“Children have immature zhang-fu (organs), therefore the root of all disease in children lies in the strengthening and support of these”. So said the Huang Nei Jing, a medical text hundreds of years old in Chinese Medicine. Today it is recognised in all fields of medicine that good nutrition is the most important treatment and prevention of the vast majority of childhood disorders. From tantrums and aggressive behaviour, poor sleep, anxious behaviour, food fussiness, healthy weight and resistance to colds and flu’s. Good food and the use of herbs and tonics can really make a difference.
I mention this as we can all help our kids feel better and be happier when we pay attention to what they consume. A big one is so called ‘energy drinks’ Loaded with caffeine, sugar and energy enhancing herbs like guarana. They are amphetamine like in nature and increase heartbeat, pump adrenalin and give the kids a high that of course comes crashing down when the blood sugar levels drop. This you will recognise as grumpiness and lack of motivation, and they may find it hard to sleep.
High sugar, fat and salty foods also make kids fussy eaters as the palate becomes ‘lazy’ and seeks refined foods that have little sustenance or substance and what is referred to as ‘empty calories’.
Ways of getting your kids to enjoy more vegies include roasting vegies, carrots, potato, zucchini even beetroot in olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and rosemary or grated in pasta. Buy healthy kids cookbooks and get them in on the preparation. Growing a selection of vegies and herbs is great, even if it’s in pots and getting kids involved in their production. Kids love building pizzas and they end up trying more toppings so they look as great as they taste. It’s all about colour and freshness and great smells. The sense of smell is a very primal instinct so involvement in the cooking process gets the digestive juices flowing, so adding herbs such as oregano, rosemary, thyme etc all have positive health effects as well.
If you are finding it difficult to get you kids eating good foods there are a number of great tasting tonics available to keep their important vitamin and mineral intake up. The gut flora also has a lot to do with what kids crave and their appetite in general as the enzyme action assisted by good gut flora is vital for digestion and absorption of nutrients. If your child has had antibiotics frequently this will be very important. There are good kids pro-biotics available that come in a tasteless powder form (ask at the clinic for suggestions) that can be sprinkled on any meal.
Also available are products that have vitamin and probiotic formulas with omega 3 that are yummy tasting and build healthy digestive systems that assist in stronger happier kids. Floradix also has a great kids tonic that has iron and many herbs and vitamins to pick the kids up if they are flat. Herbs that aid digestion with digestive enzymes are also brilliant at assisting their digestion as are yoghurt and pro-biotics drinks like Yukalt, kefir and kombucha. Paw Paw is a very mild tasting fruit that can be added to a smoothie and as fabulous digestive enzymes too. Variety is the spice of life and the greater the variety of foods we eat, the better range of nutrients we consume and more enjoyable good food can be. And finally, ensure there is calm at the dinner table, the evening meal is not a time to air grievances as stress robs the stomach of blood and therefore the appetite and the ability to digest well. If they still have a poor appetite, they may need some tests or herbal assistance as there may be something amiss.
Until next time
Stay well Dr Angela Palmer Traditional Chinese Medicine.