So I’m not a mom but I do have a responsibility to educate the future leaders of the world and their parents on what true health is. As a child I grew up eating some downright garbage filled, boxed snack food made by biotechnology corporations like Monsanto, Syngenta and Sysco foods. Now we are all slowly realizing that the manmade chemicals and preservatives that we previously enjoyed are linked with diabetes, heart disease, strokes, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, parasites, obesity, and even skin issues. I fully believe that my issues with reactivity, anxiety and depression were significantly linked to the nutrient depleted and DEAD food that I consumed daily. Sadly, many have still not made the connection that their processed and hormone injected cheese could be causing brain fog. Most of mainstream medicine is still recommending high fructose corn syrup and oil filled Ensure drinks to gain weight or Diet Pepsi to treat diabetes. Until the mainstream begins to connect food with health or disease, this concerning issue and lack of education will continue.
What I want you to know build YOUR health and the health of your family is that the majority of our immune cells and even serotonin receptors are found in the GALT-gastrointestinal associated lymphatic tissue of the gut. Therefore, food is medicine or poison-LITERALLY. Be sure you are flipping over cartooned packages and reading the ingredients. Many of them are endocrine disruptors and known carcinogens.
With that being said, here are my top ten ingredients and/or food to avoid giving your children. Keep their microbiomes safe!
1. Processed juices/boxed juices/Sports drinks-these are some of the worst industry culprits for pretending to be healthy when they are full of processed sugar and deceiving about fiber and calorie content. Juices often are only 10-15% actual juice and have nearly 150 calories of pure fructose. Mind you, these juices are often also missing out on needed fiber as most fruit has the highest fiber content in the peels or skin. Whats even worse is that parents give this to their children in soppy-cups, where the sugar laden drinks can coat the teeth.
Safe Alternatives: buy a $40 juicer and squeeze some oranges or apples yourself to make juice. This can be done at once and stored for future use. Some health conscious grocery stores will also fresh squeeze juices for you in a rush. Make sure you store the juice in jars rather than plastics.
2. Store bought baby food-some have harmful preservatives, added salt or sugar so be sure to read labels. The pictures of fresh fruits and veggies adorning the jars don’t tell you the whole story of whats inside. To save on money, often the real food is replaced with water and thickening agents like refined rice, refined corn (likely GMO) or refined wheat. All of these promote incorrect bacterial growth and can contribute to biofilms and dental caries, as well as some potential food allergies due to their stripped nutrient content and heavy processing.
Safe Alternatives: I always suggest that moms carry an avocado with a spoon or a quick and easy fruit like organic bananas. You can easily mash the banana for quick baby food or scoop the avocado out with a spoon and feed it right to the baby!
3. Milk-I was raised on the slogan “Milk: it does a body good.” Too bad that milk does not do a body good and that companies can’t be sued for deceiving the public. Raw or unpasteurized milk is much safer than the processing that is done now in factory farming. Unsanitary and unethical farms leave the cows standing in manure in horrendous conditions that then require antibiotics when the cows contract, mastitis, or infection of the udders. The use of RBsT can also induce mastitis. For this reason, there is often thousands of pus cells in the milk. Not to mention, unless they are bragging about NOT DOING it, then the cows are most likely treated with antibiotics (which rupture gut linings and wipe out beneficial bacteria) as well as recombinant growth hormone. This is made by Monsanto and is used to genetically engineered hormone to increase milk production. It is banned in Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia! Some studies on milk also show that it can leech calcium from the bones, leading to osteoporosis rather than preventing it. This includes sugar laden yogurts like Go-Gurt for kids. The dairy industry, much like the sugar and meat industry, has sold its soul in lieu of profit.
Safe Alternatives: Look for coconut or almond milk without preservatives like carrageenan, or make your own! Start with 1 cup of almonds to 2 cups of water. You can use a sweetener like coconut sugar, stevia or maple syrup. Make sure you soak the almonds overnight. Drain and rinse the almonds. They should feel a little squishy at this point. Combine the almonds and water in a blender and blend at high speed for 2 minutes. Then strain the almond mixture through a cheese cloth and wring the cloth so you can retrieve as much of the almond milk as possible. Sweeten to taste. Be sure to refrigerate! Enjoy.
4. Crackers/cereals-For real guys, a lot of these products target children with their cartoon characters and brightly colored ads, but there is nothing but stripped and nutrient dead food inside the boxes. Most of General Mill, Kelloggs, and even supposedly better brands like Kashi (owned by Kelloggs) and Annies (now bought out by General Mills) were recently found to contain Monsanto’s toxic weedkiller, Round Up or glyphosate in an independent study done by Democracy Now.
