Optimizing Health in Children with Whole Food, Plant-based Nutrition
In this session, we will discuss the importance and impact of childhood nutrition in terms of both adult-onset and pediatric diseases, highlighting cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes as well as asthma and constipation. We’ll discuss how childhood nutrition establishes taste preferences and eating habits that can last a lifetime. We’ll review the nutritional needs during childhood including differences in macronutrients compared to adults. I’ll give an example day for a plant-based toddler and show how these needs can be met with whole plant foods. We’ll spend a fair amount of time discussing the importance of breast milk and how it perfectly dovetails with the nutritional needs of a growing toddler. And contrast that to cow’s milk and how it is not formulated to meet the needs of human infants and toddlers. We’ll review the differences between human and cow’s milk and how those differences, namely a very high BCAA protein content, result in accelerated growth for kids, which is not health promoting. We’ll compare the plant-based milks and go over my recommendations for the best plant-based milk for young children and why. Finally, we’ll cover all the most common questions that parents and providers have in terms of a plant-based diet for kids starting with how a plant-based diet affects children’s growth and how growth patterns, including timing of puberty, differ between plant-based kids and omnivorous kids. We’ll discuss the health effects of soy intake on both adults and kids and why soy can and should be part of a healthy diet. We’ll review the calcium RDA’s and how to optimize bone health for kids, especially plant-based kids who may have lower intakes of calcium. We’ll cover how iron needs can easily be met with plant foods and the advantages that plant-based kids have in terms of iron homeostasis. And finally, we’ll go over which supplements are recommended for plant-based kids and dosing guidelines.
- Define the nutritional requirements in childhood, how they differ from adults and how they can be met on a plant-based diet
- Describe the role of cow’s milk in childhood nutrition guidelines, its potential detrimental effects on human health and appropriate alternatives
- List which micronutrients need to be supplemented for children on a plant-based diet