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Kids Out of Balance - Page 2

Author // Jennifer Barham-Floreani, B.App.Clin.Sci, B.Chiropractic

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Kids Out of Balance
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Action:

1. Find a wellness chiropractor. Chiropractors can assess how your child’s spine and nervous system is adapting to the lifestyle stressors placed upon it, including the impact of birth, knocks and falls, and poor posture. Regular chiropractic adjustments help to support optimal growth and nerve function.


Toxins: Chemical Stressors

Over the last few decades we have learned a great deal about how health is taxed by environmental chemicals. We now know that unborn babies and breastfed children are exposed to toxins that a mother inhales, ingests, or that pass through her skin. It was once thought that the placenta shielded the fetus from these toxins, but in fact the umbilical cord carries not only the building blocks of life but also a steady stream of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides that cross the placenta just as readily as residues from cigarettes and alcohol.

It is estimated that approximately 70 percent of our immune cells reside in our colon. Our modern lifestyle compromises our digestive strength every day—poor dietary habits, antibiotics, dehydration and environmental toxins destroy the important flora (“good bacteria”) of the bowel, affecting our digestive capacity and impacting our immune system. Chemical stress may result from chlorine and fluoride found in water and the many toxins found in food, including pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, colorings, additives, hormones, damaged fats and high levels of sugar.

When these toxins accumulate, the core energy of the body is weakened. Sadly, millions of children suffer with eczema, asthma, allergies, sleep problems and behavioral difficulties, to name but a few of the repercussions.


Actions:

2. Eat well. Buy high-quality organic fruits and vegetables. If you are unable to purchase organic produce, then buy a fruit and vegetable wash which helps to remove pesticides. Explore the Environmental Working Group’s website (ewg.org); it is a not-for-profit environmental research organization that has developed a pesticide guide for fruits and vegetables.

Meryl Streep once said, “It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician.” Indeed, the pesticides, heavy metals, herbicides and fumigants used on generic produce have all been linked to abnormalities in behavior, perception, cognition and motor ability during early childhood, even when exposure is at so-called harmless levels.

3. Drink well. One of the simplest and most important things you can do is invest in a water filter to protect your family against chemically-treated water. Most of our drinking water today contains chlorine and chlorination by-products, as well as numerous other contaminants. Drinking uncontaminated water promotes detoxification, enhances nutritional uptake, and ensures optimal hydration. Help your children develop the habit of drinking water throughout the day rather than juices and soft drinks. A mere 2 percent drop in our body’s water supply can trigger signs of dehydration: fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty focusing on smaller print, such as on a computer screen. Many children are frequently dehydrated, suffering with concentration issues, constipation and digestive problems.

4. Use probiotics. High-quality probiotics can provide the necessary bacteria for a healthy gut, and they are an essential aid to digestive health for all children. I would recommend taking probiotic supplements daily.

5. Visit your allied health practitioners. For children to enjoy long-standing digestive health, it is imperative to ensure that their bowels are receiving effective messages from the central nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments aim to remove nerve dysfunction, allowing the body the opportunity to restore balance and rebuild bowel and immune-system strength. I would also recommend utilizing the expertise of Chinese Medicine practitioners and homeopaths to assist with health challenges.

6. Audit your household. Take an audit of the number of processed foods in your pantry, fridge and your children’s lunch boxes. Consider how many prescriptions your child has had in the last 12 months or over their lifetime. Investigate the ingredients in your personal care products. By taking stock of where you are starting from, you’ll be able to celebrate how far you’ve come when you invest in your health and create health rituals that pay dividends for a lifetime. There are now many valuable websites and books that can show you how to reduce the risks in your own home.


Thoughts: Mental Stressors

Children are not immune to stress. Epigenetics and other areas of research show us that emotional stress affects human beings at all stages of life, including in utero, creating changes at a cellular level that can be detrimental to a child’s future health.

One of the causes of emotional stress is a hostile or uneasy environment at home or school. If a child feels her safety or the safety of either parent is threatened, physiological responses arise which can result in anxiety, personality issues or health complaints.

Chronic emotional stress in turn creates digestive stress, altering the body’s fine acid/alkaline balance. These deleterious effects are exacerbated by short, rapid breathing patterns known to accompany stress, increasing the body’s acidity woes. When the bowel is acidic, our digestive strength weakens.

Poor sleep habits can also contribute to unnecessary stress in the household. If a child does not wake up easily and with energy each morning, this could indicate he is not getting enough quality sleep. As a parent you might need to pick your battles, but ensuring your children get enough sleep is a battle you should be determined to win every time, because children cannot concentrate, learn tasks, or play sports well when their bodies are chronically tired. When tired, children will also crave sugary foods that leave them prone to yeast imbalances.


Actions:

7. Limit the late nights. It is a good idea to limit the number of late nights that children have in a week. With social, school and family activities, bedtimes can gradually become later and later for older children, but sleep requirements remain just as vital for teenagers as when they are younger. It turns out that teenagers may actually need more sleep than they did in their younger years.

8. Send them to bed early. Try getting your children to bed an hour earlier for a period of time and watch how this can transform grumpy or emotional behavior.

9. Implement a set routine. Having a set routine for dinner and bedtime makes life easier for everyone, as it gives the body and mind cues to slow down, relax and prepare for sleep.

10. Encourage exercise. Children sometimes resist sleep because they are not doing enough physical exercise during the day. Encourage children to exercise frequently. Families can create regular rituals in and around exercise, such as going cycling together, playing in the garden, or learning a sport.

11. Spend time together. Limit television and electronic time and spend more time together as a family, relaxing and connecting, free of agendas.

12. Learn new skills. Parenting is hard. However, there are many tools and skills you can learn to make life easier. Decrease the stress in your household by committing to learning new, proactive parenting skills each year. This can keep you inspired and inventive when challenges arise.

Admittedly, I have spent many anxious moments contemplating the tremendous job of parenting. I love Emerson’s quote about how we need someone to make us do what we can. It reminds me that while it feels like hard work to create positive lifestyle changes for our children, the good news is there is so much that we can do to protect our children’s health and nurture their minds and bodies. It is never too late to influence the health of the little people in our lives; it just takes courage, commitment and learning to trust your intuition. Together there is much to learn and explore.


Pathways Issue 42 CoverThis article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #42.

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