A balanced diet, with plenty of calcium and vitamin D to increase calcium absorption, should provide all the nutrients necessary to build strong teeth and keep gums and mouth tissues healthy. Young people can get adequate calcium from 3 or 4 daily servings of dairy foods, as well as from many other sources (eg, calcium-processed tofu, calcium-fortified orange juice, green vegetables such as broccoli).
The Benefits of Fluoride
Fluoride reduces dental decay by making the enamel harder, reducing the ability of bacteria to produce acid that erodes enamel, and by replacing minerals in the teeth after they have been lost. In areas where the natural fluoride content of the water is low and water supplies are not fluoridated, or if your household uses bottled or reverse osmosis filtered water, pediatricians and dentists may advise fluoride supplements, fluoride toothpaste, or fluoride treatments to strengthen children’s tooth enamel against decay. Most bottled water does not contain adequate amounts of fluoride. Home water treatment systems like reverse osmosis and distillation units remove much of the fluoride from tap water. However, carbon or charcoal water filtration systems generally do not
Raw milk is milk that comes straight from a cow, sheep, or goat. Raw milk is not pasteurized (heated to kill germs) or homogenized (processed to keep the cream from separating from the milk).
Is Raw Milk Safe to Drink?
Raw milk is not safe to drink, because it can carry harmful bacteria and other germs. Harmful bacteria include Salmonella, E coli, and Listeria.
Anyone can get sick from drinking raw milk or products made from raw milk.
Products made with raw milk may include:
- Ice cream
- Frozen yogurt
Children, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, or older adults are at greater risk of getting sick.
Symptoms of Illness:
- Stomach cramps
- Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body ache
While most healthy people get well, the symptoms can become chronic (long term) or severe or may result in death.
Call the Doctor If…
- Anyone in your family becomes sick after drinking raw milk or eating products made from raw milk.
- Anyone in your family is pregnant and drinks raw milk or eats products made from raw milk. The bacteria Listeria can cause miscarriage, fetal death, or illness or death of a newborn.
Food Safety Tips
The following are
As a parent, you are interested in your child’s health. Your role is to provide healthy food in appropriate portions, and your child’s role is to decide how much to eat. That is why it is important to understand how to provide healthy choices for your child.
Read on for information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about making healthful choices. If you have specific questions about your child’s nutrition, talk with your child’s doctor or a registered dietitian.
Child-sized portions help children accept new foods. Two tips for parents include:
- Serve one-fourth to one-third of the adult portion size, or 1 measuring tablespoon of each food for each year of your child’s age.
- Give less than you think your child will eat. Let your child ask for more if she is still hungry.
How do I know when my child is eating enough?
Children eat when they are hungry and usually stop when they are full. Some parents worry because young children appear to eat very small amounts of food, especially when compared with adult portions. To check your child’s eating pattern, pay attention to his food choices.
According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates, about 1 person out of every 100 has allergic symptoms after exposure to sulfites, chemical additives widely used in the food industry. Asthma adds to the risk; sulfites cause serious symptoms in about 5% of people with asthma.
What Are Sulfites?
Sulfites are added to prolong the shelf life of many fruits, vegetables, and shellfish; to halt the growth of bacteria in wines; and to whiten food starches and condition dough. They are also used as preservatives in some medications. Although once freely allowed under the FDA category of “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS), sulfite use has been more closely regulated in the past couple of decades after being linked to numerous health problems, including allergic symptoms ranging in severity from hives and difficulty breathing to fatal anaphylactic shock. While sulfites are indeed harmless to the great majority, they can cause potentially life-threatening reactions in some people with asthma and others who are sensitive to the compounds. Scientists haven’t yet determined the smallest amount needed to trigger a reaction. Current methods cannot detect sulfite concentrations below 10 parts per million (ppm) in food, although many experts believe that a sulfite-sensitive person may experience symptoms
Three minerals—calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium—account for 98% of the body’s mineral content by weight. Calcium and phosphorus play basic roles in countless biochemical reactions at the cellular level. They are also the main components of the skeleton, and without magnesium many metabolic functions could not take place.
Phosphorus is in almost all animal and vegetable foods and is often found in foods that contain calcium. Milk and dairy products, fish bones (such as in canned salmon and sardines), and dark-green, leafy vegetables are the best sources of calcium. Magnesium, like phosphorus, is abundant in animal and plant cells.
Healthy children do not lack phosphorus and magnesium because these minerals are easily absorbed. By contrast, low calcium intakes are very common, especially among adolescent girls who shun milk and dairy foods to avoid fat calories. These girls risk osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones, starting as early as age 30. Nonfat milk, yogurt, and other dairy foods are excellent sources of calcium and do not add unwanted fat calories to the diet.
