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Good nutrition forms the core of our healthy growth, vitality and mental well-being. We must nourish our body and mind; we must also avoid foods that leave a negative impact on our health. Yet the majority of us are not doing right in both aspects.
Nutrients for an infant
For many people, a diet of unnatural processed foods starts from the day they are born, when they are fed factory-made infant formula. Even for those who are fortunate to be breastfed, the mistakes start soon after. When a breastfeeding mother weans her baby, the common practice is to feed the baby refined starchy carbohydrates, such as rice porridge or processed "baby foods" composed primarily of starch.
Why is breastmilk more nutritious?
The switch is drastic. Breast milk is a high-fat food, with about 55 percent of total calories coming from fat, plus moderate amounts of carbohydrates and protein. Now, the weaned baby eats mainly carbohydrates and obtains nearly all its calories form glucose and fructose. This sugar-rich diet lays the foundation for obesity. It deprives the baby of brain nutrients.
Also, raw breast milk is rich in live probiotics that will help establish the baby's immune system. Cooked baby foods contain no probiotics.
A poor diet growing up
The habit of eating poorly continues into childhood, teenage and adulthood. A 2011 survey of Americans aged two to 18 years found that they typically obtained nearly 50 percent of their calories from "junk foods" that contain little nutrition - soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts (such as ice cream), grain desserts (cookies, cake, doughnuts, etc.), pizza and pasteurised milk.
Starting the day unhealthily
Another study showed the top food choices in a typical modern breakfast to be fruit, fruit juice or commercial juice drinks, cold cereal and whole-wheat bread or muffin. Few ate nourishing foods like eggs, or they just took egg whites or egg substitutes.
If you start your day with a sugary breakfast of grains and fruits, it interferes with your blood glucose levels. This will lead to an energy crash by mid-morning, prompting you to seek a second "pick-me-up" in the form of a glucose-rich snack or a cup of coffee. You are simply not getting the nutrition that your brain needs.
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.