Wholesome Child : Wholesome Child full
269 268 they contain beneficial trace elements and minerals. However, only use sparingly in your children’s diets. Too much salt can be harmful, especially for growing bodies, as it can produce a serious rise in blood pressure. For children, this will get progressively worse with age. Tiny tastebuds are impressionable too, so a salty childhood sets up cravings for salty food – a difficult habit to break and a potential route to illnesses including kidney stones and stroke. So how much salt is safe for children? Children’s diets can contain as much as 75 per cent more salt per day than they need. Most salt is hidden in processed foods such as bread, deli meats, biscuits, cheese, crisps, breakfast cereals, sausages, canned soups, ready-prepared meals, Vegemite or Marmite, takeaway foods and canned fish in brine. And don’t be fooled – one cheese sandwich can contain 2g or more of salt. That’s already the entire daily allowance for an under three-year-old in a single sandwich. Recommended maximum daily intake 1 to 3 years: 2.5g 4 to 8 years: 3.5g 9 to 13 years: 5g Do children need iodine? Humans require trace amounts of iodine, a non- metallic mineral, for proper development and growth. It is true that iodine deficiency is on the rise, because of the lack of iodine-rich soil. Most white table salts have been iodised, meaning iodine has been added to them, but table salt is usually stripped of its naturally occurring minerals first and then potassium iodide is added back in along with anti-caking agents and other additives. If your child is eating a healthy, balanced, varied diet, he’s probably getting enough iodine (iodine can be found in dairy from cattle who graze on iodine-rich grass as well as veggies grown in iodine-rich soil). Instead of using iodised salt, offer your child a range of iodine-rich foods such as saltwater fish and nori seaweed. Should you avoid GMOs? A genetically modified organism (GMO) has had its DNA altered in a laboratory in order to exhibit different characteristics. Crops like soy, corn and wheat have been changed in this way to make The bottom line The continuing debate around the safety of additives and preservatives highlights the need for regulatory bodies to ensure that food additives, when being approved for use in our food, are initially tested for safety and continue to undergo long-term monitoring for their effects on chronic health conditions – especially in young children. If the harm from these substances could potentially have on your family’s health (especially babies and children under six) concerns you, then the best option is to avoid or minimise processed foods, use fresh ingredients when possible, read food ingredient labels and become more aware of what is in the products your family is eating. The truth about salt While we are warned to reduce our salt intake, it is actually essential for health, helping to maintain and regulate fluid levels, balance blood sugar and transport nutrients around the body. But too much can increase blood pressure and lead to heart and kidney disease. Table salt is 40 per cent sodium (the other 60 per cent is chloride) and this mineral is important for nerves, muscles and the cardiovascular system. Salt can help your child’s body to absorb other important nutrients more effectively, too. Celtic sea salt, Himalayan rock salt and natural sea salts are far better than white table salt as step 8: avoid nasties Did you know? Babies and small children with reduced-salt diets have lower blood pressure, eat healthier foods o verall and are likely to have fewer health problems and better eating patterns into adulthood . How much salt is your child eating? 1. To determine whether a food is high in sodium find the 100g column and check the sodium figure. Serving sizes vary so use the 100g column. To be low in sodium, a product should have less than 120mg per 100g. 2. An overall guide is: 120mg sodium per 100g – low (the healthiest choice). 120mg to 600mg sodium per 100g – moderate. Over 600mg – high (avoid these foods). 3. Salt = sodium x 2.5 Multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5 to find out how much salt is in a product. The amount of salt is not usually included in food labels, so for instance if a product says it contains 1.5g of sodium then it will contain roughly 3.75g of salt. In Australia, labels on packaged foods must carry a Nutrition Information Panel showing the sodium content in milligrams per serving and per 100g (mg/100g). Did you know? Low salt does not mean low flavour if you experiment with herbs and spices instead. ➊ Cut out processed foods wherever possible. This immediately lowers sodium intake. ➋ Reduce salt slowly in cooking so your family’s taste buds can adapt. ➌ Don’t put salt or salty condiments on the table (table salt, ketchup, soy sauce etc). ➍ Choose low-sodium, preservative- free stocks, sauces and salad dressings or make your own. ➎ Rinse canned foods like beans or chickpeas. How to reduce salt intake Three ways to cut out sorbates If you suspect that your child may be reacting to sorbates, follow our three-step plan: ➊ Get label savvy. Identify which products in your family’s diet contain preservatives 200-203. ➋ Eliminate. Avoid offering them to your child until, as recommended by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Elimination Diet, you have three symptom-free days in a row. ➌ Observe. Reintroduce them by offering 100g of a sorbate-containing product such as yoghurt (something that your child previously ate) for up to a week or until symptoms reappear. Keep a food diary to record food eaten and symptoms. If no symptoms reappear after a week, most likely you are not allergic or sensitive to sorbates but it’s still best to avoid synthetic versions wherever possible.