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Children's Health

Childhood is one of the most crucial times of development and growth. Overweight and obesity rates have doubled among children and quadrupled among adolescents in the past 30 years. Obesity in children increases their risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, joint problems, sleep apnea, early puberty, and most cancers. As bad as the health is of adult Americans today, health authorities predict it will get even worse, and today’s children will live shorter and less healthy lives than their parents.

  • Overview
  • Action Plan
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The poor dietary habits of today’s children are contributing to the development of obesity, reduced brain function, higher incidence of allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and emotional and behavioral disorders, such as depression and ADD. Poor nutrition also increases occurrence and severity of infections and results in chronically reoccurring infections such as sinusitis and otitis media (ear infection). It is also laying a foundation for poor academic performance, chronic disease later in life, violent behavior, and premature death. A Nutritarian diet is essential for a disease-free, healthy, and happy child.

Children are often treated with antibiotics inappropriately when they have a viral infection. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics leads to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, weakened immunity, yeast overgrowth, increase recurrence and severity of future infections, increased cancer risk, and many other potentially dangerous side effects. Those with behavioral disorders are often medicated with dangerous drugs instead of focusing on root causes. Lack of breastfeeding, sedentary lifestyles, and a diet deficient in immune-boosting and disease-fighting nutrients will set the stage for poor health. The goal should be to instill healthy habits in our children early on so that they grow up at a healthy weight, appreciate healthy food and exercise, and hold on to those habits as adults. A Nutritarian diet is key to a child’s future success and health.


Action Plan


  • A Nutritarian eating style is ideal for a growing child for superior health. It supplies a sufficient amount of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that optimizes the immune system, promotes good gut bacteria, and decreases the rate of infections.
  • Focus on a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, including G-BOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds) to boost immunity and promote overall good health.
  • Start building healthy dietary habits early. Children prefer the foods they eat frequently and early in life.
  • Make healthful snacks available. Stock the home with a variety of produce, like fresh fruits, raw vegetables, raw nuts and seeds.
  • Keep only healthful food in the house.
  • Children, even more than adults, can be particular with what foods they like, so it may be required to experiment with a variety of Nutritarian foods and recipes to find ones that they like.

Other Considerations

  • In conjunction with a Nutritarian diet, properly formulated supplements that includes sufficient amounts of zinc, iodine, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and DHA and EPA (omega-3 fatty acids) are recommended.

Find additional help

ONLINE: All members of can search the Ask the Doctor archives for discussions on this topic. Platinum and Diamond members can connect with Dr. Fuhrman by posting questions in the forum. Not a member? Join now.

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Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


I just took my daughter to the doctor and he told me that she has an ear infection. He said her eardrum was pink. Do you think this was an accurate diagnosis?


The doctor sticking his scope in your daughter’s ear and seeing a pink eardrum when the child is sick does not mean a bacterial ear infection is present. If they do not do a tympanogram (a tool that measures fluid levels in the ear), the exam is not accurate. Most doctors have the tympanogram in their office, and they may skip it to simplify and shorten the visit if they think that their exam was good enough. I would ask for one. Remember, most ear infections are mostly viral and do not require treatment. They will clear on their own.


My son is 21 months. He is throwing up and has a fever. My husband took him to the doctor and was told he has an ear infection. She prescribed Amoxicillin. We have never given him antibiotics before, and I have read in your books that antibiotics are overprescribed and start a vicious cycle of ear infections, etc. What should we do? The baby is hardly eating anything. Is it ok for a baby to not eat for a couple of days (except for small amounts of almond milk, water, vegetable broth, apples, bananas) without causing a problem? How high can we let the baby’s fever run and for how long before giving him some Tylenol to bring it down?


It is reasonable to follow his fever over the next few days and see if he is improving without the antibiotic. It is okay to have a decreased food input for a few days, as long as enough fluid is consumed. You should never give him Tylenol to bring it down. The only reason to use a medication on a child is if his pain and discomfort is so severe that he cannot sleep at night (acetaminophen is not the appropriate medication). Following the fever will help decide if he is improving or not.


My son (2.5 years) has what will be his third ear infection in a year and could be his fifth time on antibiotics in a year. The doctor told us it is red in the one ear, and it will not go away without antibiotics. He knows our concerns putting him on the drugs. Is there anything we can do before it becomes a full blown infection? Should we wait it out, and if so, for how long?


Taking antibiotics over and over is responsible for increased likelihood of more ear infections in the future. As I described in my book, Disease Proof Your Child, it is the treatment of early life ear infections with antibiotics that increase the risk of serious bacterial otitis media in children.

So, the answer to your question is to have your child eat perfectly, not good, but perfectly. Try to avoid antibiotics as much as possible and only if the infection is severe and has a persistent high fever. Recovery can be achieved with superior nutrition in the vast majority of cases. It sounds like your well-meaning physician is not following the new guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. That means if he does not have a persistent high fever for a few days or persistent pain, you should hold off on treatment.


I am determined to abandon my SAD diet for a Nutritarian one and set a healthy example for my family. I will be introducing solids to my six-month-old and want to start him out healthy from day one. Any suggestions?


