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Ten simple tips to boost your child’s health and wellness naturally
July 1st, 2018 + The Naturopathic Co.

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With so much conflicting health-related advice for our kids, it can make it really confusing to know which way to go, what to feed them, what’s good, and what’s not so good. The fortunate thing is that children respond well to really simple changes. Here are some straightforward health supporting strategies for children.

 

Outdoor play

Ensure regular, daily, outdoor adventure, play time, and running around in order to break out a sweat. It may sound obvious, but the amount of regular outdoor play that children are participating in is declining. Like adults, children rely on exercise to release toxins and support circulatory health. Outdoor activity has so many benefits, you can read more about that here.

Sun exposure

Ensure children get 15-20 minutes minimum in the sun (preferably outside peak hours of 11am-4pm) in order to get adequate levels of vitamin D. This means skin exposed, no hat, no sunscreen. Low vitamin D has been linked to a host of chronic diseases, and insufficiency affects almost 50% of the population worldwide (Nair 2012).

Did you know? Vitamin D3 deficiency has been shown to be a contributing factor in a number of chronic diseases. It is believed to play a role in controlling the immune system, increasing neuromuscular function and protecting the brain. Research indicates vitamin D deficiency plays a role in cancer, heart disease, stroke, autoimmune diseases, birth defects, and peridontal disease (Naeem 2010).

Vitamin D status depends on the production of vitamin D3 in the skin under the influence of ultraviolet radiation from sun as well as vitamin D intake through diet. Food sources of vitamin D are egg yolk, fatty fish, fortified dairy products and beef liver.

Check for nutritional deficiencies

Work with your practitioner to check for nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional deficiencies can have a huge impact on the development of your child. Nutritional deficiencies have been linked to many childhood conditions such as ADHD, tics, OCD, dyslexia, and delayed speech. Treat nutritional deficiencies through diet (and supplementation if required). Ensure adequate intake of fresh, organic, fruit and vegetables daily – children should aim to consume between between 2 – 5 cups of vegetables each day depending on their age.

Remember it’s normal for children to eat more of some foods on some days, and less on other days, what matters most is that they eat as close to these amounts as possible throughout the week.

Smoothies are a great way to hide vegetables for children who may not want to consume them. Load up and include plants (vegetables, herbs, spices) in your child’s favourite meal such as spaghetti bolognese, lasagna, or pizza.

Sleep

The brain undergoes vital neuroregeneration and detoxification overnight, when it swells and the glymphatic system flushes the brain of toxic molecules (NIH 2013). The Sleep Health Foundation recommends the following

Newborns
0-3 months
14 to 17 hours
Infants
4-11 months
12 to 15 hours
Toddlers
1-2 years
11 to 14 hours
Preschoolers
3-5 years
10 to 13 hours
School-aged Children
6-13 years
9 to 11 hours
Teenagers
14-17 years
8 to 10 hours

Eliminate artificial additions to food

Minimise as much as possible artificial colours, additives, dyes, which have been linked to impacting some children’s health conditions such as ADHD. The Food Standards Agency in the UK funded research into possible links between food colours and hyperactivity in children. It found that consuming certain artificial food colours could cause increased hyperactivity in some children in the following colours: sunset yellow FCF (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124).

Under UK and EU law, manufacturers must provide information about any additives used in the foods they produce. Food and drink containing any of these colours must carry a warning on the packaging. The warning states ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’ (Food Standards Agency 2018).

Minimise processed foods

Minimize processed and refined foods, as well as refined sugars. Replace them with whole foods (food in it’s naturally occurring state or as close as possible), as well as naturally occurring sugars or sweeteners if needed. When children consume only ‘stomach-fillers’ such as breads, chips, biscuits, muesli bars, and other white coloured starches each and every day, they are not receiving the nutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals they need from whole foods.

Track bowel movements

It might sound a bit strange, but the bowel reveals a lot to a natural health practitioner. Ensure your children are having regular daily bowel movements, and if they are not, then work with your practitioner to find out why.

Ensure adequate hydration

I see so many children (and adults) at clinic who are dehydrated. Adequate hydration is key to good health, and is needed to maintain the function of every cell and system in the body. Water is essential to life. It ensures the body is oxygenated, balances electrolytes and removes waste, maintains blood pressure, maintains body temperature, and much more. Even mild dehydration will lead to headaches, constipation, and fatigue.

Attention

Unfortunately, life, with its infinite distractions, has a way of eroding connection. Offer your attention to your child. Children thrive when they feel connected and understood. Children who feel deeply and positively connected to their parents feel safe and happy, which results in less stress, and therefore less strain on the immune system. Some ideas for fostering a good connection are developing rituals (bedtime story, breakfast together, family time), hugs (it has been said that children need eight hugs per day for maintenance!), turn off technology when interacting with your child, eating dinner together without interruptions, and special time with each child every day even if it’s only 10 0r 15 minutes. Children need to know that we’ve got their back and we adore them (Markham 2014).

De-stress

Relax and encourage a happy, low-stress environment. Stress is a major contributor to poor health in children and adults. Stress affects the immune system’s ability to cope. Consider mindful eating, fun play, yoga, quiet-time child meditation apps, family and friends, nature-time, meaningful discussions, and laughter.

Take the first steps and book your child’s initial consult here

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068797/

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/brain-may-flush-out-toxins-during-sleep

http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/pdfs/Sleep-Needs-Across-Lifespan.pdf

https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/food-additives

Disclaimer; We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information on this site is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult with a health care practitioner before implementing any information or treatments from content found on this wellness blog or website. This is of the utmost importance if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking prescription medication, or have a medical condition.


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