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    Archive for the ‘babies’ Category

    Honey, We’ve Got Problems!

    top-chef-logoAnother season of Top Chef, another post about their misrepresentation and apparent ignorance of nutrition (remember a few seasons back when the ‘cheftestants’ were instructed to create a low-carb dish that contained whole grains?).

    This week’s “quickfire” challenge — inspired by host Padma Lakshmi’s 2-month-old baby and head judge Tom Colicchio’s 8-month-old addition to his family — asked the competing chefs to create an adult dish along with a baby-friendly pureed version.  Granted, two-month-olds don’t consume anything beside breast milk or formula, but I’ll let that slide.

    One of the favorite dishes?  This one (check out slide #11) by judge favorite Angelo Sosa.    The ingredients: poached tuna, fenugreek, tomatoes, soy sauce, and honey.

    Yikes!  Honey in baby food?  Red flag!

    Babies under twelve months old should never be fed honey, as they could develop a lethal condition known as infant botulism (honey can contain spores that, in babies’ delicate digestive tracts, can multiply and release a botulinus toxin).

    This honey blunder was not mentioned on the show (if it was mentioned by the judges during filming, it was certainly abandoned on the cutting room floor), nor does it pop up anywhere on the show’s website.

    Bravo legal department: I highly suggest you add a disclaimer to this dish’s photograph, or you could be on the receiving end of one nasty lawsuit.  You’re welcome.


    You Ask, I Answer: Vitamin K

    What does Vitamin K do? What foods is it in?

    — Name Withheld
    Brooklyn, NY

    You kind of have to feel sorry for Vitamin K. It appears to be the least popular vitamin, and many people don’t even appear interested in getting to know it better.

    If Vitamin D is the life of the party, Vitamin K is standing by the punchbowl, futilely attempting to make small talk with other guests.

    I would definitely suggest being familiar with it, though, since this nutrient plays a very important role in blood clotting and bone density.

    You may wonder why its blood clotting properties are perceived as beneficial, particularly when one of the outed benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids is their blood thinning properties.

    We come back to the ever-present ideal of balance.

    Over-thinning of the blood is problematic, as it increases the risk of internal bleeding.

    Additionally, without blood clotting factors, something a small cut could result in excessive blood loss.

    Vitamin K helps with bone density by regulating calcitonin, a protein that locks calcium in the bone matrix, thereby making it more difficult for cells known as osteoclasts from breaking it down.

    If osteoclasts are more active than osteoblasts (which help create new bone tissue), your risk of osteoporisis increases significantly.

    What’s interesting about this nutrient is that we get it two different ways.

    K2, the more biologically active form, is synthesized by beneficial bacteria in our intestinal tract.

    Since babies start off with bacteria-free intestines, they are given a Vitamin K shot within hours of being born.

    The plant form — K1 — is found abundantly in leafy green vegetables. Although our intestinal bacteria produce some Vitamin K, we still need to get some from our diet.

    A mere half cup of steamed kale, spinach, and collard greens each pack in six times the Daily Value!

    A single cup of raw romaine lettuce provides three quarters of a day’s worth.

    Anyone who has ever been on blood-thinning medication (i.e.: warfarin, more commonly known as Coumadin) has been told to be mindful of their Vitamin K intake so as to prevent unwanted drug-nutrient interactions.

    Here’s why.

    Warfarin, an anticoagulant, decreases clotting (this is why it is mostly prescribed to heart disease patients.)

    A lot of people inaccurately think that the best thing to do when put on warfarin is completely eliminate Vitamin K from the diet.

    Not so! The key is to keep vitamin K intake consistent.

    Suddenly increasing Vitamin K consumption renders Coumadin ineffective, whereas decreasing it too much in a short amount of time will overly thin the blood.

    Remember, too, that antibiotics kill all flora in the gut — the negative AND positive bacteria (this includes the one that produces Vitamin K.)

    Therefore, when on antibiotics, do not drastically alter your Vitamin K intake.

    A clinical dietitian I know at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital recently told a most interesting anecdote about a patient who was put on coumadin.

    A dietary recall revealed that her diet was very high in Vitamin K. Not a problem, but definitely important in the scheme of things.

    Soon thereafter, she fell very ill, to the point where she stopped eating. Mind you, she was still on Coumadin.

    In other words, her vitamin K drastically decreased (from about 1200% of the Daily Value a day to absolutely nothing).

    To counteract the illness, she was given antibiotics (remember, she is still on Coumadin).

    The antiobiotics wiped out gut flora.

    So, she now had a high Coumadin dose (based on her standard Vitamin K intake) but no Vitamin K from her diet OR her intestinal tract.

    Not surprisingly, she bled internally and had to be rushed into surgery.


    In The News: Lopez Says…

    People magazine happily plunked down $6 million to feature Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony’s twins on its cover.

    As ridiculous as that may sound, Jennifer’s comments on breastfeeding left me even more puzzled:

    My mom didn’t breast feed and I think that was the thing for me. You read and figure out what’s the best thing for them.

