Doctor's Note

Other tips on raising healthy children can be found in videos such as Nerves of MercuryPreventing Childhood Allergies; and Dairy & Sexual Precocity. Unfortunately, parents tend to overestimate the quality of their children’s diets (see Mothers Overestimate Dietary Quality). For advice on how to best raise our children, one can’t beat the advice offered by the most esteemed pediatrician of all time—Dr. Benjamin Spock. Check out Dr. Spock’s advice in Doctors’ Nutritional Ignorance.

For further context, check out my associated blog posts: Stool Size and Breast Cancer RiskProtecting Our Babies From Pollutants; and Schoolchildren Should Drink More Water.

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  • Other tips on raising healthy children can be found in videos such as Nerves of Mercury, Preventing Childhood Allergies, and Dairy & Sexual Precocity. Unfortunately parents tend to overestimate the quality of their children’s diets. For advice on how to best raise our children, one can’t beat the advice offered by the most esteemed pediatrician of all time, Dr. Benjamin Spock. Check out Dr. Spock’s advice in Doctors’ Nutritional Ignorance.

    If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Fantastic for the Family Practitioner trying to get parents to breast feed!

      Also thank you for the Toxic Overload series last week.  They were mouth dropping.  If those video’s don’t change my patients food choices than I guess the onset of chronic disease may be their last stimulus to choose a plant based lifestyle.  

      Nothing like the Grim Reaper pointing at you and pointing at your head-stone to get you to change your habits.  It’s been the most powerful stimulus in my practice.

  • I confirm! My son was exclusively breastfed for six months, and partly breastfed until he was 4 years old. We never had a problem in feeding him veggies: he started chewing vegetables before he started walking. At 1 year old he was enjoying salads, leaving his grandmother astonished (I was bottle-fed and my mother had to put sugar on tomatoes to convince me to eat them – she could not foresee I would eventually become vegan). Today he’s 8 years old and enjoys broccolis, carrots, beets, potatoes, eggplants. cauliflower, kale, sprouts, roots, tomatoes… (the list can go on almost endlessly). The only problem is that we cannot put him in the school canteen: in France, animal proteins are compulsory (by law!) at each meal and you seldom get anything without cream or other crappy sauces.

    • Great to hear about your boy. What’s with the messed up law about animal protein? That’s absurd.

    • WholeFoodChomper

      In the U.S. we have the Milk Council and in France it sounds like you have the Meat Council.  Really disturbing how politics and profit can negatively affect what we can choose to eat.

    • OutsideMom

      My nephew is sometimes vegan and at his school in the US, they would insist he put ham and cheese on his tray (which he would promptly throw away as soon as he got through the line). Did they make the kids getting pizza and fries and nothing else get a veggie? Nope. Just the vegan kid with the huge salad.

      • Cristina

        The pizza tray still has to have a vegetable. I work in a school cafeteria and we make any accommodations we can for the children. All we need is a note from the parent and he could have exactly (and only) what he wants on his tray. I’m sorry his school obviously isn’t so accommodating.

  • Thea

    What is also interesting about this video is: If the mother is not eating all those fruits and veggies, then the baby will not get that mulit-flavored milk.  So, this piece is not just about exclusively breast feeding baby, but also about mommy taking care with what she eats.   Not a revelation, of course, but it is yet one more interesting way to look at the importance of what the mother eats.

  • Luisfer

    What to do if there is breastfeeding is impossible?

  • Health4life07

    Hi Dr. Greger, Before we get too far from the subject of toxins, can you address hair dies? How bad are they really? Is there a best and a worst?

    • Jo

      There’s a link between hair dyes and bladder cancer. Hair stylists are particularly at risk.

    • WholeFoodChomper

      This site is dedicated to food, nutrition, and diet.  You may find useful information regarding hair dyes and other cosmetics on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website:

      You may want to consider henna as a hair dye alternative

  • Lauren Ard

    I’m disappointed that the title of this article is so misleading. We all know “breast is best” and I was really looking forward to learning what formula I should be giving to my foster son. (Yes, it’s stupid that it’s against the rules for me to give breast milk to my foster son, but if I broke the rules I could lose my license and not be able to adopt him!!) So, I’ve been looking forward to this video so I could find out which baby formula to give him, only to view it and discover it’s all about breastfeeding. 

