When did health become such a complex thing?
Now, we're not knocking modern medicine. Scientific advances are, in general, a positive thing. And medical ones, specifically, have helped us to achieve greater health than ever before.
Yet somewhere in the complex and fascinating maze of medical science-meets-old-world-wisdom, we've lost what really matters: natural health. For children in particular, unless they have an additional health issue, less tends to be more when it comes to staying vibrant and growing.
Here are five time-tested "secrets" that need to be brought back out into the light of day - and into your child's life so she can be happy, healthy and have a bright future.
Your mother said it. Her mother said it. "Get some exercise...you'll feel better!" Perhaps you've experienced this yourself: you were having a sluggish day; then you took a little walk and suddenly felt better.
It only makes sense. The human body was not meant to stay stationary for long periods, except for sleep. Even during rest we tend to fidget. For children, growth is added to the movement factor: keeping things going and keeping their hearts pumping, muscles moving, and giving some resistance in a weight-bearing way (for bone strength) are all vital for your child's health.
After the U.S. Civil War, when germs and their sometimes fatal effects were discovered, cleanliness became the word of the day, and has stayed ever since. Hygiene has become increasingly important (and complex...and chemical) as the decades have rolled by. Today we have everything from antibacterial soaps to antibacterial bedding and clothing coatings to vegetable cleaning "solutions" to hand sanitizer.
But we're not just washing away the bad guys; we're washing away the beneficial bacteria and microbes too. In fact, the movement toward taking supplemental probiotics is based on this issue. We're washing away what we need, then replacing what we've eliminated out of a bottle.
It makes more sense to (within reason) let our kids get a bit dirty now and then. Teach your child good hygiene when sneezing or coughing (always sneeze into the inner elbow, for example, NOT the hands), and have children wash hands frequently, particularly during cold and flu season. But don't fret that your child wants to get muddy and sweaty once in a while. It just may be good for her!
The old adage is that if you want to keep from "catching your death of cold," you should bundle up warmly. Though it's good advice to stay warm in cold or wet weather, it's a myth that simply being cold will cause illness. Germs and bacteria cause illness. In the absence of these, a child in normal general health won't catch "a cold" even if she wanders the chilly house naked (though we don't necessarily recommend this).
Sometimes we tend to OVERbundle, in fact. Sweating under heavy clothing can be aggravating to a child and won't keep her from getting the flu.
Instead, dress your child in layers in cold or wet weather, so she can take a layer of if she's getting too warm, or put one back on if things get chilly.
Other than that (again, given overall good health), don't sweat the cold!
We know, we know...we didn't want to hear it. But yes, there IS firm science supporting the theory that too much sugar reduces immunity.
Remember that the body ultimately processes all sugar the same way (more or less). So don't overindulge in fruits either (especially the more sugary ones, like pineapple and watermelon). Fruit juices are even worse, as they're concentrated fructose (fruit sugar) with the fiber removed.
We're not saying these foods and drinks are bad, but you do need to keep a handle on just how much sugar, whether refined or natural, your child consumes if you want him to be healthy.
Sleep is so vitally important. As full as your child's schedule may be, make sure he gets plenty of shut-eye. Sleep is the time that the brain relaxes and works things out (via dreaming) and that the body repairs, regenerates, and grows. It is one of the most critical elements to your child's day.
Make sure your child's bedding is comfortable and clean, and that the room temperature is not too warm (use bedding layers rather than one thick quilt).
Supporting your child's health and growth is so simple. Keep it to the basics and you'll have a firm foundation for now and for the future.