Young moms make tough decisions about their babies’ nutrition!

I received this email from a health care practitioner who is a young mother. As I replied to her, it occurred to me that maybe these comments would be helpful to other young mothers who read this blog. (Similar content is found elsewhere on the site and in my writing.) Please do not consider this medical advice. It is my opinion based on my research and having raised four babies of my own. I do not suggest things regarding raising children that I don’t follow. But always, always follow your instincts as a mother. I believe those promptings to be God-given and more powerful and trustworthy than anything an M.D. (or any health care practitioner) will tell you. (That said, do your homework and listen to experts. Be selective about which “experts” you trust.)

Also, a heartfelt apology to those who don’t receive personal answers to emails because I get so many–I so, so wish I had time to answer them all like I did in the beginning, please forgive me.

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: My husband and I have recently started having green smoothies each day and we are feeling great. I have an almost 8 month old daughter, who currently nurses and eats avocado (almost 1 a day). We would like to start some other foods with her, but I’ve been  holding off as I don’t want to do those recommended by my  pediatrician and conventional books.

I read somewhere on your site that babies have difficulty  digesting cooked food for a  while. I would love to start her off on raw greens, spinach, kale, etc.  Do you think this is safe? I think the reason that most people give for the recommendation that all baby food be cooked is because  raw food could be contaminated with bacteria and cooking kills that. What do you think about this? She’s  eating the avocado raw and many books say raw bananas are fine, maybe because those are both contained within a skin? You also wrote about doing mostly veggies the first few years and then fruits, which I love! I think that makes so much sense. I guess my bottom line question is: are the raw veggies safe or should I cook the greens?

I’d  REALLY appreciate your feedback on this. I am a first time mother and a bit tentative about some of these decisions. My daughter’s health is literally the most important thing in the world to me.

Thanks so much for the help and inspiration you have given to me and my husband.

Much love, Heather

Answer: Heather, avocadoes are beautiful for babies (wonderful fats for brain development, easily digested, excellent enzyme profile, and higher in calories).   And yes, plant foods encased in skin are the safest of all. I would go to bananas next, not just because they’re in skin, but also because they’re enzyme rich, higher in calories than most fruits, and nutritionally powerful.   Then see if you can find raw goat’s milk.   Make it into kefir or  yogurt (see Ch. 8 of 12 Steps). Then try a simple green smoothie with few ingredients, teaching her to drink from a straw, or making it thicker and feeding it with a spoon.

But the longer you can nurse and avoid food, and the more of her calories she gets from your breast milk, the better–up to 18 months! (That said, don’t agonize about feeding her “regular” food–just make it wonderful whole foods!) If you do feed her cooked stuff, like brown rice or quinoa, do so in a meal WITH raw foods containing enzymes, like a green smoothie.

People are worried about contamination with bacteria, but the older your baby is, the less I would worry about this, especially as she gets older and especially if you have endowed your daughter with a healthy digestive tract by nursing her.   I personally worry more about denatured foods gumming up her little digestive tract (refined grain-based “cereals,” cooked veg/fruit baby foods, etc.) and forcing her body to produce lots of mucous to flush it out, than the fact that natural foods sometimes contain bacteria that, 99.9+% of the time, is not only common and safe, but also helps develop a healthy immune system.   Use organic produce for smaller babies/children as much as you can, and wash any conventional produce well with a good, natural fruit/veg soap.   Remember than conventional animal products (dairy/meat) have much higher pesticide and chemical concentrations than even conventionally grown produce. (John Robbins documented this well in The Food Revolution.)

The Essential GreenSmoothieGirl Library . . . part 3

 

So, three more of my “top shelf” nutrition  books, with the links to pick them up on Amazon if you like:

Dr. Joel Furhman’s Eat to Live contains excellent data about a plant-based diet versus meat and processed foods from a courageous medical doctor willing to recommend vegetarian lifestyle changes instead of drugs and surgeries.   The books contain a limited number of simple recipes at the end.   Possibly because many of Furhman’s patients are cardiac patients, he is preoccupied with “low fat” in Eat to Live, which I think unnecessary and even possibly harmful for  some people, but it’s a small criticism of a great book.

 

John Robbins’ The Food Revolution (as well as his earlier work Diet for a New America), a pivotal book with a compassionate voice for the Earth, the animals we abuse raising them for food, and the people of the planet.   The son of Baskin Robbins’ founder, John abandoned his destiny to teach people instead about the virtues of a plant-based diet, and you will be forever changed by reading his book that comprehensively documents why we should eat lower on the food chain.   The author is precise with data, and he covers all the data points comprehensively, from cancer and heart disease risk, to genetically modified foods, to global warming, to animal cruelty.

 

Mike Anderson’s The Rave Diet & Lifestyle is fun and fairly quick to read, because it pulls no punches.   It’s hard hitting and unapologetic in its promotion of the plant-based diet.   It’s jam-packed with information (that duplicates Robbins, Fuhrman, and Campbell), well written, and contains lots of easy recipes at the end.   My only slight quibble with Anderson (and Fuhrman) is that I don’t think people in normal weight ranges need to be afraid of fats, the kind found in nuts, seeds, and unprocessed oils.

