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HEALTHY KID EXPANDED EDITION

GUIDE


www.ecoparent.ca

Publisher

Sam Stedman, PhD sam@ecoparent.ca

Editor-in-Chief

Jen Smith editorial@ecoparent.ca

Creative Director

Kris Antonius, cityfolkcreative.ca

Erin Enns

guide contributors

is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). Prior to CCNM, she completed her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology at McGill University. Erin has a strong passion for pediatric care, ensuring parents get the answers and solutions they need to optimize their children’s health safely and effectively.

Manda Aufochs Gillespie is the author of Green Mama: Giving Your Child a Healthy

Start and Greener Future, and Green Mama-to-Be: Creating A Happy, Healthy, And Toxinfree Pregnancy. She has appeared on The Lazy Environmentalist, City TV, and CBC.

Dr.

Alex

Keller

is a naturopathic doctor and farmer in Ottawa. A passion for natural medicine and nutrition led him to blend medicine and farming into one career. In 2015, he and his wife Jenn started Vis Tree Farm outside Ottawa, a permaculture produce and medicinal herb farm where they see patients in their Yurt Clinic and which they plan to develop into a health retreat.

Dana Kolenich

was, at the time of writing, a 4th year naturopathic intern at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto. In addition to studying naturopathic medicine, Dana loves to spend her free time running long distance races, trying new recipes (especially baked goods!), having fun with arts, and traveling to see family and friends.

Drs. Jonah Lusis & Du La are naturopathic doctors & co-owners of Toronto

Centre for Naturopathic Medicine and parents to two young girls. Jonah’s focus is on treatment of digestive concerns, detoxification and use of Bowen Therapy. Du is an Acupuncturist specializing in fertility and women’s and children’s health, and is one of the most experienced naturopathic birth doulas in Canada.

Dr. Stephanie Peltz is a licensed naturopathic doctor practicing in both BC and Ontario

whose expertise is in female and pediatric health, including fertility and pregnancy. Her low-invasive, natural health toolkit includes nutrition, lifestyle, herbs, vitamins, and more. She loves hiking with her son, practicing yoga, and experimenting in the kitchen.

Dr. Rachel Schwartzman

is a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist, and birth doula. She runs a family practice in Toronto where she has a special interest in women's health, fertility, pregnancy and pediatrics. She's inspired daily by her three young children, and together they keep active outdoors and create healthy family meals in the kitchen.

Jess Sherman is a registered holistic nutritionist who helps busy parents raise healthy

kids. She offers dietary support for concerns such as digestive disorders, food intolerance and allergies, picky eating, ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, anxiety, eating disorders, eczema, fatigue and overwhelm, and postpartum adjustment struggles.

Dr. Leslie Solomonian is Associate Professor at the Canadian College of Naturopathic

Medicine, and maintains a private naturopathic practice in Toronto with a strong interest in pediatric wellness. She also sits on the board of the CNME and is a Director of the Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Leslie is currently writing a textbook on Naturopathic and Integrative Pediatrics.

©2019 EcoParent Inc. All rights reserved. Cover photo ©Sarah Tacoma. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including by photocopy, recording, or information storage and retrieval, without permission in writing from the publisher. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, EcoParent Inc., its staff, and its contributors cannot take responsibility for losses resulting from publishing errors, however caused. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher, who accepts no liability of any nature arising out of, or in connection with, the contents of this publication.

Well, hello there! Nice to meet you! Congratulations, by the way, on raising a great kid. It's a wonderful thing you're doing. It's also quite wonderful that you've taken the time to access this expanded edition of our Healthy Kids Guide. Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of EcoParent magazine, we've hand-picked some content from more recent issues that we think you might like. We hope you find it useful as you continue to give your kids the healthiest start to life! There's so much more we'd like to share with you. Just click the banners on the following page to stay informed and inspired, the EcoParent way!

Healthily yours,

The EcoParent Team.


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Supplementation for

Children

Ensuring a healthy start with optimal nutrition   by dr. leslie solomonian, nd & erin enns

Photo: A3Pfamily / shutterstock.com

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nfancy and early childhood are critical times in development. Establishing strong nutritional habits is essential for optimizing health during early life and beyond. Both the World Health Organization and the Canadian and American Pediatric Societies recommend that infants be exclusively fed with breast milk for the first six months of their lives, which should then be complemented and eventually replaced by a wide variety of whole foods. Healthy term infants are largely able to meet their nutritional requirements from breast milk alone, with the exception of vitamin D. Similarly, a diverse diet containing a broad array of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and proteins should provide nearly everything a growing child needs. However, some children may benefit from additional supplemental nutrients starting at six months of life. This article contains a brief summary of the most important supplements for otherwise healthy infants and children, their uses, and recommended doses.

VITAMIN D In addition to preventing rickets, vitamin D has an array of other benefits. Insufficient levels of vitamin D have been linked to lowered immune function, asthma, autism, obesity, and cancer. Children who live in Canada and the northern United States are at a particularly high risk of low vitamin D levels due to decreased sun exposure in the winter and the strongly encouraged use of sun protection in the summer. Breast milk is a poor source of the nutrient since most Canadians and many Americans are already deficient in vitamin D. Infants who are partially or exclusively breastfed should be given a supplement of at least 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D daily to prevent deficiency. Once solids have been introduced, children can be offered natural dietary sources of vitamin D such as fatty fish (wild salmon, sardines, tuna), cod liver oil, and egg yolk, while continuing to take at least 400 IU per day.

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After their first birthday, a child's supplemental vitamin D should be increased to at least 600 IU per day, although depending on the age of the child, up to 4000 IU per day may be safe and necessary to attain optimal vitamin D status.

vitamin d recommendations by age

Age

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) / day

Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) / day

0-6 months

400 IU (10 mcg)

1000 IU (25 mcg)

7-12 months

400 IU (10 mcg)

1500 IU (38 mcg)

1-3 years

600 IU (15 mcg)

2500 IU (63 mcg)

4-8 years

600 IU (15 mcg)

3000 IU (75 mcg)

9-70 years

600 IU (15 mcg)

4000 IU (100 mcg)

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OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS At birth a child’s brain is only about 50% of the size of their adult brain. Essential omega-3 fatty acids aid in ensuring proper structure and function of the developing human brain. Omega-3 fatty acids also aid in the regulation of inflammatory pathways, critical in the prevention and treatment of conditions of particular concern in the pediatric population such as eczema, asthma and depression. These essential fats also contribute to lifelong prevention of cardiovascular, metabolic and other chronic diseases, most of which have their origins in childhood. The human body is inefficient at converting plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids into the more useful forms, EPA and DHA, which are most typically found in fish. Low levels of fish consumption contribute to omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies in North Americans, and excessive amounts of other kinds of oils and fats in the diet further create an imbalance of fatty acids in the body. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should consume plenty of foods high in EPA and DHA such as wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring (check your local fish advisory to avoid the risk of heavy metal toxicity from seafood). Once solid foods have been introduced, consider a meal of fatty fish two to three times a week (again, checking local advisories), or a daily dose of fish oil with at least 500 mg of mixed EPA and DHA to ensure children are consuming an adequate amount. Child-friendly chewable omega-3 supplements typically do not provide adequate amounts; a liquid form is best. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as children who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet should consume a variety of plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as algae, seaweed, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Talk to your naturopathic doctor to ensure your child is getting enough!

IRON recommendations by age

PROBIOTICS There are over five hundred species of microorganisms that line and interact with the human digestive tract. Collectively referred to as the microbiome, these beneficial bacteria are essential to the health and regulation of the gastrointestinal system, reducing colic and reflux in infants, and gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation in older children and adults. Probiotics also play a critical role in the regulation of the immune system, and have a profound impact on brain health. A healthy microbiome can reduce the risk of developing allergies, eczema, autoimmune conditions, obesity, mood disorders, and autism. The use of antibiotics early in life, chronic stress, low-fiber diets, and C-sections have all been connected to a disruption of the healthy bacteria that reside in the gut of a child. Breast milk nourishes healthy gut bacteria in babies, providing yet another compelling reason to breastfeed. Incorporating fermented foods like cultured vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi), kefir, and yogurt (ideally plain, full-fat, and homemade if possible!) into baby's first solids can foster a healthy microbial population. Fibre-rich foods are also critical to a healthy microbiome, acting as “pre-biotics”, foods that feed and nourish the population of beneficial bacteria. Children who may be at higher risk of an imbalanced gut microbiome due to factors discussed above may benefit from consuming a supplement containing multiple probiotic strains ranging in dose from 5–10 billion Colony Forming Units (CFU). Probiotic supplementation may not be necessary or appropriate for every infant. Consult your naturopathic doctor prior to initiating a probiotic.

