchini into 1/2-inch slices as well, and toss both the potato and zucchini slices with the remaining 6 tbsp in oil. Spread the slices into a single layer onto baking sheets and bake in the oven for 20-30 mins until soft and slightly golden.

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4. Cook the lentils according to package directions (sprouted lentils cook in 5 mins, regular lentils will take much longer). Drain any excess water and set aside.
5. Dice the onion and sauté in a little bit of oil for 4-5 mins in a saucepan. Add the lentils and tomato sauce. Stir until combined then set aside.

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6. Layer half of the eggplant slices in the bottom of a 3-quart casserole dish. Layer half of the potato and zucchini slices on top of the eggplant.

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7. Pour half the sauce mixture over the layered vegetables. Then layer the rest of the eggplant, potato and zucchini slices over the sauce. Pour the remaining sauce on top.
8. Combine the ricotta and feta cheese in a large bowl and then spread evenly over casserole.
9. Broil in oven until cheese is spotted brown (about 10 mins).

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10. Cut into squares and serve.

Give your kids a good start: feed them healthy food now and it will pay off later

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I am a textbook parent. I read all the parenting books I can get my hands on and follow all of the rules. I made homemade baby food from scratch and refused to give my child ANYTHING with added sugar or salt during her first year of life (not even a small lick of icing or ice cream). I refused to let any processed food touch her lips until she was well over a year old, and even now at 2 years old it is still a rare occurrence. To some, this may sound extreme. But to me, it just makes sense.

Prenatal and early childhood nutrition can have long-term effects that do not manifest until later in life. Exposure to toxic chemicals early in life can cause epigenetic changes in developing babies and children which may lead to diseases in adulthood5. Food additives as well as chemicals in food packaging that leach into the food may be toxic and so they should be avoided, especially by children3. This is probably why some adults who eat healthy and exercise still end up with some sort of non-inherited disease despite their best efforts. They may be healthy eaters now, but who knows what their parents fed them as children.

I practically lived off of Pizza Pockets and Pepsi during my teenage years. I hope I have good genes 😳.

It is not just the infancy and early childhood years that are crucial for long term health. The teenage years are also an important period of growth and maturation. A diet high in animal protein and low in vegetable protein and isoflavones is correlated with early puberty, which has been linked to metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer as well as other hormone-related cancers1. This is just another reason why feeding your kids McDonald’s regularly is bad for them. Today’s “fast food” diet is high in meat and low in vegetables which is a recipe for disease.

If you give your kids “junk” calories that means there is less room for nutritious calories. That unhealthy cookie you let your kid have as a snack every day (and most kids don’t stop at just one) could be replaced by a serving of fresh fruit. Children who consume more antioxidant-rich foods and whose mothers had an antioxidant-rich diet during pregnancy are less likely to have allergies later in life6. Since babies and children are growing, their brains, bodies and immune systems are still developing which is why they need all the nutrition they can get.

Children’s food preferences are determined by both genetics and familiarity2. So even though kids already have predetermined preferences for certain tastes and textures, they can also learn to prefer healthy foods simply by trying them frequently and watching the people around them eat the same foods as well7. These learned preferences carry on into adulthood; if you teach your kids to eat healthy at a young age they are more likely to continue eating healthy later on in life7.

I see other parents give their babies and young children junk food on a regular basis and it makes me cringe. Some of those kids have chronic rashes, allergies, and/or constant stomach upsets, probably due to their diets.
Unfortunately, those are just minor symptoms compared to the long-term damage that a bad diet early in life can lead to.

Some parents are simply unaware or uneducated about the implications of junk food on their kids. Some are perfectly aware but feel bad when their kids ask for the same food that they are eating and give in (which is exactly why parents should model healthy eating themselves). When kids ask to eat the same “junk food” as their peers it makes it that much harder to say no. Others simply don’t want to put in the extra effort required to prepare healthy food for their children as it is much easier to just open a wrapper or box when their kids are hungry.

Feeding kids healthy food is not easy. It takes more time and effort to prepare, not to mention the extra time actually feeding it to them if they are fussy eaters. But no one said being a parent was easy. And the reward of seeing your kids grow up to be happy and healthy adults is worth it.

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References

1. Cheng, Guo; Buyken, Anette E; Shi, Lijie; Karaolis-Danckert, Nadina; Kroke, Anja; Wudy, Stefan A; Degen, Gisela H; Remer, Thomas. Beyond overweight: nutrition as an important lifestyle factor influencing timing of puberty. Nutrition Reviews. Mar2012, Vol. 70 Issue 3, p133-152. 21p. 1 Diagram, 3 Charts, 3 Graphs. DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00461

2. COOKE, L. The importance of exposure for healthy eating in childhood: a review. Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics. 20, 4, 294-301, Aug. 2007. ISSN: 09523871.

3. El-Wahab, Hanan Mohamed Fathy Abd; Moram, Gehan Salah El-Deen. Toxic effects of some synthetic food colorants and/or flavor additives on male rats. Toxicology & Industrial Health. Mar2013, Vol. 29 Issue 2, p224-232. 9p. 6 Charts. DOI: 10.1177/0748233711433935.

