By Charlyn Fargo
There’s new research suggesting early introduction of common allergy foods to babies around 6 months of age can reduce the risk of developing food allergies. That advice is now part of the recently released 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It’s especially important with peanuts and eggs.
The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and highlights positive food allergy results and barriers to dietary adherence.
A total of 1,303 3-month-old infants were recruited from the general population in England and Wales and placed in one of two groups. The “early introduction group,” or EIG, was introduced to six allergenic foods from 3 months of age alongside breastfeeding. The “standard introduction group,” or SIG, exclusively breastfed for six months.
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Children with sensitization to one or more of the six allergenic foods at enrollment who were part of the EIG developed less food allergies (by 19.2%) than children with food sensitization at enrollment who were not introduced to foods early (34.2%).
The research also finds that babies with severe eczema and/or existing egg allergies may benefit from starting peanut foods as early as 4 to 6 months, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease’s addendum guidelines.
If you have a 6-month-old, the guidelines suggest starting early in the day and monitoring the baby for about two hours after feeding. It’s best to start with a little taste on the end of a spoon and wait 10 minutes before feeding more.
The Dietary Guidelines also offer good advice for how to get started with your little one. They recommend modifying the texture to make it palatable and easy for the baby to eat. For instance, blend 2 teaspoons of creamy peanut butter with warm water, breastmilk or formula, or stir 2 teaspoons of powdered peanut butter into applesauce. Eggs can be scrambled. Shrimp and fish can be pureed to avoid being a choking hazard.
The idea is to reduce the likelihood of food allergies by early introduction of small amounts. Research shows the potential benefit of your baby being allergy-free by doing this.
Q and A
Q: My grandmother used to grow rhubarb. How do I use it and cook it?
A: First, a little history. Although it’s technically a vegetable, rhubarb actually gained legal status as a fruit in 1947 by the U.S. Customs Court because it was used like a fruit for culinary purposes. This was good news for businesses who were able to pay lower taxes on fruits than on vegetables. You can only use the tart, red stalks for cooking. The leaves contain poisonous oxalic acid and are always snipped off and discarded. Raw rhubarb is very tart. To balance it out and make it more palatable, rhubarb is usually cooked with sugar or another sweetening ingredient. Without the added sugar used in recipes, rhubarb is a low-calorie, low-starch, high-fiber fruit that is a good source of magnesium, vitamins C and K, calcium and manganese. To cook rhubarb, wash and cut the stalks into chunks. Use it in pies, crisps, jams, muffins and quick breads. Rhubarb stalks are stringy like celery, but they break down during cooking, so destringing is not necessary. Rhubarb pairs wonderfully with other fruits such as berries, apples, oranges and peaches to create a complex sweet-tart flavor.
Here’s a recipe for rhubarb muffins. Be sure and pair it with protein if you’re having it as a breakfast muffin. It’s from Allrecipes.com. To cut calories and add fiber, use half whole-wheat flour. You can also cut the brown sugar in half.
Serving size: 24 muffins
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, diced
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 12-cup muffin pans, or line with paper cups. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the brown sugar, oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk with a mixer until smooth. Pour in the dry ingredients, and mix by hand just until blended. Stir in the rhubarb and walnuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling almost to the top. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, white sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of this mixture on top of each muffin. Bake in preheated oven until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for at least 10 minutes before removing.
Per muffin: 157 calories; 2.4 grams protein; 21.5 grams carbohydrates; 7.1 grams fat; 9.4 milligrams cholesterol; 141 milligrams sodium.
Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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