Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Raising Healthy Kids

Our Children’s Health is Suffering: Allergies & asthma, chronic ear & sinus infections, obesity, learning disabilities, blood sugar disturbances, and high levels of cholesterol – these are all on the rise in children today.

According to the CDC, approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.

The prevalence of asthma is increasing, especially in children. Approximately 500,000 annual hospitalizations (34.6% in individuals aged 18 years or younger) are due to asthma.

Between 3% and 7% of school-aged children currently have a diagnosis of ADHD, according to the American Psychiatric Association. However, nearly 1 in 10 children (9.5%) aged 4 to 17 have had an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their childhood and rates of ADHD diagnosis are rising, especially in older teenagers.

Children Are Exposed to More & More Toxins:
We are frequently told "A little bit won't hurt you" when it comes to chemicals in our food and environment. That may be true, however a little bit here and there eventually adds up to a lot.

Let's look at the potential sources of chemical contamination that our children are bombarded with on a daily basis. There is chlorine in our water supply and often fluoride as well. Fluoride is added to tooth pastes and mouthwashes. Many imported fruits and vegetables have been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides that are illegal in the US.

Meat and dairy products are loaded with residues of antibiotics and hormones from factory farming operations. Look at the ingredients on the label of nearly any prepared food in the grocery store, and you will see a list of chemicals as long as your arm.

Add to this list the chemicals in topical preparations such as body lotions and shampoos. Did you know that your skin will absorb up to 60% of anything you put on it? And then there are environmental toxins such as lawn chemicals and pesticides and household insecticides. The American journal of Public Health has reported a link between bug killers and childhood cancer. In a study of children in Colorado, those who lived in homes where the lawns had been treated with herbicides had a four-fold increase in the risk of developing a tumor.

Cancer is the leading cause of disease-related deaths in children under the age of 20. Leukemia, which is the most common childhood cancer, increased by more than 15% over the last 20 years.

Parents need to become proactive and lobby against the use of dangerous pesticides and chemicals in this country. And at the same time, they need to do everything they can to eliminate toxins in the home and in the schools their children attend. Two great resources regarding children and toxic chemicals are Healthy Child Healthy World and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.

Our Kids Immune Systems Need Help
One of the most important jobs parents have is to help their kids develop healthy immune systems. A strong and healthy immune system enables a child to fight off anything that invades the body or threatens it from without or within, including bacteria, viruses and cancer.

The key to a healthy immune system is optimal nutrition. Dr. Leo Galland says in his book, Superimmunity for Kids,  “Optimal nutrition in childhood is a gift that lasts a lifetime.”

How To Build A Healthy Immune System

1. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months. The advantages of breastfeeding are numerous. Breast milk is ultimately the best source of nutrition for a new baby. Many components in breast milk help protect your baby against infection and disease. The proteins in breast milk are more easily digested than in formula or cow’s milk. The calcium and iron in breast milk are also more easily absorbed.

Breast milk has the perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates. There is nothing better for the health of your baby. Some of the nutrients in breast milk help the immune system mature into a fully effective fighting machine. Leukocytes are living cells that are only found in breast milk. They help fight infection. It is the antibodies, living cells, enzymes, and hormones that make breast milk ideal. These cannot be added to formula.

2. Provide a wholesome, balanced diet focusing on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid sugar, processed foods and partially-hydrogenated oils. Eat organic when possible.

3. Supplement daily with immune-building vitamins, minerals, trace minerals essential fatty acids and antioxidant supplements.

4. Remove the toxins from your child’s food, water, air, home and school. Replace cleaners & personal care products with non-toxic alternatives.
5. Encourage regular physical exercise and plenty of good sleep

Do You Really Need To Supplement Your Child’s Diet?
In a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was stated that most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone. Because of such things as over-processing, early harvesting, soil depletion, chemicals, preservatives and hormone usage, food today isn’t what it used to be. Additionally, in this fast-paced world, we are eating on the run (and it’s not home-made). Our kids’ are not consuming the recommended daily servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy, and thus their diets fall short of many critical nutrients. The solution is to supplement.

How Do You Know You Are Getting a Good Quality Supplement?
Several years ago, I learned the hard way that vitamins are not all alike. I took lots of different supplements which I purchased at the local drug store. And still I suffered with seasonal allergies and several sinus infections a year. It wasn’t until I changed brands to a better quality line that my health improved. That line was Shaklee and it is what I recommend to my clients today.

There are a few things you want to look for in a good quality supplement:

Bioavailability – a big word for “am I digesting and absorbing my vitamins?” Be sure the company you buy from does these tests. Otherwise how will you know if you are even benefitting from your supplements?

What’s in my vitamins? Can I trust the label? – Unfortunately there is very loose regulation in this area. Some companies formulate to only 60% or less of the label claims. That means that what you see isn’t necessarily what you get, and poor quality products may contain ingredients and impurities never listed on the label.

What should I look for in a multivitamin?  Above all look for a reputable company. “Reputable” means they have their products analyzed and tested by third-party independent labs and that they have developed their products with quality and optimal health (vs. high profit margins) in mind. Don’t assume that just because a supplement is a bestselling brand and shows 100% of most Daily Values that it is a good product. Believe it or not, some of the very expensive brands offer poor quality formulations and use cheap ingredients.

Shaklee products pass all of the above criteria. Your best bet is to buy from a company you trust and educate yourself about the products you buy. Watch out for marketing hype vs. solid and useful information. And don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

I hope you have found this information helpful. I would love to hear your comments below. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the Shaklee products please feel free to contact me.

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