In the first year of your child’s life, it is essential to feed him an assortment of healthy foods to establish good eating habits and prevent overfeeding or excessive weight gain. While children do need calories, fat, and cholesterol for the healthy development of their brain and nervous system, the consumption of these foods should still be carefully monitored, says John Hopkins Medicine. The three main sources of high calories consumed by kids between the ages of two and 18 are refined grain desserts, pizza, and soda. These processed foods, if introduced at an early age, can leave children at high risk of developing food allergies, a new study finds.

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Unprocessed Baby Food And Allergies

Findings published in the journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology show that an infant diet made up of fruits, vegetables, and homemade foods lessens the risk of food allergy development by age two. A total of 1,140 mothers were asked to keep food diaries for the first year of their newborn’s life in order to jot down the foods consumed by their infant. During the time of the study, 41 children were diagnosed with a food allergy. Researchers compared these infants with 82 similar babies who did not have an allergy. In their comparative analysis, the researchers found that babies who did not have food allergies had a diet high in foods like fruits, vegetables, poultry, and fish.

"We know that there are nutrients in the diet that educate the immune system. And one could argue that if they're not there in adequate amounts when the child's immune system is developing, that may be one way that this is working," Kate Grimshaw, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Southampton, told Reuters Health. The infants who ate more fruits and vegetables did not completely eliminate commercial baby food from their diets, but instead depended more on fresh food than processed food for their nutritional needs.

While the study provided insight as to what can trigger food allergies in infants, the researchers could not determine why fresh food provided more protection against allergies than processed food. There are many factors, such as genetics, that can influence a child's risk of developing a food allergy later in life. "Healthy food has so many good things, and maybe it also can reduce the risk of food allergy in the child," said Dr. Magnus Wickman, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden who was not involved in the study. Despite the uncertainties and remaining questions, it seems the theory that certain foods can prevent food allergies has not been eliminated by the scientific community.

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Reduce your child's risk of food allergies

While the medical community speculates that a healthy diet of unprocessed foods can reduce the risk of food allergies in children, other dietary methods can also help.

Health professionals have often recommended parents to delay introducing solid foods, such as fish and eggs, in order to reduce the risk of allergies, though this suggestion has not proven effective, says HealthLink British Columbia. Delaying food for more than four to six months does not prevent food allergies in infants, but Health Canada suggests waiting for your child to hit six months of age before introducing solid foods. At this age, the infant is more physically developed and ready to consume solid foods.

To get your baby started on healthy eating, feeding him vegetables and fruits around six months of age is advised. Home-prepared baby food, such as cooked vegetables, is advised by the United States Department of Agriculture. Food News Safety says that if you plan to feed your infant fruits, make sure they are cooked beforehand so that they can be pureed or easily mashed.

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