    Don’t get me wrong – breastfeeding is awesome, I did it for a year with my biological daughter. But it just isn’t possible with my foster son and it would have been nice if the title of this video actually fit with the content.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      A lot of Dr. Greger’s titles are punny but in this case The Best Baby Formula is. . . Breast Milk.  That is his point is that no formula is better than Breast Milk.
      But regarding formula Soy is best.  Here is a link to Dr. Neal Barnards website
      If it doesn’t work you may have to first sign up with your email address but it is free.
      I hope this helps.

    • WholeFoodChomper

      Agreed, this video title is a bit misleading.  All of us watching this series already know that “breast is best”. Problem is that not every woman with a baby can breastfeed. A video on breast milk alternatives would be nice indeed.

      • I am glad I am not the only one who thinks so!

        • wendellsmom

          I agree. I was am a very healthy plant based mom who planned on breastfeeding but was not able to do so. I would have actually liked to know the best formula for my baby, given our inability to breastfeed.

    • Annetha

      My adopted kids arrived weaned, but I hope someone made an effort to feed them the best available formula. (Kudos to you in looking out for your foster son!) When looking for information on pre- and probiotics, I noticed quite a few studies and reviews on tweaking formula to better approximate breast milk’s good outcomes. Perhaps one day (when he has a free moment ;-), Dr. Greger could sift through these and provide some informed guidance on what to look for in formulas that best approach breast milk, when breastfeeding is not possible, e.g.,

      Vandenplas Y et al. 2014. Prebiotics in infant formula.Gut Microbes. 2014;5(6):681-7. doi: 10.4161/19490976.2014.972237.

      Abstract. The gastrointestinal microbiota of breast-fed babies differ from classic
      standard formula fed infants. While mother’s milk is rich in prebiotic
      oligosaccharides and contains small amounts of probiotics, standard
      infant formula doesn’t. Different prebiotic oligosaccharides are added
      to infant formula: galacto-oligosaccharides, fructo-oligosaccharide,
      polydextrose, and mixtures of these. There is evidence that addition of
      prebiotics in infant formula alters the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota
      resembling that of breastfed infants. They are added to infant formula
      because of their presence in breast milk. Infants on these supplemented
      formula have a lower stool pH, a better stool consistency and frequency
      and a higher concentration of bifidobacteria in their intestine compared
      to infants on a non-supplemented standard formula. Since most studies
      suggest a trend for beneficial clinical effects, and since these
      ingredients are very safe, prebiotics bring infant formula one step
      closer to breastmilk, the golden standard. However, despite the fact
      that adverse events are rare, the evidence on prebiotics of a
      significant health benefit throughout the alteration of the gut
      microbiota is limited.

    • Elaine Vigneault

      Another foster-adopt mom here who looked to this video for info about actual formula. Feeding breast milk from a milk bank or wet nurse it not only not practical but in our cases as foster parents also it’s against the rules and could get us in major trouble with Family Services. Furthermore, recent studies have recently come out that show many milk banks are providing breast milk that has been tainted with dangerous pathogens or just plain cow’s milk.

  • Blac

    Misleading title

  • M.J.

    Is it true that if a mother is on medication it transfers to baby from breastfeeding possibly causing problems in child?

    • TCB Health

      MJ, It IS true that a mother’s medications can transfer to the baby through her breast milk. Anything a mother ingests – medications, supplements, food – has the potential to impact her baby to varying degrees. Maintaining a healthy diet and having an open dialogue with the family doctors will keep both protected.

      • This is NOT true. The vast majority of medications do not enter breast milk (for a variety of reasons: molecular size, protein-binding, etc.) and most of those that do have no effect on the baby. There are some medications that are potentially a problem. Dr. Thomas Hale has written an excellent book on this that is updated every couple of years: he lists medications and rates them for safety for breastfeeding.

        • Luis

          I may have misread what TCB Health says: medications CAN transfer. It doesn’t say if all, a majority or a minority. It only states that in at least one case, the medication transfers to the baby through breastmilk. Apparently, it doesn’t contradict what Dr. Hales says, IMHO.

