Children: the importance of food in the first 1000 days – Italian Cuisine

Children: the importance of food in the first 1000 days


Adult health starts from conception – indeed, from before. And the food plays a key role. From good food standards when trying to have a child (did you know, for example, that? does eating fish help fertility?) to the rules for pregnancy, lactation and weaning. But above all, in general, we understand how and why the food of the first thousand days is so important. The initial imprint defines our relationship with food in the future and much more: it is a determining factor for physical, emotional and psycho-intellectual development individual. Interview with the Genoese doctor Stefano Gandus, mspecialist in pediatrics and homeopathy, expert in allergology and neonatology.

First of all, let's clarify: the 1000 days of life are intended from conception to the second year of age: 270 of the pregnancy + 356 of the first year +3 65 of the second year.

"Today's scientific literature has definitively confirmed the importance of the first days of life as a period of foundation formation for the health of the individual"- begins Gandus -"power pre-pregnancy, in pregnancy and the child up to two years is perhaps the most relevant factor among those that interact in modulating development. And it is the one on which a person has more leeway for its practical impact (while it is more difficult, for example, to manage the impact on our bodies of environmental molecules such as air pollutants, electromagnetic waves, or drugs and even emotions, as they produce even toxic neuromediators (positive impulses – serotonin – or exciting – adrenaline).

Quality and quantity, what are the basic principles?

Food principles are divided between macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and their salts.) These principles do not provide us calories: we need to replace this old concept with that of energy (which is formed in the mitochondria). What quantity should I take? It is identified by guidelines, but we must increasingly alongside the concept of quality.

What are the fundamental factors for the quality of the child's nutrition?

They are two: acquire good eating habits (from the parent), which must grow in harmony with a positive relationship between the child and the food and the child e the adult who takes care of his diet. In fact, a serene psychic situation favors the digestive and assimilative processes If not, the absorption of the nourishers is disturbed. Forcing is never good, as well as the non-respect of taste. Forcing the child to eat more or less or different from what he wants is wrong: you have to offer food in the right quantities and leave a margin of choice to the child, which has a sort of internal regulatory mechanism. Growth tables they make sense to follow growth, but they must not be taken in a constrictive sense, like a roadmap to follow.

What are the tips to get to conception?

First of all, they relate to the lifestyle and nutrition of both parents and will also apply to the mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding. For the woman the amount of food should be slightly higher in quantity than what it has always eaten (moderately hyperenergetic), because it will have to form new body inside his. IS don't vary the diet, on the contrary: that it respects its tastes and habits, with prudence and common sense for the food at risk.

What are the foods at risk?

Since pre-conception, must be abolished i chemical sweeteners (toxic) and lo white sugar (sucrose). Eliminate as much as possible also i pre-cooked foods, preserved for a long time (like cans of tuna or meat rather than ready-made sauces) and refined (including salt and sugar, which should be consumed whole). During pregnancy and breastfeeding alcohol must then be reduced (half a glass of wine a day is already the maximum limit and it is better to be red) and in particular during pregnancy game, sausages and offal (hepato-renal overload); the crustaceans and molluscs (risk of gastroenteritis, allergies, hepatitis – a unless they are super-cooked) and to a great extent le Solanaceae (solanine, present in potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, etc, it is a little toxic to the central nervous system).

Let's get to breastfeeding: what are the right rules?

The breast milk and the the perfect food for the newborn: try to keep it at least six months, for the following reasons: The macro and micro nutrients of breast milk are growth factors and invaluable immune stimuli; it is not a contaminated food; has the right temperature and generates a unique, unrepeatable relationship in life between mother and child.

And who can't give their own milk?

In the absence of breast milk, formulated milk represents a valid alternative. I'm products derived from a modification of cow's milk and are made with updated nutritional criteria and therefore they are balanced.

Advice for feeding the mother during breastfeeding?

They are the same as in pregnancy but less rigid, especially on crustaceans, molluscs, game. THEsupply must be varied, because it enriches the milk with tastes that the child learns to recognize and therefore it is educated to the taste of substances that it will find again at weaning. Scientific research today is showing us that foods promote the expression of genetic potential during the development of the first stages of life then the arrival to the cell of healthy micro and macro nutrients opens its chromosomes like a fan to express itself in the best way.

Here we enter the domain of epigenetics …

Yup: information brought by food, that promotes potential gene expression, it starts from conception and is maximum in the first months of embryonic life, but remains within the first 1000 days. Promote genetic expression it means that if your cells and genes are informed by healthy and diversified substances, they will succeed in turn to express a potential for growth up to to arrive at a development that is not only physical but also broader and more harmonious psycho-intellectual. This epigenetic concept is called "metabolic programming".

Let's talk about weaning: when and how is it good that it happens?

Between the fifth and sixth month the digestive and absorption systems are mature and there is the gradual introduction of food solid, which the baby will tolerate so much better, the more his intestinal mucosa has been prepared by breastfeeding. The window between 5 and 7 months it's the one where it's easier tolerating food and not creating allergies; delaying weaning more is not advisable. Need always respect the self-regulation of the child, because the one who does not eat today will eat it tomorrow. Waste which he will eventually show discovering new foods are not dangerous, they don't have to worry mothers and the dads: the important thing is a varied diet and a lot of patience.

Per regarding the vegetarian diet, if well conducted, eviscurrently with the guidance of medical experts or nutritionists, recent surveys say that it does not create problems for the correct development of the child.

And from weaning to the age of two, which is the end of the famous "1000 days"?

There are some rules that are best respected: never cow's milk before the year; fresh fruit and oilseeds after 9 months; no sugar and salt up to two years. But the main rule from weaning on it is this: what makes the text is the example of the parents, the child lives on on their model, so they are the parents in the first place who must take care of eating healthily.

Carola Traverso Saibante
June 2019

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