Parents will often ask me why peanuts are as lethal as they are. In North America, peanuts are specifically planted in soil where crops are heavily sprayed, in order to clean up the soil. It’s not the peanuts that are as much of a problem as the toxins that the peanuts absorb! Peanuts (which are legumes, by the way, not nuts) and some tree nuts contain aflatoxins, a fungus, which comes about from the spraying of pesticides and fungicides. The spraying prevents the peanut plant from building its own protection against mold and fungus. These alfatoxins produce poisons and must be deactivated by good bacteria in the intestine (more on that next week).
As well, the generation of parents whose children are so allergic or sensitive to peanuts, consumed peanut butter on a regular basis. Sandwiches made with peanut butter on its own, or with jam, honey or bananas were part of our staple diet in the seventies and eighties. The more we consume of a food, the greater the incidence of reactions to the food! This is because when we try to digest each type of food, our bodies call upon a particular set of digestive enzymes to digest that food. When we don’t have a strong digestive system, which is often the case these days, those digestive enzymes wear out when they are overused. This is why variety in our diet is so important! Not to mention the fact that the more variety there is in our diets, the more varied the vitamins and minerals are that we receive.
Finally, peanuts contain saturated fat and interfere with your child’s essential fatty acid metabolism. And it is no coincidence that the word “essential” is in essential fatty acids – it is essential that we consume and absorb them.
What are the healthier alternatives to peanuts? Fresh, unroasted nuts are less susceptible to contamination. Almond butter, cashew butter and peabutter made from sunflower seeds are healthier alternatives to peanut butter. However, if you decide to feed your child peanut butter, please ensure they have it only occasionally and when they do have it, please ensure it is organic peanut butter. Many parents tell me their children don’t enjoy the taste of organic peanut butter; my recommendation is President’s Choice organic peanut butter, which can be found in many grocery stores.
Because of the rules in most schools about peanuts and nuts, many parents end up refraining from giving their children seeds, as well as nuts and there is no need to do this! Sunflower seeds mixed with dark chocolate chips make an excellent snack for children at school and is a perfectly safe, excellent source of protein. Vegetables sauteed in sesame seeds are also well loved by many children and are a great source of calcium and other nutrients. Pumpkin seeds and dried fruit is another healthy snack enjoyed by children. I invite you to open your mind to all the possibilities of what you can send to school with your child; please do not limit their options unnecessarily!
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Until next time,