          • TCB Health

            Thank you, Teresa and Luis, for your replies and added information. Teresa, I believe we are essentially saying the same thing. I purposely kept my response generic because MJ did not ask about a specific medication. It would have been irresponsible of me to imply that all medications are safe. Multiple factors are involved in whether a certain medication passes into breast milk and the best course of action is to discuss all medications and concerns with one’s personal physician. Reading about Dr. Hale’s work, however, is an excellent way to learn more about it and to be better prepared for discussions with the doctor.

  • More myths

    It is not ironic at all and actually follows complete logic. And breastmilk is not “the best formula”. It is the normal food you give a human child

  • Just like to extent my gratitude for the work you do. It’s amazing. Thank you!

  • mitz

    Misleading… All of us already know that breastmilk is best! But how about the women who can’t breastfeed? The ones who doesn’t have enough milk or when breast feeding is just impossible? I thought that this article will give you alternatives of the best formula milk for mothers who doesn’t have enough milk for their babies or just can’t breastfeed.

  • mitz

    Sorry, I mean the title is misleading.

  • Mark

    A study this spring suggests that delaying the introduction of grains until 6 months increases the risk of celiac disease. the findings are contrary to the suggestion that exclusive breast-feeding for 6 months is optimal. I think it’d help to revise this video. thanks.

  • Chris Armendarez

    Question: I try to breastfeed exclusively but even with the assistance
    of a lactation consultant and fenugreek I have not been able to
    completely nourish my baby with breast milk. I even tried the
    prescription Reglan for a little while then stopped due to side effects.
    We were supplementing with organic dairy based formula. However, we
    recently discovered he has a milk allergy (along with reflux) and the
    use of organic dairy based formula is no longer an option. We tried to
    feed him nutrimigen but he won’t take it. He will drink soy formula
    although he doesn’t like it as much as dairy formula or breast milk. I
    have read very scary things about soy formula and little boys due to the
    estrogen. Could you elaborate on the safety of soy formula in baby

  • punky

    I was not able to brest feed my child due to health problems I have but I gave my child the best milk to him I gave him Soy milk . and at birth I didn’t feed him around the clock milk I gave him water and juice insted of milk he grow very healthy baby and Not a fat baby never Hungry and I gave him all the water he wanted I was told he was going to lost his hair but this was untrue he was was very healthy baby he had a milk 4 times a day this child is now 40 yr old . and has 2 of his own .

  • Chris B.

    Firstly, thanks for what you do. You have helped inspire my wife and I to seriously adjust our eating habits. Secondly, I agree with some of the other similar comments below – Of course breast feeding is the most healthy thing for a newborn, but unfortunately some mothers (like my wife) are unable to breast feed as long as they would like for certain reasons, so there is no alternative but to formula feed. Your title “The Best Baby Formula” is misleading and insensitive to some mothers who would very much like to breastfeed but can’t. We came to this video excited for the idea that you had some real input on how to choose the right formula since we value your opinions, but we were very disapointed in this one. Maybe you could do something on actual formula for those of us that are unable to give our children breast milk any longer?

  • Judy Okten

    Hello. I have breasted exclusively for 6 months. She is now eating solids as well as continuing with breast milk. I would like to use some formula milk to mix with cereals. My doctor insists any milk needs to be cows milk based and that soy based formulas are not proven in the market. Almond milk is apparently not okay either. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks a lot. Judy

    • Thea

      Judy: I am not an expert, but maybe I have some thoughts that will help you.

      Based on what I’ve read, it sounds to me like you are doing so much right in terms of breastfeeding and now slowly moving to solid foods. What I don’t understand is why you would want to mix formula milk with cereals instead of just regular non-dairy milk. Why a formula milk? I would think that babies only need formula milk when they can’t get human breast milk.

