Welcome to our series on a 'Nutrient Dense Diet for Optimal Childhood Growth and Development'. We purposely and intentionally chose to begin this series with 'Plentiful Proteins' because proteins make up the largest component of your child's body, second only to water. Your child's ever growing muscles, ligaments, and tendons all come from proteins, as well as the strength of their immune cells. Moms, I think you would agree if your child had a strong immune system that would help you out a lot ;) But most importantly protein is the best way to support your child's developing brain function.
Your child's brain is made up of neurotransmitters which are the chemical messengers telling their little bodies to do nearly everything it needs to do. Neurotransmitters are made from of amino acids and amino acids make up proteins, hence protein becomes essential for healthy neurotransmitter production. If your child runs low on neurotransmitters you as a parent you are likely to experience a moody, irritated, impulsive child when we know you'd all love a happy healthy one ;) But really, one of the most simple ways to help children with behavioral and or learning issues is to ensure adequate protein of the highest biological value regularly. Biological value is based on the amount of amino acids absorbed, retained and actually utilized by the body. Whey protein has the highest biological value with eggs as second, then fish, meats, and so forth. This is likely why we see so many children thriving when they are getting adequate animal protein and likely why so much of time they do better when we increase their animal protein intake daily.
We, therefore, do believe that some sort of animal protein is absolutely critical in order to support your child's growing body and developing brain. We understand that certain families may choose to have a vegetarian lifestyle and while we have not found this to be best for growing children we do agree with choosing animal products raised without out the use of hormones, antibiotics or steroids. These chemicals are difficult for your child to detox not to mention the kinds of farms that use them are destructive to our environment. If vegetarianism is a personal choice you have made for your child then we suggest adding a daily boost of protein from high quality whey or marine collagen to safe guard against issues that can arise from protein deficiency. We actually suggest these 'boosts' all around as many children seem to do best with an extra boost of readily absorbed amino acids daily. Or maybe it's that mom would rather make a smoothie than roast a chicken everyday ;) Even better simply mix a flavorful collagen powder or whey with nut milk!
-pasture raised eggs, chicken, turkey
-grass-fed beef, lamb, buffalo
-high quality pork, ham
-wild caught fish, other seafood
-organic grass-fed whole milk, plain yogurt, kefir, and cheeses
-beans and hummus (also a carbohydrate rich food but a good source of protein none the less)
Possible indications your child may need a 'boost' of protein:
-speech delay, learning issues
-bluesy, unmotivated, apathetic to normal childhood activities
-nervousness, sleep issues
-complaints of being tired
-low muscle tone
-recovering from an injury or surgery
For ideas on how to begin implementing our favorite proteins in your child's diet follow us @happyhealthylittles. Trust me, we do not expect you to be roasting a chicken everyday ;) You can find a whole section on our Fullscript under our Catalog, scroll down to Practitioner Categories called 'HHL Protein Boosts' where we have listed all our recommendations for easy, healthy protein boosts for your child.
Xo Dani and Whitney