The Breastfed Brain


I’ve been doing some baby research for my upcoming book and I’m focusing on brain development this week.  I found a great study that I wanted to share with you.

Brown University actually used baby-friendly MRI testing to look at the baby’s brain development over time and how it related to breastfeeding.

Breastfed babies had 20-30% more white matter than babies who were formula fed.

The white matter helps the brain communicate with itself to different parts of the brain. It includes the myelin which insulates the nerve fibres to allow for the electrical signals to go quickly.

The growth in these areas of the brain that deal with language, emotional function, and cognition.

What they also found was that even just a little bit of breastmilk helped improve the brain function. Exclusively breastfeeding had the best results followed by a combination of formula and breastmilk. Just formula had the least amount of growth.

Does this mean that your baby is doomed if they just got formula?

Not at all! There are so many other ways to improve your baby’s brain development including all the love and care and attention you are giving them. Maybe those breastfed babies have a slight advantage while we are creating The Super Baby, but building a Super Baby has many aspects.

So let go of the mommy guilt if you could just do formula and breastfeeding didn’t work out for you.

And if you breastfeed – keep going! The longer the better, the study found. Do it for as long as it works for you, your baby and your life.

Talk soon!

Dr. Whitney


Fitness vs Fatness

Shifting the Focus From Fatness to Fitness

I was at a wedding where they had a belly dancer perform for us. She was not a small woman – definitely carried more around the middle than most women consider desirable. She danced for at least a half hour with no breaks, and it was incredible to watch what she could do with her abs!

As we were watching this woman, another health professional said to me, “I would have expected her to have a six-pack.” I looked at her with my head cocked, in the “I don’t understand” position. She proceeded with her explanation, “She looks so strong is all.” I said “She is. That’s incredible”.


This showed me how deeply engrained are the social stigmas we have about people who carry extra weight, even amongst those who theoretically should know better. It is a myth that one cannot be fat AND fit. This belly dancer had more core strength and stamina than any of us! And she performed her routine with grace and softness.

Dove’s research revealed that 80% of women and girls had cancelled important life events (like birthday parties, trying out for a team, family dinners, holidays) due to low body esteem.

We need to create an environment where children and teenagers are not afraid of being teased. Because it’s stopping them from participating in the very activities that lead to health.

If our young people focus on their size instead of their health, they may get discouraged when their body doesn’t change the way they had hoped or intended, and they may stop being active because “it’s not working.”

That sense of shame and failure may have them retreating for comfort through food, or retreating to the isolation of their homes or online activities. Then the all-or-nothing dieting cycle begins, and a lifetime of dieting, shaming, and failure is not healthy.

The diet and fitness industry (and, sadly, the health care system as well) has been telling parents that we’re in a war against obesity (which, by the way, isn’t working).

My mission, and why I started The Diet Rebellion, is to help parents understand that the casualty of this war is their children’s mental health.

We are at a very important fork in the road. Let’s lead parents down the less-traveled path. This new path teaches us that:

  • Parents who discuss healthy eating with their kids without the conversation being about weight, raise teenagers who are less likely to develop eating disorders or obesity.[i]
  • Parents who don’t restrict foods raise teenagers who are less likely to develop discorded eating.[ii]
  • Parents who role model healthy eating behaviours and lifestyle choices themselves, for the sake of health and not weight loss, raise kids who are more likely to have a healthy lifestyle.[iii]


This new path allows our children to achieve health at any size. It allows us to teach our kids that if they want to prevent diabetes, they don’t have to lose weight; they can do that by achieving better fitness and by participating in fitness because their bodies are amazing. Just like the belly dancer, they can be incredibly fit in a large body.

When we make food and fitness fun and enjoyable, we encourage lifelong participation. It creates healthy lifestyle strategies and connects children more with how their bodies feel and less about how their bodies look.

Until next time,

Dr. Kerri


[i] JAMA Pediatr. 2013 Aug 1;167(8):746-53. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.78.

[ii] Int J Eat Disord. 2014 Apr;47(3):310-4. doi: 10.1002/eat.22189. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

[iii] Br J Nutr. 2008 Feb;99 Suppl 1:S22-5. doi: 10.1017/S0007114508892471.



Baby Food Basics Workshop


Hi Mama,

I’m at Serenity Birth Studio again Thursday March 31st 1-2pm to do the Baby Food Basics Workshop.

$5 or $2 with a food bank donation.