This is because most of these brands use GMO corn and soy predominantly in their products. Crackers like Ritz, Triscuits, Goldfish, Annies all contain enriched wheat, which is stripped of natural nutrients due to processing and had synthetic vitamins added back in. Many of them also contain folic acid, which is a no-no in the MTHFR mutation. (I have a blog about this too!) Some also contain fake cheese or non-organic dairy that again uses growth hormone injected cows. Don’t forget about the use of canola, or vegetable oil. In my opinion this is the worst oil on the market. It is heavily processed with petroleum solvents and GMO corn is employed.
Moving onto cereals like Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Trix, Cheerios, and even Kashi, again they contain Monsanto’s Round Up which directly affects the lining of the stomach where their developing immunity resides. They often contain trans fats and dozens of artificial colors like Red #40 or yellow #7 which are linked to ADHD. I even disagree with organic cereals, which contain little in the way of real nutrition-organic or not.
Safe Alternatives: If you must eat cereal, try EnvrioKidz cereal which contains only 3-4 ingredients! Also look into some homemade organic granola with hemp, chia, or pumpkin seeds. Be sure to skip the milk! For crackers, the absolute best widespread option is Mary’s Gone Crackers that are free of all harmful fillers and preservatives. They are certified non-GMO and made from organic brown rice, quinoa, and seeds!
5. Kraft’s Lunchables (and lunch meats overall): Ugh thinking about this now makes me cringe since I used to binge on these in middle school and probably into high school as well. Basically you are saving time while compromising your health. It is one of the most processed boxed foods on the market. Even the cheese isn’t real-its labeled as a cheese product. It is full of chemicals and GMOs. This is not starting your child’s day off correctly. All lunch meat, again unless they brag about it, contains nitrites. Nitrites are used as a preservative but are directly linked to cancer and food allergies. Bye bye Subway!
Safe alternatives: Make your own Lunchable for your child that can include carrots, organic greek yogurt, apple slices, Mary’s Gone crackers, and even an organic and unprocessed cookie, if you’re feeling a little daring! This may take longer but your child and their body will thank you later. NO regret=priceless.
6. Soda Pop: Although many parents have become savvy to how detrimental soda is to your health, many families around the country still purchase Coca Cola and Pepsi. Both of these products have created a campaign that paints them as a caring staple around the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. They have participated to adding increasingly high amounts of unnecessary high fructose corn syrup (made with GMO corn) into the diet and their products have no redeeming value on health. High fructose corn syrup has been shown to have a direct link to non alcoholic fatty liver. The fact that diet Cokes are found in hospitals is due only to lucrative contracts and is nothing short of an abomination. But lets be honest, theres no profit in health so this is job security for the hospitals. They are full of phosphoric acid, which leeches calcium from the bones and leads to osteoporosis as well as tooth decay. They contain caramel color, which is a known carcinogen. Due to the high acidity, they are actually used to clean the inside of cars in India. Last but not least, many of the colored sodas also contain dyes like Red #40, again, with direct links to ADHD and behavioral problems.
Safe Alternatives: Personally I don’t recommend that children have much more than water, homemade smoothies, almond milk, or even kombucha if they are old enough for live probiotics. (Hint: you can find some without alcohol)
7. Pop-Tarts: Oh man this one stings since I practically lived on these in the mornings growing up. However, if you take the time to read labels on many of these boxed or prepared foods, you’ll notice they’re chock full of chemicals. It is not calories that cause obesity, but chemicals. This is a big reason that children suffer from attention disorders, hyperactivity, mood disorders and brain fog. For example, cherry pop-tarts contain Red #40, linked to ADHD and cancer in animals. They also contain synthetic B6, made in a lab using hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde and petroleum ester. Pop-tarts also claim that they are baked with real fruit. Sadly, this is all marketing as their product contains only 10% fruit. Meanwhile they are jam packed with GMO soy, pesticide sprayed wheat, enriched white flour, and high fructose corn syrup. Just check out this laundry list of ingredients for yourself!
Safe Alternatives: This recipe is from www.foodiefiasco.com and takes about 35 minutes, but they are a guilt free snack AND you can make them in batches and save them in the refrigerator!
