Category Archives: Nutrition

children holding grapes - The Gentle Touch

Develop healthy gut flora in your child

There is a lot we can do to improve the health of our children. Whilst the microbiome in their gut is developing we have an opportunity to improve how the immune system works.

Why is gut health important?

Around 70-80% of the immune system is in the gut and more research is always coming out that shows the link to our mental health, behaviours, insulin management and weight as well as links to hormones.

children holding grapes - The Gentle TouchYour baby’s microbiota is thought to develop in the womb, and more studies are coming out that support this hypothesis. Newborn babies have a complex microbial community within the gut within a few weeks of birth; this tends to fluctuate over the first 3 years of life when it becomes established.

Babies born via a vaginal birth have a more complex bacterial balance, but babies born by c-section gain the same bacterial complexity by 8 weeks of life. A more diverse bacterial mix can take up more room leaving less space for pathogens. Research is still in progress around whether the immune system is altered within this period of time and what we can do about it.

If one of the risk factors for an altered microbiome are present (born by c-section, formula fed baby, premature or significant time in hospital, early antibiotic treatment) then focussing on the diet and environment are particularly important.

How to help develop a healthy gut for your children

  • Where possible breastfeed your baby for more than 4 months. Babies who were breasfed for more than 4 months show less types of bacteria in the gut.
  • Get a pet – Exposure to pets has been associated with reduced risk of atopic diseases like eczema, asthma and hay fever as well as obesity.
  • Play with the dirt – children growing up on traditional farms have very low rates of asthma, so exposure to animals and earth can help develop a healthy bacterial mix in the gut. More time outside and in nature can help.
  • Wash up by hand! – Allergic diseases are less common than in families who use dishwashers. A small amount of exposure to germs really helps the immune system develop. So you really don’t need to sterilise your baby’s dish and spoon once they start weaning.

Gut Health & Baby Weaning

Diet is an important way to support your baby’s gut health, especially for those babies who already are at risk of an altered microbiome. Here’s how you can help:

  • Fibre is an essential food for our health bacteria. We need fibre to feed the bacteria which produce Short Chain Fatty Acids – these increase serotonin production which improves our nervous system health and immune health. Add a variety of vegetables to your child’s diet every day. Aim for 5 veg a day.
  • Probiotic foods – add sauerkraut or kefir to your diet can help develop your immune health by increasing the beneficial bacteria. Consider a probiotic if not eating any fermented foods. From 6 months babies may take a little kefir (fermented milk or water) or sauerkraut juice in their food.
  • Prebiotic foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus, and leeks help to feed the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut.
  • Continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years if possible to provide the ongoing immune support to your baby.

To find out more about how to support a health start to your child’s life get in touch. Anna offers a free 15 minute consultation to see how nutritional therapy can help you and your family.

Book onto our next Baby Nutrition & Weaning Class – or organise a private group class for you and friends at home.

Other blog posts you may enjoy:

What bread is best for my baby?

Baby Nutrition & Weaning – what are our classes in Bristol like? 

5 Reasons you don’t need Baby Rice

Think Zinc – Weaning your baby

 

 

Baby Weaning: Five Reasons Why You Don't Need Baby Rice

Five Reasons Why You Don’t Need Baby Rice

Baby Weaning: Five Reasons Why You Don't Need Baby Rice

We are sold baby rice as a safe, easy food to start weaning your baby, and many of us were weaned onto this as children, so your family may put pressure on to start with baby rice, it’s the done thing, right?

Well, through research, we now know more about the gut and our microbiome, how childhood eating links to health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease and also nutritional profiles of food.

Here are 5 good reasons why you don’t need baby rice:

  1. White rice turns to glucose quickly

We all know we eat too many processed grains and simple carbohydrates. When we eat carbohydrates our saliva begins to breakdown the food into glucose. By the time baby rice, which is around 94% starch, hits the intestines it will be mostly all glucose. The more processed foods are broken down to glucose quickly, which sets a cascade of insulin release and blood sugar imbalances. It’s easy to see how we begin to get a preference for simple grains.

