Categories: Parenting Health & Wellness
Try to avoid buying the processed, convenience foods that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other refined sweeteners, unhealthy fats, processed white flour, preservatives, additives and colourings. These denatured, processed “foodstuffs” do not provide sufficient nutrients to allow your child’s body to reach its full potential of health.
Children require natural whole foods, prepared in a way that supports and promotes health, not disease. Whole foods include unrefined grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and humanely raised, grass fed animal products.
Your child’s body relies on nutrients from these foods for proper growth and development as well as for mental and physical vitality. Whole foods also provide your child with a wealth of protective compounds that can help prevent disease.
Increase Healthy Fats
Fats are needed for optimum health, are essential for growth and development, are used for building membranes around every cell in the body and can enhance or impair our immune function. Fats are vitally important to the brain, which is 70 percent fat.
We do have to be cautious about the types of fats we consume. Hydrogenated fats are man-made fats created by converting unsaturated fats into saturated fats to prolong the shelf life of foods. This process alters the good essential fatty acids – making good oils poison for your body by interfering with the metabolism of essential fatty acids. Read labels to avoid them.
On the other hand of the fat equation are EFAs – essential fatty acids. These are vital to health, growth, cell membranes, the brain and normal immune function. Our bodies cannot make them; therefore we must obtain them from our diet. Deficiencies in EFAs increase our susceptibility to infections; increased arthritis conditions, asthma, eczema, hair loss, liver and kidney degeneration, growth retardation, vision problems and learning problems.
There are two kinds of EFAs. They are omega 3 and omega 6. Omega 6 is found easily in our diet from evening primrose oil, borage oil, safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil. Omega 3 is a little harder to find and is the one EFA that most children tend to be deficient in. Sources of omega 3 include flaxseeds, cod liver oil, walnuts, fish and algae.
Most children unfortunately get an abundance of sugar in their diets. Sugar can suppress the immune system and create mineral deficiencies by robbing the body of nutrients. During the processing of sugar, it is stripped of the nutrients required for its digestion – chromium, manganese, cobalt, copper, zinc and magnesium. This forces the body to deplete its own mineral reserves to digest it.
Sugar has also been linked to digestive issues, obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, and a host of other chronic health problems. Sugar can cause a rapid rise in adrenaline and lead to hyperactivity, anxiety, attention problems and irritability.
Reduce the amount in your child’s diet by replacing sugary snacks with fresh fruit and vegetables and use natural unrefined sweeteners (honey, agave, sucanat, maple syrup) instead of highly refined processed ones.
Ensure Optimum Vitamin D Intake
Vitamin D is crucial for your child’s brain development and immune system. During summer months 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen) on a daily basis will provide your child with more than enough vitamin D. Unfortunately in our northern climate this is not possible in the winter and supplementation is necessary (it is impossible to get adequate amounts from food).
The Vitamin D council recommends 1000IU of vitamin D3 for every 25lbs of body weight for children and this may not even be enough. The best way to ensure optimum intake is to have your levels checked via blood work. Levels should be between 50 to 80ng/mL year round.
Supplement With a Probiotic
The word probiotic means “for life”. Probiotics provide good bacteria for our gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics affect the body in a number of ways including
Maintaining the balance of good to bad bacteria in the gut
Acting as natural antibiotics, helping to fight off bad bacteria in the gut
Improving digestion by stimulating peristalsis
Preventing overgrowth of bad gut flora
Having an antibacterial effect on the body
Providing added immunity while taking antibiotics
Providing protection for weakened immune systems
Research suggests that up to 80 percent of our immune system is in our gut, supplementing with a probioitc is an important step in helping your child reach optimum health.
A supplemental form of probiotic is best, as food sources cannot provide enough.
Hope this provides you with some easy steps you can take today to increase and enhance your child's health and well being.
Kim Corrigan-Oliver is a registered holistic nutritionist. Her practice Your Green Baby specializes in nutrition for mom, baby and toddler. You can find more information on her services at www.yourgreenbaby.ca.