Feel free to bring your baby and learn when to start foods, what to start with and how to do it.

Preregistration is required by clicking here to visit Serenity’s website.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Dr. Whitney Young, ND


Baby Food Workshop

Feed their futureHi there,
I wanted to share with you the news of our first ever Advanced Baby Foods & Beyond class. This is for moms and dads who have started to introduce foods but want more info. It’s perfect if your little one is 3-12 months old.

Baby Food Workshop Details:

Feed their Future from Milk to Meals
Thursday March 3rd 9am-12pm at Serenity Birth Studio in Barrie.

In this workshop you will learn:

– what to feed them, what order and how to do it
– the steps to take if they get constipated
– what the science says about developing food allergies
– the 3 steps to take to avoid developing peanut allergies
– 5 steps to beautiful baby heads
– does my baby need iron?

Cost $47 +HST. Click here to register

What to bring:
Paper, pen, water bottle, layered clothing (in case it’s too hot or too cold for you), snacks (I’ll provide some too) and your baby.

Yes, babies are welcome!

To register visit:
Email with any questions

I look forward to seeing you there!

Dr. Whitney Young, ND

The Peanut Plan – Preventing Baby Peanut Allergies

3 Steps for Introducing Peanuts to your Baby

Preventing Baby Peanut Allergies

Allergies – Preventing Peanut Allergies

I was devastated to discover that my little sweet daughter was allergic to nuts! You expect your children to be perfect, right?

Well I did. I expected, since I’m a Naturopathic Doctor, that my kids were going to be the healthiest. I was going to do everything right and they would be the epitomy of health. So funny! I think I was bit delusional.

Being a first time mom, I guess I really didn’t have a concept of my plans and what actually would happen. You plan on doing everything right: going all organic, being a perfect mom, feeding them in a serene environment with only the best.

But life doesn’t happen that way. You are low on cash, so don’t buy this or that organic. You are at a friend’s house and your baby eats something you hadn’t planned. You swore you wouldn’t do antibiotics or meds for fevers but you do – and believe me – THAT’S OK!

This is actually a good thing. It really taught me to roll with it, to be more flexible. It’s also not healthy for my child if I’m a stressed out, neurotic mom who thinks everything they put in their mouth is poison. That won’t help them develop a healthy relationship with food.

So, back to the peanut thing. Yes, little Jillian turned out to have an anaphylactic reaction to walnuts and peanuts while in our home. Luckily it didn’t block her airways, she could breathe, but it was scary for sure. She vomited, was itching her face and tongue, and kept coughing. It was scary! So, how could I prevent baby peanut allergies in my newborn who would come along 2 years later?

Allergies are the earliest chronic disease to develop and the most common one in children.

The 8 most common allergies for kids are:

  1. Milk
  2. Shellfish
  3. Soy
  4. Treenuts
  5. Ragweed
  6. Bees
  7. Wheat
  8. Peanuts

People ask me – what’s with all the peanut allergies these days?

Why are there more allergies? Here are some theories:

  • More ceserean sections and antibiotic use, which can increase risk of eczema and asthma which are risk factors for developing food allergies
  • Use of NSAIDs which can damage the lining of the intestines (part of your immune system)
  • Higher obesity rates
  • Higher rates of vitamin D deficiency
  • Less exposure to parasites, bacteria and viruses that help teach the immune system what’s safe and not
  • Delayed exposure, so then more likely to be introduced via another route – skin or inhalation which alters how your immune system might respond to a food in the future
  • More environmental toxins, like BPA and heavy metals, which have been proven to affect the immune system
  • only 1.9 percent of peanut eaters developed a full-blown allergy, compared with 13.7 percent of peanut avoiders. (study in UK, 600 children)

The Peanut Plan – Preventing Baby Peanut Allergies

  1. Introduce peanuts early. When you start to introduce foods around 6 months (see Is my baby ready for solids) include peanuts in that first month.
  2. Try Bamba or natural peanut butter – get that good stuff from a health food store
  3. Eat peanut butter 3 times a week going forward – my pediatric allergist said this is a great way to prevent allergy. Don’t just give it to them once and then not again for 6 months. More allergies may develop that way.

So that’s The Peanut Plan. I’ve got so many more things I want to share with you parents so please let me know if you want to stay in the loop about it – Like us on Facebook so that you are sure to get all the news.

Also – sign up for my talk at Goodness Me! On Jan 26th in Barrie. Register Now.

Talk soon,