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Nutritional importance in the first 1,000 days of life

Nutritional importance in the first 1,000 days of life

Inadequate nutrition during this period can lead to permanent damage, especially causing growth delays, or at the other extreme, obesity and non-communicable diseases

Nutrition is important throughout childhood, just as it is in adulthood and old age. However, the nutrition of the first thousand days of life is crucial for the good development of the creatures. Roots Mindfoodness nutritionist Elena Toledano, who specializes in sports nutrition, clinical nutrition, and nutritional education, puts it this way. There is a lot of scientific evidence that points in this direction, as UNICEF does in the campaign The first 1,000 days for a whole life, where it warns that inadequate nutrition during this period can lead to permanent damage, especially causing delays in growth or, at the other extreme, obesity and non-communicable diseases.


The study by José Maldonado, of the University of Granada, The importance of nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life, highlights that the first 1,000 days, between pregnancy and the second year of age, "are a period of a unique opportunity,” as this is when the foundations for lifelong health and neurodevelopment are laid. Also, the Recommendations for feeding the child during the first 23 months of life by the Mexican Confederation of Pediatrics indicate that gastrointestinal immaturity, neuromuscular coordination at the time of eating, and immunological function limit the foods that the baby should consume, and "if it does, it is exposed to a greater risk of 'infections transmitted through food as well as food allergies'. In this sense, Maldonado emphasizes that health and disease are influenced at different stages of life by a combination of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors, although "it is documented that during early development the response to various stimuli can program the risk of non-communicable diseases".

It is when the brain and immune system mature

For Elena Toledano, one of the main reasons why these thousand days are crucial is because during this stage is when the biggest increase in the size and maturation of the brain and also in the immune system occurs. "In addition, these changes are faster than in any other stage of life", he emphasizes. For example, at 6 months, the brain reaches 50% of its size, while at 3 years, it reaches 85% of its final size. "From here comes the importance of providing the necessary nutrients to guarantee their correct development", he emphasizes. Maldonado adds in his study that nutrition "is particularly important for the development of cognitive, motor, socio-emotional skills while improving school performance".

It's time for prevention

On the other hand, adequate nutrition during the first thousand days of life "is key to the prevention of acute and chronic diseases in the short and long term", according to Toledano. In this way, it is necessary to provide the "right nutrients" at each stage within this period. In the same sense, Maldonado indicates that early nutrition experts, both in the long and short term, have "an effect on health through immunological, metabolic programming and microbiological development", and ensures that good nutrition in the first thousand days of living life "will have a very beneficial influence" on later health. In this way, it is necessary to optimize prenatal and early postnatal growth "as an essential step from a preventive point of view".

Fruit and vegetables versus ultra-processed ones

In this context, nutrition in the first thousand days of life must be based, according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), on breastfeeding at least the first six months, with a mother's diet rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes, meat and fish and with the absence of ultra-processed foods. From the introduction of complementary food, it is necessary to be persistent in the habit of eating fruit and vegetables every day and several times a day; eating legumes three times a week; eating cereals and whole grain bread; and tasting lean meat and white and blue fish; and also daily cooking with extra virgin olive oil with simple techniques such as iron, oven, steam and cooked. On the other hand, guided by common sense,

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