  1. It’s heavily processed

Baby rice is depleted of nutrients, processed white flour. It’s sometimes fortified with synthetic vitamins which are not as easy for the body to absorb or process as natural food based forms of the nutrients. It’s a kind of filler, which displaces other nutrient rich foods with no real value.

  1. Rice may contain arsenic

Rice is known to be high in arsenic, including in infant rice cereal.  Research last year into babies aged 6-12 months found rice cereal can markedly increase arsenic exposure among US infants relative to breast milk and formula.

  1. It’s outdated

Baby rice was introduced as a low allergen food that is easy to digest (because it’s so processed) which was important when babies were weaned very early on. The NHS advice now strictly advises babies are not fed solids until at least 4 months, with many parents waiting until 6 months to coincide with other physical developments such as sitting up, putting food in their mouth. This means babies are more ready for food at this later stage, and their gut is more developed so they can digest real food.

  1. It’s not real food!

Part of weaning is all about developing associations and experimenting with foods. If your baby is ready for solid foods they are also ready for flavours, textures and smells – there is no need to disguise food as textured milk and mix it with formula or expressed milk.

Want to know more about baby weaning? To find out more about what foods help your baby develop, when and how to introduce solids and ask any questions to our Nutritional Therapist come to one of our classes on Baby Nutrition and Weaning.

Book online or organise a group for you and some friends at your home – just email info@the-gentle-touch.com

 

 

Happy Family Mealtimes – tips for calm meals

So it’s the end of the day, you’ve been at work, or you’ve had your children with you all day, you’re all tired, and you just want to get them fed, and into bed. But the bickering, shouting, food refusal and crying whilst you’re trying to cook then feed them can really raise anyone’s stress levels, especially when our energy is low too.

Family MealtimesWe’ve been running Baby Weaning classes for a little while now, and we begin by asking attendees to think about their own experiences of mealtime when growing up. What do you want to create in your own family, and what do you want to avoid? Did you have to sit at the table until you were finished, did you get rewarded for finishing vegetables with pudding?

Think about what you positively want to choose to create with your own little ones and think about how this differs from what you actually do.

What changes can you make to help you feel calmer? (which don’t involve drinking a large glass of wine!) :)

 

 

 

Here are some suggestions to support happy family meals

  • Eat with your children. If you are sitting down to eat as well there is less pressure then you watching them eat and hurrying through the meal.
  • Turn off all distractions like radio, laptops or TV. Make this a time when you concentrate on the food and conversation with your family.
  • Light a candle in the middle of the table – most people normally save candle light for special events, but using it every day can help to create a soft mood that is relaxing and a sense of occasion. Obviously the flame needs to be out of reach of little fingers!
  • Breathing before a meal – when we’re stressed our cortisol levels are high, which slows down our digestion. To help calm you before you start the meal take 3 deep breaths, in and out, to help reduce stress hormones. You can ask your children to join in too – can they make the flame in the middle of the table dance with their out breath?
  • Ask you children to help prepare the meal with you. Can they stir the sauce, or chop some soft foods with a blunt knife? Age dependant obviously, but getting kids involved in food preparation can sometimes help them to eat.
  • Get older children to help set the table and take responsibility for a small job around meal preparation.
  • My children are 3 and 7 and we have recently introduced a new routine of asking each other about our day. We ask, ‘what was the best thing that happened today?’ and then sometimes we go round again and ask ‘what was the next best thing that happened?’ and it’s a really lovely way to share the good parts of the day.
  • Obviously conversation doesn’t really work two ways with toddlers and babies, but you can still talk to babies about their food, what are they eating, what colour is it, where does it come from, etc. You can also run through the day with your toddlers, ‘do you remember going to the park? It was fun going down the slide wasn’t it?’

Are you looking for tips on healthy meals for you and your family? Get in touch with Anna to find out how nutritional therapy can help you with your health goals. A free 15 minute health consultation is available on request – info@the-gentle-touch.com or 07812010412 to book yours.

Children holding grapes

 

 

Super Simple Banana Flapjacks

These are really lovely little treats you can make for your weaning baby, toddler, or just yourself! Very easy to make, a toddler can help with the stirring if you want to get older children involved. Will keep for a few days in the fridge in an airtight container.