IRON Iron is an essential mineral for the developing brain and blood cells

Fall 2017

of an infant and child. Children who are deficient in iron struggle to grow adequately and learn effectively. The majority of healthy term infants are born with sufficient iron to last four to six months after birth due to stores accumulated in utero and the highly bioavailable form of iron in breast milk. Premature and low birth weight infants are at an increased risk of low iron levels. Beyond six months infants require additional iron due to their rapid growth and development, their diminished stores, and the declining supply from breast milk. Iron-deficiency is relatively common among older infants and children. Meat, blackstrap molasses, spinach, raisins, prunes, lentils, and whole grain oats are all great sources of this mineral and should be included in baby’s first foods. Cooking in a cast iron pan can also increase the amount of iron in your child’s diet. Current recommendations are 11 mg of dietary iron daily for children throughout their first year of life, with minimally decreased requirements during early childhood. An infant or child consuming a vegetarian diet requires nearly twice this amount due to the decreased bioavailability of iron coming from plant sources. Adding foods that are high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruit, peppers or kiwis, will help with the absorption of iron from plant sources. These children, and other infants or children at higher risk of iron deficiency may need supportive iron supplementation over and above consuming iron-rich foods to achieve these daily intakes. Liquid supplements are a simple and effective way to get iron into a child’s diet, but iron toxicity poses a threat to infants and children. Ask your doctor if your child is at risk of iron-deficiency before deciding to supplement; a simple blood test will assess this.

Age

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) / day

0-6 months

400 IU (10 mcg)

7-12 months

400 IU (10 mcg)

1-3 years

600 IU (15 mcg)

4-8 years

600 IU (15 mcg)

Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) / day

1000 IU (25 mcg) 1500 IU (38 mcg) 2500 IU (63 mcg) 3000 IU (75 mcg)

To supplement or not to supplement? Supplemental vitamin D is essential for all children, and fish oil should be strongly considered. Vitamin D should be supplemented to the mother before and during pregnancy, and directly to the child from birth onwards. Fish oil should be a regular part of pregnancy and a breastfeeding mother’s regime, and included in the child’s diet once solids have been introduced. Probiotics and iron are often indicated, sometimes from birth, although they are not necessary for all children, and carry the risk of adverse effects. Discuss with your family or naturopathic doctor prior to beginning supplementation. •

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SHOULD CHILDREN USE A

MULTIVITAMIN? by dr. jonah lusis, nd, bt & dr. du la, nd, ra, doula Photo: Kerdkanno / shutterstock.com

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oo many years ago, as a student working in a health store in Toronto, I was asked by the storeowner to offer customers samples of a children’s multi-vitamin/mineral.

and alternatives” (e.g. tofu) was inadequate in 46% of students, an important factor in the associated findings of inadequate intake of iron and zinc in 11% and 31% of students respectively1.

I did so, unaware at the time that the issue was so controversial! More than one parent indignantly declined, declaring that their pediatricians claimed children did not require nutritional supplementation.

Another study, published that same year in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, determined that 0% of (adult) subjects were able to meet their micronutrient (i.e. vitamins and minerals) Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA’s) through diet alone2. Food for thought!

Were their pediatricians right? Let me preface this discussion by disclosing that I am not a “supplements naturopath” – my modus operandi is to focus on correcting a patient’s lifestyle. However, I am not averse to supplementation, particularly if – upon consideration of available evidence – it is indicated. The intent of multi-vitamin/mineral use is to compensate for nutritional shortcomings in a person’s diet. The obvious first question is this: is the child consuming all the nutrients they require from the food they are eating? A 2006 report prepared by the Region of Waterloo Public Health and the University of Waterloo determined that 68% of grade six students in the Waterloo Region of Ontario were not meeting the fruit and vegetable consumption recommendations laid out in Canada’s Food Guide. The same study found that consumption of “meat

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Canada’s Food Guide, which in my opinion does not offer the most up-to-date nutritional guidelines (better guidelines are available at: www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/kids-healthy-eating-plate), recommends children under 13 years of age eat: » 4 to 6 servings of vegetables and fruit daily (low, in my opinion) » 1 to 2 servings of meat and meat alternatives daily3. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend daily amounts via cups/ounces (as opposed to servings) that gradually increase between the ages of 2 to 13. » Vegetables: 1-1.5 cups up to 2-3.5 cups, respectively » Fruit: 1-1.5 cups to 1.5-2 cups, respectively » Protein: 2-4 ounces up to 5-6.5 ounces, respectively4 Does your child meet these guidelines? If not, consider supplementing their diet with a multi-vitamin/mineral.

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Any multi-?

What about the risks?

As with all things in life, quality in nutritional supplements is wideranging, and as a rule, you get what you pay for.

Over the past decade or so, several studies have been published that have demonstrated a correlation between multi-vitamin/mineral use and rates of cancer development10.

There are a wide range of factors that determine the quality of any nutritional supplement. For example: » Does the product contain the full spectrum of nutrients required for health, and in adequate quantities? » Does the product contain well-absorbed, well-tolerated, optimally bioactive forms of the nutrients it contains? It’s a little known fact that minerals and vitamins are available in differing forms. For instance, magnesium carbonate may result in a net loss of magnesium from the body when compared to magnesium glycinate, which is more efficiently absorbed and better tolerated5. » Certain nutrients (e.g. vitamin A, iron), are potentially toxic when consumed in excess. Does the product contain excessive amounts of potentially toxic nutrients?

Although receiving much publicity, the relationship here is fairly weak, statistically not such that a causal relationship would be the appropriate conclusion, based on current data.

The Bottom Line Take the time to learn and understand how to consistently eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Include in this a refresher on what constitutes standard food-serving sizes. Keeping a food journal is also a good idea, giving you access to the data you need to build a consistently healthy, balanced diet for you and your family (be sure to note: do they actually eat it?).

The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements assesses and rates the quality of over 1,300 multi-vitamin/minerals on the above and 14 other criteria, offering an overall score out of five stars. The majority of inexpensive store brands earned very poor ratings (one star representing a fairly typical score)5.

If you are concerned that your child is not eating in a way that ensures adequate nutrition, use a multi-vitamin/mineral – there is very little data to support the notion that using nutritional supplements to correct nutritional deficiencies (as opposed to using “mega-doses” of nutrients) is harmful. Even the authors of studies arriving at conclusions critical of multi-vitamin/mineral use concede that their use is indicated to correct nutritional deficiencies11.

Vitamins and minerals can come in multiple forms, and some are better than others, for a variety of reasons. A few things worth looking for are: » Calcium as not only calcium carbonate; » Folate as methyltetrahydro-folate and not folic acid6; » B12 as methylcobalamin instead of the relatively inferior cyanocobalamin form7; » Vitamin E in the form of d-alpha tocopherol, which is absorbed at two times the rate of the synthetic, poorly bioactive d/l-alpha tocopherol form.

To find a high-quality multi-vitamin/mineral for your child: » Shop for a “children’s” multi-vitamin/mineral, which will include potentially toxic nutrients in amounts appropriate for children’s smaller bodies; » Visit a health store for a higher-quality range of options than a national drug or grocery store chain is likely to carry; » Be willing to invest in a quality product – even a seemingly expensive product will typically amount to approximately $1.00 daily. •

You also want to ensure that a variety of minerals are present in the multi, and not only calcium and iron. Zinc, magnesium and selenium are all important as well.

Head to www.ecoparent.ca/extras/fall17 to find the cited resources for this article.

If you review the full ingredient list, you will note that I did not include aspartame, the most plentiful ingredient listed, as a point of concern. Although controversial, the current scientific evidence suggests that aspartame is safe for human consumption9. It is important to note that it may be difficult to find a multi-vitamin that meets all the criteria mentioned. All forms of these vitamins and minerals will be safe for your child; the difference is in the bioavailability and absorption rate. Prioritize finding a product that does not include the non-therapeutic ingredients such as food colourings and excess sugar first, and then move on to considerations of the most bioavailable forms of the vitamins and minerals contained.

Fall 2017

Photo: Ekaterina_Minaeva / shutterstock.com

Also important to consider are the non-therapeutic ingredients. Disturbingly, the “#1 Brand Choice of Pediatricians” also: » Appears to contain quite a bit of sugar. The exact amount of sugar is not included on the label, but confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup solids (which are 100% sugar) and dextrose monohydrate (sugar) are three of the first seven ingredients listed; » Contains sorbitol, which may cause digestive upset; » Contains several food colorings, including Red 40 and Yellow 6, both of which contain the carcinogen benzidine8.

