The Standard American Diet (SAD) is notably a high-carbohydrate diet (among its many other unhealthy features), which is a big reason why I advocate against this diet. Many people are reducing carbohydrate intake from sugars and starchy foods such as breads, pastas, and cereals. But are we taking a close enough look at infant diets? A recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology found, in an animal model, that a high-carbohydrate diet during infancy leads to increased insulin levels that would predispose the child to develop obesity later in life.
“Many American baby foods and juices are high in carbohydrates, mainly simple sugars,” stated Mulchand Patel, PhD, lead researcher of the study. “Our hypothesis has been that the introduction of baby foods too early in life increases carbohydrate intake, thereby boosting insulin secretion and causing metabolic programming that, in turn, predisposes the child to obesity later in life.”
“During this critical period, the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite, becomes programmed to drive the individual to eat more food,” stated Patel. To avoid this reprogramming, he recommends that solid foods should not be given to infants before 4 to 6 months of age.
Let me emphasize that I am not recommending a low-carbohydrate diet for infants. But added sugars are certainly not necessary. There is no good reason to add sugars to infant foods. And introduction of solid foods should not come too early, as these researchers note. But more studies will be needed to determine the effects of diet at such a young age.