 

Baby Weaning Banana Flapjacks

Ingredients

300g oats
80ml coconut oil (melted)
2 mashed bananas
50g pumpkin seeds (ground in Nutribullet or similar)

Method

Mix together and spread into a tin lined with greaseproof paper. Cook at a moderate heat – around 140C (Gas mark 3 or 4) – for 20 mins or until starting to brown. Let the tray cool and cut up into squares.

 

 

 

Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc which supports a healthy immune system, they contain essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6 fats and also have and anti-parasitic effect (killing off nasties in our gut). Oats contain betaglucans which also help immune health and bananas are a good source of tryptophan which can help melatonin production, our sleep hormone.

Add other kinds of seeds to mix it up a little if you like. If you don’t have a powerful blender to grind up seeds to a powder, try ground almonds you can buy already powdered.

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3 red tomatoes on stalk

Baby Weaning – Can I use ready made pouches of food?

Baby Weaning Question:  

Hi I was going to use pouches when out and about something like Ella’s Kitchen – what’s the recommended amount of salt and sugar I should be looking for on these pouches max? I just looked and one pouch was 9.9g of sugar!

Anna our Nutritional Therapist says: 

Great question, basically you should look for no added salt and sugar for baby food, and where you give your own foods, just check that you don’t give lots of a food with high salt, sugar and additives in.

Where you do use pouches from Organix or Ella’s kitchen these shouldn’t have any added salt or sugars since they are purely for babies. What they do often have is a lot of fruit, often mixed in with the veg. So it might look like you’re giving vegetables, but the main ingredient is fruit.

So the Ella’s Kitchen products called Broccoli, Pears, & Peas is actually:

Organic pears 79%
Organic peas 14%
Organic broccoli 7%

You might think from the order of the ingredients in the title that broccoli was the main ingredient! And the Spinach, Apples and Swede is:

Organic apples 55%
Organic spinach 34%
Organic swedes 11%

Of course fruit is fantastic for your little one, it is high in sugar, but it’s full of fibre, antioxidants and vitamins. Amazing to get them loving the taste of fruit at an early age, and nothing wrong with that! But if you give ready made foods to your baby all the time you may unknowingly be giving mostly fruit all day rather than veg unless you read the labels and choose ones with only veggies in, it’s pretty misleading.

Ready made baby food is pasteurised so it has a longer shelf life. Again, no problem with this now and again, but many nutrients are lost during this process, so if you can cook for your family most of the time there will be many more nutrients in fresh home cooked foods.

If you’ve got a question about Baby Weaning please email us on info@the-gentle-touch.com or ask to join our Baby Nutrition & Weaning Facebook group where Anna, our Registered Nutritional Therapist can answer more questions.

 

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Half price nutrition advice!

Are you interested in changing your diet and getting some tips on healthy eating? Need advice on what to eat? Changing your diet can help with conditions such as eczema, diabetes, weight loss, allergies, etc as well as promoting vitality and wellness.

I’m in my final year of a Nutrition diploma at the College of Naturopathic Medicine. We are trained to design individual nutrition plans including ideas for foods and supplements to support your particular health journey.

We’re looking for clients for two sessions with third year students for £40 (includes a 90 minute consultation and a follow up appointment). The sessions are on Sat / Sun near Aztec West in Bristol.

If you are interested please get in touch – info@the-gentle-touch.com
Anna :o)

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Healthy Breakfasts for your family

Breakfast is an important meal, don’t skip it. If you miss breakfast you’re more likely to overeat later in the day. Cereals are all very processed, even the ‘healthy ones’ and most are laden with added sugar. When you start the day with lots of sugar, a sugar peak will be followed by a sugar crash which can impact on your metabolism, mood and can cause weight gain. Remember a glass of fruit juice, and sweetened cereal can crash your blood sugar, leaving you tired shortly afterwards, reaching for more food to boost you back up.

Think ‘whole foods’ and challenge yourself to get some vegetables into breakfast if you can.