      I have found the group/website Vegetarian Resource Group to provide well researched, sound information. They have a page that I think would be helpful for your situation. It covers a wider age range, but the following page has a section about moving babies from breast milk to solid food:

      As for any sort of cows milk product: I personally would never give my child, especially such a young one, any non-human breast milk. Dr. McDougall thinks that cows milk is the likely cause of type 1 diabetes. And you will be interested in the following video:

      Which ends with this text: “…Until doctors are taught more about nutrition their advising us about
      diet may be physician-assisted suicide. There is one doctor though,
      everyone trusts. Perhaps the most famous physician of all time. Dr
      Benjamin Spock. Always on the forefront of important social issues. And
      in the final edition of his book, the best selling book in American
      history (second only to the Bible), he recommended that all children be
      raised on meat and dairy free diets to prevent diseases like cancer.”

      I’m sure your doctor means well. But it is worth taking his nutritional advice with the practical understanding of how ignorant most doctors (not all! We have some great ones who follow this site) are when it comes to nutrition.

      Hope that helps!

  • Donna

    After breast feeding is soy milk healthy for young children ?

  • Saz

    Michael I have been Exclusively BFing my twins for 6.5 months but recently started adding baby porridge in addition to their feeds. This has greatly improved their sleeping but Because they were five weeks premature should I stop and wait til their corrected age of six months is reached? THanks

  • Nic

    Dr Greger hello,

    First off, thank you for the work you do! I’ve always got one or eight of your videos open.

    I saw a ray of hope in the title of your video “The Best Baby Formula” but alas it’s not really about formula at all, so broke my heart just that little bit more. But it is a good twist :)

    I recently won the ailment lottery and developed Transient Osteoporosis of Pregnancy. Long story short, I shall breastfeed for just 6 beautiful months because according to advisors far smarter than I, breastfeeding any longer will speed up bone loss and significantly increase my fracture risk – still tempting though. Just passed the 3-month mark and bone density is only a smidgen worse :) which is fabulous!

    Through the profound sadness of not being able to give my daughter the best, I’m looking for the next best solution…which seems like soy formula while transitioning to solids.

    I doubt I need to tell you or anyone reading this just how fraught this decision is.

    Please, please do give some guidance to those of us facing such a difficult decision.


  • Lisa

    My husband and I are huge fans and have attended more
    than 5 of your presentations. Thank you for your excellent work! Our 8½ month
    old grandson is weaning himself off breast feeding. My daughter and son-in-law
    are hoping we can recommend a plant based formula. I have not read favorable
    things about soy formulas – even organic. Apparently almond and oat milks are
    not appropriate until age one. Can you please help us with recommendations?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hi Lisa. So glad you were able to see Dr. Greger in action! I am happy to try and help provide some resources. Here is some information on soy formulas. I really do not think there are other options if you’re trying to avoid cow’s milk-based formula. I can find out more. In the meantime, perhaps check out the Vegetarian Resource Group or The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has fact sheet on Vegetarian Infants. Thanks for reposting your question. Let me know if these help?


  • Thanks, but only six months?! What about 7 to 24 to 36 months?! Why not breast-feed until a child have its own teeth and is able to chew? It was known in Hygienic circles that babies does not have ptyalin in their saliva and therefore cannot digest starches which are unfortunately abundantly applied in their diet even before sixth month. Is it not allowed to say that a mother should breast-feed her child untill a child is able to chew its food?

  • Annetha

    FYI, L. reuteri prevents colic symptoms in newborns. One can hope that other childhood maladies associated with colic can also be reduced. (My niece (breast-fed for six months) and I (formula-fed in 1950s) both suffered colic.):

    ‘Good bacterium’ prevents colic symptoms in newborns
    Treatment with beneficial microbe nearly halves crying time
    by Nathan Seppa
    6:02pm, January 13, 2014

    ….Researchers at the University of Bari Aldo Moro in Italy
    teamed with other scientists across Italy to randomly assign 589
    newborns to get either a placebo or a probiotic supplement. The
    supplement contained live Lactobacillus reuteri, a microbe shown
    previously to improve intestinal function. Parents delivered the drops
    and kept detailed diaries of infant health for three months.

    Newborns getting the microbe were less apt to develop colic
    symptoms. They cried for an average of 38 minutes per day; infants
    getting placebo cried for 71 minutes. The microbe-treated babies also
    spit up less often. … Parents whose babies got the microbes lost only about half a day of
    work during the study, compared with nearly three days for parents of
    infants getting a placebo.

