Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Keeping Your Child Healthy

Illness is one of the things we fear most for our children. It’s impossible – and
unnecessary – to shield your child from every bug out there, but you can
help to boost her health and vitality, making her stronger and better able to
fight off illnesses efficiently.

Eat, drink, and be healthy

If you want your child to eat healthily, you need to serve her a wide variety of
nutritious foods for energy, growth, and development. This means giving
processed and junk foods a wide berth – but it doesn’t mean not being flexible.
Food isn’t worth arguing over, and if your child insists on eating curly
cheesy crisps, that’s fine – as long as they don’t form her staple diet. If most
of the food your child eats is nutritious, you’ll be keeping her in tip-top condition.
Try doing the following to make sure that she eats well:

Give your child at least five helpings of fruit and vegetables a day –
fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or juiced. You’re probably already aware
of this important point, but there’s no harm in stressing it again. Fruit
and veg contain the crucial nutrients needed to maintain a healthy
digestive system, create new body tissue, fight infections, and a lot
more. Try to offer your child at least one orange and one green fruit or
vegetable every day, as they are known to be particularly beneficial and
may help to prevent cancer and other serious diseases.

Fruit or vegetable juice only makes up one of her daily portions of fruit
and vegetables, no matter how much she drinks. That’s because other
goodies in the flesh are not included in juice, and digesting whole fruit
and vegetables benefits her system.

Make sure that your child eats breakfast. Studies show that if your child
eats breakfast, she’s far less likely to become obese in later life. Skipping
breakfast can cause blood-sugar problems and make your child’s metabolism
sluggish, which is bad for the digestive system. Most experts say
that breakfast’s the most important meal of the day: Breakfast eaters are
less likely to contract diabetes or have high cholesterol, which is a
known risk factor for heart disease.

Maintain your own healthy diet. You’re important too! Eating healthy
food yourself is one of the best ways of getting your child into good
habits, so make sure that you tuck in to your greens. Studies also show
that children who have regular family mealtimes are more likely to have
healthier diets than those who don’t. Snacking in front of the telly is a
definite no-no.

Offer as much unprocessed food as possible, and get into the habit of
reading labels on the foods you serve. Check for things such as hidden
fats, sugars, additives, and salt. Foods with lots of preservatives and
added flavourings are often deficient in essential nutrients and high in
unhealthy (and unnecessary) chemicals. Salt’s a particular danger – it
can cause health problems, including high blood pressure and heart
conditions. And sugar (and sugar substitutes), additives, and colourings
have been linked with everything from behavioural problems to physical
ailments.

Get your child to drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Drinking
enough fluids is vital. Water’s the best drink by far – try to keep sugary
drinks and juices to a minimum, and don’t serve them at all between
meals because they are lethal to tiny teeth. The British medical profession
has been telling us for many years that most children aren’t drinking
enough. Dehydration leads to many short-term and long-term health
problems: Lack of water can cause headaches, constipation, and poor
concentration, to name but a few things.

A good way to tell whether your child’s dehydrated is to check the
colour of her urine. Her urine should be a pale straw colour: If it’s dark
yellow, she may well be dehydrated. A sunken fontanelle (the soft spot
on a baby’s head) can also indicate dehydration.

A moving story

Exercise is vital for everyone – especially your child. Whether your child’s
dancing around the living room or entering a swimming gala, getting active is
all good stuff. Exercise boosts circulation and helps infection-fighting lymphatic
fluid to move throughout the body. Exercise is great for your child’s
emotional health too: When your child exercises, her brain releases chemicals
called endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Your active
child develops stronger muscles and bones, is less likely to become overweight,
has a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and has lower blood
pressure and cholesterol levels compared with inactive children. For more
details on the benefits of exercise and for suggestions for keeping your child
active,

Breathing easy

In the UK, around 17,000 children under the age of 5 years are admitted to
hospital every year with illnesses related to passive smoking. Not smoking
around your child is a crucial way of safeguarding her health. Scientists have
shown that passive smoking has a lasting impact on the long-term health and
respiratory system of children. Inhaling cigarette smoke increases the risk of
asthma and other acute respiratory conditions and contributes to many
childhood illnesses, including bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, middle-ear
infections, cot death, and possibly even autism. If your child inhales cigarette
smoke, she’s also at increased risk of developing certain kinds of cancer,
including lung cancer. Research has even found a link between lower IQ levels
and exposure to cigarette smoke.

Going outside the house to smoke doesn’t fully protect your child – although
of course outside is far better than smoking indoors. Research shows that poisonous
chemicals from cigarette smoke cling to your clothes and hair and are
released back into the air – and then inhaled by your child. When researchers
measured toxic chemicals in the blood of children whose parents smoked outdoors,
they found the levels of chemicals to be far higher than in children
whose parents never smoked at all, inside or out.

All you need is . . .

. . . love! To thrive, your child needs lots of cuddles and human contact, particularly
with her main carers. Studies show that lack of love and affection is
as damaging to children as food deprivation: Adequately nourished babies
deprived of human relationships become impeded in their development in
both mind and body.

We cannot overemphasise the importance of touch – human contact is critical
for development and well-being. Babies who are held cry less than those
who aren’t, and those who’re cuddled and massaged frequently tend to have
better immune systems and handle stress more efficiently than those who
aren’t. The need for touch continues into childhood and beyond. One study
showed that when children were massaged regularly for a month, blood glucose
levels dropped dramatically in diabetic children and the children were
able to reduce their medication, while asthmatic children had fewer asthma
attacks. Massage also reduced the symptoms in children with autism, severe
burns, cancer, and arthritis.

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