It seems lately, one out of every couple parents I speak with has a child that is facing some type of chronic disease, weight struggle, autoimmune condition, and most frequently, a behavioral issue. As these become more prevalent among our children, it's time to take a look at how proper nutrition can play an integral role. Laying a foundation for optimal health starts with what we put in our mouths. Everything we eat sends a message to our cells, and what we are beginning to understand is that our genes are not our destiny.....everything that we put in our bodies, from the food we eat, to the toxins we ingest directs our genes to behave in one way or another. So as we lay the foundation for our kids to grow into healthy, thriving beings it's important to remember these basics along the way.
1. EAT REAL FOOD.
Food that is from the earth, not from a factory. Start early and teach your kids that snacks are fruits and vegetables, not chips and goldfish. Model this behavior and keep open dialogue about how whole food benefits the body. When we eat food in it's original form, it contains all the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that work together synergistically to promote health. Factory made food is stripped of its nutrients, and synthetic, less absorbable vitamins and minerals are added back in along with additives, preservatives, sugars and unwanted chemicals that send our cells the wrong messages. What's missing are the phytonutrients, the antioxidants, and the health supporting compounds that nature made. Read food does not come from a factory. It does not contain ingredients that one cannot pronounce or recognize. The best food has no label at all.
- TRY TO EAT RED, GREEN and RAW at every meal.
- KNOW YOUR INGREDIENTS. Learn to read food labels. Instead of focusing on calories, read the ingredients and know what's in your food. When you focus on a variety of wholesome foods in moderation, the calories take care of themselves.
- ADDITIVES ARE SUBTRACTIVE. Food additives, trans fats, food coloring and synthetic ingredients tax the body causing it to rely on it's own stores of minerals to bring the body back into a state of balance. Junk food ends up depleting the body of key nutrients, leaving you in a state of less minerals than you had before you consumed it. Growing children that are forming bone, muscle and immune systems need those vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, additives have a big impact on neurological function. behavior and learning.
2. SUGAR IS A POWERFUL IMMUNE SUPPRESSOR.
I urge you for one day to count the grams of sugar that your child ingests. You will be shocked. Statistic are now pointing to one in three children born in this decade will be diabetic by the time they are 30. The World Health Organization recommends 3 teaspoons, or 12 grams of sugar a day for a child. Our children often get 10 times the amount. 1 teaspoon, or 4 grams of sugar, blocks the immune system for up to 5 hours. So one coke will block a child's immune function for over a day.
3. REDUCE TOXIC LOAD.
Diseases can develop by an excess of something the body doesn't recognize, or by a deficiency of key nutrients that it needs. In today's world toxins are all around us in the form of pesticides, medicines, food additives, chemicals in lotions and bath produces, and more. Finding ways to reduce the toxins in the body will have a dramatic impact on health. Check out www.ewg.org for learning how to do this.
4. EAT THE RIGHT FATS, IN ABUNDANCE.
Growing brains depend on fats, in fact 60% of the brain is made up of fatty acids. In addition, the body depends on fats to assimilate vitamins, build cell walls, create neurotransmitters, and make antibodies. Organic grass-fed butter and meats, sustainable low mercury fish, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, nut butter, chia, and flax are great sources of fats for growing brains. Processed and fried foods are full of oxidized and dangerous vegetable oils and trans fats which cause damage to our cells.
5. DON'T DRINK YOUR MILK.
Pasteurized cow milk contains calcium that is rendered unavailable and unabsorbable after the milk is processed. Its acid forming nature then causes the body to use it's own stores of calcium to alkalize the body, rendering a net loss of calcium. I personally believe in the benefits of raw, unpasteurized milk for it's live beneficial bacteria, enzymes and vitamins that are retained. Alternatively, there are many milk alternatives on the market today - my favorite brand is MALK as it contains very little additives.
6. FEED YOUR GUT THE RIGHT THINGS.
It's often overlooked that 70% of the immune system lies in the gut, as does the majority of your serotonin production. A gastrointestinal tract that is inflamed by allergens, offending foods, genetically modified organisms, pesticides, and gluten will not be performing its job of defending the body from foreign pathogens and assimilating nutrients that are needed for every function in the body. Taking daily probiotics will improve overall immune function and will inhibit the growth of bad bacteria in the intestinal tract. Work with your nutritionist to discover food intolerances and create a plan to restore the health of your gut. Your immune system will thank you for it.
7. HYDRATE WITH WATER.
Gatorade and Power Aide are basically a chemical concoction of unhealthy ingredients. The marketing of these drinks is powerful, and as parents we think we are doing the right thing by providing electrolytes. But what's lurking in sports drinks are genetically modified sugars, food coloring and the wrong ratio of electrolytes.
8. WHAT GOES IN IS AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT COMES OUT.
Is your child having regular bowel movements everyday? Constipation leads to the re-circulation of toxins in the body, which in turn compromise the immune system even further. Fiber in the form of fruits and vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts is very important for bowel function, along with proper hydration.
9. SNEAK IT IN.
Proper modeling and having healthy wholesome choices on hand is critical for establishing good eating habits early on. Even so, it never hurts to find ways to sneak in additional ingredients when ever possible. If your child loves spaghetti, blend in some spinach into the sauce. If you make smoothies, find ways to boost the nutrients by adding pumpkin protein, flax oil, chia seeds, mild greens (spinach or swiss chard), etc. Add carrots or zuchini to muffins. If you are baking, find ways to replace refined flours and sugars with wholesome almond flour and coconut sugar. There are many ways to sneak in or substitute better ingredients.
10. MULTI'S MATTER
Last but definitely not least: MULTI'S MATTER. In today's world, even the healthiest organic soils are devoid of key nutrients. Coupled with toxins in our air, water and food, and consumption of processed foods, our bodies need more that we can give them with just food alone. At a minimum kids and adults should both be taking high quality, absorbable, available vitamins, essential fatty acids in the form of Omega 3's, Vitamin D, and probiotics. Quality matters here. A slightly more expensive vitamin will be worth the price if the body can assimilate and use it. Working with me to help tailor a vitamin program to meet your individual needs.
Giving your children a foundation of optimal health and a future free of chronic disease is the best gift you can give them. BECAUSE NUTRIENTS CHANGE EVERYTHING!
HOW DO YOU FUEL YOUR KIDS?