Need motivation to eat less meat and more plants? . . . part 8 of 12

Today stats about where foodborne bacteria E. coli, campylobacter, and salmonella come from, and irradiation consequences.   And which foods you should be most concerned about.   (Each of these stats/quotes has a corresponding source in Robbins’ The Food Revolution.)

 

The deadly E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria has occasionally been found in sprouts and raw apple juice.   The vast majority of E. coli has been found in: GROUND BEEF

 

Tom Billy, administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, estimates how many cases of beef contain E. coli: 50 percent of U.S. cattle carcasses

 

Reuters News Service quote: “A report by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture estimates that 89 percent of U.S. beef ground into patties contains traces of the deadly E. coli strain.”

 

Leading cause of kidney failures in U.S./Canadian children: Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, 85 percent of cases caused by E. coli

 

Estimate of how many E. coli cases are actually reported: 2% (William Keene, epidemiologist)

 

Salmonella has been caused by tomatoes, mustard cress, bean sprouts, cantaloupe and watermelon.   Far more cases have been caused by: EGGS AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS

 

Americans sickened by Salmonella-tainted eggs in the U.S., annually: 650,000+

 

Americans killed by eating Salmonella-tainted eggs in the U.S., annually: 600

 

Salmonella cases in U.S. versus Sweden: 1 in 200, compared to 1 in 10,000 (you’ll know why later in a blog about the way animals are raised/processed)

 

Campylobacter is occasionally detected on vegetables.   It’s widespread in: CHICKENS

 

American turkeys sufficiently contaminated with Campylobacter to cause illness: 90 percent (side note: if you don’t get sick, thank your immune system, which incidentally is nourished with antioxidant-rich plant foods)

 

Number of hens screened for Campylobacter by Univ. of Wisconsin researchers: 2,300

Number that were NOT infected with Campylobacter: 8

 

Cause of Milwaukee’s cryptosporidium outbreak in ’93 that sickened 400,000 and killed over 100: dairy manure

 

Campylobacter kills more Americans every year than E. coli and is increasing more rapidly, according to CDC numbers.   The poultry industry does not dispute that most chicken sold in the U.S. is contaminated.

 

Quote by former USDA microbiologist Gerald Kuester of today’s processed chicken: “(The) final product is no different than if you stuck it in the toilet and ate it.”

 

Evidence of that: Univ. of Arizona found higher levels of coliform bacteria in the American kitchen than on the toilet rim because of “a bonus on the animal foods people bring into their kitchens.   The bathroom is cleaner because people are not washing their chickens in the toilet” (Nicols Fox, foodborne disease authority).

 

Listeria has been found on cabbage grown in fields fertilized with listeria-infected animals.   Far more often it’s found in: SOFT CHEESES AND PROCESSED MEATS

 

The U.S. government’s answer to microbial contamination: irradiation (no long-term studies have been done)

 

Consequences of irradiation: Vita A, B-1, C, K, and E are destroyed, and new and potentially carcinogenic chemical compounds are  created (also mutant bacteria and viruses are a possibility)

Need motivation to eat less meat and more plants? . . . part 1 of 12

I’m going to bombard you with a bunch of statistics and expert quotes about a plant-based diet versus an animal-protein diet, for 12 days.   These gems are gleaned from one of my favorite sources, John Robbins’ The Food Revolution.   He quotes 60+ sources in every chapter.   Where Campbell’s The China Study is the “grand prix” of nutrition and epidemiology, Robbins is the “slam dunk” aggregation of all the studies showing a plant-based diet to be superior.   I’m not going to  kill space listing all the sources in this blog series, but you can find them in Robbins’ book, which is a deeply compassionate “voice” for both people and animals.

 

I’m not going to comment after each series of statistics, because they speak for themselves best.   I believe you will, however, find the data astonishing in aggregate.   I will ask a provocative question at the end of some of the blogs.   I hope you comment on them.

 

First, I think it’s fun to mention that John Robbins is the only male heir to the co-founder of Baskin Robbins.   He grew up with an ice cream cone-shaped swimming pool, cats named after the 31 flavors, and often ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.   He said no thanks to that legacy when he became convinced that his future career would be to line his own pockets making people sick.   For many years, he and his wife lived on less than $1,000/year, very happily, in a cabin in the woods.   I think John Robbins is a great American hero, and his outstanding books Diet for A New America, and The Food Revolution are worth owning and reading.

 

If you’re looking for motivation to give up dairy and meat–maybe even completely–reading this blog every day for the next 12 days should be an eye opener, if not a mind blower, towards that end!

 

Tomorrow, we start with stats about whether dairy products contribute to your health.   The series will continue with important data about how meat eating affects health, how much protein we really need, where the main sources of foodborne illness come from, how animals raised for food are treated in America, and how vegetarians’ health compares to meat eaters’.  We’ll also cover info about how much education Americans understand about nutrition, how eating high on the food chain affects world hunger, and how eating high on the food chain affects the environment.