You are the parent, and you are responsible for your child’s health! You are in full control of the meals that are provided and the examples that you set. The bottom line is that you can have a major impact on his future health and protect him from developing serious childhood illnesses, autoimmune diseases, emotional and learning disorders, and even later life cancer, all by the food choices in your home. Your goal should be to instill healthy habits in your child so that he grows up at a healthy weight, enjoys healthful foods and exercise, and holds on to these habits as an adult. All of the science and the basic how-tos are addressed in my book, Disease Proof Your Child.


I bought some chocolate rice milk. I was thinking of giving some to my nine month old, but I read the info on the packaging, and it says to only give to children under five with the consent of your doctor. What is it about this product that makes it not suitable for children under five? Is it ok to give it to them?


It is junk food. I guess most mothers give their kids soda, apple juice, and all types of sweet liquids that are not healthful. Liquid sweets are obesity and diabetes promoting, and when given to children, starts them on the road to dangerous eating habits and bad health. So I have no idea why you would want to feed an infant or toddler junk food. The only liquids safe for a nine month old are breast milk and water; anything else is detrimental to their health and promotes childhood obesity.


I am breastfeeding my four-week-old baby. The pediatrician said to give him 400IU of Vitamin D daily because breast fed babies are usually found to be deficient in Vitamin D. Is this because the mom is usually deficient? I have had my vitamin D levels checked and am in the normal range. Will I pass this on sufficiently to my baby, or should I indeed be supplementing him with 400 IU daily?


I do recommend baby vitamin D drops too. You don’t want to take the chance because the vitamin D level is so important for their normal development, and it is not adequately passed in the breast milk if the mother is low or borderline. If the mother’s Vitamin D level is normal (I would suggest above 40 in this instance), then studies do show that the child gets enough without supplementing. So, I guess if you are really certain your blood levels are excellent, you can forgo the baby drops.


I am breastfeeding but do not think I am producing an adequate amount of breast milk for my two week old baby. The doctor wants me to supplement but I don’t want to use baby formula. What would be an alternative? I am taking Dr. Fuhrman’s Prenatal vitamin.


La Leche league can be very helpful. Sometimes it is just a matter of repositioning the baby or other things to help. In the meantime, a Nutritarian diet with about 4 oz. of seeds and nuts a day plus the DHA-EPA supplement works great to produce plenty of great tasting milk.


I have an 11-month-old who is currently breastfeeding. He was exclusively breastfed for the first six months before being introduced to foods. He is breastfeeding less often and also breastfeeds for shorter amounts of time. One reason is obviously because he is eating foods, but the other reason is that he’s NOSEY! He doesn’t want to nurse for very long because he must think he’s missing out on other important things. So, I am producing much less milk, almost to the point of not having enough for him on a daily basis, and he won’t drink formula. What can I do if I’m not producing enough milk and he won’t drink formula?


I would not worry about it because even the little bit of breast milk he is getting will be supplying valuable immunoglobulins and other beneficial factors. So, just keep encouraging him to nurse by nursing him when he is hungry instead of giving him food first. Use a breast pump once a day if you have to in order to stimulate milk production.


My seven-month-old is breastfed and now eating pureed vegetables and fruits all made fresh. I hope to nurse until he is one. Can I introduce foods like nuts pureed with veggies to make a creamed soup or berries or potatoes other than sweet potatoes?

I am concerned because I know certain foods could cause allergic reactions, like those mentioned, and should not be introduced until a year old. What is your feeling on this? How about peanuts (peanut butter) and honey? At what age?


The key to preventing allergies is to introduce all the new foods that the mother is eating while nursing is continued. It is stopping nursing and then introducing new foods that increases the risk of allergies. That means, if you hold off until one year of age to introduce nuts after you have stopped nursing, you will be increasing the risk of nut allergy. The best thing to do is to introduce new foods early, not late, and make sure that you and the baby eat them together and the nursing continues well after all the new foods have been introduced. I strongly recommend that nursing be continued for 18 months.

It is best not to introduce honey to a young child at all. It is dangerous before a year but still an unhealthy substance that just fosters a desire for sweets. Peanut butter can be introduced at one year as long as you are eating it first and breast feeding is continued.


There are many families in our community with autistic children and young adults. Have you treated autistic patients, and if so, have they benefited from a Nutritarian diet? What can I tell them regarding the range of improvement they could expect – or at least seek – for their autistic children as a result of optimal nutrition? And by what mechanism would the improvement occur?


Yes, I have treated such patients, and I believe they have benefited from optimal nutrition.

The same things that maximize intelligence and health in all children will benefit autistic children. They have the same human needs and respond positively to positive influences and negatively to negative influences (except more so). This includes prolonged breast feeding, excellent nutrition with good fatty acid balance, physical closeness, and emotional consistency; these things will allow them to reach their potential. Our focus is not merely on superior nutrient intake but also nutrient comprehensiveness to assure no borderline deficiencies are present. Consider the addition of our folic acid-free multi to assure adequacy in zinc, iodine, K2, B12, Vitamin D and many food-based phytonutrients. Unfortunately, there is lots of alternative nonsense out there too that preys on this group.

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