Superimmunity for the Next Generation
What can we feed our children now to prevent disease in their futures?
I feel as though I am noticing young families and new babies every where I turn! This could be for a number of reasons, but primarily two: I sincerely hope to start my own family in the near future, (however in the mean time, this is my Boston Marathon year, so that will be on hold for just a little longer…) But more so, I am surrounded by growing children, my nieces and my friends children, and I am daily reminded of what our future; society, health care and my own personal future, will look like.
There are astounding and devastating statistics in regards to teen obesity and somehow every year the average age of an increase in obesity-related health problems becomes younger and younger. What could this possibly mean for our already exhausted health care system? As a senior, when my needs for health care are increased, will there even be anything available? Or will it be the generations behind me that require even more care and consume the very small amount of workers who are healthy enough to work. Do I sound paranoid? Maybe. Or perhaps my mind just cannot accept a problem, potentially a massive crisis, that is completely preventable.
Somehow, maybe we can turn this around!
So this week, let’s consider nutrition and our childrens immune systems. Children have a remarkable immune system that is kept strong through optimal nutrition. If we optimized early childhood nutrition, it is very unlikely that allergies would be on the rise, like they are, and recurrent ear infections would not be a yearly epidemic each winter. A child’s health begins with their mothers health before they are born. After birth, infant nutrition is very important. Breast feeding, when possible, provides all the nutritional needed to support our children’s developing immune systems. Toddlers and school age children learn habits that may influence their health and eating habits for the rest of their lives. The information and attitudes we pass on to our children in these early years, about healthy food, will stay with them for their whole lives.
Much research suggests that the key to a strong immune system lies within Essential Fatty Acids. EFA’s can reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease, and this wonder-nutrient is actually absolutely necessary for our health. This is because 1. It maintains our immune system and 2. Our bodies cannot make it, so we MUST find it in our diet. EFA deficiency is linked with serious health conditions, such as heart attacks, cancer, insulin resistance, asthma, lupus, schizophrenia, depression, postpartum depression, accelerated aging, stroke, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s Disease, among others.
EFA’s are found most richly in nuts, seeds and fish. The highest amounts of EFAs are found in: Flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, flaxseed meal, hempseed oil, hempseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, avocados, some dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, purslane, mustard greens, collards, etc.), canola oil (cold-pressed and unrefined), soybean oil, wheat germ oil, salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna.
EFA’s have nearly been eliminated completely from our diets. EFA’s are delicate, fragile oils that are easily damaged by air, temperatures and processing. Furthermore, if we (or our children) are nutrient deficient, or eating the wrong types of fats, then even the minute amount of EFA’s that we do consume may not be used properly in our bodies. This issue is further to our deficiency in an “essential” dietary need.
Each piece of information we talk about is another very small piece of the puzzle that represents the artistic masterpiece that we call optimal nutrition. The encouraging thing is that whatever our age and whatever our children’s ages, optimal nutrition can be achieved. Past mistakes can in fact be remedied. Next week I’m going to take an indepth look at fats in our diet. This should hopefully allow us to act further on our need for EFA’s. Perhaps in preparation “one” might provide us with some tasty fish and cold pressed oils recipes (hint, hint….)
fig & fennel – hint taken, stay tuned!