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 Modern Baby Books: full of bad advice

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Date d'inscription : 01/06/2005

MessageSujet: Modern Baby Books: full of bad advice   Mer 26 Avr - 18:54

Modern Baby Books:
Full of Bad Advice

By Lisa Bianco-Davis

Walk down the “Baby & Childbirth” section of any bookstore or library and you will be faced with a bewildering array of books aimed at the pregnant woman. These books are written by doctors, obstetricians, midwives, mothers. . . and others. Unfortunately none of the authors appears to have read the work of Weston A. Price.

My husband and I are expecting our first child later this year. Being a first-time mom who is familiar with the work of Dr. Price, I was naturally curious to see what the pregnancy books had to say on the matter of nutrition. So I went to our local library and checked out an armload of books. I was surprised, not by the variety of the advice between the different books, but by the consistency of the message. Many of the pregnancy books included the USDA food pyramid, and parroted government recommendations. And while some of their advice is useful, much of it is misleading or just plain wrong.

When Weston Price studied healthy traditional societies, he found that they placed a strong emphasis on the nutrition of couples prior to pregnancy and of women during pregnancy and lactation. The foods these societies considered absolutely essential for producing healthy children were seafood (fish and shellfish, fish organs, fish liver oils and fish eggs), organ meats, insects, animal fats, egg yolks, whole milk, cheese and butter from cows eating green grass. When studied in the laboratory, Price found these foods to be high in minerals and vitamins, particularly the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D and Activator X. He determined that these traditional diets provided ten times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins compared to the American diet of the 1930s.

Let’s look at the modern pregnancy books’ recommendations regarding these foods that were considered essential to traditional societies.
SEAFOOD

The modern books generally recommended some seafood, and rightly state that fish is a good source of the important Omega-3 fatty acids. However, they suggest limiting the amount of fish due to fears about mercury contamination. (One of the books specifically recommended farm-raised fish containing chemical colorants and fed on artificial diets, in order to protect children from mercury contamination of wild fish!?) None of the books mentions the nutrient-dense seafood—shellfish, fish organs, or fish eggs. Although some authors mention cod liver oil, none of the books I reviewed recommended it. One book strongly cautioned against fish oils due to worries about “excessive” levels of vitamins A and D. “Fish oils (e.g., cod liver oil) and liver are not recommended as safe sources of vitamin D for pre-pregnancy or pregnancy.”8
ORGAN MEATS

A few of the modern pregnancy books mentioned the fact that organ meats are rich sources of iron and vitamin A. However, none recommended them. In fact, most contained misleading or outright false statements about vitamin A. “Vitamin A is found in orange and leafy green vegetables, liver and other organ meats; butter and whole and fortified milk.”3 The truth is, fully formed vitamin A is not found in orange and leafy green vegetables, it is only found in animal sources. Some books warn against consuming “too much” vitamin A, claiming that more than 10,000 IU per day increases the risk of birth defects. A couple of the books do make the important distinction between natural vitamin A in foods and synthetic vitamin A from supplements. Synthetic vitamin A—in multi-vitamin pills and processed food like margarine—has been linked to birth defects and is best avoided by everyone. A couple of books said that you couldn’t overdose on food sources of vitamin A, but one book in particular cautioned several times against consuming liver or other organ meats. “Liver, which can be extraordinarily high in fully formed vitamin A, is one of the best sources of iron and sometimes is recommended for women with iron-deficiency anemia. It’s also a nutritious, inexpensive source of folic acid and other nutrients. However, due to its excessive vitamin A content, we recommend that liver not be consumed in any appreciable quantity beginning in the month before pregnancy.”8

Weston Price emphasized the fact that neither protein, minerals nor water-soluble vitamins can be utilized by the body without vitamin A and that only animal sources can provide adequate amounts of this vital nutrient. But instead of encouraging pregnant women to consume natural sources of true vitamin A such as liver and other organ meats, cod liver oil and eggs, butter and cream from pasture-raised cows, the modern books tell expectant mothers to meet their vitamin A needs from beta-carotene, claiming that beta-carotene will be converted into vitamin A “as needed.” These authors do not seem to understand the fact that the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A is dependent on many factors, including sufficient fat in the diet, and that the production of vitamin A from plant pre-cursors is difficult for a large portion of the population, including those with digestive and thyroid problems.
ANIMAL FATS

