A large 2019 study found heavy metals in baby foods. Dozens of well-known brands and products were tested. Arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury were found in 95% of the 13 types of products tested: cereals, snack foods, fruits, juices and vegetables.
Smaller tests have been run but this was a large study of 168 products in 61 brands. “Healthy Babies Bright Futures” study was published in Consumer Reports and many industry journals in October 2019.
Effects of Heavy Metals in Baby Food
Heavy metals are neurotoxins affecting brain development, IQ and many other body functions in youth and adulthood. Lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium are the most studied. Foods marketed for babies and toddlers have stricter standards than those for adults as baby’s detox systems are not developed. Critical growth functions can be impaired due to these metals.
Worst offender? Arsenic in Rice
Rice is a grain with unusual affinity for arsenic. Rice absorbs it from ground water and the agricultural and mining chemicals also found in the water. Organic rice has arsenic too. In the study, 4 of the 7 rice cereals tested exceeded allowable limits for arsenic in baby food of 100 parts per billion. Consumer Reports recommended the FDA immediately lower the limit to 5 – 50 ppb for baby food.
Alternatives to teething biscuits, rice puff snacks and rice cereal can be found in many Paleo books or websites.
Other High Metals in the Baby Food Study
At least one of four metals (arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury) was found in 95% of the products tested.
83% of tested foods had more lead than the recommended 1 ppb limit. 1 of every 5 had more than 10 times that amount.
Adults Should Limit Rice Too
Adults should limit rice milk, rice crackers and side dishes of rice for several reasons.
- The Paleo Diet restricts rice and other grains, but not just due to arsenic. They are high in carbohydrates that provoke Insulin Resistance.
- Grains can be inflammatory and damaging to the gut wall.
- Arsenic is linked to cancers of the bladder, skin and lung
- White rice has less Arsenic than brown rice
Soaking and draining before cooking helps as does cooking in extra water and draining before serving.
Best and Worst Baby Foods for Heavy Metals
This excellent article has specifics on brands and products to buy or to avoid.
Note that certain fruits and juices are poor choices. APPLE and GRAPE juices contain arsenic and lead. In addition, most better-informed doctors tell Moms to avoid giving fruit juice to children of all ages. High in sugars and bad for the teeth, juices (and sodas) are poor choices. Here’s my blog post on Britain’s fight with kid’s tooth decay from drinking juices. All can affect the Oral Microbiome.
Sweet potato and carrots are root vegetables and can absorb metals from the soil. Organic can be as bad as non-organic. The Healthy Babies Bright Futures Study reported in Consumer Reports noted the worst choices for carrots and sweet potato were:
- Beech-Nut Classics (not organic)
- Earth’s Best (organic)
Baby’s First Foods?
This paragraph is from ThePaleoMom.
What are the best first foods? The best first foods for most babies are mashed ripe avocado, mashed ripe banana, mashed cooked sweet potato, mashed cooked winter squash, pureed liver (preferably pastured or grass-fed), and mashed or crumbled pastured egg yolk. For babies who are at least 6 months old, well-cooked meats very well pureed with broth or breast milk and grass-fed whole milk yogurt are excellent early foods. Babies can usually start digesting well-cooked pureed green veggies at around 6 months, too.
What Should Children Drink?
Check this article for ideas.