Ask the Expert: Featuring Dr. Preethi Raghupatruni, Pediatrician
Our expert today comes at the topic of children’s nutrition from a variety of angles, both in her role as a Medical Director at Lurie Children's Pediatrics in Uptown as well as an Instructor of Pediatrics at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. But perhaps even more importantly, as a mom.
With a busy schedule both in her practice and at home, Dr. Preethi acknowledges the challenges parents face in feeding, and helps us dig a bit deeper on a key element of Vitaminis mineral blend, Zinc.
Vitaminis (VM): Thanks Dr. Preethi for weighing in on the struggle to get families fed these days, especially healthfully. We can’t wait to hear your thoughts.
Dr. Preethi (DP): Of course, happy to offer both my professional and personal points of view. As a doctor, ideally, kids should get all of their needed nutrition from fruits and vegetables, but unfortunately many don't. And realistically, it can be expensive to always eat fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as time consuming to plan ahead and grocery shop strategically.
VM: We hear that A LOT from busy, on the go families who do care about overall nutrition but have to find the balance.
DP: Balance is a great way to look at it. Culturally in the U.S. we’ve had much more of a “work until you die” mentality, leaving little time to cook healthy meals. In reality, fresh foods don’t have to be expensive and cooking doesn’t have to be hard, but you do need to allocate time and have access to grocery stores.
VM: So true, especially for folks that live in what is considered a “food desert,” online channels can be helpful, which is why Vitaminis is available on Amazon, with free Prime delivery. Assuming we can get access to fresh foods, what are some of the things we should be looking for, perhaps specifically as it relates to the challenges you see most in your practice?
DP: Whole foods are always better than prepared foods. Also, as a physician, I can tell you that kids do not really need snacks, although as a parent, I’ll admit, they love them. So once again, balance, meaning if they are going to have a snack that’s a beverage, look at total sugars and added sugars, and be careful about the serving size. Constipation is always an issue with kids, as well as Inflammation, something many people are becoming more familiar with as both a symptom and a risk factor. And then there’s allergies, which parents often worry about but in many cases is an intolerance vs a true allergy.
VM: Those definitely sound like familiar concerns to us and you make great points on snack selection. We definitely developed Vitaminis to achieve that balance, while boosting it with immune supportive minerals. One of those is Zinc, can you talk more about its role?
DP: Zinc is an essential nutrient that plays a role in growth, tissue repair, wound healing, and overall health of the immune response. Zinc intake is closely related to protein intake, meaning that protein intake increases zinc absorption. Primary dietary sources of zinc include animal products such as meat and shellfish and certain plant products including beans, nuts, peanuts and pumpkin seeds. Mild zinc deficiency is associated with depressed immunity, impaired taste and smell and decreases in vision.
VM: Wow so it really affects the senses as well as the immune system.
DP: Yes, essentially it’s your body giving signals of the imbalance going on inside.
VM: Truly fascinating. Thank you so much for your thoughts and offering a little lesson today on the importance of balance, specifically when it comes to supporting kids' immunity.
DP: Thank you for having me, and hang in there parents, the challenge is real and you’re not in it alone, even pediatricians kids sneak snacks sometimes!