Our Kids

It's time to ask what, as a society, are we doingwrong? And, even more importantly, what can we do toget it right for them now so they can live a full lifeof optimum health, vitality and happiness?

This month we begin an important new column thatfocuses attention on our kids' needs because we believenothing is more important. Our inaugural columnist isnutritionist Cyndi O'Meara, author of Changing Habits,Changing Lives.

Starting Right

I went to school in the '60s and '70s, an all girls'school with 600 students. For tuck shop we had meatpies, vanilla slices and chocolate eclairs, and on theway home from school we'd stop at the local fish andchip shop to order 20 cents worth of chips and smotherthem in salt and vinegar. There was one fat girl inthe whole school. I remember her name and her face becauseshe was an oddity. I don't remember anyone with diabetes,one girl in the school got a brain tumour and therewas no one who had a peanut or nut allergy. Not oneof my friends had a sibling or cousin, for that matter,with Autism, Aspergers or ADD. Everyone drank 250mlof milk every day at morning tea and there wasn't awheat or dairy allergy to hear about. My mum was thebest cook in town - I had three good meals a day withsnacks and always dessert. My lunch, when I didn't havetuck shop, was a sandwich, homemade cake or biscuitand piece of fruit. I got through my childhood and teenageyears without an antibiotic, painkiller or Bonjello,despite getting all my teeth and breaking four bones.

Wow! Did that really happen? Just 30 years ago lifeseemed very different to what it is now. What happened?

In the last 20 years, diabetes has increased 300 percent,and Type 1 diabetes is on the increase amongstchildren and teenagers. Brain tumours are the leadingform of cancer among children in Australia. Heart diseasenot only affects the elderly, but also the young. Autism,Aspergers, ADD and ADHD are destroying the basic familyunit. Asthma and allergies restrict young lives.

Science has looked down the barrel of a microscopeand looked at the human body and how it works in a verymechanistic, compartmentalised way. Scientific expertshave proclaimed over the years that salt causes hypertension,sugar causes diabetes, butter causes heart disease,eggs cause high cholesterol, raw milk is dangerous andshould be banned, infant formulas are better then breastmilk, fruit and vegetables don't help prevent cancer,and the list goes on. Anything that was natural theysaw as a danger to human health. In their naivety -or was it their arrogance - science and technology believedthey could make things better, so they made margarine,egg substitute, artificial sweeteners, modified milksand many more "plastic fantastic" foods. For25 to 30 years, people have been bombarded with propaganda,persuasive advertising and untruths, and have takenthese foods into their homes and mouths without question.As Mark Twain said: "What gets us into troubleis not what we don't know. It's what we know for surethat just ain't so." Evidence is now mounting aboutthe dangers of these "technology foods" andparents need to take heed.

At present many people are starved for knowledge amida glut of information. Who do you believe? I believemany people who do things without too much thought sometimesfeel uncomfortable and unsure of what they are doing,but science, government and technology says that thisis best for the children, and everyone else is doingit, so it must be right! So despite it not feeling right,we continue to feed technology foods, vaccinate heavily,medicate without evidence and compromise because it'seasier to go with the flow than to buck the system.

Our children in this decade are compromised from theday they are conceived. They're never fully able toreach their true potential for bountiful health as theyare bombarded with more chemicals then ever before.But this doesn't need to be the case. Education aboutthe food we eat, the vaccinations we give our children,the medications we dish out to them and the productswe put on their skin, as well as the cleaning productswe use in the home, can change the status of their health,for the rest of their lives.

Knowledge and then action are the vital keys. Startingright is paramount. If a newborn is given the rightstart in life, then the rest of their life can be withoutcomplication, without sickness, mental illness and obesity.The key is to start right and continue to do the rightthing.

A blinding fact is that despite all the science andtechnology, our children are not healthy. Disease isrampant amongst our babies, toddlers, children and adolescents.What seems so obvious to me is that if you don't wantyour children to be like the rest of society's childrenand you'd rather they be like the children of the '60sand '70s, then don't do what the general populationis doing today. Do something different!

I believe more and more people are realising that breastfeeding is best, but what about what you feed your babyonce they want to eat? The process can be differentdepending on whom you are listening to or what you arereading. In my opinion, the most important thing isto feed your baby, child or teenager foods that natureprovides. Back in the '60s and '70s, the food I ateincluding what I bought at the tuck shop was made withreal food. My vanilla slice had real milk, sugar, eggs,butter and flour. These days a vanilla slice could bemade with hydrogenated vegetable oil, egg substitute,milk solids, mineral salts, colours, bakers flour, highfructose syrup and preservative, to name but a few ingredients.The food still looks the same - a vanilla slice stilllooks like a vanilla slice - but the fundamental ingredientsare nothing alike.

There has been scare mongering in the scientific andfood industries about food. Butter, sugar, salt, rawmilk, breast milk, eggs and red meat were looked atmechanistically by focusing only on the components.For instance, eggs had cholesterol, so the conclusionwas that they caused high cholesterol. Never has therebeen such an untruth about a food. All foods that weredeemed bad were looked at mechanistically through theircomponent parts, so if there was saturated fat presentin a food then it was deemed bad for the arteries andheart. The food was not looked at holistically whichsimply means as a whole. The many components that makeup the food work synchronistically in the body to createenergy and health, but this was overlooked.

Health is a step-by-step process, beginning with educationand an intuition about what is the truth about the foodsand health directives we should provide for our children.Be aware of everything you put into your babies' andchildren's bodies - food, vaccinations, medications- and also what you put onto your babies' and children'sbodies.