When comparing the advice of the modern pregnancy books with the wisdom of traditional societies, the differences are nowhere more apparent than on the subject of fats. The various books contained copious warnings to avoid fat in general and saturated fat in particular. Some examples of the modern advice are:

* “Your body’s need for fat is minimal, reduce your intake by trimming fat off meat, using less butter, drinking low-fat milk, boiling or steaming foods…”1
* “Limit total fat intake to 25 to 30 percent of total calories by cutting back on saturated fats in fatty meats and dairy products…”2
* “You can’t eat butter because its high saturated fat content increases the risk for heart disease…”2
* “Choose lean meats and trim fat from meat before cooking. With poultry, remove skin.”4
* “Saturated fats are the least healthy (fat) and are best used in small amounts. Go easy on butter, fat found in meats, coconut, coconut oils, and palm oil.”5
* “Babies don’t need any oil…”7

These views are typical of modern fat-phobia, but supported neither by the evidence of healthy traditional societies nor by the discoveries of modern science.

Readers of Wise Traditions know that saturated fat is not to blame for heart disease, cancer or the myriad other ills that are frequently attributed to it. In fact, saturated fats play many important roles in the body chemistry. Many of the healthy peoples Weston Price studied went out of their way to obtain saturated fat, such as hunting specific animals during the season that would maximize that animal’s fat content; and these cultures preferred the fattiest portions of the animals, often throwing the lean muscle meats away.
EGG YOLKS

The modern pregnancy books misunderstand the nutrient value of eggs. Most of the books do recommend eggs but advise no more than 2 per day, and a few books say to have eggs no more than 2 or 3 times per week, or consume whites only. Most of the books recommend eggs for their protein content, and many of the books encourage consuming egg whites without the yolks to avoid their naturally occurring fat content. The books also contain mistaken information about cholesterol, claiming that diets high in cholesterol cause heart disease, and consequently recommend egg whites only (throwing away the nutrient-dense yolks). One author even recommends egg substitutes (which caused rapid death in test animals). “Egg yolks contain a significant amount of fat and cholesterol. The refrigerated egg substitutes available at your grocery store offer a cholesterol-free and lower-fat option.”4

In the recipe section of one book every recipe calling for eggs uses egg whites only. The recipe for “Creamed Eggs” uses egg whites, olive oil, skim milk, white flour, salt, pepper, sugar and whole-wheat English muffins. The author notes that it was her husband’s grandmother’s favorite egg dish, “of course she used cream and put the egg yolk on top.”6 I say, we need to return to the traditional recipes and include the cream and egg yolks! While it is true that eggs do contain fat and cholesterol, these are valuable natural substances, especially needed in the diets of growing children.

Egg whites are a great protein source, but the yolks are even more valuable as a food for the growing baby, supplying vitamins A, D and E along with nutrients that are critical for brain development, namely EPA, DHA and choline.

Many of the books also caution against consuming raw or lightly cooked eggs out of fear of salmonella or listeria. In fact, it is fine to consume the yolks raw (as in smoothies or salad dressings). The whites, however, should usually be cooked to neutralize enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion.
WHOLE MILK, CHEESE AND BUTTER

Nearly every modern pregnancy book I looked at recommended consuming milk and dairy products to ensure an adequate calcium supply. However, not one of the authors points out the fact that calcium from typical store-bought pasteurized milk is poorly absorbed. Nor do they mention the fact that too little phosphorus also inhibits calcium absorption, but the complete destruction of the enzyme phosphotase (needed to assimilate phosphorus) is the standard test for the pasteurization of milk. But instead of recommending raw milk—Nature’s perfect food—they all warn against it! “Drink and eat only pasteurized milk products, and avoid all soft cheeses such as brie, Camembert, Roquefort, feta, and Mexican varieties. These cheeses, as well as unpasteurized milk and raw foods made from it, can give you a form of food poisoning called listeriosis.”3
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