More Water

I saw several generally healthy patients this week who I suspect were tending toward dehydration. Presenting symptoms were fatigue, sluggishness, headaches, temper tantrums, and constipation. In the course of evaluating them I discovered that they were all tending to be too low in water intake.

We know we need water, but how can you know how much is enough? Water is a basic necessity, needed to maintain healthy body function, a clear mind, and a good balance within your tissues. Water content varies according to your age. The younger you are, the more water content you should have. About 60 percent of a healthy adult body is water, and you must constantly replenish the supply, as it’s used continuously in the processes of life. Many people fail to drink enough of it. The standard recommendation is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day. Some people do a little better with less and some people need a little more than 64 ounces. Do try to drink as much as you can, and more than you think you need.

If your child is dragging with low energy, have them drink a glass of water first. Some children begin to act out when hydration is low. Listen to complaints of headaches and address with fluid first. If there is a consistent problem with inadequate water intake, bowel function can become sluggish too. Start at a young age getting your child into  a healthy water drinking habit.

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Going Away to Camp

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Summer Sun, Benefits and Risks Not Always So Obvious

Today is the last day of school for my sons, Ben and Adam, and the excitement of summer vacation is here! Many of us will be slathering large amounts of sunscreen on our children to protect them from the potential harms of too much sun or restricting time outside. What is the best approach for the intensity of the summer sun?  I get this question all of the time from parents.

Are there really potential hazards in Sunscreen?   Yes. Many sunscreens on the market today contain hazardous chemicals that penetrate the skin and go directly into the bloodstream. By choosing a natural sunscreen made from mineral and plant-based ingredients rather than chemicals, you can protect your skin and avoid harmful chemicals.

Natural sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients offer broad-spectrum effectiveness but do not disrupt our body’s natural hormones, don’t break down easily in the sun, and cause few allergic reactions.

Though the FDA monitors the ingredients in sunscreens, health watchdogs have found many of the ingredients approved by the FDA have unwanted and harmful side effects. The Environmental Protection Agency (EWG) evaluated US-approved sunscreen chemicals for both their ability to block UV radiation and for toxicity. To find a list of chemical ingredients to avoid and the top rated natural sunscreens available, check out the EWG Sunscreen Guide.

Are there benefits for being out in the Sun?  Daily exposure to bright sunlight  – even for 10-20 minutes – is the best way for the body to make vitamin D. Research has shown that most of us are somewhat deficient in vitamin D. We need adequate levels of D to stabilize bone and muscle health, boost immunity, and help reduce inflammation. Just as important for children, time in the sun optimizes cyclic secretion of melatonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that influences biorhythms, immunity, sleep, and hormonal function. Recently Vitamin D has been shown to enhance overall well-being (Fielding 2010, Lucas 2008) and possibly lower skin cancer risks (Tang 2010).

 

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Infant Development and Early Nutrition

Which is best? Breast Milk, Soy Formula, or Cow’s Milk Formula?

Interesting Research Results comparing Milk Sources and Infant Development has just been published. If you want details, here is the link to the abstract, Pediatrics. 2012 May 28.

The bottom line, this well designed study compared the developmental status (mental, motor, and language) for 391 infants at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months. Research design was adjusted for socioeconomic status, mother’s age and IQ, gestational age, gender, birth weight, head circumference, race, age, and diet history. The three groups were fed Breast Milk, Cow’s Milk Formula, or Soy Formula. There is no surprise that breast milk is still the optimal choice, showing advantages in cognitive development. Previous concerns regarding potential adverse developmental effects of phytochemicals associated with soy protein don’t hold up in this study. Since the formula fed groups did not differ significantly, Soy and Cow’s milk formulas are both an equal second choice to Breast Milk.

If an infant does not seem to thrive as we think they should, we should consider the possibility of food sensitivity to dairy or soy. I will blog about this issue soon.

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May 25th

It is Memorial Day Weekend, the official start of summer!