Mineral absorption is influenced by a number of factors, including certain hormones and vitamin levels. Infants absorb calcium more easily than adults do, and the rate of absorption is increased when other
The following are food and ingredients to avoid if your child is allergic to milk.
- Calcium caseinate
- Cheese, cottage cheese
- Condensed milk
- Cow’s milk
- Evaporated milk
- Milk chocolate
- Milk solids
- Powdered milk
- Sherbet (if made with milk)
- Sodium caseinate
A true milk protein allergy usually appears in the first year of life, when an infant’s digestive system is still quite immature.
Milk allergy symptoms may appear anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after the child consumes a milk product, but the most severe symptoms usually occur within half an hour. The most common symptoms are:
- Gastrointestinal/stomach upset
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Less common symptoms include blood in the stool.
In babies, if the milk allergy affects their respiratory system, they also may have chronic nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, cough, wheezing, or difficulty in breathing. The allergy also can cause eczema, hives, swelling, itching, or a rash around the mouth and on the chin due to contact with milk.
If you suspect your baby has an allergy to milk, tell your pediatrician, and be sure to mention whether there’s a family history of allergy. Take your child to the doctor’s office or emergency room immediately if he
- Has difficulty breathing
- Turns blue
- Is extremely pale or weak
- Has generalized hives
- Develops swelling in the head and neck region
Forcing children to eat food doesn’t work. Neither does forbidding foods. When children think that a food is forbidden by their parents, the food often becomes more desirable.
It’s important for both children and adults to be sensible and enjoy all foods and beverages, but not to overdo it on any one type of food. Sweets and higher-fat snack foods in appropriate portions are OK in moderation.
The following is information about fat, sugar, and salt and dietary recommendations based on recommendations from the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Encouraging Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart
Childhood is the best time to start heart healthy eating habits, but adult goals for cutting back on total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol are not meant generally for children younger than 2 years.
Fat is an Essential Nutritent for Children
Fat supplies the energy, or calories, children need for growth and active play and should not be severely restricted.
Dangers of High Fat Intake
However, high fat intake—particularly a diet high in saturated fats—can cause health problems, including heart disease later in life. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperatures and are found in fatty meats (such as beef, pork, ham,
Good nutrition—it’s not just for breakfast anymore. It’s for growth of a young body, preventing diseases, maintaining healthy functioning tissues of the body all the way to your cells, and fueling the body involved in exercise activity. Daily proper nutrition helps sustain and support exercise demands on a regular basis. If your child participates in competitions or sporting events, there are some more basics to cover
Remember that the days leading up to an event or practice are important to keep fuel and energy stores full with good sources of complex carbohydrates. Fats are slow and difficult to digest, so they should be avoided for the few hours before an event. Choose good sources of nutrition that the body can use quickly without the danger of a sugar crash. A donut with a candy bar chaser is not the way to go—but don’t think I haven’t seen it. Maintaining excellent hydration is also key to prevent going into an event already dry.
Fluids such as water and sports drinks are important to maintain energy and hydration. If the event lasts for hours with breaks between competition, light carbohydrate snacks such as fruit, natural yogurts, or concentrated gels can be used
A food allergy happens when the body reacts against harmless proteins found in foods. The reaction usually happens shortly after a food is eaten. Food allergy reactions can vary from mild to severe.
Because many symptoms and illnesses could be wrongly blamed on “food allergies,” it is important for parents to know the usual symptoms. The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about food allergies and how to recognize and treat the symptoms. There is also important information about how to keep your child safe and healthy at home and in school if he has a food allergy.
Symptoms of a food allergy
When the body’s immune system overreacts to certain foods, the following symptoms may occur:
- Skin problems
- Hives (red spots that look like mosquito bites)
- Itchy skin rashes (eczema, also called atopic dermatitis)
- Breathing problems
- Throat tightness
- Stomach symptoms
- Circulation symptoms
- Pale skin
- Loss of consciousness
If several areas of the body are affected, the reaction may be severe or even life-threatening. This type of allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis and requires immediate medical attention.
Not a food allergy
Food can cause many illnesses that are sometimes confused with food allergies. The following are not food allergies:
- Food poisoning—Can cause diarrhea or vomiting, but is usually caused by bacteria in
Food additives, properly used, allow us to enjoy a variety of wholesome foods in every season. Many people, wary of additives, believe that they are toxic chemicals brewed up in laboratories. Such fears are groundless. The great majority of the 3,000 or so additives allowed by the FDA are foods or normal ingredients of foods.
Additives help keep our food healthful in at least 5 important ways.
- They retard spoilage.
- They improve or maintain nutritional value.
- They make breads and baked goods rise.
- They enhance flavor, color, and appearance.
- They keep flavors and textures consistent.
