One of the most common questions for parents of newborns is how can you prevent a food allergy? A whopping 5.6 million kids in the U.S. have food allergies, and for their parents, keeping them safe is no easy feat. They spend so much of their time preventing accidental exposures and allergic reactions. They avoid foods, read food labels, ask questions, talk to people who care for their child, have care plans, and carry epinephrine.
Although the guidance for preventing a food allergy was to avoid allergenic foods for a period of time after starting solids, in recent years, research shows that early introduction of allergenic foods is actually effective.
In this episode, I sat down with Meenal Lele, founder and CEO of Lil Mixins and a mom to a child with a food allergy. As a busy working mom, Meenal knew there had to be a better way to make early introduction easy, so she took the research, and her knowledge of food science, and developed infant powders that are protein supplements which make early introduction of peanut, tree nut, and egg protein simple and easy.
Meenal and I talk about a baby’s microbiome, gut health, and what it has to do with food allergies. She also talks about her ah-ah moment when she knew, without a doubt, that she had a solution that parents needed and pediatricians would recommend, her journey to launch and grow her company, challenges she encountered, and what the future holds. We also talk about her new book,“The Baby and the Biome: How the Tiny World Inside Your Child Holds the Secret to Their Health,” and new research that is likely to identify a cure for food allergy.
4:00 Let’s talk about your story!
4:46 We hear a lot about the gut microbiome, but why is it something that new parents need to know about?
6:28 What do you think about infant probiotics?
8:35 What are the causes of infant gut disruption?
10:32 What has changed in recent years and what do new parents need to know about introducing allergens to babies?
13:20 The protein in peanuts can trigger food allergies—explain!
16:30 Can food allergies and other immune conditions be prevented?
17:48 Is early introduction effective for all allergens?
19:34 Are there babies for which early introduction isn’t a good idea?
21:33 Can food allergies be cured?
26:26 Why did you start Lil Mixins?
28:27 What is Lil Mixins?
28:56 Did you conduct market research to determine that parents would buy the product?
30:39 What were the steps you took to get it off the ground?
31:55 What were the challenges you encountered that were also big learning lessons?
34:05 What advice do you have for other parents who may want to start this type of business?
35:09 What is the future for the company?
36:00 Your new book, “The Baby and The Biome” is coming out in September—what can readers expect?
LINKS MENTIONED IN THE SHOW
Julie mentions her interview with Dr. Tracy Shafizadeh from Evivo about infant gut health.
Meenal mentions this 2021 study that found that gut microbes trigger inflammation that exacerbates brain injury in extremely premature infants.
Meenal talks about this 2016 study that found babies from Russia had different gut microbes than babies in Finland and Estonia, and a higher incidence rate of e.coli.
Meenal talks about the LEAP study, which found early introduction of peanuts can reduce the risk of peanut allergy.
Meenal talks about her new book, “The Baby and the Biome: How the Tiny World Inside Your Child Holds the Secret to Their Health.”
Learn more about Lil Mixins on their website.
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