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Food

PICKY EATERS From food wars

mealtime peace

by dr. stephanie peltz, nd © Can Stock Photo Inc. / [LightFieldStudios]

P

icture this: a mother zooms home after a busy workday. She walks in the door and tries to connect with her child while assembling a dinner that fits the bill: Does it include fresh vegetables? And no refined sugar? Or maybe she’s attempting a gluten-free/dairy-free/ plant-based meal. Dinner is finally ready and she sits down as her darling three-year-old takes one look at the labour of love in front of her and yells, “YUCK!” before promptly tossing the meal onto the floor. Ugh! Can you relate?

and if they’re eating veggies at all, are they getting enough variety? Parents tell me they dread mealtime — and I know the feeling. Such sentiments may be inevitable from time to time, but can be exhausting over the long term. Think about how often our kids need to be fed! Try incorporating some of these tips, the goal of which is an easier, more peaceful mealtime — even if some of that food still ends up on the floor!

Picky eating is a hot topic. Food activist and author Sally Fallon states: “In no period of our history as a nation have North Americans been so concerned about the subject of diet and nutrition.” Full disclosure: at one time in my bright-eyed and bushy-tailed naturopathic career, I delivered a lot of textbook advice to parents about their picky eaters. Then I had my son, and embarked on a long, winding journey of eating with him. Needless to say, I have been utterly humbled by the process.

Veggies, veggies, and more veggies!

Our eating habits are shaped by a multitude of factors. What a child is served, and accepts, is often determined by a complex combination of the family’s ethnicity, culture, socioeconomics, knowledge, media consumption, geographical location, politics, philosophy, and values. Other influences include the child’s genetics, mood, sleep, appetite, upbringing, the food’s availability, convenience, texture, colour, smell, taste, and so, so much more. Phew, that’s a lot of variables! Never fear. Contrary to what you might think, the bulk of childhood picky eating, with a few exceptions, is actually within the realm of normal. For the most part, parents become concerned with a couple of common stumbling blocks that arise from the first solid food introduction and may last well into the school years. Specifically, parents want to make sure their child is getting enough vegetables, 68 EcoParent

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Start a small garden. Kids are more likely to eat something they watched go from seed to plate. Let them “pick” their own dinner. Little helpers, anyone? Kids also tend to eat more when they are involved in the planning/shopping/cooking process. I’m hungry! Try offering vegetables first, before other foods, and right after exercise and fresh air, when kids’ appetites are high. Get creative. Preparation style and presentation can make a big difference. Give one of those crinkle cutters a shot, or turn their usual sandwich into an open happy-faced monster with peppers for a smile and carrots for fangs. Get sneaky! If needed, sneak some veggies into smoothies, baking, soups, and other comfort foods. See Dr. Heidi Lescanec’s recipes for some great examples.

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"Feeding and raising these little people is tricky business requiring a whole lot of

Exploring new foods while maintaining peaceful mealtimes is possible!

love, patience, compassion,

Serving Style can make all the difference! Why not try cutting some food out in fun shapes, or investing in a spiralizer?

and, if we’re lucky, some humour to make it through the day."

Consider the “division of responsibility” model, developed by dietician Ellen Satter: the parent decides when to eat, what to serve, and where to serve it, and the child decides whether and how much to eat. Offer layered meals, with plenty of healthy options so there is always one ‘win’ available. Monitor your child’s consumption over the course of a week rather than focusing on each individual meal. Studies show it typically balances out.

Keep mealtimes as relaxing as possible. Set the table, play soft music, light candles, and lower the pressure by refraining from commenting on what/how much your child is eating. Avoid rewarding and bribing with food, especially sweets. Get nutrition in at breakfast. It may be easier, especially for young ones, due to end-of-day fatigue or over-stimulation, which can make little ones uncooperative at suppertime.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / [creatista]

Model good eating habits. Try and enjoy a variety of foods yourself, sit down to eat, and avoid electronics at the table.

Consider cutting down on snacks if intake at meals is continually an issue. Don’t give up! Two- to five-year-olds are known to resist unfamiliar foods. It may take 10 to 15 tastes before they will accept it. NB: If your child is experiencing growth concerns, symptoms of deficiency, digestive complaints, or you are not coping well with feeding dynamics, I encourage you to consult a professional (your MD, a registered holistic nutritionist, or an ND with expertise in pediatrics).

PICKY EATING & PICKING YOUR BATTLES For me, things shifted when I realized I didn’t want meals to be a battleground: I wanted eating to be a way of connecting and experiencing pleasure. I remembered my own childhood and how I survived on chicken fingers for years and yet still went on to become an inclusive eater. I also realized my little guy is among the “supertasters” of the world; to him, flavours and textures are much more intense. I changed my approach, created rituals around our eating, and found the words, “You don’t have to eat it.” For us, being relaxed and providing predictability has helped, but it is a continuous process of letting go of control. It’s about finding your tolerance level, picking your battles, and continuing to gently nudge your wee ones along the way.

I’m the first to say the struggle is real and I believe there is no one “right” way to feed a child. Let’s move away from shame, blame, and guilt, and stop pressuring ourselves so much as parents. This is not about perfection, but instead, muddling our way through each of our unique journeys the best we can. Feeding and raising these little people is tricky business requiring a whole lot of love, patience, compassion, and, if we’re lucky, some humour to make it through the day. If you’re struggling, pick one tip to try and let your next meal be a new adventure (and hopefully a success)! •

Summer 2018

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Health

The Planet of Your Child Exploring the Mysterious Microbiome

by dr. leslie solomonian, nd & dana kolenich

SIBO

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hat’s the largest organ in the human body? You might answer skin, which contains the greatest number of human cells, or maybe you’ll go with the liver, which is the heaviest. But the largest organ in the human body is also the one that we’re still learning about: our microbiome!

Think of the body as a planet, home to trillions of tiny organisms, which when combined create the microbiome. The skin, mouth, nose, lungs, reproductive and digestive tracts are all ecosystems with different temperatures, water and oxygen levels, and nutrient variety. Each ecosystem is host to different communities of microbes, and each person’s microbiome is as unique as they are.

Because each microorganism also has a unique genome which interacts with our own, the microbiome has a tremendous influence on human health and well-being. The “Old Friends Hypothesis” proposed by Graham Rook in 2003 suggests that certain microbes evolved alongside human organisms and have become intricately involved in our immune defense and overall health, with both the microbes and humans depending on one another for proper functionality. While there are many aspects of this we are still trying to more fully understand, we do know that a healthy balance of bacteria in and on the body helps promote the digestion and absorption of food, encourages optimal immune system function, contributes to healthy metabolism and body composition, and affects mental health.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / [Dusan]

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ive effect Negat Inflammatory disease

Decreased sleep quality

Method of delivery at birth

Stress

C-section

Antibiotics Antidepresseants

Playing outside Regular physical activity

Environmental exposure

Microbiome

Mental health concerns

Baby formula

Positive effect

Breastfeeding vs formula

Mental health & mood

Breastfeeding

Diet

Fermented foods Balaned whole foods-based-diet

Skin-on-skin contact at birth

Medications and supplements

vaginal birth

Prebiotics Balanced immunity

Figure 1. Lifestyle factors affecting the microbiome.

THE PIECES OF THE MICROBIOME PUZZLE Babies are born with an immature, nearly sterile microbiome. The first few years of life are a critical period in which to promote its development, with a number of factors (see Figure 1) playing a role in its success or failure.

Bacteria at birth

The microbiome of the gut and vagina changes during pregnancy and creates the foundation for baby’s microbiome as she passes through the birth canal. This means that the ways in which you optimize your own microbiome during pregnancy are key to ensuring baby gets off to a great start! Babies born via c-section develop different bacterial colonies than babies born vaginally. C-section births have been associated with higher rates of conditions involving the immune system and microbiome, including asthma, obesity, food allergies, and eczema. However, if a baby is born skyward, there are many strategies to support a healthy microbiome. Some practitioners apply “vaginal seeding” which involves swabbing a newborn baby with the mother’s vaginal secretions after delivery to mimic the introduction of the microbiome that would normally occur during vaginal birth. Since this is an emerging practice, it has limited evidence: talk to your healthcare provider for information on whether it could be right for you. Skin-to-skin contact between parent and newborn also functions in transferring some skin co-habitants onto the baby, helping develop a diverse community of bacteria. Further, breastfeeding plays a significant role, and there are also supplemental probiotics, comprised of beneficial bacteria, that are designed for neonates and babies.

First food

In addition to the myriad excellent reasons to breastfeed, breast milk (unlike formula) contains health-promoting bacteria and antibodies required to help develop a healthy immune system. Formula feeding alters babies’ microbiomes, encouraging growth of bacterial strains that can cause disease (like C. difficile and E. coli) and decreasing protective strains, like bifidobacteria. 30 EcoParent

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Unfortunately, breastfeeding isn’t an option for all parents. If possible, a fantastic alternative is pasteurized donor breast milk. While it may not be as abundant in elements beneficial to the infant microbiome, it can have a positive impact nonetheless. As mentioned, supplementation with probiotics may help, and, if donor milk isn’t available, many commercial formulas now include probiotic strains.

