This post is part of an Eczema Kids’ Nutrition Series where MarcieMom looks at various food types and their impact on eczema children, with topics ranging from early introduction to elimination. Often, advice on kids’ nutrition, especially on eczema, varies and MarcieMom invites Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian to help give her thoughts on this series written by MarcieMom.
More on Toby Amidor – Toby is the founder of Toby Amidor Nutrition where she provides food and nutrition consulting services. She is the Nutrition Expert for FoodNetwork.com and Nutrition Advisor for Sear’s FitStudio.com. She is an adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Inflammation is a protective response of our body to remove injured cells or irritants and helps heal our body. The problem, however, is chronic inflammation where there is an excess of pro-inflammatory immune cells in our body and damages healthy parts of our body. Chronic inflammation is associated with, amongst others, arthritis, diabetes, eczema, high blood pressure, inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.
Which are the inflammatory food?
Food that increases the production of inflammatory substances include:
- Sugar – Sugar is the most common inflammatory food, and comes in soft drinks, pastries, candies, bread and is also listed as corn syrup, frutose, sucrose and maltose. Sugar increases insulin level and increases pro-inflammatory hormones eicosanoids.
- Vegetable oils – Oils from safflower, soy, sunflower, corn, peanut are polyunsaturated fats that are high in omega 6, linoleicacid. The body convert these to arachidonic acid, which is pro-inflammatory.
- Trans Fat – Trans fat is present in fried food, fast food, commercially baked food and also listed as hydrogenated oil and vegetable shortening. Trans fat increases free radicals that damage health cells and trigger inflammation.
- Dairy products and feed-lot raised meat that comes from animals fed with soy and corn (that is mentioned above to promote inflammation) or injected with hormones and antibiotics is also an inflammatory food.
A worth mentioning research related to infant is that milk formula has been studied to contain Advanced Glycation End Products which can increase the risk of diabetes in young children. This can be transferred by mom to foetus and also in milk formula.
MarcieMom: Can you share with us how can parents manage the amount of sugar in our kids’ diet? Do we have to monitor the glycemic index?
Toby: Absolutely not! There is no need to monitor the glycemic index of food unless it is for a diabetic.
Parents can manage the amount of sugar in their kids’ diet by being conscious of the foods they buy. Sugary beverages like soda and juice drinks are typically the number 1 source of sugar. In addition, the guidelines for 100% juice is 4-fluid ounces per day for a younger child— which makes it tough to follow if you buy the individual juice boxes which usually 6.75-ounces. Get your kids used to good old water—there is nothing more refreshing!
MarcieMom: I’ve read that zero trans fat could still contain trans fat if less than 0.5g. Is that right? Should parents go by food label or should the ingredient list be scrutinized?
Toby: Yes, that is correct. According to the food labelling guidelines, anything that has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat can be labelled as ‘trans fat free’. That is why it is important to read the ingredient list carefully—look for words like partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated to indicate if trans fat is in the product.
MarcieMom: I’ve also read that fruits like apples, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, grapes are also inflammatory. Is that right?
Toby: Fruits contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients, plant chemicals that help prevent disease and promote health. They provide so many beneficial nutrients that I never suggest avoiding them (unless a child was allergic).