A Thumbs Up Book Review
The Truth About Children’s Health: The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Preventing, and Reversing Disease
By Robert Bernardini, MS
PRI Publishing, 2003
Review by Janice M. Curtin
I have been looking for an all-inclusive book about children’s health and finally have found it. Robert Bernardini covers every topic that relates to raising a healthy child, from how to make your own baby formula to why we have violence in schools.
Beginning with a report on the status of children in America today, Bernardini asks the question I have raised many times. “If you’re an adult reading this who is older than about 40 years of age, I’d like you to think back to your childhood. How many kids did you know who had leukemia, asthma, diabetes, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, autism or were obese? Chances are, you may have known a few. Perhaps the kid down the street had asthma. Maybe there was a distant relative who had juvenile diabetes. Or you heard on the news about some rare child with leukemia. Now? It seems like everywhere you turn, you read or hear about a child with a serious health problem. How many kids do you know of who are on Ritalin or were diagnosed with a learning disability? There are whole hospitals devoted to children’s cancer. Asthma and diabetes are now considered epidemics.”
Bernardini wakes us up to the fact that children were once much healthier than they are now. Today we don’t even know what a healthy child is and these diseases have become so common we don’t realize how unusual they were in the 1950s. Bernardini not only does a good job of opening our eyes to the problems with children’s health today, but he gives us tools and ideas we can use to help our children have optimum wellness.
Bernadini points out that “we live in a universe of laws. These laws that don’t care if you’re black or white, Japanese or Mexican, 90 years old or still a fetus. These laws are fundamental in the nature of matter and energy and determine how life progresses. If we live in harmony with these laws, we will as consequence live in harmony. If we break the laws, we will become discordant. Enough of this discord will create sickness, disease, and aberrant behavior.” Dr. Price expressed this fact in a similar manner as “Life in all its fullness is Mother Nature obeyed.”
Bernadini explains that whenever a health problem occurs, we must determine what the problem really is and determine the cause of the symptoms. Then we must apply our knowledge and technology in a way that works with nature, not against it, in order to get our children well. A good example of this might be the treatment of ADHD. Bernardini recommends removing the heavy metal toxicity from a child’s tissues and giving him a good diet instead of giving him Ritalin. If you do not remove the cause you never truly get rid of the problem. It may, however, seem to disappear but then surface in a new way.
Bernardini also addresses mental and emotional health and the growth of violence in our schools. “According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the years between 1985 and 1995 saw a 249 percent increase in gun-related murders committed by juveniles.” Bernardini says our kids are going crazy because “they’re not happy. And they’re not happy because they’re not healthy.”
Furthermore, “People are getting sicker younger and younger–physically, mentally and emotionally. And it’s not by chance –it’s because our bodies are not being treated and cared for the way nature intended.” Our children are exposed to environmental toxins which their small bodies cannot handle and they are stressed out and poorly fed.
Bernardini stresses that the diet of pregnant mothers and infants during the first few years of life is critical to their health and happiness later on. He quotes Susan B. Robbers, Ph.D, professor of nutrition at Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston, who says, “As a nutrition researcher, I have spent 20 years studying the importance of healthy food at all stages of life. . . Studies from my own laboratory and others around the world have taught me that the foods my daughter eats during the first months and years of life have long-lasting–and in some cases–permanent effects. Foods make an important difference in virtually everything–from mental and physical developments to vitality, personality and health from childhood through old age.” Bernardini provides extensive information on the foods and nutrients your baby needs, what these nutrients do, and how to get them.
Bernardini’s dietary advice is in line with that of Dr. Price. Characteristic of the entire book, Bernardini is not afraid to tell us that it is important for your growing child to get enough fat in the diet. “Newborns must derive 50 percent of the calories they consume from dietary fat. Fat is essential for normal growth from infancy on, since fats provide fatty acids, the building block children need for critical metabolic programming of brain growth and development.” Bernardini gives specific advice on how to feed your child. He includes our recipes for homemade baby formula and recommends cod liver oil, egg yolks, raw whole milk and liver.
Dr. Bernardini fearlessly addresses an array of controversial topics including birth defects, infertility, baby food and formula, soy, vaccines, and SIDS. He gives extensive advice on what to avoid but also has plenty of support and resources on ways to deal with any problems your child may be experiencing already.
I particularly enjoyed his “Food for Thought” sections. He dares to tell you the politics behind many of our government policies and how they are harmful to children. He gives his opinion on how policy should be changed to be safer.
Bernardini does a good job of empowering us to be proactive. He is particularly concerned that we take back responsibility for our own and our children’s health. He gives good advice when he says: “You must scrutinize closely the information you receive from the government and the mass media. Policy decisions, guidelines and laws are oftentimes made not so much for the preservation of our health, but for the preservation of profits. Big money can do big things, including influencing our government. A 1980 study showed that almost half of the leading officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had at one time worked for organizations the agency is mandated to regulate. Similarly, many FDA officials quit to go work for a company in the field they were once regulating. . . . Do some research and ask some questions. Don’t necessarily believe somebody just because he or she is on the nightly news, in the papers or is a so-called ‘expert.’ Make yourself the expert. Learn to seek answers, not just accept what is foisted upon you–for the truth is often quiet and the truth is often hidden. Truth is not in it for the money, it just is. Truth doesn’t advertise.” He reminds us to be wary of the advertisers and be watchful that we do not become brainwashed. We must constantly be aware of the fact that we could lose our health freedoms if we are not educated, aware and vigilant about protecting them.
While The Truth About Children’s Health is incredibly informative, some may be frightened by the book’s emphasis on toxins and the dangers in our children’s world today. Bernardini is very knowledgeable in this area due to his background, which includes medical training and a degree in Environmental Sciences and Engineering. He worked as an Environmental Engineer for seven years and his broad base of expertise in medical and scientific subjects has helped him learn the real causes of and solutions to many health problems. So while The Truth About Children’s Health contains some frightening realities about our toxic world and its possible effects, the book also empowers its readers and gives wonderful advice about how to bring optimum health to our children. Because this information could make an incredible difference in our children’s lives, Bernardinis’s book is the book I would recommend to any new parent.
The Truth About Children’s Health is available from the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation (619) 462-7600.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2003.