Monday, 22 August 2011

The Patterns of Childhood Illnesses are Changing

Current implications for childhood illness suggests that diet and lifestyle factors play a significant role in the rise in certain conditions.  This is compounded by reduced exposure to helpful germs, reduced vitamin D levels and diets high in refined processed foods that are high in sugar and poor quality fats.

Here are some fascinating recent stats.

  • Allergies have increased by 7 times, up to 50% of kids have allergies
  • Asthma affects 36% of children in Australia.  In 1965 it affected 1.9%
  • 11% of school age children are diagnosed with ADHD
  • Autism affects 1/100 children.  In 1985 it was 4/10,000
All these conditions share an underlying immune system shift.  Largely this is driven by poor digestive function and development that is primed in the pre-natal period.  We know that babies born under stressful circumstances, who are not breastfed and introduced inappropriate foods too early are more likely to develop these conditions. We also know that certain foods, natural food chemicals and artificial additives can do similar damage.  Setting off inflammation in the digestive tract that affects brain function and neurotransmission.  

The important thing is to allow our children to develop healthy robust immune systems.  Here is a couple of tips.
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotic overuse.  There are alternatives that are safe and effective
  • Introduce solids to babies at around 6 months.  
  • Support immune function using a child/baby specific probiotic. (don't by supermarket quality, these may be doing harm)
  • Provide a diet that is low reactive and full of fresh, seasonal organic produce with a healthy and varied array of  proteins, fruits and veg, grains and essential fatty acids
  • Allow your child to spend time outside getting sun exposure in the safe times of day

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Introducing Solids to Allergenic Babies - What's the Best Way?

By Tim Howden ND BHSc MNHAA
In Naturopathic medicine we always support the body's ability to self-heal. Fundamental to this is Primum non nocere - First do no harm.  When introducing solids to allergy and sensitive prone babies this concept is vital.

It is important to choose foods wisely, in simple combinations and introduce then at the right time for your baby. Because allergies are inflammatory processes it is important to avoid foods that trigger inflammation, such as dairy, wheat, refined sugar and food additives such as artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners.  Babies palates are extremely sensitive, salt and seasoning is not needed.

It is important not to overwhelm your baby's digestive tract.  It is not until around 5 - 7 months that it can begin to breakdown and absorb nutrients from the stomach and small intestine.  If foods are not broken down correctly then the immune system will react prompting the development of allergy, sensitivity or intolerance.  Underweight babies or those with parents who suffer allergy, eczema and asthma would be wise to delay solids until 7 months.

6 - 9 months
Introduce 1 food at a time.  Make it pureed and dilute it with breast milk or formula if necessary.

  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli 
  • Cauliflower
  • Avocado
  • Pear
  • Ripe banana
Watch for intolerance signs
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Mucous in the stool
  • Nasal stuffiness, Mucous, Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Rubbing nose
  • Noisy breathing
  • Ear infections
  • Clear runny nose (when otherwise well)
  • Bronchitis
  • Dry skin
  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Red around the mouth, anus or cheeks
If none of these signs are present then your baby is tolerating food well.  

Introduce foods one at a time
Foods can also be prepared in advance and frozen in ice cube tray holders in the freezer and used over the week.  On a personal level as a father of 3 and as a professional I have found babies respond extremely well and grow in all the right ways when introducing is done in this way.
Happy eating!!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Herbal Medicine to Help Resolve those Niggling Viruses

I treat a lot of children that seem to be knocked about, often for many months at a time with low grade viruses of one sort or another.  Most of the time your GP won't prescribe anti viral drugs unless the case is extreme.  Herbal medicine however is able to help your child's immune system overcome these nasty invaders by stimulating an effective search and destroy mission of these viral invaders. 
Parenting is already stressful enough without having to cope with a children that are sick a lot of the time. Many parents are relieved at the effectiveness that herbal medicine can provide and are happy to see their children bouncing back to life with renewed vigor.  Common herbs that are used to combat viruses include Echinacea spp. and Sambuccus nigra Elderflower flower