With school starting again this week I have some timely strategies to keep your kids healthy and boost their little immune systems so they can beat the bugs that inevitably hit around week 3 of the term. It’s not so much that the bugs aren’t around now, their bodies are actually better at fighting them after plenty of relaxation and sunshine which boosts vitamin D levels keeping them protected. Rather by about week 3 an accumulation of stress (from starting school to excessive after school activities) as well as poor nutrition take their toll and kids become much more susceptible to bugs.
Here’s my equation for healthy kids!
Great Nutrition + Relaxation (Balance) + Sleep = Great Health
Great nutrition is the foundation of a healthy and well functioning immune system. A strong immune system is needed to not only stave off viruses and bacteria but much more chronic health issues like auto-immune disease and cancer. Appreciating the gravity of this situation is vital and most health issues experienced in adulthood have their origins in childhood. The right nutrition is vital and this can only be achieved with wholefood nutrition, which means out with the packaged food and in with home cooked wholesome food that has a strong focus on real, nutrient dense foods. These include abundant quality fats and proteins, seasonal vegetables and a little fruit, properly prepared nuts, seeds, legumes and grains (if any at all and preferably no to very little gluten and only if it is soaked/sourdough) water for rehydration and fermented foods where possible. Read more about nutrition guidelines here.
In addition to great nutrition, kids need balance in life. Kids need to be kids and have down time to just be and relax, this is not tv time. Research has shown that from almost the moment the pictures start to flicker on the tv, brain activity shifts from the left side of our brains (the part of our brains responsible for logical analysis and critical thought) to the right side. This means that there is little or no critical analysis taking place, opening their brains to a suggestible, hypnotic state. When we say that watching television is a “passive activity,” it is true in a very real sense: scientists detect almost no beta waves at all in TV viewers, indicating no active involvement in or response to what we are watching. Now I’m not saying no tv ever but tv is a poor substitute for kids being kids time and has a whole lot of other consequences, not the least of which is its addictive nature. Remember how we used to go outside and play?
Routine is a child’s best friend, seeing as there’s a few days of holidays to go, get back into a normal school day sort of routine so it’s not a total shock to the system when school goes back. Everything from eating balanced meals to sitting at the table to eat. Kids thrive on routine and structure. A predictable routine allows children to feel safe, develop self-discipline and gain a sense of mastery in handling their lives. Routines reduce stress and less stress is better for health.
Emotional stress is one of the biggest drivers of child health issues. It’s not always easy to pick and as adults we need to be much more aware of the big picture for our kids. Beyond the obvious signs of stress (which can include; feeling sick, poor sleep, acting out and other behavioural issues, general changes in behaviour, upset tummies, ongoing infections…) we need to dig deeper. I regularly see kids in my clinic who do multiple after school activities which they seemingly love but which are simply too much to ask of a little person. It seems our society is fully geared to cater to extra and more activity but we need to appreciate the added output this requires from our kids, it is way more than we have considered and these choices are impacting them both now and long term.
We also need to be teaching our children emotional coping tools. Isn’t it ironic that 2 critical aspects of our human experience, the right nutrition and emotional wellness, are entirely neglected in our education system. At the very least, teaching our kids how to create a high level of self esteem will set them in great stead for their future lives which has a significant impact on their level of health and well-being. If this is a new concept for you check out this article.
Exercise for kids is so important and it can be as simple as running around in the back yard and jumping on the trampoline, climbing a tree or a bike ride. Or a yoga class for kids if that’s what your child wants to do. Outdoor activity is particularly good with exposure to fresh air and sunshine and bare feet connecting to the earth where energy and elements are gained for the benefit of human health. So much has been reported about the negative impact lack of exercise has on our kids and this is largely driven by us as parents.
Sleep is so vital for great health. Recognise your child’s tired signs and be sure they are sleeping long and well. Kids get tired and being pushed beyond that point is going to create internal friction. Honour your child’s need for sleep and make the time for proper rest.
Become familiar with your child’s health patterns or picture and directly address their individual and unique needs, you can then use the appropriate herbs and nutritional supplements that can be used in conjunction with a great diet to support their system. I only recommend wholefood derived and quality supplements which are not easy to source, GPA Wholefoods online carries a wide range of quality products. To keep your child well boosted, I suggest addressing nutrition first of all and then consider possibly supplementing with the following (an experienced child health practitioner can help with more specific needs):
- Intra Kids or Intra Max – a great wholefood organic source of nutrition and herbs
- Vitamin D – the PRL or Thorne brands are best
- Vitamin C – Amazonia wholefood powder or a buffered capsule that can be emptied into food or a smoothie
- Liver or quality Cod Liver/Fish oils – these are the best source of vitamin A and also D, an organic supplement can be used if you simply can’t eat it and be fussy about the oil you choose, they are not all created equal
- MCT’s – medium chain triglycerides from coconut oil boost immune health
- Magnesium – preferably in glycinate form or a combination of glycinate and citrate, PRL, Metabolic Maintenance, Oriental Botanicals or Thorne
- Herbs, preferably a liquid that is made to address your individual situation, organic is best
- Probiotics – fermented foods and other BROAD spectrum quality dairy free human strain bacteria as well as soil borne organisms
A happy and healthy school year is largely up to us as parents, the right nutrition and key supplementation will create optimal health outcomes for your child, take action today!
Book into an upcoming workshop to learn more about creating optimal health outcomes for your child, just click on the workshop page. Keep an eye out for my upcoming workshops and the new events launching in coming weeks.