Foods To Prevent Inflammation In Your Baby
Written by Vanessa McNamara, The Travelling Dietitian.
Inflammation has become a widely used term in recent times, with various foods promoted to fight inflammation and others touted to cause it. It is too early to become so black and white with our guidance on what makes up an anti-inflammatory diet, however, as much of the animal research to date cannot necessarily be transferred to humans.
We do know that a healthy lifestyle, a balanced, varied diet and intake of the right types of fats can play a key role in reducing chronic inflammation throughout our bodies. Why not start promoting these beneficial foods from a young age to keep your babies as healthy as possible.
What is inflammation?
Acute inflammation, such as redness and swelling, is widely understood, but chronic inflammation inside the body is an area of research in recent years that has helped us to realise inflammation’s role as a risk factor for various diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
There are some dietary habits we can focus on to help to reduce our babies’ risk of chronic inflammation later in life. Here are some suggestions:
1. Focus on fruit and vegetables.
A diet high in fruit and vegetables is probably one of the best defenses against chronic inflammation. The World Health Organization reports that an inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables in adults is one of the leading causes of chronic disease and overall death and mortality worldwide. Due to their high vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and dietary fibre content, coupled with high bioavailability to our bodies, fruit and vegetables offer more protective benefit than any other foods.
Tip: Start early and expose your baby to as many different fruits and vegetables as possible from the beginning of their solids journey. Continue to provide them, even when they are refused, but be sure to make food fun and keep mealtimes relaxed rather than adding pressure to eat them.
Taleii baby blends have a great variety of vegetables and fruit for your child to try.
2. Include plant-based sources of protein and lean sources of animal protein.
Including adequate protein in our diet has been shown to reduce inflammation in our bodies. Emerging research suggests that a higher protein intake, particularly from plant-based foods, is associated with lower risk of age-related inflammation.
Tip: Introduce your baby to the wonder of plant-based proteins such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, tofu and tempeh as early as possible. They help to make a meal more filling and provide a source of iron without always needing to rely on animal foods.
Mixing Taleii baby blends with your little one’s favourite plant-based protein is another way to provide a balanced diet.
3. Include plenty of healthy fats.
A high intake of saturated fats from animal sources can increase inflammation around the body, particularly in our fatty tissue. It is therefore recommended that we consume more beneficial fats like monounsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats, particularly the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
Tip: Offer oily fish such as salmon or sardines once or twice a week. Add ground nuts and seeds to your baby’s meals on a daily basis and use olive oil or avocado oil instead of butter in cooking.
Taleii’s blends keeps this in mind, using ingredients such as flaxseeds and olive oil in their recipes.
4. Offer whole grain carbohydrates.
Consuming whole grain foods such as oats, barley, and brown rice may help decrease inflammation associated with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease that can occur later in life.
Tip: Provide a variety of whole grain foods for your baby to enjoy. Serve oats with yoghurt and fruit, offer a variety of grains, including whole grains like barley, quinoa, millet, whole grain bread and brown rice and rotate them to keep meals interesting. Why not even try some ancient grains such as teff, freekeh and sorghum.
Taleii’s pear oats vanilla mixed with extra fruit or yoghurt is a tasty way to offer oats to your little one. The same can be said for Taleii’s broccoli quinoa blend.
5. Experiment with fresh herbs and spices.
The ancient Greeks used herbs and spices for their healing properties long before modern medicine acknowledged their worth. The phytochemicals found in herbs and spices play a key role in reducing inflammation in the body. Some spices, such as turmeric, containing the molecule curcumin, have many studies to support their anti-inflammatory properties whereas others still require further research, despite being used for thousands of years.
Tip: Introduce flavour in the form of herbs and spices early on in your baby’s feeding journey. Add turmeric to rice dishes and lentils, cinnamon to yoghurt, chop fresh coriander, basil or mint into vegetable dishes, bake mini muffins with nutmeg or allspice. The options are endless so use your imagination and help your baby explore the world of flavours.
Taleii’s blends use an array of spices and herbs such as turmeric, mint, long pepper, vanilla and black pepper.