2 cup organic coconut or whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons applesauce, butter, or Earth Balance
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup organic cane sugar or erythritol
12 tablespoons fillings (such as chocolate chips, cinnamon sugar, jam, etc.)
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In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut the applesauce, butter, or Earth Balance into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Don’t have a pastry cutter? No worries. I don’t have one either. Just use a fork to cut in the applesauce or butter., and everything will still be a-okay. Chill for ten minutes.
After the ten minutes, fetch the bowl from the fridge and add in the unsweetened almond milk, apple cider vinegar, and 1/4 cup cane sugar or erythritol and stir until combined, making sure not to overwork the dough. If the dough is too dry to incorporate all the flour, add in one more tablespoon of almond milk. Turn out the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface and knead 4 times. Again, make sure not to overwork the dough.
Using a rolling pin (or your hands if you’re feeling all rustic like), roll out the dough to a large rectangle of 1/4 inch thickness. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 24 even rectangular pieces. Top each of them with a tablespoon of your filling of choice, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Place one of the remaining dough pieces on one of the topped pieces and crimp the edges together with a fork to seal. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes, or until golden. Let cool and devour.”
8. Boxed macaroni and cheese: This is also a difficult one for a lot of parents and their children. However, there is little to no redeeming value in processed and refined pasta containing fake cheese or cheese made from cows treated with recombinant growth hormone or antibiotics. It is loaded with preservatives, high in sodium and until this year, contained a multitude of dyes that were not included in Kraft Mac n Cheese in Europe. With pressure from The Food Babe, Kraft announced last year that it is removing dyes from its boxed product and will replace them with natural sources like turmeric or annatto. Consuming these foods, trick our palate into craving more of the same. Sometimes the dangers in these foods are that they fill you up, leaving little to no room for actual nutrition.
Safe Alternatives: Try some gluten free pasta with organic cheese or marinara. You can even throw in some veggies! Although the boxed options are faster, they are rarely ever healthier.
9. Fast Food Meals: This is usually a no brainer. Meals from McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, etc contain a plethora of chemicals. For example, McDonald’s french fries have 19 ingredients and a cheeseburger has nearly 70! Yikes, who would ever think that? They contain horribly damaging chemicals like Canola oil, GMO corn oil, soybean oil, TBHQ, citric acid, and dimethylpolysiloxane. Even the beef contains hydrolyzed pesticide filled wheat or milk products. Not to mention, that these meals contain upwards of 600 calories. Even the chicken is fed GMO seed, contains pesticides and preservatives like MSG. For a child who has a developing immune system, the modifications and processing in these foods are a set up for a lifetime of food allergies, IBS and immune problems.
Safe Alternatives: Skipping the fast food chains altogether is the best route. Eating at any of the commercialized chains is supporting animal abuse in factory farms as well as contributing to water shortages as these animals require far more water than any plant based diet. They are also astronomical in fat, calories and sugar. If you are in a jam or must eat fast food, try Chipotle, Panera, Au Bon Pain, or even Jason’s Deli. There are some organic and whole foods choices here plus organic greens salads. If in a pinch, these are your best bets. Your kids will thank you later, I promise!
10. Non-organic beef, chicken or pork: If you are plant based, vegetarian or vegan, then good for you. Unfortunately this diet is not for everyone and some people do not fair well without enough protein, especially if they are afflicted with an autoimmune condition. Buying meat with antibiotics will rupture your little one’s developing bacteria in the gut, growth hormone will affect their own hormones and GMO is genetically modified with DNA from bacteria/viruses. None of these are safe for consumption, especially for children who are bombarded with hundreds of chemicals and manmade toxins daily.
Safe Alternatives: So if your family can’t be mostly plant based, PLEASE ensure that you are getting meat that is free of antibiotics, growth hormones, GMO seed and rancid factory farm conditions. I often recommend that patients buy local and visit the farm to inspect the animals and conditions themselves. You can also try more of a plant based diet and get protein from greens, broccoli, chickpeas, lentils, beans and legumes. Be sure to skip the fast food as the only type of meat they provide is from factory farmed animals that are living in horrendous conditions.
Runners-up include frozen finger foods, boxed cakes and cookies like Lil Debbies, Twinkies or Ho Ho’s, and ingredients like BHT, BPA, any petroleum products, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, aspartame, artificial food coloring, sodium nitrite, canola oil, recombinant growth hormone, and sodium or potassium benzoate. Mark all these poor choices off of your weekly grocery list and watch your family’s physical and mental health improve!
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