Wholesome Child : Wholesome Child full
264 265 265 What about sugar alcohols? Many reduced-calorie foods contain sugar alcohols that, although not as potentially harmful as artificial sweeteners, can cause extreme stomach upset in kids. Products containing these ingredients carry the warning: ’Excessive consumption may have a laxative effect’. Xylitol (967) is the only sugar alcohol that is vaguely beneficial as it can help reduce the risk of dental cavities. What to look out for: Sorbitol (420) Erythritol (968) Isomalt (953) Maltitol or hydrogenated glucose syrup (965) Mannitol (421) ❹ STABILISERS Carrageenan (170), an indigestible polysaccharide that is extracted from edible red algae, is most commonly used in food as a thickener or stabiliser. In 2016, the National Organic Standards Board – an independent body that advises the US Department of Agriculture – announced it would no longer permit carrageenan as an additive in organic food. Current research remains inconclusive but has shown a link to digestive disorders and inflammation in lab animals. Although the evidence may be inconclusive, the fact that it is related to digestive issues means I recommend avoiding carrageenan for young children. Found in: Shelf stable dairy beverages, milk alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk, flavoured chocolate milks, ice-cream, yoghurt and yoghurt alternatives, cottage cheese, whipped cream, fruit jellies, ready-to-eat infant formula. Potential effect on children: Inconclusive, though animal studies have shown that carrageenan can cause inflammation and intestinal damage in some animals. What to look out for: • Carrageenan (170). Carrageenan may be found in a final product but not listed on the ingredients list when it is used as a ’processing aid’, for example in cream. Contact the manufacturer directly to ask whether carrageenan is in the final product. The website www.cornucopia.org has a shopping guide to help consumers avoid organic foods containing carrageenan. What is a preservative? Preservatives are food additives that have been around since humans began preparing food. Perhaps the best-known preservative is salt. They are certainly useful to keep food safe by preventing mould from forming, however some modern-day chemical preservatives can have unintended side effects on our health. Today, our children consume food differently to the way we once did. When I was a child, a cake was always a homemade treat and if we were having guests for Sunday afternoon tea, my mother would spend the whole morning baking. We loved these occasions and did not expect the leftover treats to last more than a few days but these days a supermarket cake can last a week or more thanks to preservatives. In one infamous experiment, a McDonald’s burger kept in a jar was able to last for 30 days without growing any mould! Of course some preservatives are necessary, but unfortunately many companies are more concerned with taste and shelf life than with what’s healthy for the consumer. With their lower body weights, young children are far more vulnerable to preservatives than we are. As a new mother I remember being advised by a well-meaning nurse to feed my infant the same food as the rest of the family when I started giving him solids. Fortunately for my son the food we ate was mostly homemade, but it is not uncommon to see babies being fed hot chips dipped in additive-filled mayonnaise – and then suffering from colic or wind. There are also some preservatives that must be avoided to attain optimal health, especially for young children. Australian food intolerance expert Sue Dengate and her husband Dr Howard Dengate provide independent information about the effects of food on behaviour, health and learning in children. They also offer support for families following low-chemical elimination diets. Some of the information that follows is based on their research. Natural Chemicals Natural chemicals like salicylates, amines and glutamates found in many healthy foods can create the same problems for sensitive people as artificial food additives. Small amounts of natural chemicals present in a particular food may not be enough to cause a reaction the first few times that food is eaten. However, because these chemicals are common to many different regularly eaten foods they accumulate in the Did you know? Sensitive babies with a susceptibility to food intolerances, can have reactions even while still exclusively breastfed . This is because chemicals from the mother’s diet may get into the breast milk and cause colicky, irritable behavio ur, loose stools, eczema and nappy (diaper) rashes. If the mother goes onto an elimination diet, baby’s symptoms are likely to settle rapidly. body eventually causing a reaction when a child’s threshold is exceeded. Therefore it can be quite easy to blame the last food eaten prior to the reaction, instead of looking at the many foods that contain natural chemicals. If you suspect your child may be sensitive to salicylates, amines or glutamates check out the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Elimination Diet Handbook here: www.emerge.org.au/wp- content/uploads/2014/11/RPAH-Elimination- Diet-Handbook-with-food-shopping-guide.pdf Note: Always consult your GP, paediatrician, dietician or nutritionist before following an elimination diet for your child. The following natural chemicals may be problematic for sensitive children: SALICYLATES Plant-based chemicals found naturally in certain fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and spices, jams, honey, yeast extracts, tea, coffee, juices and flavour additives used in foods, drinks and liquid medications, including herbal. Potential effects on children: •Headaches •Rashes •Gastric disturbances •Asthma •Rhinitis •Behavioural issues •Insomnia • Night terrors •Bed wetting •Anxiety and depression AMINES These come from the breakdown of protein. Foods such as cheese, fish and meat increase their amine content as they age. They are also present in fruits such as bananas, avocado and olives and, as these fruits ripen, the amine levels increase. Plus you’ll also find them naturally occurring in sauces, fruit juices, chocolate, flavoured spreads, nut and seed pastes, jams and fermented products such as pickles and yeast extract. Potential effects on children: • Behavioural issues • Migraines and headaches • Rashes • Digestive disorders GLUTAMATE Glutamate is an amino acid building block of all proteins and is found naturally in most foods. In its free form, (not linked to protein) it enhances the flavour of food. This is why foods rich in natural glutamate such as cheese, tomato, mushrooms, soy sauce, meat extracts and yeast extracts are used to add flavour to meals. For the same reason, MSG (pure monosodium glutamate) is used as an additive in savoury snack foods, soups, sauces and Asian cooking. Potential effects on children: • Behavioural issues • Migraines and headaches • Rashes • Digestive disorders step 8: avoid nasties How to find out if a member of your family is sensitive to sulphites ➊ Familiarise yourself with the sulphite numbers and names listed in the table on the following page and look through your pantry to see which products contain sulphites. ➋ Keep a food diary for one week and record any symptoms that are triggered from eating a particular food – check to see if it contains sulphites. ➌Eliminate all sulphite-containing products from your pantry and avoid when eating out. It most likely won’t be possible to eliminate them entirely as they occur naturally in some food, but you can drastically reduce them. Try to follow a wholefood diet and choose organic, preservative-free products wherever possible. ❹After four to six weeks, check in to see if your child’s symptoms have reduced. Are they less wheezy, having fewer asthma attacks? Has their rash reduced, are migraines less frequent, or has behaviour improved? ➎If you find there is an improvement in any of the symptoms, continue following a low-sulphite diet and replace favourite foods with preservative-free alternatives where possible. Did you know? Infants and young children are more vulnerable to toxins than adults.