- Is it safe for children?
- Feeding organ meat to children
- Animal-based lifestyle for children
- Tips for keeping things interesting
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.
Childhood nutrition is a sensitive and controversial topic.
The confusion often starts with the recommendations made by doctors and public health organizations. Once a food substance makes the “naughty list,” it can be hard to discern the truth. Dietary fat is a strong example — for years, we’ve been told that fat is our enemy. This is misleading because healthy fats are crucial to our health!
Meat and organs are another example. Looking back into recent history, we can see that organ meats such as liver and oils such as cod liver oil were prized for early childhood nutrition (1). The modern recommendation of cereals for a “first solid” is blatantly at odds with infant biology — their digestive system doesn’t produce the enzymes to break down most carbohydrates until their molars come in (as late as 28 months).
Alternatively, their bodies are adept at processing breastmilk due to their ability to make the lactase enzyme. Babies also have the digestive capability to process proteins and fats, which brings us to the topic of animal-based eating for infants.
Perhaps you’ve been eating an animal-based diet and would like to include your entire family, but you need to know if it’s safe. It’s a great concern, and we’re happy to give clarity.
In this article, we’ll explore how to incorporate animal-based for kids, the value of organ meats, and other resources to help you make a more informed decision.
Let’s dive into it!
Animal-Based for Kids: Is It Safe?
We believe that animal-based nutrition, including organ meats, is safe for children old enough to handle solid foods. The most important thing is introducing each new food in small amounts and observing how your child reacts. This is even more important if your infant consumes off-the-shelf baby formula. Their body may need time to adjust to novel substances.
Generally, children’s digestive tracts are better equipped to handle muscle meats, organs, dairy, butter, and eggs than many processed foods marketed to families with small children. Animal foods are also critical for cognitive development (2).
Sometimes children have trouble with animal-based foods such as eggs and bovine dairy. Goat milk can be a helpful alternative if your child reacts poorly to cow milk. When considering digestive ease, there are two categories of milk, A1, and A2, and these labels refer to the type of casein protein found in the milk.
A1 casein is found in most cows’ milk in the United States, and A2 casein occurs in the milk of a few breeds of cows that aren’t common in the US. A2 casein also appears in the milk of other ruminants like buffalo, goats, and sheep. Generally speaking, the less common A2 milk is easier to digest than A1 milk (virtually all milk in grocery stores is A1 milk unless labeled otherwise).
If your child struggles to adapt to animal-based solids, we suggest consulting with a functional medicine practitioner or other medical professional. By doing so, you can identify underlying causes that may contribute to food sensitivities or allergies.
Can Kids Eat Organ Meat?
Organ meat is one of the pillars of the animal-based diet.
Organ meats are rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, K2, and water-soluble vitamins folate, riboflavin, biotin, B6, and B12, as well as the minerals selenium, magnesium, iron, and iodine. Organ meats are also a source of peptides (short-chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of longer-chain amino acids we call proteins) and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). In short, organs are nutritional powerhouses.
If possible, we suggest consuming organs from grass-fed, grass-finished cows. Heart and liver tend to be the most accessible options. Fresh organs can be found in many grocery stores (often in the frozen section), butcher shops, or local farms.
Some adults find the flavor of organ meats off-putting. This may be the case with your children as well. Heart & Soil supplements are also an easy way to include organ meats– they’re shelf stable, highly bioavailable, and don’t contain any fillers or preservatives. Not to mention, the taste and smell is mild. The organs in our supplements come from grass-fed, grass-finished cattle raised on regenerative farms.
The capsules can be opened and added to yogurt, smoothies, pureed fruit, or similar options! We don’t suggest exposing the contents to high heat, which may damage the nutrients.
Our most popular option for children is Beef Organs which contains liver, heart, kidney, pancreas, and spleen. This blend contains vital nutrients and peptides to support your developing kiddo’s overall health, vitality, and energy!
Most parents start with a dose of one capsule twice a day, taken with meals. Organs are a potent source of nutrients, so more is not always better.
The Foundations of an Animal-Based Lifestyle for Children
We’ve put together a list of practical steps to help you create a life for your family that is fulfilling and fundamentally healthy. We recognize that every human is unique, and what’s suitable for you and your children may differ from these suggestions.
The guiding principle is to align with a lifestyle similar to our ancestors, especially in the areas of physical activity, food, and recovery.
1. Prioritize Grass-Fed, Grass-Finished Meat and Organs
Incorporating unprocessed meats can be a delightful way to get the necessary macro (protein, fat) and micro (vitamins, minerals, peptides) nutrients. We suggest focusing on meat and organs from grass-fed ruminant animals such as cattle, buffalo, goat, lamb, and deer.