Daily diet

Switching from breastfeeding to solid foods is the most critical time for the maturity of the microbiome. This maturation will continue on as healthy children age, making a diet composed of a variety of different foods key to its development . Whole foods A varied, healthy diet full of whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and legumes, is a great way to increase levels of beneficial microbial strains. The Mediterranean Diet is a wonderful model of the whole food balance, with the addition of its emphasis on foods that contain naturally anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids like wild fish (especially mackerel, salmon, sardines, and herring), nuts and seeds (such as walnuts and flaxseeds), plant-based oils, and fortified eggs, all of which help to improve the overall health of the microbiome.

The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis The gastrointestinal system and central nervous system enjoy two-way communication via a complex process involving hormones, neurotransmitters, and blood flow. Just as stress and anxiety can negatively impact digestive function, in part due to a change in the microbiome, the microbiome also has a significant effect on mood. Some studies have shown that probiotic supplementation can decrease perceived stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve problem solving in otherwise healthy adults.

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Ferments Making a conscious effort to eat more fermented and cultured foods like kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, miso, tempeh, kombucha, and cheese, is another way to benefit our microbiome. When foods are fermented and cultured with microbial strains, it affects the enzyme and nutritional composition, impacting the gut in a positive way by contributing to microbiome diversity and strength. Prebiotics Prebiotics provide fuel for probiotic organisms. When you eat fibre-rich foods, like whole grains, flaxseed and chia, vegetables such as onions and broccoli, and fruits like berries and bananas, you are providing prebiotics for the gut. Beneficial microbes metabolize this fibre and create by-products that have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and immune-protecting effects. Research shows that even small quantities of fibre intake can increase helpful strains in the microbiome. This may be a particularly important dietary addition for children who were primarily formula-fed and have reduced quantities of these strains.

We all know that stress can eat away at our sense of peace, security, and overall quality of life. But did you know that stress can also significantly impact the development of a child’s microbiome? Psychological stress Prolonged exposure to psychological stress (including social and academic) has been associated with reduced microbiome diversity and levels of Lactobacilli in particular. Research suggests that adverse childhood events not only change the composition of the gut microbiome, but that these changes last into adulthood and impact the microbiome in pregnancy, passing the impacts on to the next generation. Environmental stress Environmental stressors in the form of toxins and pollutants can impact the microbiome, resulting in reduced levels of good bacteria and increased levels of harmful strains. Physical stress Physical stress on the body such as lack of sleep has been linked to a more than 50% change in concentrations of gut microbiota. Most kids don’t get enough sleep: Canadian and US guidelines suggest that children ages 5 to 13 years old should get between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night, and ages 14 to 17 years should get 8 to 10 hours. Physical activity also affects children’s microbiomes. Moderate levels of exercise have been linked to increased levels of helpful strains such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and lower levels of harmful strains. However, vigorous exercise has been associated with increased inflammation and harmful strains, so it’s important to be cautious that children are not overexerting themselves and putting too much stress on their bodies. Both the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth suggest children should be physically active for a total of 60 minutes per day, and that muscle and bone strengthening exercise should be part of children’s physical activity 3 days per week. In addition to all of the known benefits of outdoor exercise, children’s exposure to microbes from nature is related to reduced risk of asthma and allergies.

More conscientious sanitation practices within the last half century have resulted in a comparatively sterile lifestyle compared to how humans used to live. This has caused a dramatic decline in the number of deaths caused by infection; however, we are seeing a simultaneous rise in the number of chronic inflammatory disorders, particularly in developed, high-income countries. Our “sterile” attitude and practices (combined with other modern lifestyle behaviours) may

Summer 2019

Children like to stick their fingers into everything and then put those fingers in their mouths. This turns out to be an instinctive strategy to diversify a microbiome! Children who are surrounded by animals, have siblings, or live on a farm tend to have lower rates of allergic conditions than kids without similar exposures. One research study found that babies of mothers who wash and boil pacifiers have a higher risk of developing asthma, eczema, or allergies compared to babies whose moms just suck on a fallen pacifier themselves before handing it back to baby!

Antibiotic attention

Lifestyle links

Dirty dogs (and other good germs!)

be contributing to an increase in conditions such as cancer, depression, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative disorders, and type 2 diabetes. While hand washing is still an excellent practice to reduce the risk of harmful infections, using hand sanitizers and aiming to eradicate all bacteria in a child’s environment may be causing more harm than benefit.

Antibiotics have an important place in medicine, and are sometimes lifesaving. However, in addition to eradicating harmful bacteria, they can also kill strains of beneficial bacteria. Excessive antibiotic use, both in medical care and agricultural practices, can cause an imbalance in the body, increasing the risk of microbiome-related health concerns. If antibiotics can be safely avoided, particularly in the early years, it is likely better for long term health. Conveniently, the strategies that help reduce unnecessary antibiotic use also benefit the microbiome and many other aspects of good health! STRATEGIES TO REDUCE ANTIBIOTIC USE » Wash hands regularly with soap and water » Ensure adequate sleep » Eat a healthy, whole foods diet » Get sufficient physical activity » Reduce excessive stress » Work with a healthcare professional to treat infections naturally when possible

Probiotic prudence

Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that can be supplemented in pill or powder form to modify the microbiome. However, there is a huge range of products delivering a dizzying array of strains and potencies, marketed for all sorts of reasons. Though they’ve been promoted as a cure-all, they aren’t always helpful, and may even cause harm (if only to your wallet). It’s ideal to promote a healthy microbiome using the strategies above, and reserve probiotic use for when they are clearly indicated. There is evidence for their value where breast milk isn’t available, and in conditions such as colic, pediatric constipation and diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infections, and in childhood allergy prevention. Discuss the options and evidence with your healthcare provider to determine if supplementation is indicated for you or your child. Although small, bacteria pack a big punch and play an important role in our health. It is vital to establish a healthy microbiome during the first few years of a child’s life by understanding not only that there are many ways to do so, but also that there are many ways we unwittingly undermine it. We can promote healthy microbiomes during pregnancy and birth through diet choices and by providing supportive environments for kids to grow and play in, and in embracing these strategies we diminish the impulse to sterilize our environment and can reduce the need for antibiotics. A healthy microbiome makes for a healthy baby and, in turn, a healthy child— take care of your microbes, they’ll be your friends for life! •

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For nine years, EcoParent has been Canada’s top print resource for

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Health & Beauty

optimize your family’s HEALTH with advice from naturopaths & holistic nutritionists

Beating the bumps, bruises, a blechs,

naturally. Your primer for a well-stocked NATURAL FIRST-AID KIT

by dr. leslie solomonian, nd

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / gajdamak

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you are great

Home & Garden

Eco BAeSdI Sroom AN

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Tips for creating a healthy space for your child by emma rohmann

DETOX your environment and create your healthiest home

© Can Stock Photo / Bialasiewicz

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Spring 2018

Feature

Childhood NOURISHING

nurture ATTACHMENT with advice from our parenting experts

Strategies for Simplicity Parenting by manda aufochs gillespie

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here is an undeclared war on childhood,” says Kim John Payne, psychologist, founder of the Simplicity Parenting movement, and author of Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids. When Payne was in university, he worked and lived in a group home for gang-rescued and violent youth, and later worked with refugees from war zones. At a lecture given by one of the early researchers into trauma response (what would become known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)), the speaker described symptoms of combat veterans: controlling behaviours, over-active fight-or-flight response, difficulty with new things, obsessive patterns of behaviour, an inability to dress appropriately for the environment (e.g. when it was cold, they wore t-shirts), and an inability to properly taste food (thus seeking high stimulation foods that were extra-spicy or MSG-enhanced). “I was struck by how he was describing the kids in my group home.” Later, Payne established a practice where even more surprisingly, though his clientele consisted of mainstream children apparently living comfortable western lives, kids were appearing at his door looking much like PTSD victims. To his alarm he realized, “There was nothing ‘post’ about it in these kids; it was ongoing.” The constant layering of too much on top of too much became too difficult to process; a phenomenon Payne calls a cumulative stress reaction. “The highly stressed, fast-paced, too-much, too-sexy, too-young, has become the new normal. It forces kids into a stressed zone.”

“There is an undeclared war on childhood.”

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t’s hard to believe that back to school is here again when it feels like summer just began! Heading back to school can be a difficult transition for kids. For many, it means sitting at a desk for long periods of time with focus: focus on the teacher, assignments, new facts, and not on what the person next to them may be doing. For some kids this is more of a struggle than for others. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reported that in 2011, 11% of American children aged 4-17 had been diagnosed with ADHD at some point. This was up from 7.8% just eight years earlier. Whatever the cause, this rising prevalence is definitely something that we, as parents, want to start paying attention to.

produce omega-3 fatty acids in the body, so we are entirely reliant on outside sources to get our fill. As a population we tend to be omega-3 deficient, so it is important to make a conscious effort to include more of it in your child’s diet.