    F. Indrio et al. Prophylactic use of a probiotic in the prevention of
    colic, regurgitation, and functional constipation: a randomized clinical
    trial. JAMA Pediatrics. Published online January 13, 2014.

    Further Reading
    N. Seppa. Colic in infancy linked to migraines later in childhood. Science News. Vol. 183, May 18, 2013, p. 18.

    F. Savino et al. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 in infantile colic:
    a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pediatrics. Vol.
    126, September 1, 2010. p. e526. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-0433.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Interesting research, thanks for sharing!

  • Stella McCarter


    I am a huge fan of the site and it is my trusted source of information on health and nutrition. I am also a new mother and I have noticed that so many women can’t breastfeed because they don’t produce breast milk so they have to rely on formula. I was wondering if this may be linked to their diet and if it’s is something you have looked into?

    I saw a source that found a link between having a healthy diet of mostly veggies and fruits and producing breast milk. Seems like breast milk can perhaps become too thick or something when too much animal protein is consumed.

    I haven’t seen any other information about this besides my one obscure source (an orthodox Russian doctor) and I was wondering if you would consider looking into it. I think having this knowledge can benefit so many.

    Thank you so much for your time.


    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Answered: Here

  • Juan Live

    is there any plant or food known to increase breast milk production?

    • Rita Rits

      In Ghana,Corn porridge is drank by lactating women to produce more milk in addition to spinach soups and root tuber plant foods

  • Aasha

    But what if we’re not able to breastfeed? I’m not comfortable going to a milk bank because I wouldn’t know what the supplier had been consuming and wouldn’t be comfortable with the likelihood of her having consumed animals and animal products. So in this case, what formula is best??

  • flagler1

    Dr. Greger — what do you make of the OSU sibling study ( Do you think that exclusive breastfeeding is just simply correlated with healthier habits, and not the cause?

  • c4

    So which formula is best for those of us who, for whatever reason, cannot breast-feed their children?

    Cow’s milk has hormones, antibiotics, and higher levels of industrial toxins. Its proteins are also associated with respiratory problems and auto-immune conditions. As such, I’d prefer not to use cow’s milk.

    For soy formula, they use an isocaloric (same number of calories) quantity of sucrose. But sucrose is perceived as being about 5x more sweet, which triggers a dopamine response, that may lead to a sugar addiction. Plus, sucrose is worse for your teeth than lactose, which is important considering that kids start having teeth well before you can brush them properly. As such, I’d prefer not use soy either.

    Most milk bank breast milk goes to neo-natal intensive care units, so that’s not really an option for most of us.

    So I apologize for repeating what has already been asked, but I feel that this hasn’t been fully answered, and I’m hoping an expert can advise us: what IS the best formula?

  • Vanessa

    Hello, I am primarily plant based and had been a vegetarian (excluded dairy and still ate eggs) for two years prior to my pregnancy. I have Hyperemesis Gravidium during my pregnancies and out of fear of causing problems with my child’s growth I ate chicken and eggs during my pregnancy usually two to three times a week :( I am exclusively breastfeeding and have been for three and a half months. And my baby girl is flourishing. I want to go back to being fully plant based and following the nutritional guidelines set out in the book. But I’m scared it will negatively effect my breastmilk :( any suggestions? (I downloaded the ap yesterday where you mark off that you’ve eaten your daily servings)

  • DrHaggard

    Dear Dr. Gregor and staff,
    I am conventionally trained as a naturopathic medical doctor and aware that promotes plant-based diets and breast-feeding for optimal nutrition. However, breast feeding is not always feasible, as indicated by the number of similar comments to this video. As such, I was hoping that you could provide me any insight from your research or your opinions on the best formula for human babies if human milk is unavailable considering the following works:

    The Scandal of Infant Formula at:

    Dr. Loren Cordain’s article Questions About Milk at:

    The article FAQ-Homemade Baby Formula at

    Morell, Sally Fallon; Morell, Sally Fallon; Cowan, Thomas S.; Cowan, Thomas S. (2013-04-01). The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. Newtrends Publishing, Inc.