If you include poultry, eggs, or pork, stick with free-range or pasture-raised options. Industrial farms rely on cheap corn and soy-based feeds to raise and fatten their animals. Even “organically raised” animals may be fed organic corn and soy — resulting in a buildup of linoleic acid in their fat tissues.
2. Eliminate the Most Toxic Plant Foods
Maybe kids aren’t wrong to turn their noses up to veggies after all!
As discussed in Paul Saladino, MD’s book, The Carnivore Code, certain plant components contain defense chemicals that can negatively trigger the immune system. The most problematic ones are typically leaves, stems, seeds, nuts, grains, nightshades, and legumes.
Feel free to check out our animal-based infographic for a breakdown of high and low-toxicity plant foods. Sources of low-toxicity carbohydrates include honey, maple syrup, berries, avocados, olives, squash, or other seasonal sweet and non-sweet fruit. Organic white rice and sweet potatoes can be good options as well. Most children are attracted to these foods anyway!
3. Eliminate Seed Oils
Processed vegetable oils (corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, canola, peanut, grapeseed, sesame, etc.) contain high levels of linoleic acid (omega-6 PUFA). Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid, but problematic at high levels.
Excess linoleic acid consumption is correlated with several serious health conditions. This white paper by Zero Acre Farms (3) states plainly, “There is no tribe, population, or nation that has started consuming vegetable oils and not seen obesity rates climb.”
We suggest replacing seed oils with tallow, ghee, butter, and other nourishing saturated fats (coconut oil can be good for children thanks to its slightly sweet taste).
Industrial food production relies on seed oils because they’re cheap and abundant. This means reading ingredient labels and avoiding most packaged foods as these oils find their way into foods aimed at children! Seed oils are commonly found in infant formulas, chips, pretzels, breads, dressings, sauces, and dozens of other options.
When dining out, you can request the kitchen cook your food in butter or without vegetable oil.
It’s also important to source your olive and avocado oils from reputable sources. With no exaggeration, many of the brands at the grocery store cut their products with soybean, canola, or some other vegetable seed oil (4).
As noted above, do your best to avoid fatty pork, chicken, duck, turkey, or other monogastric animals primarily fed corn and soy diets. Like humans, these animals will store excess linoleic acid in their fat cells, easily absorbed by eating them.
4. Prioritize Sleep
Very few things are as simple, cost-effective, and beneficial as quality sleep, especially for children.
During sleep, the body builds, repairs, and heals from the various stressors of life. We suggest turning off devices with screens one to two hours before getting in bed (5), dimming the lights (Dr. Paul’s podcast on light), keeping consistent bedtimes, and aiming for an amount of sleep appropriate to the age of the child (6).
5. Exercise and Sunlight
Exercise triggers important biological processes and helps to regulate hormones. Children are naturally inclined to exercise during play. The goal should be for children to spend at least two hours a day outside, weather permitting (7).
Whatever you’ve heard about the dangers of sunlight, the reality is that our bodies use sunlight to produce vitamin D and nitric oxide (8), which also help regulate hormones and improve overall blood flow. Daily sun exposure can also stimulate our natural circadian rhythms as humans, promoting sleep (9), recovery, and muscle growth. It may even improve the alpha diversity of the gut (10)!
Tips for Keeping Things Interesting
You may still need to find creative ways to help your children stay interested and consume enough nutrients.
Here are some resources that can help you on that journey!
- Article: Animal-Based First Foods: Introducing My Baby To Solids (25 minutes, ash-eats.com)
In this post from Ashley Rothstein, a writer and author in the animal-based living community, you’ll read about Ash’s journey with weaning her daughter using animal foods. It’s an excellent window into some of the varying advice given to parents about how to wean their children and what foods are suitable for infants. Her site also contains hundreds of animal-based recipes!
- Paul Saladino, MD’s cookbook: The Carnivore Code Cookbook ($18, Amazon)
Published in 2022, this book holds more than 100 recipes to help your family crush animal-based eating and enjoy every bite!
- Article: Nourishing a Growing Baby (20 minutes, westonaprice.org)
This article provides a comprehensive overview of which foods are appropriate at different stages of infant development, including animal-based options. It’s organized by food type and by age for easy reference.
The Animal-Based Diet Can Be a Tool for Your Entire Family
The topic of which foods to feed your children and how to help them have a healthy diet is expansive, with passionate advocates in every camp. We aim to provide information on an alternative viewpoint and tools to make an informed decision.
Prioritizing well-raised animal foods and removing processed foods can work wonders for the health of your little ones. Animal foods often get a bad rap from mainstream sources, but they’re interwoven into our development as humans.
While it may look different depending on your stage of life, the animal-based diet can be a tool for your entire family!
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