As a naturopathic doctor, I believe the work you do now to support your child will benefit them for a lifetime. You have the power to make an incredible difference in their mental development! Here are some tips to help support your child’s concentration and focus, hopefully creating the best possible experience at school.

» Gad-Zincs!

BRAIN BUILDING STRATEGIES » Boost up Magnesium Magnesium is a mineral that calms the nervous system and promotes restful sleep. Children with ADHD or attention struggles are often deficient in magnesium, which can be a contributing factor to their restlessness. Try adding magnesium rich foods to your child’s diet such as dark green veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, bananas, watermelon, figs, potatoes and green beans. You can also consider a magnesium supplement. Taking it before bed can have the added benefit of a more restful sleep!

» Up your Healthy Fats One of the best things you can give your kids (and yourself!) for focus and concentration is a good quality fish oil supplement. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are important for brain development, mental focus and mood regulation. Humans are actually unable to 26 EcoParent

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Food sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids are fish (remember SMASH: sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, herring), walnuts, flax/ hemp seed oil, and hemp hearts. If your child is not keen on this list, sometimes a good old spoonful of the liquid down the hatch is the way to go! Companies are becoming ever so sneaky in flavouring their fish oil supplements, making them a bit more palatable than they used to be.

Zinc has also been shown to improve information processing, organization and decision-making in children with ADHD. Zinc is involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, which is the most important neurotransmitter in relation to ADHD. Dopamine is vital for control of movement and impulsive behaviour, and it also regulates our pleasure and reward centres. Zinc supplements are commonly recommended to be taken with standard ADHD drugs, to improve the drug’s effect on dopamine levels in the brain. Like magnesium, children deficient in zinc can have symptoms resembling the hyperactivity symptoms of ADHD. It is therefore important to rule out a zinc deficiency, which can be accomplished with a simple in-office test with your medical or naturopathic doctor.

» Brainy Bacopa This herb works in two ways. It can invigorate mental processes while simultaneously reducing the effects of stress and nervous anxiety, which is a perfect combination for a hyperactive and/or ADHD sufferer’s attention difficulties. The active ingredient is bacosides, which have been shown to support focus by improving the transmission of nerve impulses to the brain, thereby sharpening cognitive function. It also creates a sense of calm and peace, which is very helpful for The EcoParent Healthy Kids Guide

the hyperactive and impulsive tendencies of many children.

» Scrap the Sugar Overeating, poor memory formation, learning disorders, and depression have all been linked to excessive sugar consumption. Research shows a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything. So do yourself and your kids a favour, and ditch the added sugar.

» Get Outside! According to a 2008 study published in Psychological Science, interacting with nature gives your brain a break from everyday stimulation, which has a restorative effect on attention levels. The general recommendation is for children to have at least 1 hour of outdoor time daily. The grim reality according to the ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth is that only 14% of children 5-11 years old, and only 5% of children 12 to 17 years old, are meeting this recommendation. So, make getting outside a priority every day!

» Mini-Meditations Imagine if kids started every day with five minutes of mindfulness practice? Research shows it improves attention, reduces stress, regulates emotions and improves the capacity for compassion and empathy. All of these seem integral to me for both classroom learning and co-operative play. Talk to teachers and principals about implementing a mindfulness program at your school. A simple five minutes of focused, quiet breathing can go a long way to preparing our children for the exciting day of learning ahead. It’s never too early to start thinking about your children’s mental health. If focus and concentration prove to be a persistent struggle, speak to a medical professional for support. •

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onstipation in kids. It's so common it has become normal. But there is nothing normal about being backed up. Constipation must be relieved if your child is to enjoy optimal health. And let’s be honest— everyone feels better after a good poop! We now know, through recent research, that the gut and brain are intimately connected. Consider these three ways constipation influences your child’s behaviour and mood: 1. The stool is a primary pathway for flushing waste from the body. As stool sits in the colon, hormones and chemicals can be reabsorbed into the body where they can interfere with neurologic function. 2. Bowel irritation and inflammation caused by stagnant stool can stimulate immune cell activity, increase intestinal permeability and reduce nutrient absorption. Inflammatory messages are sent from the gut to the brain while valuable nutrients needed to manage that inflammation are reduced. 3. Constipation causes pain and discomfort that many children cannot articulate; it can be expressed as mood and behaviour flareups and can also interfere with sleep quality.

THE SCOOP ON POOP Constipation can be characterized by the quality of stool or the frequency of stool. Hard, pebbly stool that is difficult to pass is clearly recognizable as constipation. But soft squiggly stool also indicates incomplete evacuation of the bowel. Reflux can also be constipation related, as can heartburn. In terms of frequency, any person who is not pooping at least once a day is constipated, even if that poop is well formed. Here are my top ten strategies to get the bowels moving! 1. Magnesium. This mineral brings water into the colon and stimulates the muscles Fall 2017

the microbial balance in the gut, which can contribute to constipation.

by jessica sherman m. ed, rhn, board certified nutritionist

5. Slippery Elm powder. A super supplement for getting the poop flowing and soothing irritated mucus membranes. It gently adds bulk to the stool, while keeping it soft, to help with an easier passing. Great if there has been any damage to the intestinal lining, as it will also help calm local inflammation.

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in the digestive lining. It can be given as a supplement (powder available for young ones who cannot swallow pills), starting slowly and increasing until stools soften. There is little risk of taking too much magnesium, but if your child has any affect other than soft stools, stop. If diarrhea ensues, cut back, as you’ve gone too far in the other direction! 2. Zinc. Zinc assists in the synthesis of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Liquid zinc is easy to give to children and is highly absorbable. There is a risk of zinc overdose, so you don’t want to use high doses without consulting a practitioner. That said, 15 mg used as directed and for a short time (up to one month) is quite safe to try for constipation relief. 3. Probiotics. Bacteria are digestive regulators – they can help with constipation and diarrhea. There is, at this point, no toxic upper limit for probiotics. However, if your child experiences mood, digestive, or skin reactions to a probiotic, cut back. Choose one that has multiple strains and no fillers. Dose can range from 11 million to 50 billion CFUs; try to work up to twenty billion CFUs per day, as there may be an adjustment period with bowel frequency. Stubborn cases may require more, so at that point, consult with a practitioner. Fermented food can also be a great source of probiotic bacteria. 4. Boost fat & fibre, while reducing sugar. Fibre from fruit, vegetables, whole grains and seeds bulk up the stool and keep bowels moving. But too much fibre, especially without adequate hydration, can cause irritation and plug things up (see #6!). More often then not, especially in children, the issue is a lack of fibre, so increasing these foods is a good start. Healthy fats from fish, meat, avocado, seeds, and coconut lubricate the bowel and nourish the gut lining. Coconut oil is a particularly helpful fat because it does not require bile for digestion like most fats do, and constipation is sometimes related to poor bile flow. Sugar negatively affects The EcoParent Healthy Kids Guide

6. Hydration. A school-aged child should drink 1-2 liters of pure water throughout the day to keep the bowels moving. A constipated child might need even more. Fruit juice does not count as water because of its sugar content. 7. Castor oil belly rubs. Castor oil is a time tested therapy for all things gut-related. Castor oil naturally reduces inflammation and stimulates lymphatic flow and, by extension, bowel movement. Rub the oil clockwise around the belly button, pressing as deeply as you can without causing discomfort. 8. Get moving. Encourage outdoor play, running, skipping, jumping and twisting. Movement creates… well, movements! 9. Increase serotonin-boosting foods. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in motility and fluid control of the bowels. It works as an important signaling agent for the cells of the GI tract that are responsible for the muscle movements that push the poop through. Eggs, salmon, turkey, and nuts are high in tryptophan, an amino acid used to make serotonin. 10. Assess and reduce stress. Stress puts us into a sympathetic state (flight or flight) via the master stress hormone, cortisol. When we are in that state, blood flow is routed away from our entire digestive tract, which can result in constipation. If your child is constipated, meaning they do not have a least one well-formed bowel movement every day, their body is under stress. Chemicals and hormones are allowed to recirculate, irritation increases, absorption can decrease. As a result mood, focus, sleep, learning and overall health can suffer. Relieving constipation will free up energy so that your child’s body can function at its best. If none of these suggestions help, see a practitioner to assess for undiagnosed food sensitivities, which might be slowing down digestive function. •

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REMEDIES Tips to help boost the immune system during cold and flu season

by dr alex keller, nd

Photo: Esmeralda Edenberg / shutterstock.com

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h, autumn…when kids return to the fun-filled, germ-sharing pool of school. How is it that our children become snotty messes every fall? While we can do a lot to prevent whatever is going around, sometimes we just can't escape those nasty, snot-inducing bugs. When someone in the family has fallen victim, it’s best that everyone (not just the sickie) start to boost their immune systems to prevent further spread. Did you know that by the time symptoms of a cold or flu have set in, everyone in the family has already been exposed? It can take a few days for symptoms to start, but there’s still time to fight it off! This is why it’s important that everyone jump on the immune boosting bandwagon at the first sign of trouble!

