As the research studies are undergoing, evidence is mounting that adequate vitamin D levels may be a protective factor against COVID-19 infection and severity. Here’s what the research shows:
I’m so excited that one of the priorities for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2019 is connecting children and families with nature. In the Jan 2019 edition of AAP news, Dr. Yasuda, current AAP president, notes the research findings that benefits of exposure to green spaces for our kids include “greater physical activity, better mental health, reduced stress and increased resilience.” Further “nature helps improve their executive function, their ability to learn and their relationships with their families and other children.”
Richard Louv has been highlighting these findings for at least a decade, starting with his best-selling book “Last Child in the Woods” which outlines the many research proven benefits of time spent in nature. In fact, in a recent inspiring article on this topic, Dr. Louv invites us to imagine a world “….where antidepressants and pharmaceuticals are needed less and nature prescribed more. Where obesity – of children and adults – is reduced through nature play.” Read the full article, and get inspired to enjoy some family time in your local park or playground or even your own backyard.
Yasuda, Kyle, M.D, AAP News, Vol 40, No. 1, January 2019. P. 6
Louv, Richard, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008
We all know that feeling of waking up with a stuffy nose and scratchy throat. That feeling of dread that “I’m coming down with something.” It’s that time of year when we’re are about to be bombarded with the winter viruses, bringing their familiar illnesses such as the common cold, bronchitis and influenza. How many times have you been caught unprepared for the illness? I’m going to suggest that you winterize your home now by stocking your home medicine cabinet (and kitchen pantry) with natural and effective tools you’ll need to fight back against the illnesses that are surely coming your way. Here are 7 things that you should have around to be ready for the winter:
- Zinc is great for the immune system, and studies have shown that it can shorten the duration and the severity of a cold. When the scratchy throat starts, have some zinc lozenges in the house.
- Vitamin C: As soon as that runny nose or cough hits, you want to load your body with vitamin C. Make sure you keep vitamin C rich foods, like bell peppers, broccoli and strawberries, on hand all through the fall and winter. And also, have a vitamin C supplement on hand. The last thing you want to do when you’re sick is drag yourself to the market.
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic with both antiviral and antibacterial properties. Crushing fresh garlic releases its immune-boosting properties.
- Ginger is both antiviral and anti-inflammatory. And it also settles an upset stomach. So if the stomach flu hits your home, you’ll definitely want this on hand for relief.
- Raw honey: Some studies have found that it’s just as effective as cough medicine (and so much safer in children over 1 year). One to 2 teaspoons before bed is a yummy way to fix a cough! Important: Do not give honey to a child 12 months or younger because of risk of botulism!
- Humidifier: Keeping your nasal passages moist using a humidifier and nasal irrigation is an important defense against viruses and bacteria. In fact, your runny nose is your body’s attempt to wash these bugs away, so have these tools on hand.
- Essential Oils: These extracted oils from plants are great to use for many reasons. First, they are safe for young children; and many of them can be rubbed on, so if you can’t swallow capsules, the essential oils can still be used. Many of the oils are antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, or antiparasitic and can stimulate the immune system.
There are many more natural treatments for colds and flu; in fact you may be thinking “but what about (insert your favorite remedy here)?” This blog would just be too long to list all or even most of them. However, if you have these 7 ingredients on hand, and give your body lots of hydration and rest, you’ll be prepared to help your family through the next illness.
I’d love to hear about your favorite winter remedy. Send it in, and we’ll post them on a future blog.
Modern Essential: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils. 5th Edition, Aroma Tools, Orem, UT, 2013
Obesity continues to wreak havoc on our children’s health. Here’s a tip to help reduce your child’s risk:
Get Outdoors: Take advantage of the warm (okay hot!) weather and get outdoors. Summer is a great time to harness the sun’s power to improve mood and sense of well-being. Sunlight also is necessary for your body’s production of vitamin D. But also, being outdoors in contact with nature has a number of benefits in itself. The outdoors encourages exercise, stimulates creativity, and produces an appreciation for the abundant variety of the natural environment.
Eat Locally: It’s always a good idea to eat locally, because you’re much more likely to get fresh produce that’s been grown optimally. Local produce is usually on the shelf within 24 hours of picking; it is also usually grown to the peak of ripeness making it much more tasty. Have you ever bitten into a beautiful dark red berry that was tasteless or bitter? It probably came from a distance and was picked before ripeness to prevent spoilage during the long journey. Since produce loses nutrients quickly, the longer it’s off the vine, the less vital it is. Another advantage: local produce is much less likely to be genetically engineered. Eating locally allows you to eat what’s in season which is a great way to enjoy a variety of produce.
Spend More Family Time: The kids are out of school. With a break from the hassles of homework and after-school activities, summer is a great time to spend more time together as a family. Studies have shown that eating meals together as a family is protective against weight problems, and even protective against certain illnesses. But don’t stop at family meals; get in some family walks and games as well.
By the way, here’s an interesting fact: studies are showing that outdoor exposure in a natural environment relieve symptoms of attention deficit. So getting outdoors is more than fun, it’s medicinal.
I’ve been asked this question quite a few times. The answer is yes…and no. What I mean is this: a child’s diet is a critical piece in the treatment of ADHD. However, the right diet doesn’t treat just ADHD, but it makes the brain work better in general. So, an ADHD diet is what I prefer to call a brain healthy diet.
What happens in ADHD? The brain has difficulty focusing and staying on task; it has difficulty planning and self-regulating. In order for the brain to carry out these tasks, it needs adequate amounts of building materials. The brain is one of the most metabolically active parts of your body, and therefore it needs a constant flow of nutrients to work well. So what makes up an ADHD diet?
Protein: Many children today eat a diet that’s heavy in simple carbohydrates and low in protein. A brain healthy diet needs a good supply of healthy proteins. Even though lean meat and eggs are good sources of protein, make sure you remember plant sources. For example, beans, nut butters, certain vegetables, such as broccoli, and certain whole grains such as quinoa, are healthy sources of protein.
Complex carbohydrates are essential for brain health because they provide steady energy to keep up with the brain’s high metabolism rate. A variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as beans and whole grains, provide this energy source.
Healthy fats are finally being recognized for their critical role in brain function. Almonds, walnuts, avocados and flax seeds are important sources of fat for your child’s diet. Also, wild salmon once or twice per week provides essential fatty acids. If you use oil when cooking, the best choices for brain health are coconut and extra virgin olive oil.
Micronutrients: There are so many vitamins and minerals that are needed for a brain healthy diet. Zinc, chromium, iron, vitamin A, folate, vitamin C…just to name a few! That’s why variety is so critical to a healthy brain, because these nutrients are variably abundant in different foods.
A brain healthy diet will help to improve your child’s attention, mood and energy level. So, using an ‘ADHD diet’ as a key part of the overall treatment plan for your child’s symptoms is a smart idea.