Salt and sugar are quite “provocative” products in the diet of even an adult. But what about the nutrition of children, especially the youngest ones – babies under a year old?
Everyone knows that taste preferences and eating habits are developed from early childhood. And the main task of parents during this period is to instill in the child a love for the natural taste of products, not to provoke the development of taste buds only in certain receptors, such as sweet and salty.
Sugar in baby’s diet under 12 months
The role of sugar in the human body is tremendous. After all, it is the most accessible source of energy. The body’s cells constantly need sugar, specifically glucose, because its molecules are the most efficient fuel – an energy source for all life processes. T
he body knows how to extract glucose from almost all foods – carbohydrate, fat, or protein. With the help of digestive enzymes, they are broken down into simple molecules (glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids).
In this form, they enter the blood and then are delivered to the cells. Glucose is actively consumed when the body performs physical and intellectual work. By the way, the brain to process information requires about a quarter of all energy produced by the body!
A baby of the first year of life gets all the necessary nutrients from breast milk, and sugar is not an exception. Lactose is the main carbohydrate in breast milk. It is also called milk sugar.
In addition, lactose is a source of galactose – a substance formed in the small intestine during the breakdown of lactose. Galactose promotes the development of the baby’s central nervous system and participates in the formation of normal intestinal microflora. At this point, in general, a sweet taste is familiar to the infant from the first days of life, and simple sugars are essential in a baby’s diet.
Why, then, is there such prejudice against sugar? Why do most nutritionists, pediatricians, endocrinologists, dentists, and even psychologists consider the main source of sweetness dangerous? In general, the reason is excessive or improper consumption of sugar:
- Central nervous system function can be impaired – the baby can become extremely excitable, irritable, or tearful;
- Excess sugar in fat depots can lead to overweight, obesity, and diabetes in the future;
- There may be a decrease in immunity because in a couple of hours after taking a sweet, the immune system weakens by half;
- Mineral metabolism may suffer – calcium, and the content of some B vitamins is reduced;
That’s why a balance is so important in everything. And when it comes to baby food, this becomes especially important. Therefore the best source of glucose for our children can be carbohydrates in their natural form in all the known fruits and vegetables.
Salt in baby’s diet under 12 months
Most pediatricians and nutritionists believe that babies under 12 months do not need salt as a food additive. Infants receive a sufficient amount of salt with breast milk, and the quality baby formula contains salt in the right amount. That is why it does not matter whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed – he or she does not need extra salt.
With the excessive intake of salt in the child’s body, there is a violation of the normal function of the kidneys and pancreas (which are especially sensitive at an early age), the nervous and endocrine systems, and the thermoregulatory system.
Symptoms of the excessive amount of salt in the baby’s diet are swelling of the face, eyelids in the morning, complaints of headaches, moodiness for no apparent reason, irritability, decreased urine output, and high blood pressure.
What sugars are in baby formula?
Despite the wide variety of baby formulas, they are all made according to the same principle: fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and additives such as prebiotics, probiotics, etc. As a result, the fundamental difference lies in the sources of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. The latter are represented mainly by different sugars.
Understanding the role of sugar in the body makes it easier for parents to form the right taste and eating habits for their baby!
The main part of the carbohydrates found in breast milk is lactose. It accounts for 40% of the calories in breast milk. Lactose is easier to digest for a baby’s immature digestive system. In addition, it does not provoke a strong increase of sugar levels in blood as its analogs.
In fact, it is table sugar commonly added to tea or coffee.
It is strictly forbidden to use formulas where the main carbohydrate is only sucrose. In the stomach, it divides into glucose and fructose. This means that fructose accounts for half of all carbohydrates, which in turn is contraindicated for infants.
3. Corn syrup
This ingredient in baby formula is much sweeter than glucose. So why is it used? First, it is a cheap raw material. Secondly, if the formula contains partially hydrolyzed proteins, corn syrup neutralizes the unpleasant smell and taste.
It partially replaces lactose (up to 25% of total carbohydrates). Maltodextrin is added to infant formula to give it a thicker consistency.
However, maltodextrin in the formula is often the cause of an allergic reaction and can affect the baby’s kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.
Choosing the right baby food
First, before choosing a formula or other baby food for your baby, rely on the recommendation of your pediatrician.
Look for products where the composition of the formula is clearly and precisely spelled out, indicating the amount of substances per 100 ml of formula. It makes more sense to choose a formula with higher lactose content only if your baby is not lactose intolerant.
Giving infant formula based on corn syrup, maltodextrin, or glucose syrup is also not recommended. Their extremely high glycemic index can lead to high blood sugar levels, which is bad for your baby.
The quality of the ingredients used in baby formula is of great importance when choosing baby food. Organic baby formulas can be the closest option to breast milk. They contain lactose as the only source of energy and, for the most part, do not contain rice syrup, glucose syrup, or maltodextrin, making them easily digestible.
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