Additives listed on food labels under their chemical names seem less intimidating when you know their everyday equivalents. For example, salt is sodium chloride, vitamin C is ascorbic acid, and vitamin E is alpha-tocopherol. Not every additive has a familiar name, but it’s reassuring to remember that all food is made up of chemicals, just as our bodies are. Regulations known as good manufacturing practices limit the amounts of additives that may be used in foods. Manufacturers use only as much of an additive as is needed to achieve the desired result.
The additives most widely used are salt, sugar and corn syrup, vitamin C, vitamin E, and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated
There are currently no cures for a food allergy. Management is based on avoiding the food and being prepared to treat an allergic reaction should the food be eaten accidentally. Anti-histamines can help mild symptoms such as itching and hives, but an epinephrine injection is necessary for severe symptoms or breathing difficulties (eg, throat swelling, wheezing). If epinephrine needs to be given, the child should be immediately taken for emergency medical care, or if necessary, 911 called.
If your pediatrician believes there is any risk that your child could have a severe allergic reaction (an anaphylactic reaction) to food, your pediatrician will recommend that you—and your child, when old enough to use it by himself—always carry an epinephrine autoinjector device in case of an accidental ingestion of the food. It is essential that you review with your doctor how and when to use this medication. The devices are easy to use and the medication is safe, but it is important to be familiar with the device being prescribed so that there are no delays in providing emergency treatment. A child at risk for anaphylaxis should also wear medical identification.
There’s only one sure way to prevent food allergy symptoms, and that’s to
Nearly 1 in 3 children in America is overweight or obese. Despite all the focus on kids being overweight and obese, many parents are still confused, especially when it comes to what kids eat. How much does your child need? Is he getting enough calcium? Enough iron? Too much fat?
Whether you have a toddler or a teen, nutrition is important to his or her physical and mental development. Here’s what children need — no matter what the age.
During this stage of life, it’s almost all about the milk — whether it’s breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. Breast milk or formula will provide practically every nutrient a baby needs for the first year of life.
- At about six months most babies are ready to start solid foods like iron-fortified infant cereal and strained fruits, vegetables, and pureed meats. Because breast milk may not provide enough iron and zinc when babies are around six to nine months, fortified cereals and meats can help breastfed babies in particular.
- Once you do start adding foods, don’t go low-fat crazy. Although the AAP guidelines state fat restriction in some babies is appropriate, in general, you don’t want to restrict fats under age two because a healthy
In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a number of changes to the current Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods. The changes reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. In addition, the new label will make it easier for families to make informed decisions about the food they eat.
Highlights of the New Nutrition Facts Label
- Increased type size for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and “Serving size”
- Bolded number of calories and the “Serving size”
- Changed Daily Value footnote to read: “The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”
- Reflection of updated information about nutrition science
- Included “added sugars” in grams and as % Daily Value on label
- Updated list of nutrients required or permitted to be declared on the label
- Removed “Calories from Fat” from the label
- Updated Daily Values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D
- Update to serving sizes and labeling requirements for certain package sizes
- By law, serving sizes must now be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they
Bioengineering has pushed farmers beyond the age-old practice of selective breeding, whereby one animal or plant strain was crossed with a related one to bring out desirable characteristics and suppress less useful ones. Now, scientists can manipulate genes and create new strains out of unrelated species. Foods, ingredients, and additives produced by bioengineering must meet the same FDA safety standards as traditional products. The total acreage of bioengineered crops is still small, but it represents a growing practice.
Food producers are responsible for ensuring that the foods they sell are safe. The US Department of Agriculture has the authority to remove meat, poultry, and egg products produced in federally inspected plants, and the FDA has the authority to remove all other foods from the market if they pose a risk to public health.
Risk of Allergic Reactions
One area of concern related to the transfer of genetic material is the possibility that proteins introduced from one food into another could cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to the first food. For example, a tomato bred to produce a protein normally found in peanuts could cause potentially life-threatening symptoms when eaten by someone allergic to peanuts. For this reason, the FDA requires clear scientific
Food traps are situations and places that make it difficult to eat right. We all have them. The following tips may help your family avoid some of the most common traps.
Food Trap #1: Vacations, Holidays, and Other Family Gatherings
When on a trip, don’t take a vacation from healthy eating and exercise.
What You Can Do:
- Plan your meals. Will all your meals be from restaurants? If so, can you split entrees and desserts to keep portions from getting too large? Can you avoid fast food? Can you bring along your own healthy snacks?
- Stay active. Schedule time for physical activities such as taking a walk or swimming in the hotel pool.
It’s easy to overeat during holidays. But you don’t need to fear or avoid them.
What You Can Do:
- Approach the holidays with extra care. Don’t lose sight of what you and your child are eating. Plan to have healthy foods and snacks on hand. Bring a fruit or veggie tray with you when you go to friends and family.
