All of you have seen the latest commercial of Ceregrow which goes like “Mummy thinks I am a rakshas…”. I must admit that I found the advertorial very cute and attractive. For once, it did appeal to me as I thought that really children need more nutrients but can eat less at one time. Curious about its healthy wholesome contents, I turned the box to look at the ‘Nutritive value’. It was sooo impressive- every spoon provided more than 15 precious vitamins and minerals…..Is this a dream come true!!

But then I wanted to quickly scan the ingredient list to be doubly sure. I had to crane my neck and peer at the ingredient list only to realize that the not even one of them was real! All it contained was loads of starch with some artificial fruit flavours laced with abundant sugar.

Usual ingredients in Baby Food

Sugar in abundance: Sugar – 10g sugar for every 100g and is the third ingredient on the list which means it is third most abundant component of the cereal mix. Sugars are present in many forms other than simply glucose . We need to look for ingredients such as  starch,  maltodextrins , high fructose corn syrup, corn flour, which do not impart a sweet taste but are carbohydrates that provide calories along with serving functional roles in the intended food product.

Starch : These starches are the modified food starch which are alien to the digestive system of a growing baby and may prove to be toxic. These starches form a sticky paste around the teeth increasing chances of decay. Yes, they do come from cereal grain itself, but the grain is polished to get rid of its outer fibrous layers, bleached to improve colour and adorned with preservatives/additives rendering it more into a talcum powder.

Maltodextrins , a type of sugar added to baby cereals in abundance, is only a thickening agent which is actually toxic to various vital organs. . The Center for Science and Public Interest released a report entitled Cheating Babies: Nutritional Quality and cost of Commercial baby food. They find that commercial baby food companies routinely dilute the nutritional content (and value) of baby foods with fillers such as starches and water.

Allergenic ingredients: Starches from wheat and corn are easily available and cheap. These are used most extensively but are actually potential allergens for children (Wheat flour (21.5%), Corn flour (3.5%) in Ceregrow).  Inefficient digestion of proteins from these grains can cause allergic reactions among children who have an immature gut. Corn and Wheat can both potentially cause allergic reactions in babies and small children, and some recent scientific studies suggest that long term allergies, such as the allergy to wheat (Celiac disease), may be reduced by avoiding contact with those foods before babies are one year old.

Juice concentrates: Juice from concentrate  is concentrated juice of that particular fruit. Common sense tells us that during the entire process many heat and light sensitive vitamins are destroyed. Once extracted, the juice may lose the colour , odour and taste of the original natural fruit which may then be replenished with artificial look-and-feel-alikes!

Pomegranate juice concentrate (0.9%),Apple juice concentrate (4%), Orange juice concentrate(2.9%), Blackcurrant juice concentrate(0.4%) in Ceregrow

Artificial unavailable calcium: Substandard calcium sources such as calcium carbonate is usually added to foods both as a so-called calcium source and to act as a leavening agent. Calcium carbonate needs to be converted to calcium bicarbonate for it to be absorbed into the body which is a cumbersome process for adults, let alone children. Good sources of calcium are natural foods such as has spinach, til, broccoli, fish, and are present in a form that’s fit for absorption by humans.

Irreparable damage caused by Commercial baby foods

  • These are pumped with sugar and sodium. Infants develop preference for salty or sweet tastes which predisposes them to chronic diseases such as diabetes , hypertension and heart diseases.
  • Every bite of this commercial baby food actually takes your child away from appreciation of natural tastes and flavours.
  • Scientific Studies show that feeding of commercial baby foods before 24 months can lower IQ (Smithers et al 2012) because they lose out on the nutrients needed for the development of brain tissues (90% brain growth completed by 2 years of age) that can come from wholesome family foods.

Ceregrow as a product has no nutritional quality that can promote growth and development of your child. rather, intake of this cerelac-like gooey porridge full of artificial ingredients  will definitely get your child addicted to its sweetness and make them too lazy  to chew solid foods.

Real nutrition comes from real foods like seasonal fruits  and vegetables, peanuts, walnuts, raisins, almonds, roasted gram,  lotus seeds, millets, etc. Even if your child eats half a cup of apple or home-made sheera, she will get abundant nutrients which can be absorbed and utilized by the body.

Written by drpoojachhawcharia

Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.

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