Building a Healthy Child
This is an excerpt from the book “Building a Healthy Child,” by Melina Roberts.
I am a mother and licensed naturopathic doctor (ND). As an ND, I combine the wisdom of nature and modern science to identify and remove barriers to good health and help facilitate the body’s innate ability to heal itself. I designed this nutritional program because this is what I was looking for when I had my child. When I was a child I suffered greatly with allergies and eczema, and later I wanted to know what I needed to do to prevent allergies and eczema in my child, as well as to promote long-term health. I also see a lot of patients with chronic diseases in my practice and have come to understand that healing the digestive tract is the key to achieving better health. I wanted to figure out a way to build a healthy digestive tract right from the beginning so that we can prevent common childhood illnesses, as well as chronic diseases. As I started to research and better understand how the systems of the body develop and mature, and as I learned more about our microbiome, the ecosystem of microbes that live in our digestive tract, I began to realize that the way most books tell parents to introduce foods can actually be detrimental to children’s health, as these foods do not contribute to proper development of the organs or the proper development of this microbiome. I could find no book that gave parents the appropriate guidance on introducing foods with these concepts in mind.
That was how I came to write this book. This is the kind of information I know parents are hungry for. I have come across many parents who want to prevent food allergies, food sensitivities, and digestive discomfort and illnesses in their little ones but are unsure what to do. As a naturopathic doctor, I have come to realize that the only way to prevent disease in future generations is to build a solid foundation of health in our children.
Most parents want the best for their children and want to give them a head start in life. The one task of parenting that would have the most significant effect on performance is also the area that is the most neglected. We as a society greatly neglect proper nutrition for our children and have been misguided for many years. We feed our children poor nutrition, introduce certain foods too early, put a strong emphasis on poor-quality foods, and then somehow expect our children to develop into healthy, intelligent, successful leaders.
This nutritional program is based on years of research and clinical experience with thousands of patients. The program I share in this book is guided by my knowledge of the development of the human body and the understanding that different organs and systems of each child’s body develop at different times. All our organs begin development in utero, they continue to develop once outside the womb, and they reach full maturation at different stages of development. Because of these staggered rates in development, I recommend specific nutrition at particular times in your child’s life. We need to follow the body’s development and give the growing child the proper nutrition at each stage of growth to ensure proper development. My nutritional plan promotes proper child development and will help you and your family prevent childhood illnesses such as allergies, asthma, and eczema, as well as chronic degenerative diseases (such as cancer and diabetes) later in life. This is a program for true preventive medicine.
When it comes to language development, we don’t expect our children to come out of the womb with a full vocabulary and comprehension of the language we speak. We understand that this brain-development skill will take time to evolve, and there is a natural progression that occurs over an extended period of time.
We need to look at the development of our digestive tracts and introduction of nutrition in the same fashion. We cannot expect our children’s organs to function and have the same capabilities as fully developed and matured adult organs. Our little ones’ organs do not have the same capabilities as mature adults’; their organs are still maturing and growing. It is important to follow the natural evolution of the body to get the maximum benefits of health.
Another key component of this plan is that it takes into consideration the fact that the quality of our food is completely different from our ancestors’ food. In fact, most of the food on the market today is different than it was even fifty years ago. The business of agriculture and the promise of higher yields, increased food production, cheaper prices, and greater availability has changed our natural foods to chemical- laden and genetically modified sources. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have had their DNA specifically changed by genetic engineering techniques, making the foods more resistant to herbicides or viruses to allow for less damage to crops, potentially leading to higher yields, but the problem has been that these changes were made without the understanding of the possible long-term effects on human health.
The program presented in this book is a clinically significant, well- researched plan that understands the toll these alterations to our foods can take on our health. It was created with the intention of raising children in the twenty-first century among these challenges.
Most experts believe the prevalence of food allergy is rising along with a general rise in the incidence of allergic conditions. Asthma is one of the most common causes of emergency-room visits in Canada. In Canada, 12 percent of children and 8 percent of adults have asthma. In the United States, 8.3 percent of children and 7 percent of adults have asthma. My nutritional program has the potential to greatly improve these staggering statistics and eliminate food allergies and associated conditions if foods are introduced according to the natural evolution of the body.
Three Reasons This Nutritional Program Is Vitally Important
- Digestive health is the key to long-term health.
- The foundation of our digestive health is formed by age three.
- Our organs mature at different rates, and we need to introduce foods to support proper maturation.
Four key components to understanding the human body make this nutritional program uniquely different from any other food introduction nutritional program:
- Infants have hyperpermeable digestive tracts. This means their digestive tracts absorb materials much more easily than those of adults; therefore, we have to be very cautious what we put into their digestive tracts.
- Our pancreas does not reach full maturation until approximately age two, so we should not be introducing grains until age two.
- We have acquired our own unique foundation of microbes in our digestive tracts by age three, and this will affect our future health.
- Our bodies are hardwired to process real food, so we need to feed our children real, nutrient-dense foods.
This program is designed for parents who
- understand that nutrition is central to good health;
- want to make health a priority for their child and family; and
- want to do everything they can to build a solid foundation for the future and encourage proper growth and development.
It takes time, effort, and diligence to raise a healthy child, but it’s worth it.
About the author
Melina Roberts, N.D., is a naturopathic doctor and founder of Advanced Naturopathic Medical Centre in Calgary, Canada. She is a graduate of University of Waterloo and the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and is a leading authority in the field of naturopathic medicine. She currently resides in Calgary with her husband and daughter. For more information, visit http://advancednaturopathic.com.