We have all heard too often the increasingly higher rates of food sensitivities and allergies developing in young children today, but how can we avoid them. Even when parents are aware of some typical trigger foods and have either introduced them early on or delayed it in their children’s diets, allergic reactions still occur. In a 2012 study published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, data was analyzed from 512 infants, ages 3 months to 15 months, diagnosed with or at risk for having an allergy to milk, eggs or peanuts. In a 36-month period, 72% had at least one reaction; 53% had more than one. In the early years of a child’s life, their digestive and immune system is still developing. This is the window of opportunity in those formative years to establish a foundation of optimal health.
How can this be achieved? Having a healthy digestive system, along with strong immunity are the best strategies for warding off the development of food sensitivities and allergies.
It all starts with what’s happening on the inside. Normally, the digestive system’s role is to properly absorb, break down and distribute nutrients throughout the body’s organs. However, due to the consumption of processed and nutrient-lacking foods, certain medications and high stress, this places extra stress on the digestive system to do its job properly. Parents will find that by working on improving their child’s food diet over time, the likelihood of developing allergies is reduced substantially. Here are some tips for preventing food allergies naturally:
- Exclusively breast-feeding your child for at least one year, which is the optimal amount of time for protecting against allergies. If not possible, choose a hydrolyzed-based formula that has been designed to contain smaller milk protein units that infants can digest more easily and with less risk of developing an allergy.
- Include a wide variety of non-processed, wholesome foods in your child’s diet to prevent food sensitivities. Encourage foods rich in vitamin C and other anti-oxidants, such as green and orange-colored vegetables. Eating the same favorite food item frequently often leads to an inflammatory response that could turn into an allergy towards that particular food. It’s best to rotate foods every four to five days.
- Eliminate or reduce acid-forming foods such as refined carbohydrates, white sugars, milk and dairy products as well as additives such as food dyes, artificial preservatives and aspartame. Consuming cow’s milk is quite often the underlying reason for inflammatory reactions that can include eczema, frequent ear infections, constipation, stomach aches and even other gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.Incorporate supplementation with essential fatty acids: omega 3, 6 & 9 and a multi-strain probiotic. Be sure that it includes bifidobacterium infantis which is the most prominent beneficial bacteria found in infants and toddlers. These supplements will support a stronger immune system, thereby reducing an allergenic response.
- Slow down to eat meals. Encourage your child to chew their bites of food thoroughly before swallowing. This will activate enzymes in the saliva to break down food more efficiently.
Annie Anderson is a Sleep & Parenting Consultant who specializes in helping families get the sleep they need. She provides one-on-one sleep coaching, potty training and nutrition consulting services through Cheekychops Consulting. She is also a registered holistic nutritionist and loves to work with both adults and children in achieving optimal health and wellness.
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