- Celebrate for the day, not an entire month! Be sure to return to healthy eating the next day.
Other Family Gatherings
In some cultures, when extended families get together, it can turn into a food feast, from morning to
Nearly half of all American families regularly skip breakfast. Is your family one of them? When it comes to getting your children to school, a healthy breakfast is just as important as gym shoes and sharp pencils.
How Breakfast Betters Your Child
Breakfast has been associated with everything from:
- Better memory
- Better test scores
- Better attention span to decreased irritability
- Healthier body weights
- Improved overall nutrition
Rise & Dine
It’s easy to see how breakfast has come to qualify as one of the nutritional challenges of parenthood. Whether it’s your own parental time constraints or your child’s busy schedule, getting the whole family ready to set off to child care and/or school in the morning, play dates, or any of a whole host of other common early-in-the-day commitments, breakfast is often neglected.
If the words “slow” and “leisurely” don’t exactly describe your morning routine, we’d like to suggest that you commit a little extra time and effort to protecting the nutritional integrity of your child’s morning meal.
Breakfast-Made-Easier Tips for Parents
Whether you opt for a simple breakfast or a more elaborate one, any effort to make it nutritious is better than no breakfast at all. Whether that means a glass of low-fat milk and a piece of wheat toast or an
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all children between 9 and 11 years old are screened for high blood cholesterol levels due to the growing epidemic of obesity in children.
In addition, the AAP recommends cholesterol testing for the following groups of children:
- Those whose parents or grandparents have had heart attacks or have been diagnosed with blocked arteries or disease affecting the blood vessels, such as stroke, at age 55 or earlier in men, or 65 or earlier in women
- Those whose parents or grandparents have total blood cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher
- Those whose family health background is not known (eg, many adopted children), or those who have characteristics associated with heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, or obesity
For children in these categories, their first cholesterol test should be after 2 years but no later than 10 years of age.
A child may have high cholesterol for a variety of reasons such as obesity, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, or an underactive thyroid. If an initial test shows high cholesterol, your pediatrician will check your child’s blood again at least 2 weeks later to confirm the results. If it is still high, the doctor will also determine if your child
When it comes to raising an adventurous eater, it is not just about coaxing kids to eat their veggies. Bringing up a child who can enjoy a cantaloupe as much as a cupcake takes patience and persistence, but it does not have to feel like a chore.
Kids may need to have frequent joyful experiences involving food to overcome the anxiety they may have around tasting the unfamiliar. Over time, cooking with your children can help build that confidence—and provide rich sensory experiences.
- Engage other senses. For a hesitant eater, tasting an unfamiliar food can sometimes be intimidating. You can help your child explore foods when cooking using other senses besides taste. This helps to build positive associations with food. Kneading dough, rinsing vegetables, and tearing lettuce all involve touching food and being comfortable with texture. The complex flavors we experience when eating food come from both taste sensations from the tongue AND smelling with the nose. While cooking with new ingredients, some children may feel too overwhelmed to taste. If this happens, you can try suggesting smelling a food first; this may provide a bridge to tasting in the future.
- Use cooking to raise smart kids. There are so many lessons that can
Noncaloric sweeteners, also called no- and low-calorie sweeteners, or sugar substitutes, add sweetness to foods and beverages without adding calories. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, foods and beverages sweetened with noncaloric sweeteners can be incorporated into a healthy eating plan.
Noncaloric sweeteners can help make reduced-calorie foods and beverages taste better, which can help in long-term weight maintenance.
Check Food Labels
Keep in mind that products containing noncaloric sweeteners may not be calorie-free or fat-free. Check the food labels for nutritional information.
Where We Stand
Due to limited studies in children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has no official recommendations regarding the use of noncaloric sweeteners.
- Fat, Salt and Sugar: Not All Bad
- Allergies and Hyperactivity
- Healthy Active Living for Families
- Preventing Tooth Decay
- eatright.org (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
Children (as well as adults) often use food for reasons other than to satisfy hunger. Children often eat in response to their emotions and feelings.
If your child seems hungry all the time, use the following tips to get a better idea of what is really going on.
What Triggers Hunger?
If your child is eating 3 well-balanced meals and 1 snack a day but still claims to be hungry, there may be other reasons beyond hunger that make him or her want to eat.
What You Can Do
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your child sometimes reach for food when experiencing any of the following?
- Does your child eat at times other than regular mealtimes and snacks? Is your child munching at every opportunity?
- Do you reward your child with food (does an A on a test sometimes lead to a trip to the ice cream shop)? This can inadvertently contribute to your child’s obesity.
- When your child is doing things right, do you tell him or her? Words of approval can boost a child’s self-esteem. They can also help keep a child motivated to continue making the right decisions for health and weight.
- How are you speaking to your child? Is it mostly negative? Is it often