Your Immune Army To understand how different therapies work, it’s helpful to first understand how the immune system works. When we get sick, our immune system sends very specific cells (our soldiers) to the area of combat, otherwise known as the site of infection. When it comes to colds and flus, the invaders are typically viruses, but in certain cases bacteria may also join the party. These cells travel via a highway known as the lymphatic system, made of lymphatic vessels that lead to lymph nodes, where the battles occur. This is why our lymph nodes become swollen when sick, due to the increased activity. With some handy supplements and simple home treatments, you will be armed and ready to support your immune “army” in battling those nasty cold and flu bugs.

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Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself for battle:

HOME HYDROTHERAPY Hydration: One of the most simple and beneficial things we can do to support the immune system and blood flow is to drink adequate fluids. Our immune cells need enough fluid to move efficiently down those highways and to clean up the battle zones. Without sufficient hydration, our highways become congested and our lymph nodes stay littered, resulting in lingering infections that take longer to clear. So drink up! Super-powered immune boosting beverages include organic bone broths, warm herbal teas, and, of course, water. Leave the fruit juices and milk behind. Warming Magic Socks: This will not sound like the most comfortable process, but just trust and try it! 1. Grab one pair of thin cotton socks and one pair of thick (preferably wool) socks. 2. Once ready for bed, soak your thin socks in COLD water by running them under the tap (put in the freezer if your water does not get adequately cold). 3. Wring the socks out so that there is no dripping. 4. Sit on the edge of your bed and put on the cold wet socks. 5. Then, cover these with your DRY warm socks. 6. Crawl into bed and make sure to stay warm.

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As you sleep, your body will identify the temperature difference and send blood down to warm your feet, resulting in increased circulation. Circulation is critical to the immune system because as our blood moves, our lymph moves! As discussed above, good lymphatic flow is important for optimal immune function. Kids love to wake up and find their socks "magically" dry! It is also safe for babies: add a footed sleeper on top to ensure they don't kick off the socks. Steam Inhalations: Perfect for congestion, runny noses, coughs and throat infections. Younger children can do this with a parent, so mom or dad can keep a close watch on temperature and response. 1. Grab a large bowl and two towels (put one down under the bowl on the table to protect it from the water and heat). 2. Fill your bowl with boiling water from the kettle. 3. Choose to add either a few drops of essential oils (eucalyptus, peppermint and thyme all work wonderfully) or a dime sized amount of vapour rub. 4. Sitting in front of the bowl, lean your face over the bowl so that you are breathing in the rising steam. 5. Drape the towel over your head and bowl to enclose your head as much as possible, essentially creating a miniature steam room. 6. Breathe in the steam through your mouth and nose (depending on where you need the most therapy). 7. The hot moist air is soothing to your mucous membranes and will help break up congestion in your sinuses and/or lungs. 8. The essential oils or vapour rub increase this mucous busting action, but do make the therapy a bit more intense, so use caution with young children. Pro Tip: Keep facial tissue on hand and blow as necessary. This

treatment can get the mucous running! Try to do this for 10 minutes at a time, though kids may need shorter durations. It is most effective when repeated several times a day. Be careful, as steam can burn, so you may want to let the water sit for a few moments before you enclose yourself! An alternative for young children and babies is to create a steam room in the bathroom. Run your shower on hot, close the door, and trap the steam in the room. Enjoy your makeshift steam bath for 10 minutes. Placing a few drops of essential oil on a face cloth on the shower floor can create a nice effect.

SUPPLEments & Herbs When Hydrotherapy isn’t Enough

Of course, sometimes our immune systems need an extra kick to get things going. It's great to have these on hand when you feel like you’re losing the war:

Echinacea: Echinacea is an herb that stimulates the production of immune cells to increase the immune response. Safe for children or pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, it’s an herb the entire family can use. You can use it in a variety of ways: syrups, tinctures, tablets, and tea all work well to release the chemicals that support the immune system in its microbe-fighting duties. Elderberry:

This is another great plant that has antiviral properties and immune boosting power. Best used as a syrup, kids will happily swallow a dose of this sweet microbe-busting syrup. You can also take it as a tea, gummies, or tincture.

Vitamin C: Many of us know – but a reminder never hurts! – that vitamin C is crucial to proper immune function. Did you know that tolerance for vitamin C increases when we are sick, as the body uses up its stores at a much faster rate? A good way to dose vitamin C is "up to bowel tolerance", meaning the highest amount before inducing diarrhea (delightful, I know). Under proper supervision from a qualified healthcare provider, start with 1000 mg in divided doses throughout the day. As an alternative to sugar-heavy oranges and orange juice that are often used to boost vitamin C, consider rosehip tea, naturally high in vitamin C and safe for the whole family. Probiotics:For those nasty bugs to prevail they need to conquer our good bacteria or microbial flora. By supplementing with a probiotic, you increase the population of good bacteria, making it more challenging for the bad bugs to take hold. At first signs of infection, start taking a probiotic supplement to boost your microbial flora. If you take daily probiotics already, consider doubling your dose for an extra immune boost. Powder forms exist for infants and children, making this a useful therapy for the whole family. You can also consider regular consumption of fermented foods like organic, low-sugar yogurt or kefir, nonpasteurized sauerkraut, or low-sugar kombucha.

These simple therapies are wonderful and effective means of supporting the immune system’s natural ability to fight off infection. Rather than suppressing symptoms, recognize that symptoms are your immune system trying to solve a problem. By supporting it in doing its job, you cure the problem faster and make your immunity stronger for the next time it faces those same nasty bugs. So be sure to try some of these tips the next time someone in your family is starting to come down with a cold! • Photo: Pat_Hastings / shutterstock.com

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CAVITIES & OUR

children Can diet be the missing link? by manda aufochs gillespie Photo: g-stockstudio / shutterstock.com

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was stunned. My five-year-old daughter’s first molar was so rotten that she needed to have it replaced with a crown. We eat well, she is rarely exposed to sugar or even juice, and she is (forced) to brush and floss regularly. She was sedated and numbed and experienced days of pain. I was forced to reconsider what I thought I knew about children’s dental health. I know I am not alone. Indeed, according to Dr. Roger Lucas, DDS, a pediatric dentist in Seattle and founder of TheDentistDad. com, tooth decay in our children has become a “public health crisis” with an especially staggering rise in cavities in two- and three-year-olds. Moreover, he states that 40% of kids will have a cavity before their sixth birthday. Both parents and dentists seem to have numerous theories as to why cavities are on the rise, even in health-conscious families. But the truth is that tooth decay is multi-faceted, says Dr. Michael Schecter, partner at Schecter Dental, a Torontobased holistic dental practice focused more on prevention than just the “drill and fill” model of dentistry. What’s lost in this typical model of drill and fill dentistry is a commitment to research and prevention, thus making it very difficult to know exactly what is at the root of our children’s tooth decay. In particular, it makes it very hard for dentists to lead the charge on research and prevention as most of us, including government programs that help subsidize access to basic dental care, are accustomed to paying for treatments. Current research does suggest that our dental health reflects the health of our entire bodies. We have begun to understand the link between what is happening in our mouths and our individual and cultural health, thanks to the groundbreaking work of Dr. Weston A. Price, anthropologist and dentist.

The evolution of our teeth Price practiced dentistry in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 20th century. In an effort to understand tooth decay and physical degeneration, he took to studying teeth from different world cultures, specifically indigenous and isolated groups, including Inuit and North American indigenous groups, African tribal people, aboriginal peoples of New Zealand, Australia, South America, South Sea Island, Switzerland, and remote Gaelic communities. Price found decay-free, straight teeth and a

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healthy, structurally-sound, disease-resistant people. He came to believe the connection was largely based on diet as, across cultural groups, they tended to consume many times more calcium and other minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, and nutrientrich animal foods than we are typically accustomed to today. His work went beyond just showing that a mother’s diet during conception, pregnancy and lactation was essential to a child’s overall health, but that the father’s diet also mattered. He found that these same indigenous people, when converted to a more typical Western diet, were faced with many of the same issues he had seen in his Cleveland practice: crowded teeth, cavities, and gum disease. Price developed a series of principles meant to be guidelines to a happier, healthier mouth. Concepts like eating whole foods, and taking a more conscious approach in dental health care can seem like no-brainers, however, this mindset is actually far outside of our current dental mainstream in North America. In fact, Dr. Schecter says that the standard in North American dentistry is to put amalgam (aka mercury) fillings into children. He says he doesn’t remember ever not putting a mercury filling into a child while in dentistry school. Mercury amalgams are the most common type of filling used, despite increasing evidence that a small amount of the mercury is released into the body where it can cause harm, especially to developing fetuses and children. The World Health Organization called for the phasing out of all amalgam fillings in 2011 warning that it releases a “significant amount of mercury” into the environment and that its use raises “general health concerns.” While Health Canada concludes that amalgam may not be advisable in pregnant women and children and the US FDA acknowledges the "developing neurological systems in fetuses and young children may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor” neither government goes as far as to restrict its use even in these vulnerable populations.