Here are some ideas for you to try.

  • Porridge is a really easy way to start the day. It’s cheap, filling and nutritious. Add some seeds on top for extra protein.
  • If you don’t fancy hot porridge, try some almond milk on top of a bowl of oats, cinnamon and sunflower seeds with a small handful of raisins on top. You can even make this the night before and leave in the fridge to save time.
  • Scrambled or poached egg on wholemeal toast. Add spinach, fried tomatoes or mushrooms.
  • Smoothie – try a mixture of vegetables and fruit, you can also add a handful of oats or natural yogurt. What about using almond, or soya milk and adding:

Banana, avocado, cocoa powder

Spinach, pear, berries (frozen ones are good)

Spinach, mint, cucumber and orange

 

Recipe – Banana pancakes

Let us know if you try this, our family loves it. Cinnamon helps to balance blood sugar levels, and turmeric is a great anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, eggs are a great source of protein, whilst bananas gives a natural sweetness.

No grain Banana Pancakes (makes 4 medium sized)             Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Veggie
Ingredients Method
·         5 free range eggs·         2 ripe bananas (green ones won’t work)·         1 tsp cinnamon

·         1 tsp turmeric

·         Coconut oil for frying

 

Optional

 

You can grind up flaxseeds in a coffee bean grinder and add two tablespoons of that, or if you have coconut flour you can also add one tablespoon.

 

1.       Mash up bananas with a fork

2.       Mix in spices, (flaxseeds or coconut flour if using) and then eggs one at a time.

3.       Heat small amount of coconut oil in frying pan until it melts (do not let it smoke, this is too hot).

4.       Ladle out spoonful of mixture into pan, not too big or it won’t flip over.

5.       Cook for a few minutes on medium heat until you can get a spatula underneath to turn pancake over.

6.       Fry for a few more minutes on other side, then serve.

 

Adding blueberries or raspberries into the mixture before cooking is a very tasty way to get your antioxidants in first thing in the morning!

Anna Mapson

Omelette with vegetables

Quick and healthy lunches

When you’re looking after a young family, especially a baby, your priorities are not often on what you eat. Understandably so, but it’s important to look after yourself during this period. As mums ourselves we know how hard it is to find time to create nutritious meals that sustain you without reaching for the biscuits! Parents at our baby massage class often say they don’t have time to eat lunch so we’ve put together some simple tips and ideas to help you out.

Firstly, it’s really important to eat lots of healthy protein, think about how you can get protein into every meal and snack. Add a handful of nuts to a mid-morning fruit snack. Try to avoid too much bread – it’s very easy to grab toast, but you will not be getting a good range of nutrients from toast alone! Oily fish is very good for you, see if you can add to your meals three times a week.

Omelette with vegetables

You can try to make more dinner and then have left overs for lunch the next day. Here are some other ideas for you to try – let us know how you get on and if you’ve got any ideas to add:

Lunches you can prepare mid-morning to grab later – can be eaten straight away or cold as a salad:

  • Roasted sweet potato wedges and a salad, tomatoes, peppers, a tin of sardines. You could try adding humus, green beans, eggs, some pumpkin seeds
  • Cook brown rice, near the end of cooking throw in some kale. Drain. Grate some carrot and any other salad items, add chick peas. Create a quick sauces by mixing tamari (or soy sauce) and tahini as a dressing
  • Roasted butternut squash with quinoa, tomatoes and a green salad.

Immediate lunches

  • Scrambled or poached egg with avocado on wholemeal toast. Add spinach, fried tomatoes or a green salad
  • Omelette with spinach, pepper, mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Oatcakes with hummus
  • Soups – try Covent Garden soups for lots of veggies
  • Miso soup – you can get sachets of soup to which you just need to add in some noodles and broccoli to make a meal.

Stay away from crisps, processed food, cakes high in sugar. It’s hard to think ahead and plan meals in advance, but if you can make a nutritious lunch packed with vegetables for yourself even 2 or 3 times a week it will help your energy levels and mood.

Look out for our easy, healthy snacks blog coming soon!

Anna Mapson

Image courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net