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Weaning is equally important with regards to the epigenetic programming of your child. This is a gradual process from the second half of infancy until the child is several years old.
It is a journey of discovering your child's needs and tolerances. Sometime between the fourth and sixth month,
Behavioural signs of readiness
- Teeth begin to appear;
- The tongue stops sticking out automatically for breastfeeding, making the infant able to be spoon-fed;
- As the tastebuds become more mature, the infant loses interest in milk and takes an increasing interest in other foods. The result is a slowdown in the rate of weight gain;
- Drooling of saliva increases; what is the papa
- The infant increasingly puts the fingers or fist in the mouth.
Biological signs of readiness
In addition, changes take place inside the body, which we cannot see:
- The digestive system is ready to break down more complex foods;
- The cell membrane of the intestinal lining becomes less permeable to incompletely digested food. This reduces the risks of allergy;
- The kidneys and bladder are ready to excrete more metabolic wastes;
- The naive immune cells in the intestines are ready to defend against new foreign microbes and new food antigens.
Even if an infant shows readiness for weaning at four months, it is advisable to delay it until the sixth month if you are successfully breastfeeding. This is because protein foods like meat, fish and egg have greater tendencies to cause allergy. Other weaning foods like starch carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits may not cause allergies, but on their own, they do not provide complete nutrition.
As part of the longer weaning process, the level of lactase, an enzyme needed to digest lactose or milk sugar, starts to diminish after six months of age. It disappears completely by four years of age among most Asians and Africans. This is Nature's signal to indicate that milk is no longer needed.
The majority of Europeans and Americans continue to be able to digest milk even as adults, due to their long history of milk consumption. This shows the power of epigenetic programming. If we want to, we can programme our future generations to tolerate milk However, this is not a natural state. In nature, no adult mammal takes milk as a regular food.
Purpose of weaning
The purpose of weaning is more than just to switch the child from milk to solid foods. Weaning is a serious business of programming the child for his or her future. It must be purpose-driven - for health, development and survival.
We are now witnessing serious global epidemics of lifestyle diseases that are strongly linked to faulty nutrition or malnutrition. These problems can largely be avoided through proper epigenetic programming during weaning in the early years of childhood.
Parents need to avoid programming
'Greedy' fat cells
Carbohydrates, when consumed excessively, is converted into fat and stored as reserves. When you wean your baby with excessive amounts of high-carbohydrate foods like grains, root vegetables, fruit juice and refined sugar, you are programming this fat storage from a very young age. You will eventually see your baby growing fatter and becoming obese.
Instead, wean your baby with a low glycemic index that includes green vegetables and fruits like berries, which are not too sweet. These should be supplemented with foods like fish and eggs, which contain healthy proteins and fats.
It is especially important to avoid excessive carbohydrates during weaning if the baby has the following pre-conditions:
Parents who are overweight or obese;
Mother had diabetes during pregnancy
Baby was born big, with signs of diabetes in the womb;
Baby was born small, from malnourishment in the womb.
Babies that are born excessively overweight or underweight are metabolically programmed to have insulin resistance, a pre-condition for obesity and diabetes.
If you feed such babies with a calorie-rich diet, they will readily grow into obese children. Studies show that even "normal" babies, if fattened during infancy, are more prone to obesity when they grow up.
An excess of omega-6 relative to omega-3 will cause chronic inflammatory diseases like asthma and eczema. This is just the start. Ultimately, nearly all modern diseases are linked to chronic inflammation. It is therefore critical to avoid this imbalance, by cutting out the use of vegetable cooking oils and increasing the intake of free-range eggs and fatty fish like salmon, sardine and mackerel.
'Wrong' immune response
As explained earlier, breast milk and probiotics are the best trainers on response. As exit, During the wearing process, new foods should be introduced slowly and carefully to identify and eliminate those that might cause allergic reactions.
Different people react differently to different foods. So a food that is suitable for one child may be problematic for another. Typical culprits include cow's milk and dairy products, wheat (because of gluten), nuts, soybeans and eggs.
Each food has only one specific allergen. For example, gliadin, a component of wheat gluten, is the allergen in wheat. However, there may be non-food allergens in the form of added food chemicals. To avoid confusion with non-food allergens, you should feed your baby with the freshest natural and organic food from the best source.
Start each new food at breakfast, as this will give parents more time to observe the child for any adverse reactions. Also, give each new food in an incremental amount over a five-day period before adding another new food. This will help you differentiate between strong and weak allergens.
Experience tells us that certain food proteins are more likely than others to cause allergy. This is partly due to the strength of the allergen and partly due to the maturity of the infant's digestive system. For example, if you give egg to a newborn, the risk of an allergic reaction is high. Most infants, however, can accept egg yolk by nine months and egg white by one year.
Gliadin, a component of gluten, is a known intestinal irritant. Conservatively, about 1o percent of wheat consumers have gluten sensitivity and one percent has celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disease that makes them totally unable to tolerate gliadin.
For people with coeliac disease, all grains containing gluten - including wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt - are unsuitable at any age. Adverse reactions are more severe if such foods are given at a younger age. Others who are merely allergic to gluten can sometimes eat oats and spelt without adverse reactions, because the gluten in spelt behaves differently from the rest, while oats do not contain gliadin.
Many chemicals are known to promote cancer and they must be avoided. Obvious culprits in the diet include chemical food additives like artificial colouring, artificial flavouring, preservatives and so on. However, other foods that are natural - or appear natural - can also have pro-cancer tendencies. These include:
Excessive sugar and high-carbohydrate foods that cause glucose and insulin levels to rise sharply;
Processed vegetable cooking oils high in omega-6 fatty acids;
Processed vegetable cooking oils that have turned rancid;
Margarine, vegetable shortening and products that contain trans fats;
Meat and milk from cattle that have been given synthetic growth hormones;
Plant phytoestrogens and chemical xenoestrogens that mimic estrogen;
Environmental pollutants like mercury (in dental amalgam and large ocean fish), lead (from old water pipes, old paint and traffic fumes) and arsenic (which is added to chicken feed to prevent fungal growth).
Avoid all these cancer triggers. Make sure your food sources are as natural and non-toxic as possible. At the same time, there are plant phytonutrients that could inhibit cancer. So introduce these anti-cancer epigenetic foods to your child:
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage;
Red grapes and berries;
Turmeric or yellow ginger;
Garlic, onion and chives
This content is adapted, with permission, from Book 1 of 2 : The Wonders of Nutrition by Dr Ang Poon Liat. MBBS, M.MED (PAED), MRCP (UK PAED), FAMS, MD.