The great fluoride debate Mercury isn’t the only toxin potentially weakening the health of our children. Toothpaste itself can also contain aluminum, Triclosan (an antibacterial pesticide) and SLS (a harsh detergent). The tricky part is that toothpastes are considered to have medicinal properties and thus, even in countries like

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“Cavities are 95 to 100% preventable with dietary changes." - Dr. Roger Lucas DDS

Photo: Magdanatka / shutterstock.com

Weston A. Price holistic dentistry guidelines: Photo: Darren Baker / shutterstock.com

• Eat nutrient-dense whole foods, properly grown and prepared. • Avoid root canals. If you have root canals that you suspect are causing disease, have them removed by a knowledgeable dentist. • Avoid mercury (amalgam) fillings. If you have amalgam fillings, have them removed by a holistic dentist who specializes in mercury filling replacement. • Orthodontics should include measures to widen the palate. • Extract teeth only when necessary, and then in such a way as to avoid leaving the jaw bone with cavitation, which can be focal points of infection.

Canada where labelling laws exist, manufacturers don’t have to reveal their ingredients. Further, many toothpastes on the market contain fluoride: possibly the most hotly-debated topic in the care of teeth. Although the real fluoride controversy is less about its presence in toothpaste and more about the fluoridation of public water supplies in many cities in the US and Canada, and the resulting ingestion by their citizens, there remains great debate over adding fluoride to toothpaste as a means of protecting teeth from cavities. As to whether or not a fluoride toothpaste is safe and medically necessary, especially in young children, there is research to suggest that fluoride, when considered as a topical treatment, does have a small cavity-preventing benefit. However, it’s important to note that if parents choose to use a fluoride toothpaste, there must be care exercised to ensure that children don’t overuse it or swallow it. If a parent chooses to forego it, they’re in good company: more and more biological or holistic dentists don’t routinely use fluoride in their practices at all. According to Dr. Bruce Lanphear, professor with Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and an investigator at BC Children’s Hospital, the research on fluoride’s safety and its efficacy has never been sufficient, and there is no real oral benefit shown from ingesting fluoride. He points out that it is not an essential nutrient, nor is it required for the proper functioning of the body. In fact, there is evidence that

Winter 2017

shows fluoride may interfere with healthy body functioning, particularly when it combines with toxins like aluminum and lead. Fluoride has been shown to slow down the time it takes for teeth to appear, which increases the risk of decay. Fluoride can also cause dental fluorosis, or tooth discolouration, which is estimated to affect 41% of American children.

The not-so-secret link between your diet and your teeth There is a direct correlation between your diet and your dental health. In fact, “cavities are 95 to 100% preventable with dietary changes,” according to Dr. Lucas. Yet, knowing this hardly equals a prescription for what is a healthy diet. I consider myself to have a great diet, I avoided toxins to the best of my ability in pregnancy, and I myself never had a cavity as a child. Yet, my child’s tooth rotted out just in time to reach the national average. I have long been a believer in the nutrient-rich diet, and especially its importance during the childbearing years and for young children. So, we have eaten lots of organic, grass-fed butter, bone broths, and vegetables. We also ferment foods to help create a great gut microbiome. And as much as possible I soak my beans and grains.

Getting the most from your foods It is this latter bit that some would say is the missing piece for the healthy diets of those who still suffer from cavities. Most fresh foods like vegetables, grains and legumes, have some form of anti-nutrient that coat them and help protect the food in the field from their natural predators. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in grains, nuts, seeds, and beans that can block the body’s ability to absorb calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron: all minerals extremely important for teeth. There are ways to prepare foods so that the negative effects of the phytic acid are either entirely or partially minimized. As well, people with healthier gut microbiomes will be better able to digest the phytic acid than those who do not, and thus a healthy gut might mean this simply matters less. The key to reducing phytic acid in nuts, grains, and rice is to either sprout and cook them, or soak in water with some whey, lemon, or vinegar. Long soaks and many rinses are particularly important with beans.

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Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense to me, as my daughter suffered from parasites before the problem occurred with her tooth. Perhaps a weak microbiome in combination with too many grains and beans improperly prepared was simply enough to take her over the edge to rotten teeth.

How certain foods add up to decay In his book More Chocolate, No Cavities, Dr. Lucas says that for most people the diet aspect is even simpler than that. It really comes down to the fact that some foods, like those rich in protein and good fats and very low in starches and sugars, won’t cause cavities, while other foods will. He breaks down the path to keeping children cavity-free into a few simplified steps. Indeed, he says it’s really just about math. Foods that can be converted to lactic acid (which are any foods with simple sugars such as starchy foods or sweets) will break down into lactic acid and then stick to the plaque on the teeth. There, this acid will immediately begin to eat away the enamel of the tooth unless brushed or vigorously swished away. This process can immediately be restored, and the tooth remineralized, once the acid is removed and saliva is presented. The saliva contains minerals that will begin to fill that microscopic hole.

Cavity prevention: it’s all in the math 1. There are the foods you eat and the ones you ought not. Some foods are worse for tooth decay than others. He says that raw vegetable and pure chicken are never going to rot your teeth while fruit juice and crackers will start the process with a vengeance. It’s not just whether the food will be turned into lactic acid and how fast, it’s also the “stickiness” of the food. That’s why crackers are worse than bread: crackers mixed with saliva, water or juice creates a plaster-like effect that causes crackers to stick badly to teeth, similar to sticky candy and dried fruits.

2. There is the time the food is on the teeth. Most foods will stay on your teeth long enough for the bad bacteria to start eating the sugar and carbs. The result is lactic acid that eats away at the tooth, which is mainly made up of calcium and phosphorous. If there was nothing on the teeth for the bad bacteria to eat, then the acid wouldn’t form and the tooth wouldn’t decay. Thus, if we can avoid eating foods with sugars or carbs or remove sugar or carbs immediately, this shouldn’t be a problem. The key to the first is knowing which foods are okay. And the key to the second is remembering to swish with water after eating, avoiding sticky foods that can’t easily be swished away, and avoiding snacking on these bad-for-teeth foods. It is particularly essential to avoid sipping beverages or nibbling on foods all day long, most especially on sticky carbs, but even on relatively healthy, acidic foods like oranges. And, of course, while we can see why sipping a soda all day long would quickly cause decay to start happening, the same is true for juice, lattes, and that cup of sweetened tea that I have every morning (Dang!). It’s also true for health drinks like kombucha and smoothies. And it’s true for milk and formula.

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3. There is the power of the saliva to rebuild. After the food debris is removed, saliva can remineralize your teeth. Lactic acid stays on the teeth for about 20 minutes unless removed, and in that time it can demineralize and start to eat away at the teeth. The saliva, however, is the rebuilder, filling in these microscopic little holes where the minerals get eroded by the acids. Saliva moving over and around your teeth starts to patch the minerals back into these microscopic holes. Tooth decay only starts to happen when this process gets out of balance, either because the decaying factors of the diet and exposure are too great for the saliva, or that the quantity or quality of the saliva is insufficient. Saliva production declines with age in most people. To create more saliva outside of eating you can benefit from practicing pooling saliva in the mouth and swishing it around your teeth and gums.

