4 handy hacks that can help improve your children's health
We all know that our children need regular exercise, plenty of sleep and a balanced diet to stay healthy.
That said, if you want to keep your kids full of energy and away from the doctors office, there are a few extra tricks you can try.
Health fact: ‘Pretty clean’ is better than ‘super clean. This news should come as a relief to those of you who struggle to keep the house clean. Of course it’s important to sterilise bottles but once your baby gets a bit bigger and starts crawling around and trying to eat everything in sight, bleaching the floors is not a good idea.
Health fix: We know from research that kids who are exposed to bleach are more likely to experience asthma as they get older, while kids who live in a household with pets tend to have stronger immune systems. So when your little darling comes into the house covered in soil after making mud pies don’t panic, it’s all part of growing up and letting their immature immune systems develop naturally.
Health fact: Antibiotics are indeed a life-saver... but they are best reserved for when they are truly necessary. Every time your child is given an antibiotic it wipes out not just the bad, disease-causing bacteria but all the good, health-promoting bacteria as well. This leaves your child vulnerable to repeat infections so it’s important to take measures to improve their immunity in between doses of antibiotics.
Health fix: As soon as your child has finished his or her prescription make sure that you immediately follow-up with a powdered, child-friendly, bacteria formula. If there is a tendency towards diarrhoea, then formulas with L.Rhamnosus are a good choice. Clinical trials have found this bacteria strain to be very effective at correcting this symptom, which can be dangerous as it may lead to dehydration. Other major bacterial strains that should be included in any formulation you choose would be; B.Infantis (especially for the under 2’s), Bifidobacterium and L.Acidophilus.
Health fact: One of the simplest ways to improve your child’s health is to ban fizzy drinks and pure fruit juice drinks. It may seem like those cleverly marketed ‘pure’ fruit juice drinks with no added sugar are a healthier option, but the end result is actually the same: a sudden spike in blood sugar levels, sending your child’s insulin levels into overdrive, followed by an energy crash, which leads to cravings for more sugary drinks. This is because the juice contains no fibre
Health fix: Be wary of store-bought fruit smoothies; while they may contain fibre, which slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, most of them are pasteurised, which means the vitamins that were present within the fruit are long gone. Try to stick to water as much as possible. If your child kicks up a fuss, try adding freshly sliced strawberries with a dash of lemon or lime juice to make the water more ‘interesting’ for them.
Health fact: It’s important to develop their taste buds at a young age. If they never taste broccoli as a child, they are less likely to try it as a teenager or adult. Like most parents, I try to hide vegetables in any way that I can, in soups, in the tomato sauce they have on their pasta and even in desserts. Chocolate mousse anyone? Avocado, blitzed with cocoa powder, vanilla extract and maple syrup makes for a delicious, yet healthy treat (try the peanut butter version here). It's the only way I can get my four-year-old son to go anywhere near avocados.
Health fix: The quickest, easiest and most efficient way to get kids to eat their greens is in smoothies.
The green smoothies I recommend use only just enough fruit to make the smoothie palatable to young kids. It might look something like this; one banana, a cupful of berries, one stalk of celery, a handful of spinach/kale and a non-dairy milk (e.g. rice, almond, oat or coconut milk). If your kid is very fussy about greens, add some mint leaves and a couple of spoons of chocolate powder to make a ‘choco-peppermint’ smoothie, just like the ice-cream flavour, only way healthier.
Jessica Bourke's clinical approach is based on evidence-based nutrition protocols, acupuncture treatment, and she also offers functional lab tests to support you on your journey to parenthood. She's a regular contributor to Irish media and co-author of the 'Guilt Free Gourmet' cook-book. As a Mum of two, Jessica understands the challenges of pregnancy and parenting. For more, visit jessicabourke.com.