By Dr. Nita Jagad.
In my 27 years of practice, I have had the opportunity to monitor the growth patterns of healthy as well as sick children. Sick children obviously don’t gain adequate weight. But some of the healthy babies without any health-related issues face unexplained feeding problems, difficulty swallowing and gaining weight.
I can actually appreciate parents’ concern regarding their baby’s weight gain. Hence I thought of sharing this important information with parents. There have been many studies on underweight children who were fed Amylase Rich foods and have shown promising weight gain.
What are Amylase Rich Foods?
First of all, let us know what are Amylase Rich Foods? Amylase rich foods are germinated cereal flours. They are extremely rich in an enzyme called alfa amylase. Amylase is an enzyme that converts large molecules of carbohydrates into smaller molecules of carbohydrates.
These amylase-rich foods can be added to the traditional weaning (complimentary) foods to decrease the thickness of preparation and increase the caloric content per meal
Indian Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding till six months of age. Then after 6 months of age, the traditional first food to be introduced is rice and moong dal paste.
Preparation of rice and moong dal paste: Take 2 bowls of rice + 1 bowl of yellow moong daal. Wash them separately and then dry it in sunlight. Once properly dried, roast in a thick bottom pan on a low flame till it changes to light brown colour. Let it cool and then grind it fine in a mixie. Store this finely ground flour in an airtight bottle. Use it to prepare a porridge using 1-2 teaspoons of this flour, ghee, jaggery and a little salt. Feed this porridge three to four times a day to your baby.
This traditional porridge has a high viscosity that means when prepared, it is thick in consistency. Some of the babies find it difficult to swallow and therefore consume lesser quantity resulting in less caloric intake than required for age and hence it results in a poor weight gain and malnutrition. Addition of one to two teaspoons of amylase-rich flour to our traditional porridge lowers the viscosity and increases the energy content and it is easier for an infant to swallow, more quantity can be consumed per meal and there is a better weight gain.
How to prepare Amylase rich food
Different cereals which can be used for the preparation of Amylase Rich Foods are wheat, pearl millet, maize, sorghum, moong, chana etc. Germinated wheat is found to be having highest level of amylase activity
- Select the cereal, clean it and soak in sufficient water for 6-8 hours
- Drain the water, wrap it in wet clean cloth for it to germinate. Keep it in a cool dark place. Sprinkle little water over the cloth to maintain the moisture
- In approximately 48-72 hours the cereal germinates. Remove it from cloth and put it for drying in the sunlight for about twelve to twenty-four hours and then roast on a low flame. For final drying, it can be roasted in a mud tava. Roast it well to remove any residual moisture. Manually remove all roots and shoots. Grind this cereal into fine flour and store this mixture in an airtight polythene bag or jar.
- Whenever you are preparing a fresh feed for the baby, add 1-2 teaspoons of the amylase-rich cereal once the traditional porridge comes to boiling and is almost cooked, keep stirring for 10 minutes for the amylase to have maximum effect. Your baby’s energy-rich food is ready.
This preparation has a very high energy content and thinner consistency. This food can be offered to any healthy infant of six months and above. It is also ideal for those babies who have a problem eating thick consistency food and those who have poor weight gain. Amylase rich foods can also be fed to malnourished babies.
The advantage of these Amylase rich foods is that it is prepared from locally available cheap ingredients and costs only Rs. 50- Rs. 60 per month, which makes this extremely economical and it is simple to prepare even by uneducated mothers.
So dear parents, go ahead and prepare this value for money and highly nutritious amylase-rich food for your baby and experience the desired weight gain.
Dr. Nita M Jagad, MBBS MD DCH, is a senior paediatrician based out of Mumbai. She’s an EQ trainer, certified and trained by Equip kids, India. She is a passionate advocate of Emotional Intelligence in children and parents. She’s one of our students at The Lifestyle Portal Online Writing Program.
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