The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that babies are exclusively breast fed for 6 months, with supplemental breast milk being given for two years - whether you achieve this or not, there comes a point when you want to introduce cows milk. Accepted advice is that cow's milk shouldn't be introduced into your baby's diet until they reach 1 year, and because it lacks manyof the nutrients found in formula milk (particularly iron) that you must balance a healthy diet with solid foods to supplement vitamins and minerals.
Cow's milk has long been a staple of Western diet although in recent times it has stirred up some controversy. Look online and you'll find plenty of debate surrounding milk as to whether it is an important part of our diet or not. There has been increased instance of dairy intolerance in our populations, factory farming has undoubtedly reduced the quality of milk over the last 50 years, and there is lots of research suggesting that milk is actually bad for us. If that is what science tells us as adults, is it wise for children to be given cows milk at all?
Common sense would suggest that milk cannot be overly harmful or dangerous, and that if it forms a part of a balanced diet, then it is difficult to dispute that the nutrients in milk can offer anything but good. If you prefer not to introduce your children to cow's milk then there are alternatives. If you think your baby may be lactose intolerant then you can try goat or buffalo milk as popular alternatives. Goat's milk does contain lactose but seems to be fine for people who suffer intolerance, nutritionally it is very similar to cows milk. Buffalo milk is even more nutritious.
If you wish to give your baby a vegetarian diet then you can use soya or rice milk which are widely consumed as healthy alternatives to cow's milk. They contain less fat and fewer calories and research suggests that they may assist in preventing cancers.
We all want our children to grow strong and healthy, so it's only natural that when a food is hailed as a superfood, we try to add it into our diet. However, the term 'superfood' is not a scientific one, and many health benefits touted by marketing agencies are unsubstantiated. In 2007, the EU passed legislation banning the term 'superfood' unless claims were backed up withj scientific evidence proving their value. Food manufacturers and supermarkets had until this year to phase out such claims unless scientifically proven.
Before the ban came into effect, over 100 foods had been awarded 'superfood' status by marketers. The list of superfoods included soy, spinach, broccoli, beetroot, blueberries, fish and green tea. Oprah Winfrey brought international attention to the acia berry which she featured on her show, inadvertently creating a scam market of bogus acai supplement suppliers employing unwholesome marketing techniques.
The major beneficiaries of so called superfoods are food producers and supermarkets. Between 1995 and 1997, sales of blueberries in the UK rose by 132%, spinach sales grew 40% and salmon sales increased over 30%.
It's not that superfoods aren't good for you - they generally contain higher concentrations of chemical deemed to be healthy, such as vitamin C, flavonoids, or Omega-3 fatty acids. However, these foods should be used as part of a balanced diet and often may be little more beneficial than many other foods. Also noteable is the fact that many superfoods are exotic and therefore have a far higher carbon footprint than locally produced foods.
With the implementation of the EU ban on the term 'superfood' reaching completion, we're far less likely to hear these claims being touted, but if we do, we know now that they will have been scrutinised properly and that the claims really are super!
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