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Children and Sports

If you know me, you know that I think lots of physical activity is one of the best ways to help our children grow healthy and strong. I usually say “the more, the better!”  But balance is key in all of life, so help your child by not allowing them to overdue it. Repetitive play of the same sport during most of a year can lead to injuries in a young developing body. Some kids can also get stressed with so much focus on one sport, which can lead to burnout.

So how much is enough? The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness recommends that children and adolescents play on only one team per season and take a vacation of 2-3 months from a specific sport each year.

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Turn off Screens, Turn on Life

Do you ever feel like your child’s life is overrun with electronics? Our world is inundated with advanced technology so it is not easy for a child to disconnect from screens. Managing a healthy, balanced life can be a daily challenge for all of us.  Research has linked the excessive use of electronics to attention problems, childhood obesity, sleep disturbances, behavior problems, depression, anxiety, social awkwardness , and poor school performance. Of course, we would like to prevent everything on this list!

Did you know that April 30th to May 6th was Screen-Free Week in America? I did NOT, but I think it is a great idea! Screen-Free Week, sponsored by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, is meant to encourage children, families, and schools to “turn on life” by turning off their screens.

If you think your home needs a little better balance with TV, Ipods, Ipads, Xbox, and the like, create your own screen free week for your family. In many cases, we parents are modeling excessive use of and dependence on electronics and we all need to take a break.

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Don’t Ignore That Cough!

The winter is over and spring as arrived, but there are plenty of people coughing out there!  As I move from place to place throughout the day and evening, my ears tune into the sights, sounds and smells around me. My children say I don’t miss anything. I would agree, I am very observant. And one of the things I have a hard time ignoring is the sound of a cough. There are people, young and old, coughing everywhere! Stop and listen.

I don’t find this annoying as some might speculate; I just can’t stop myself from listening closely for clues about what kind of cough it is. Since there are many homeopathic remedies that can stop a cough, my ear is finely tuned to hear the small, unique features about the nature of the cough. When I hear a cough out in public, and not in my office, I wonder what their lungs sound like with a stethoscope. I wonder if the breath sounds can be heard at the base of both lungs and in the periphery, or if their bronchioles are so tight that there is constriction or consolidation. A cough that is repetitive and non-productive can set off a chain reaction of spasm and constriction that can last for months and, yes, even years. This kind of inflammatory pattern can lead to chronic scar tissue in children and adults.  Don’t assume there is nothing to be done. A cough is a natural physiological reaction, but should not last for weeks and months and, definitely, not years!

Coughing is the body’s way of removing irritating substances, excess secretions, and foreign objects from air passages. A cough is important, both as a protective mechanism and for the healing process—which is why a cough should not be artificially suppressed with drugs. When a cough is non-productive, painful, spastic, too intense, or prevents good rest, the use of homeopathic remedies is a great approach to use and can gently help. Homeopathy does not suppress. The person with the cough is matched to the constellation of symptoms, so the remedy is chosen that will best help the body “express” whatever the body is trying to express as a part of the cough.

Coughing can also accompany a wide variety of illnesses or conditions. Sometimes allergies are the culprit and we can test and treat for specific allergens. A cough can also be the chief presenting symptom for asthma or reactive airway. If a person has serious difficulty breathing, coughs up blood or seems very ill in other ways, professional help should always be sought.

Children in particular can change quickly and can be especially difficult to monitor at home without the benefit of a stethoscope. Sometimes a child doesn’t seem like he or she feels badly. They may be playing and smiling, but when I listen to their lungs, I can hear congestion and constriction which can quickly lead to bronchitis or pnuemonia. Using an integrative approach with children is especially desireable. They tend to respond quickly. Sometimes medication is needed for a few days or a few weeks.

Antibiotics, inhalers, herbs, vitamins, and homeopathic remedies can work fine together when you have a well-considered plan. As soon as possible, it is best to adjust and get the body calm with the smallest, balancing treatment possible.

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