Friday, June 19, 2009

Keeping Kids Healthy

Having two small children myself, I sometimes feel there is only a week or two between bouts of colds, sinus infections, sore throats, coughs, runny noses and the list goes on.  

I thought I would share my tips for keeping illness to a minimum and how to expedite healing.  

Teach children not to share certain personal items: combs, hats, brushes, chapsticks, sippy cups, water bottles, toothbrushes.  These items can transmit viruses like Mononucleosis, cold sores, as well as upper respiratory tract infections, common colds and lice.

Cough into their elbow or a tissue, not into their hands.  That way germs are not on hands that then touch doorknobs, sinks, as well as other peoples hands.

Wash hands upon return from school, before eating, after using the restroom and after shopping.  Also make sure to use disinfectant cloths to wipe areas of cart that your infant/toddler will be touching. 

 Adequate rest, child should wake without alarm, or wake easily.

            1-5 years old,  10-13 hours

            6-12 years old,  9-10 hours

            teens,  8-9 ½ hours, may increase while going through puberty

If ill, make sure to give enough time to recover.  I suggest adding an extra day of rest after child is 90-100% better.  Keep activities at a minimum and ensure adequate sleep.

Prevent illness with proper nutrition: 3 fruit servings a day and 3 vegetable servings a day

Exercise daily: playground, gym, after school programs, dance, outdoor games and activities. ½ hour -1 hour a day.  Dont exercise when ill.  This is a preventive measure.

Probiotics: taken while on antibiotics and for 3 months following.  Also probiotics will cut down length of illness as well as severity

 Consider adding a quality Multi-vitamin and additional Vitamin C  to support the immune system.  Cod Liver Oil is another suggestion as it contains essential fatty acids, immune stimulating Vitamin A and Vitamin D.  Many of us living in the Northeast are deficient in  Vitamin D.

Be aware of symptoms of stress:  headaches, belly aches, acting out, degression in coping mechanisms.  Give child extra time with parent, extra attention.  Stress weakens the immune system and will make the child more prone to catching a cold.

Keep children hydrated, not with fruit juice.  Hydrate with water first.  If child wants juice, cut it with 50-80% with water.  This is to prevent illness and to help one recover.

Let the child mount a fever, it is there to help eradicate the bacteria/virus.  Lowering a fever may prolong the illness.  However, there are limits to how high you want a temperature to rise.  This is age dependent, please consult your pediatrician for guidelines. 

 Avoid high fructose corn syrup, sugars.  These lower immune function and can cause an illness to last longer. Try not to give child ice pops, ice cream or high sugar foods during a cold.  Watch for sugar/HFCS added in places it is not necessary :  Ketchup, jelly, peanut butter, juice etc. 

Give lots of snuggle time, hugs, kisses, and attention.  There's a good chance, as an adult, you are already immune to more than half the colds our children are contracting.  Then again, sometimes the caretaker falls victim.  If so, see above list!


Top 10 Tips for Losing Weight

by Bedford Naturopath , Dr. Kristen ODell

Quite often, I will be winding down a visit with a client and they will say: "one last thing, any suggestions on how to lose weight?"  As most people know, weight loss is more complicated than creating a deficit of calories (burning more than you are consuming).  Weight loss techniques can vary from person to person.  However, I do believe there are a few basic tenements that are helpful for losing weight in a healthy manner.   So here my two cents:


Stop eating 3 hours before you go to sleep.  This allows your body to repair and restore during sleep instead of digesting food, which interferes with a good nights sleep.

Eat a high fiber diet.  Shoot for 25-20 grams of fiber a day.  Fiber fills us up, slows down digestion, promotes a healthy digestive system, lowers cholesterol, and stabilizes blood sugar.  Fiber also binds to toxins which can then be eliminated in our stool.

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.  Dinner should not be our largest meal.  If you want to lose weight, limit dinner to vegetables and a protein and skip the starch all together.

Drink 64 ounces of water a day.  Sometimes when a person is dehydrated, the body sends out a signal that is confused as hunger.  Drink a glass of water if you think you are hungry then wait a few minutes to see if that signal disappears.  You might just be dehydrated.

Do not skip meals.  Our metabolism is our internal fire.  If you do not put logs or fuel into the fire, it will not burn.  Try not to allow more than 4 hours without at least a snack. 

Eat in a parasympathetic state, this means in a calm environment with the purpose of nourishing your body.  The body was not designed to eat/digest under pressure, when rushed or anxious.  Digestion works best when in  a calm, undistracted  state.

Chew each bite 20-30 times.  Your food should be liquefied before it is swallowed.  This allows for increased surface area so the gut can absorb the nutrients from our food.  This also usually leads to consuming less calories.  

Eat slowly, it takes 20-25 minutes for our body to get a signal that it is full.  If you are finished eating in 15 minutes, you wont realize you’ve overeaten until 10 minutes after you have completed your meal.

Avoid saturated fats, processed foods, artificial sugars, fried foods, sodas.  These are empty calories without any health benefits.

Exercise!  I hope that is a given.   Exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week.  You need to break a sweat and elevate your heart rate.  It is most beneficial to include weight training into your exercise routine.  One pound of fat burns 2 calories per day where a pound of muscle burns 22-25 calories per day.  

Remember, losing weight is meant to be a lifestyle change not a short term solution!