    Erlich, Katherine; Genzlinger, Kelly (2012-03-01). Super Nutrition for Babies: The Right Way to Feed Your Baby for Optimal Health. Creative Publishing International.

    I am very interested in your or your staff’s response and believe many others will be too.

    In good health,

    Dr. J. Sage Haggard

  • Julie M.

    It’s a bit worrying! I tried to breastfed my daughter but nothing was coming out and she went very sick because she was starving! She was hospitalized and then, I was so scared and feeling so guilty, I didn’t want to take any risk so I put her on organic soy formula right away. After this video, I wonder if the results of this research are that bad for organic soy formula as they are for cow formula? Thank you!

  • Samantha

    Sadly I was unable to successfully breastfeed my child, who is now 6 months old. I HATE formula and worry daily over his health. My doctors are useless and never answer my questions because, I believe, they don’t know how. I desperately want to stop giving him formula but I know babies are supposed to have “milk” their whole first year of life. I make all his baby food and he loves to eat solids, and a wide variety of solids too. Is there an acceptable age, before 1 year, that I can stop formula feeding?

  • Arin

    Doctor, but how long? at what age breastfeed must stop? Thanks you very much for such an informative video.

    • Christine Kestner

      Hi, Arin. I am Christine, a NF volunteer. As stated above, breastfeeding is recommended for at least the first six months of life. In my opinion, it is ideal to breastfeed for at least a year, until children are typically able to eat solid food. Beyond that, when to stop is a personal choice. Some mothers breastfeed their children until age 3 and even beyond. In my own personal experience, my children lost interest in it when they started to eat more solid food, about one year of age. Weaning was easy, because they were ready and so was I. I hope that helps!

      • Arin

        Thanks you so much Christine for this information, I appreciate it.

  • carolina

    Thank you for all the fantastic evidence based information supporting an earth friendly diet!
    Can I ask advice regarding first foods? My baby is turning 6 months shortly and I have been exclusively breast feeding her so far. Can I get some recommended first foods for her? I’ve been told fruits first… is this best? or too sweet? Can I start with sweet potatoes? Any advice would be so welcome!! Thank you again!

    • Thea

      carolina: Below is information I typically share with people who ask questions like this. You will likely already know the first parts, but the references after that should contain not only the information you are specifically asking for, but answers to a host of other questions about feeding young uns. ;-) I hope this helps.
      First, note the following quote from a position paper from the ADA: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”
      Also note this quote from Dr. Greger’s book, How Not To Die, page 411-412: “Vitamin B12-fortified plant-based diets can offer health benefits for all stages of the life cycle. [When] Dr. Benjamin Spock, the most esteemed pediatrician of all time,…died at ninety-four, he advocated children be raised on a plant-based diet with no exposure to meat or dairy products. … ‘Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods have a tremendous health advantage and are much less likely to develop health problems as the years go by.’ ”
      But having said that, there are some ‘gotchas’ when it comes to young children and whole plant food diets (just like there are gotchas with children and any diet). So, it really is worth spending some time reviewing accurate, evidence-based information on the topic. Here’s some ideas for specifics:
      I’ll refer you to a site called the Vegetarian Resource Group, VRG. Their articles are usually very well researched and Dr. Greger has mentioned VRG favorably at least once. VRG has a whole section on kids on their website.
      Here’s the main page. Scroll down to the Nutrition section:
      This is one of my favorite articles on that page. which starts with babies and goes on up:
      PCRM is the Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine, headed up by Dr. Barnard. Dr. Greger has mentioned Dr. Barnard and PCRM favorably in posts and his book. Here are two articles from PCRM that I think contains the type of information you are looking for:
      Finally, I highly recommend getting a book called, Becoming Vegan, Express Edition. That book is a great over-all reference book for the whole family. This book is also mentioned in Dr. Greger’s book. Becoming Vegan has an entire chapter on children and what to feed from infancy on. The authors of that book have been guest bloggers here on NutritionFacts. They are very well respected and extremely knowledgeable about nutrition science and how it applies to all ages.