Keeping Kids Healthy
We are always thinking about how we can make ourselves more healthy but what about the children? I’m sure you have probably spend these past few winter months wishing you had shares in Calpol and dipping into tubs of mentholated rubs through the night! Here are a few ways you can help keep your precious little ones healthy and strong over the year in preparation for the next winter season.
Get up and Get Active!
Did you know that to maintain a basic level of health, children and young people, 5-18years need to do
- At least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity every day, which should range between moderate-intensity activity, such as cycling and playground activities and vigorous-intensity activity, such as fast running and tennis.
- On three days a week, these activities should involve muscle-strengthening activities, such as push-ups, and bone-strengthening activities, such as running.
Moderate physical activity, done regularly has been shown to protect against diseases, particularly those that involve the upper respiratory track (like colds). Exercise produces physiological changes in the immune system, increasing production of our killer defence cells, the macrophages! A regular and consistent exercise habit will have a great impact on your childs long term health.
Excessive and vigorous exercise can actually have a negative impact on health… so make sure your child is not always worn out or doing too much. To allow children to wind down and relax, avoid exercise 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
So, how can you fit those 60 minutes into the day? Try and walk or cycle to school daily. Put some music on and have a dance around the kitchen and when they say “mum, can you play with us?” answer YES! Keep a hula hoop in the sitting room, so they can hoop while they watch TV! Play Wii sports. Use the trampoline in the garden reguarly. Make it easy and fun to exercise.
Veg Out! Foods that contain antioxidants can really boost the immune system. Think colourful foods, green foods, lots of soluble fibre, grains and a mostly plant based diet. Offer fruit and vegetables with every meal and get into the habit of producing healthy snacks before they even have a chance to browse the goodie cupboard. Some easy snacks are carrot sticks or pepper sticks with hummus, bunches of grapes, cheese squares, Greek yoghurt with honey, avocado and toast. For main meals chicken soup, fish,beans and eggs are all fabulous sources of protein.
Avoid a diet that’s high in refined sugar, processed foods, additives, preservatives,salt, or artificial sweeteners. These will compromise your child’s immunity and should be limited. Particular nasties are fast food, ready meals and soda, even diet drinks. A low fat diet is not advised for children . often low fat foods are packed with hidden sugars. Give them lots of healthy fats..avocados, fish oil. Remember Vit D is exceptionally important: get them out in the sun and consider a supplement. Also Protein is Power…ensure every day has enough protein packed into either meals or snacks.That is meat,fish,eggs ( animal sources are they most nutritious and bioavailable) nuts,lentils,beans and full fat dairy.
Drink up! Water is essential to your child’s health. It makes up more than half of a childs body weight and is needed to keep all parts of the body functioning properly. Water also helps transport nutrients and oxygen to cells, regulate body temperature, and maintain electrolyte (sodium) balance. It also keeps the digestive system functioning optimally and prevents constipation. some points to remember:
- There’s no specific amount of water recommended for children, but it’s a good idea to give them water throughout the day — not just when they’re thirsty
- If your child doesn’t like the taste of water, add some lemon, lime , honey for flavour.
- Fruits, veggies and soups are also good sources of water
- Kids should drink more water when they’re unwell, when it’s hot outside, and when they’re physically active.
Get the Z’s in! Sleep has a profound affect on the immune system. Children need around 10-12 hours sleep and a little less through their teens. With all the elecrtonic stimulation nowadays it is hard for kids to wind down so try and ensure perfect conditions for a good restful night. Gadgets and screens banned from bedrooms at night, dark and slightly cooler rooms and teaching your kids about calming and relaxing breath can all help.
Chill out! Kids get stressed as well. Make sure children get a chance for some unstructured downtime away from electronic gadgets. Yoga, relaxation techniques, a hug, a walk,exercise and creative crafts can all reduce stress levels.
Wash and Brush! Basic commom sense and health habits: wasing hands and brushing teeth! Ensure kids wash hands after using the bathroom, playing outside,after school, before eating and after blowing their nose. Teach them not to touch their eyes or nose as this is a very quick way germs get directly into the bloodstream.
Quit it! Quit smoking or at least avoid smoking anywhere near the kids or at home. Cigarette smoke is toxic and a poison to our immune systems and passive smoking increases a child’s risk of asthma bronchitis and other infections.
These immunity-boosting healthy habits will keep your kids in optimum condition and ready to do battle with those nasty winter bugs.