    Can a baby be healthy and grow adequately without breastfeeding? Absolutely. I certainly do not side with breastfeeding fanatics who equate bottle feeding with bad parenting or negligence.

    I also understand that not every woman can — or wants to — breastfeed. Women have every right to choose, and I find it obnoxious when people criticize this very personal choice.

    What I have a problem with is Jennifer Lopez’s notion that she chose bottle feeding based on “what is best for her babies.” While bottle feeding is certainly not detrimental to a growing baby, it is inaccurate to claim it is identical to breastfeeding.

    Some studies have concluded that breastfed babies have stronger immune systems, decreased risks of developing ear infections and diarrhea, lower infant mortality rates, enhanced neurological development, better oral health (due to a different suckling motion than drinking from a bottle).

    Breast milk is not only tailored to fully meet a baby’s nutritional needs for the first six months, it also contains naturally tranquilizing hormones.

    Some studies are less enthusiastic about health benefits from breastfeeding, but that does not take away that breastmilk is always clean and at the right temperature.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics’ official position is that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for all babies.

    They recommend it as the sole source of food for the first six months of a baby’s life, and as a complementary source from six to twelve months of age.

    They are not alone.

    The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are just some of the organizations that hold the same position.

    Formula is okay, but undoubtedly second best.

    Part of the problem is that most hospitals in the United States do not really support breastfeeding.

    Many do not have lactation specialists on staff, and they immediately bombard mothers with baskets of formula.

    Once a woman feeds her baby formula, it is very hard to get her to commence breastfeeding.

    Breastfeeding is a technique and skill that needs to be learned. It is not innate.

    This is why it is crucial to have trained specialists on staff who can teach new mothers the right positions for breastfeeding and how to handle common problems like mastitis (inflammation of the breast) and sore nipples.

    In 1991, WHO and UNICEF launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

    The ten steps hospitals must follow to be an official baby-friendly one can be viewed here.

    Here’s a shockingly low figure – of the 5,810 hospitals in the United States, only 63 are baby-friendly.

    The full list can be viewed here. I was very shocked to discover that New York City doesn’t have any!

    Another huge barrier to low breastfeeding rates in the country? The ridiculous and undeserved taboo!

    Last April, ABC News reported that an astounding 57 percent of people in this country believe women do not have a right to breastfeed in public.

    What is so wrong about a woman feeding her baby in a natural and healthy way?

    Has our culture’s common practice of hypersexualizing women’s bodies completely screwed with our heads?

    Here’s an even more astounding figure – 72 percent of people surveyed believe it is “inappropriate” to show a woman nursing on television!

    So Jerry Springer (well, now his former security chief Steve Wilkos, who took over the show) can show people verbally and physically attacking each other before noon, and it’s considered perfectly okay to see someone get shot or stabbed on primetime television, but people choose to tear their hair in some ridiculous “moral” outrage over something as harmless as breastfeeding?

    Color me confused — and pretty disgusted.

    If anything, breastfeeding needs to stop being relegated to the “naughty” corner. It needs to be talked about, discussed, and out in the open.


    In The News: Sure, Blame Mom

    According to this article, women who consume junk food while pregnant may be putting their babies at risk for craving overly sweet and salty snacks as children!

    Well, at least that’s what researchers in Great Britain’s Royal Veterinary College are guessing might occur based on a study they performed on… rats.

    Turns out the pregnant rats who had the least healthy diet gave birth to little ones who craved junky snacks.

    There is one major flaw with this study, though. Unlike the rats in this study, human babies are not given free reign to eat whatever they please.

    Human mothers are instructed to start their babies off with certain foods and slowly introduce new ones with time, not leave a box of Dunkin’ Donuts on the counter and see if two-month-old Jessica reaches for them.

    If anything, what truly determines the possible pattern of a child’s dietary habits as they grow older is what they are fed at home. A toddler living in a household stocked with TV dinners and Doritos bags has no interest in vegetables because he has no idea how they taste.

    Similarly, a first grader’s daily fruit intake should not be a Fruit Roll-Up. Of course children should have and enjoy treats, but these formative years are key for introducing them to new foods, flavors, and textures.

    Our experiences with food as children have far-reaching consequences, well into our adult lives. Look at your own dietary habits and preferences. Can’t many of them be traced back to family traditions and tastes?

    In any case, pregnancy is a time when rare cravings can occur, and I would hate for a first-time expecting mother to think her midnight vanilla ice cream and pickle snack is dooming her future child’s health.

    Once children can be fed a variety of foods, though, mothers should not be discouraged by an initial dislike. It often takes eight or nine tries of a new food (i.e.: broccoli) before a child truly accepts it.

    For the record, nutrition authorities aren’t putting their eggs into this basket.

    For instance, “Dr. Atul Signham, from the Institute of Child Health in London, said he was slightly skeptical about the likely scale of “fetal programming” in a child’s diet until it could be proved in human studies.”



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