Meet your new best friend, Saliva While quantity of saliva is one thing, quality also plays a role in how well some people can remineralize. This gets into the world of the mouth microbiome, which refers to the bacteria and other microbes that make up the environment of your mouth. Some people have healthier mouth microbiomes, freeof or less dominated in particular by Streptococcus mutans, which is believed to cause tooth decay. The mouth is the beginning of the digestive tract, and the evidence that our digestion is intricately linked with our immune system is piling up fast. Stress can tip the microbiome of the mouth so that the bad bacteria are more in control. Remember that stress isn’t just an emotional issue, although that form can cause real physical damage. Stress also results from toxins, lack of solid sleep, and diets that are hard on our bodies. The key to having a healthy mouth microbiome, including a healthy mouth pH, a diversity of good bacteria, and plenty of bone and teeth enhancing vitamins and minerals, are a nutrient dense diet, good sleep, and minimal stress. Foods that support a healthy gut microbiome will almost certainly support a healthy mouth microbiome: but they aren’t necessarily the same. The few studies that have been done on the benefits of consuming positive bacteria seem like their consumption – and thus presumably the consumption of all probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi – can help reduce periodontal disease, bad breath, and perhaps even cavities. Yet studies also show that some lactobacillus strands, if left in the mouth (such as from chewing a child’s probiotic tablet), might contribute to cavity formation. It’s unclear, because the subject has been so little studied, whether some probiotics may be particularly helpful just in the mouth. Many holistic dentists suggest this is so and you can buy oral probiotics just for this purpose. Most of these also contain xylitol, which preliminary research shows may further help prevent cavities. My take-away is to take probiotic supplementation and eat probiotic-rich food, but don’t leave them on your teeth. While dental health is clearly important as part of overall health, Dr. Schecter also says, “things happen.” In other words, “May cavities be your biggest health issue.” For further reading, visit www.ecoparent.ca/extras/WIN17

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Health & Beauty

Beating the bumps, bruises, a blechs,

naturally. Your primer for a well-stocked NATURAL FIRST-AID KIT

by dr. leslie solomonian, nd

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / gajdamak

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E

to make a strong infusion for the bath. They can also be used to make compresses for advanced-level home first aid! All the herbs listed below are safe for children in the short term; try a quarter to a half cup at a time. Teas can also be blended with fruit to make smoothies or popsicles.

very parent knows that light medical treatment is part of the gig. Although over-the-counter pharmaceutical medications and ointments can help to briefly alleviate discomfort, they may do little to improve recovery, and can even interfere with the healing process! For instance, even when all you want to do is ease your child’s pain, using acetaminophen can end up suppressing a helpful fever. Whether it's a mild scrape, an upset tummy, or a simple cough, it’s smart to have a few supplies available to ensure a safe, natural, and speedy recovery for your little one. Keep in mind, a first aid kit isn't meant to act as a replacement for medical attention; if in doubt, always see your health care provider first! But for the normal bumps, bruises, and stings that seem to go hand-in-hand with childhood, a solid first aid kit is the perfect thing to have at the ready!

Fennel — For stomach upset, indigestion, and gas (also try anise, caraway, or peppermint). Chamomile — For stomach upset and anxiety/nervousness; can help with sleep (also try lemon balm or passionflower).

Catnip — For agitation, and can help reduce a mild fever (also try yarrow or peppermint). Licorice — With a little honey, very helpful for alleviating a mild cough or sore throat.

Want some more info on pain management? Wondering when to worry? Check out our Infant Illness guide available online at www.ecoparent.ca/infant_illness

Topical creams, gels, and ointments

Caution: Do not apply calendula cream to skin wounds deeper than a superficial scratch; it works so well that it can cause the upper skin to heal before the deeper tissue, potentially trapping germs.

Arnica cream or gel — Another close-to-magical product. Apply

to unbroken skin for minor bumps, bruises, sprains, and strains. Homeopathic arnica (30C) can also be taken orally for the same purpose; most minor wounds will benefit from 2 pellets under the tongue, two to three times per day until resolved.

Licorice Root

Caution: Do not apply arnica cream over any open wounds or broken skin.

Dry or fresh herbs can be consumed as teas or brewed and added to bath water. Make a tea using one teaspoon of dried herbs (or one tablespoon of fresh herbs) to one cup of water. For leafy herbs (all the ones listed below except for licorice), pour boiling water over the plant and let steep 10-15 minutes. Tough herbs made from the roots of plants, like licorice, are better prepared by simmering in water for 20 minutes or so. Double the concentration of herbs Summer 2018

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / [elenaray]

Aloe gel — Apply to skin to alleviate mild burns and irritation. You can purchase aloe gel, making sure it contains mostly aloe, or you can keep a plant in your home, cut a chunk off, and swipe on some gel straight from the source. Kids love looking after plants that they can use! Herbs for healing

Chamomile

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / [Melpomene]

Calendula cream — Made from the marigold flower, calendula cream is one health product that is as close to magical as they come. Apply to superficial wounds (scrapes, burns, stings, rashes, and anything itchy) to alleviate inflammation and irritation, prevent infection, and promote skin healing. Look for a product that contains the highest percentage of pure calendula as possible for maximum benefits. Other helpful ingredients include comfrey (Symphytum) and plantain (Plantago).

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© Can Stock Photo Inc. / [marrakeshh]

First aid from the kitchen Our kitchen is a treasure trove of healing goodness. Everyday kitchen staples you probably already have on hand can help alleviate cold symptoms, ease nausea, and help fight infections!

Garlic — A potent all-round antimicrobial plant. Simply crush and apply to minor skin infections, eat raw for colds and flus, or infuse into olive oil for earaches. Caution: Straight garlic can be irritating to the skin, so test in a small area, monitor closely, and consider diluting in something else like olive oil or honey (see below).

Honey — A tasty antimicrobial, and soothing to irritated throats. Add

to tea or take straight-up (a half teaspoon at a time) for sore throats and cough. Apply to minor skin infections (consider adding crushed garlic!).

Peppermint — Inhale to alleviate nausea and car sickness; dilute and apply topically for skin infections (ensuring that you avoid eye area). Tea Tree

— Excellent all-purpose anti-microbial; dilute and apply topically for skin infections.

Lavender — Anti-microbial and alleviates itchy skin; dilute and apply

topically. The diluted oil can also be applied to the temples for anxiety, nerves, or headaches.

Caution: Due to the risk of botulism, honey should only be consumed by children over the age of 12 months.

Acupressure points

Sea salt — Antiviral, antimicrobial, and cleansing. Add one teaspoon

You may not know it yet, but you already have healing tools in your house that you don't need to run out and buy or grow. Your own caring touch can help many minor aggravations!

to one cup of water and use to gargle, or use as a nose and sinus rinse inside a child-specific spray bottle or neti pot. Can also be used to flush a wound.

Ginger

— An excellent anti-nauseant, without the sedative effects of pharmaceutical varieties. Slice finely and simmer in water (follow instructions for tough herbs, above).

Grapefruit seed extract — Not as common as the previous items, but worth having, this extract is a potent antimicrobial that has a powerful taste and packs a wallop! Add five drops to a half cup of water and use as a throat gargle (add some salt too!), or swallow to prevent, or treat, the stomach flu. Be prepared with a glass of water—this stuff is intense! Essential Oils Essential oils are highly concentrated and are created through a process called distillation, which pulls the oil from the plant and separates it. The resulting oil is an incredibly powerful essence of the plant, retaining the inherent beneficial qualities that can aid in healing. Keeping a few essential oils on hand, especially those that serve multipurpose functions, can be a great way to round out that first aid kit! Please keep in mind, essential oils can be irritating, and should always be diluted before applying to skin. (Start with 5% essential oil to 95% carrier oil. Studies have shown that oils can be safely and effectively used in concentrations as high as 50%, but discuss appropriate dilutions with your ND or healthcare provider before applying to the super sensitive skin of little ones.) And as always, avoid use in pregnancy and with infants, and do not take internally.

For more on the essentials on essential oils, check out ecoparent.ca/essential_oil_essentials

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Acupressure points have been used for thousands of years to impact the function of the organs they influence. Press firmly and regularly with your thumb; you can also attach a small bead to a piece of tape and apply it over the point. The points below (except for Yin Tang) can be found on both sides of the body. When your child is feeling unwell, acupressure is a lovely way to connect and provide some hands-on TLC.

On the hands — The LI-4 point, located between the thumb and first finger, at the highest point where the muscle holds together the finger and thumb. Pressing on this point is helpful for any kind of pain, particularly headaches. It's also useful for digestive concerns, such as constipation. On the forearms — The PC-6 point, located on the inside of the wrist, is beneficial to alleviate anxiety or nervousness, and can help with sleep; it also is useful for nausea…and hiccups! To find this point, simply lay three fingers across your child's wrist, starting at the base of the palm. You should notice the two tendons running parallel up the arm. Beside your index finger, and in between those two tendons, is the PC-6. Apply pressure there. On the face — Try Yin Tang. Found between the eyebrows, this is a lovely point to soothe an anxious or wound-up child. Press or stroke this point with your child’s head on your lap, or on a pillow.

Here’s the thing: kids get hurt and kids get sick. This is an expected part of childhood (and parenthood!), and how you respond can have a huge impact on your child's developing resilience. When they see you calmly assess the situation and take practical steps to help them feel better, they learn that they can cope with a bit of discomfort. Expanding your repertoire of first aid strategies that don't suppress your child's natural healing mechanisms means a more comfortable and resilient kid, and that means everything to us parents, doesn’t it? •

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EcoParent Healthy Kid Guide  

A primer on keeping your kiddo healthy, the EcoParent way!

EcoParent Healthy Kid Guide  

A primer on keeping your kiddo healthy, the EcoParent way!

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