4. Hörnell, Agneta; Lagström, Hanna; Lande, Britt; Thorsdottir, Inga. Breastfeeding, introduction of other foods and effects on health: a systematic literature review for the 5th Nordic Nutrition Recommendations. Food & Nutrition Research. 2013, Vol. 57, p1-27. 27p. DOI: 10.3402/fnr.v57i0.20823

5. Lahiri, D. K.; Maloney, B.; Zawia, N. H. The LEARn model: an epigenetic explanation for idiopathic neurobiological diseases. Molecular Psychiatry. Nov2009, Vol. 14 Issue 11, p992-1003. 12p. 3 Diagrams, 1 Chart, 2 Graphs. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2009.82.

6. Patelarou, Evridiki; Giourgouli, Gianna; Lykeridou, Aikaterini; Vrioni, Evagelia; Fotos, Nikolaos; Siamaga, Eleni; Vivilaki, Victoria; Brokalaki, Hero. Association between biomarker-quantified antioxidant status during pregnancy and infancy and allergic disease during early childhood: A systematic review. Nutrition Reviews. Nov2011, Vol. 69 Issue 11, p627-641. 15p. 2 Diagrams, 3 Charts. DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00445.

7. Venter, C.; Harris, G. The development of childhood dietary preferences and their implications for later adult health. Nutrition Bulletin. Dec2009, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p391-394. 4p. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-3010.2009.01784

Why we drink green juice

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I drink green juice every morning and so does my toddler. I do not drink green juice to replace the vegetables I eat, I treat it as a supplement to my daily diet. I would never eat as many vegetables as I juice in a day, much less all in one early morning serving, therefore I’m getting a lot of vitamins and minerals that I would not otherwise get in my diet. I would definitely not be able to get my toddler to eat vegetables for breakfast, but she happily drinks her green (or sometimes red) juice every morning before her usual meal.

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Some argue that without the pulp, I’m losing all the fibre so it’s not as beneficial as eating vegetables. I get plenty of fibre from the whole fruits and vegetables that I eat later in the day as well as from my afternoon smoothie. Aside from fibre, most of the nutrients are in the juice: and to reiterate, the nutrients that I get from my morning green juice are extra nutrients that I would not otherwise consume.

As far as the concern about a blood sugar spike after drinking juice, that is more of a problem with sugary fruit juices. Vegetable juices do not have a high enough fructose content to have the same effect.

Drinking vegetable juice has been proven to be an effective method of getting a variety of vegetables in your diet4. The plethora of benefits from eating (or drinking) more vegetables include reduced blood pressure4 and delayed onset of Alzheimer’s disease2. For children, a higher vegetable intake lowers their risk of obesity5. Vegetables are high in vitamin A, which is crucial for brain development in growing babies and children 3.

I never used to eat a lot of vegetables (oddly enough for a vegetarian), until I became pregnant. I wanted my child to get all the benefits of a nutritious diet from the get go, so I forced myself to eat them. Over time I became accustomed to eating them regularly and actually began to enjoy the taste. When my daughter started eating solids I upped the ante even more and slowly cut out processed food. I wanted my daughter to eat healthy and stay away from junk food so I decided to lead by example. However, I was still concerned that neither my daughter or myself were getting enough vegetables, so when she was about 18 months old I started juicing a variety of vegetables.

Children’s diets are strongly correlated with their parent’s diets, and mothers who eat healthy are more likely to have children who become healthy eaters 1. Infants and toddlers who are fed healthy food are more likely to become healthy eaters in adulthood as well as have better overall health later in life5.

It doesn’t matter how you get your vegetables, as long as you and your children are getting enough. So whether you prefer to eat them, drink them, or both, just make sure your family is getting a good amount and variety of vegetables.

References

1. Hart, C. N.; Raynor, H. A.; Jelalian, E.; Drotar, D. Hart, C. N.; Raynor, H. A.; Jelalian, E.; Drotar, D. Child: Care, Health & Development. May2010, Vol. 36 Issue 3, p396-403. 8p. 4 Charts. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2010.01072

2. Lahiri, Debomoy K. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2006, Vol. 10 Issue 4, p359-361. 3p.

3. Rosales, Francisco J.; Zeisel, Steven H. Nutritional Neuroscience. Jun2008, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p135-143. 9p. 2 Charts. DOI: 10.1179/147683008X301522

4. Shenoy, Sonia F.; Kazaks, Alexandra G.; Holt, Roberta R.; Hsin Ju Chen; Winters, Barbara L.; Chor San Khoo; Poston, Walker S. C.; Haddock, C. Keith; Reeves, Rebecca S.; Foreyt, John P.; Gershwin, M. Eric; Keen, Carl L. Nutrition Journal. 2010, Vol. 9, p38-48. 11p. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-38

5. Venter, C.; Harris, G. Nutrition Bulletin. Dec2009, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p391-394. 4p. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-3010.2009.01784.