(NaturalNews) If we were not confused enough already, out comes a new recommendation that runs against nutritional wisdom. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently changed its recommendation for children under 2 years old from whole milk to 2% milk. The measure is to counteract the growing obesity problem among children. These new recommendations appear in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics.
It is bad enough that adults donít get the fats they need. They have been told for decades that fat is not good for their hearts and leads to weight gain. Now the low-fat debacle is being extended to the population that needs fat the most. Yet, just look where the low-fat craze got us. We are a nation of fatties.
Obesity happens for a number of reasons, nearly all of which boil down to poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Unfortunately, the epidemic increase in obesity these last 30-40 years correlates not with increased fat intake but rather with a massive increase in refined carbohydrate consumption. No other nutrient (or lack thereof) has contributed more to obesity. New research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that either a low-carb or a Mediterranean-style diet may be "effective alternatives" to a low-fat diet, with more favorable effects on cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar control. Granted, the low-carb diet used in the study emphasized more fats from vegetable sources than is usually considered in the classic Atkins diet.
Again, the emphasis should not be on the amount of fats eaten, but on the kinds of fats. Science has helped to discriminate between bad fat and good fat. We now know that: 1) nearly all trans fats are bad; 2) there is an imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids in the modern diet; 3) omega-3 fatty acids are healing in so many ways; 4) monounsaturated fats like those in olive oil are healthy; and 5) saturated fat is OK in moderation.
Nevertheless, infants need a certain amount of saturated fat, along with the essential fatty acids. Breast milk contains all these and other important fats, especially if the mother is on a healthy diet balanced with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Pregnant and nursing mothers who eat oily fish or take good quality fish oil supplements have smarter, happier and better coordinated babies with superior vision. If breast milk is not available, it is essential to provide these quality fats in the baby's diet. Consider that, within the first few months of life, a baby's brain doubles in size. The brain is composed largely of fats, so getting dietary fat in this critical period is a no-brainer.
One other key distinction between bad and good fats is the level of toxins present. Toxins are stored in fat because most toxins are also fatty, and tend to accumulate in the fatty tissue of fish and animals. This is particularly true for factory-farmed animals, which have been exposed to all kinds of toxins. In fact, food from animal sources can be hundreds of times more toxic than those from vegetables and fruits. So, eating fat also means eating an assortment of toxins, unless those animals were raised under nontoxic conditions. In other words, to avoid most toxins, be sure to eat organic meat and dairy products and wild fish.
Itís all about fat quality. Animals on industrial farms reek of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic hormones, antibiotics, heavy metals and arachidonic acid, a pro-inflammatory fat. These toxins and imbalances end up in fat. So, people not buying organic should heed the medical establishment and keep themselves and especially their kids away from animal fat, such as in full-fat milk. In contrast, fat from organic dairy or meat has none of these toxic substances, is much less inflammatory, and provides much more nutrition per gram of fat. Fatty nutrients such as conjugated linolenic acid (CLA), vitamin E, natural beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids, are significantly higher in organic than conventional fat. All together, full fat organic animal food is far less toxic, less inflammatory and more nutritious. Itís the quality of fat that makes the grade.
Since dietary fats are especially important for early brain development, whole milk is preferred for weaned babies up to age 2 years. Brain and visual development depends upon obtaining omega-3 fatty acids from animal and vegetable sources. Cows get omega-3 fats from grazing on grass and other plants. That is why organic or grass-fed cowís milk is naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids, and especially nutritious for children. Plus, the natural vitamin E and beta-carotene in organic milk help protect these good fats from rancidity. And, the natural CLA improves metabolism and protects against weight gain. Omega-3 fats also help with weight management. And, it all comes in one convenient package in organic milk.
Many people are on a tight budget and do not feel like they can afford to buy organic products, which are usually at a premium. However, when you consider all that is gained, and all that is avoided, people cannot afford not to buy organic. This is especially true for animal products fed to children, who are most vulnerable, and who have critical requirements for these nutrients. So, to end all the confusion, just feed your kids full-fat organic milk.
About the author
Dr. Phil Domenico is a nutritional scientist and educator with a research background in biochemistry and microbiology. Formerly an infectious disease scientist, he now works as a consultant for supplement companies and the food industry.