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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

'Healthy Food, Healthy Gut, Happy Child' by Maya Shetreat-Klein: REVIEW

TwinnieWorld is lucky to have a guest blogger: Gabriella Dessanti, who will review books for this site, as well as sister site Josie's Juice.

Here, Gabriella reviews the new book 'Healthy Food, Healthy Gut, Happy Child' by Maya Shetreat-Klein.

Says Gabriella:

This is “the children’s food bible” for any conscientious parent.

This book is a practical step by step guide to heal and nourish a child’s body. A handy take home list at the end of each chapter summarises and reinforces key points.

The author draws on her experience as an integrative paediatric neurologist and various scientific studies to prove that true health begins from our gut. True health she asserts requires diverse and abundant microbes in living elements- sunshine, fresh food, even in soil. Microbial balance and biodiversity and is the key to robust health.  A well- nourished child allowed to interact with diverse exposures becomes naturally resilient.  What is encouraging as a parent that our children’s health is not static but fluid; it can be transformed by changing what they eat and their interaction with nature. Even chronic illness may not be cured but the quality of life can be improved.

The first step for true health is detoxification. She provides a checklist to take an inventory of your child’s health, to look holistically at all symptoms and also gives a guide to recognise toxicity symptoms. To detoxify we need to identify if a child has a full basin as this overflows with toxins and disrupts our cellular health.  Cellular health is critical, if cells are functioning suboptomally this has been implicated in autism, epilepsy, ADHD, allergies, asthma and other chronic conditions. The list of usual suspects we now commonly see in children.

Second step is to heal from choosing food wisely. She discusses food sensitivities and how “healthy” food can hurt us, providing a handy list of typical symptoms for each food sensitivity.  She then provides an elimination diet “how to”. Beyond allergies and sensitivities there are also other foods to avoid including secret sugars in food. She helps us as consumers navigating the misleading and deceptive labeling used by food producers.

The third step is to nourish kids. Part 111 of the book dissects each food group, milk, meat, nuts etc and provides details of how farming and manufacturing process have changed these food groups, what effects these modified foods can have on our bodies and gives us the criteria to look for when purchasing each food.

The fourth step is pulling it all together. We are provided with guidance to put together a shopping list, how to successfully introduce change to the family diet and what to expect.   A sample meal planner is provided together with some useful recipes. She brings together the importance of nature from the outside in- how to effectively grow food in dirt, spend time in dirt, even eat dirt…mud pies, here we come!

I was impressed by the holistic approach of focusing not only on what kids eat and how well they dispose of toxins from their body but also more broadly nurturing their experiences with the natural world. It is a positive and practical guide which helps you slowly take on the daunting task of navigating our complex food environment and changing our diet. I was inspired by the recipes and some clever ideas of to make food exciting for kids.  It also more generally inspires readers to act responsibility for our kid’s sake, stand up to government and industries by voting with our dollar.

The main disappointment is that it is American based; she mentions the ineffectiveness of the American food authorities in protecting the health of our children however no comment in made on the Australian food authority as a comparison. Also some suggestions for sourcing food only have relevance for Americans.
'Healthy Food, Healthy Gut, Happy Child' by Maya Shetreat-Klein is out now, through Pan Macmillan.

Editor's note: more about the author, from the Pan Macmillan site:

Dr Maya Shetreat-Klein, MD, is an integrative paediatric neurologist with a medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Board-certified in adult and child neurology as well as paediatrics, she completed the University of Arizona's two-year Fellowship in Integrative Medicine, founded by Dr Andrew Weil, and now serves as faculty. She lectures internationally to medical professionals and laypeople on environmental health and toxins, and healing with food and nature. Dr Shetreat-Klein lives with her family in New York City, where she runs Brainmending, her healing practice and urban farm.


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