Back to School? Choices that help keep your kids healthy
Food first. It’s no surprise that the core to good health, for adults and children, is a colourful and varied diet based around a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds and good quality fatty fish, and limit meat, sugar and alcohol intake. Choose organic where available to limit pesticides and other chemicals. Plan ahead with batch cooking, involve the kids in food preparation and save the more complicated recipes for the weekend.
Always check with your GP or other health professional to get the correct diagnosis for any childhood ailment. With chronic conditions such as eczema, consider working with a nutritionist to devise a diet audit, excluding common triggers such as wheat and dairy for a few weeks and gradually reintroducing to see if symptoms persist or subside.
Growing children, especially those who don't eat a varied diet, sometimes don't get enough vitamins A and C. It's also difficult to get enough vitamin D through food alone. That’s why the Department of Health recommends that all children aged six months to five years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day to support immune health and more.
Probiotic supplements have been well studied in children with emerging evidence to suggest they can support a healthy immune system, with potential to reduce infectious illness, sick days, and medication-use including cold and flu drugs as well as antibiotics prescriptions.
Probiotics have further benefits in reducing the severity of skin issues such as eczema and atopic dermatitis. Specific strains of good bacteria including L Rhamnosus GG, have been indicated for both the prevention and treatment of eczema in infants and children. Look too for an organic fish oil supplement providing omega 3 essential fatty acids to help reduce inflammation.
Fussy eating can disrupt an otherwise happy household. Exposing your children to a wide array of colourful foods from an early age and having an ‘always try’ policy whereby everyone must try something before rejecting. Topping up with a good quality children’s multivitamin can reassure parents during the transition from fussy to foodie.
Cognitive development occurs at a rapid rate in children, where around 60% of the brain is formed of structural fat. It is therefore critical to incorporate healthy fats in your child’s diet. For fussy eaters, adding a quality fish or omega oil can promote cognitive health. Specifically, DHA and EPA (Omega-3 fatty acids) are particularly important for brain health.