Child Nutrition

How to improve your child’s immunity?

The first thing that comes to our mind when we talk about immunity is flu shots. However, the best way to build immunity is natural immunizations with the help of microorganisms / microbes . We have all heard of one such kind of microbe.  Probiotics which are the beneficial organisms that we get from food. They help us improve our digestive and gut health.

This microbiome reside in all parts of our body and are affected by our lifestyle, environment, food, sleep and medications. Microbes and their number, the species and balance of good and bad ones decide our immunity and health. For the microbiome to thrive, we need to maintain a ratio of good and bad bacteria in our body at 85:15.

How do we improve our child’s microbiome and thus their immunity, health and growth?

Via Birth

The vaginal secretions inoculate the baby with microbiome while they pass through the birth canal. This is also why babies born via vaginal delivery have better immunity than those via C section. Experts recommend smearing  vaginal secretions from the mother on the baby if it is a C – section. Mother’s microbiome also passes to the baby via breast milk which is crucial for the baby’s immunity, growth and health.

Via Food

Eating the Right Food

Eat according to season and consume different kinds of organic and local vegetables, fruits, tubers, pulses and grains. This will help repopulate all the different species of beneficial bacteria. When local, organic and seasonal whole foods are included in diet, the need for prebiotic and probiotic supplements doesn’t arise.

Parent tip : A teaspoon of chavanprash every morning and a fruit as a school snack is a very good start.

Child plucking berries from backyard

Raw honey

Honey is one of the most delicious medicine and a prebiotic. Eating honey from your local farm or beekeeper gives your child microexposure to the dirt and pollen from your area. This will strengthen their immune system and reduce flare up of allergies . The pasteurised store bought honey will not give the same effect.

Being Outdoors

Plenty of free play time

Most developed nations and the WHO insist on a minimum of 180 minutes of physical activity a day for children under 2 years of age.  It also recomends 120 minutes of free play time a day for pre-schoolers and atleast 60 minutes for children above 5. Outdoor activity is essential for: 

      1. Getting more Sunlight which helps them build their immunity and improve their sleep.
      2. Getting Vitamin D which is crucial for bone strength and their growth.
      3. Improving personality traits like creativity, imagination, emotional stability, socializing skills and attentiveness.

Child playing freely in beach

Researchers have evidence that spending time in green spaces provide protection against ADHD, depression, diabetes, obesity and reduces anxiety. There are about 21 ways through which being out in nature can improve health.

Child and mom spending time in green space

Studies and research also prove that children who spend more time in nature tend to be happier adults.

Get hands dirty –.

Children by nature love to play with dirt, mud and soil. It is fine as long as it is with good dirt like the soil in your garden or sand in the backyard, beaches or parks.

Soil based organisms (SBO) as they are called are the most important and easiest way of getting our probiotics. It is an important way humans got their probiotics and immunizations long before nutraceutical industry flourished. Our skin absorbs the necessary microbes when we are in contact with nature (walking barefoot, working on a farm or garden, playing in mud and soil). 

Research conducted in Ohio State University proves the kids who have early exposure to soil and dirt have less allergies and robust immune system.

Child playing in sand

Stop running behind children with sanitizers or anti bacterial soaps/wipes. Don’t prevent them from getting dirty  or keep them sterile and clean all the time. Regular soap with warm water is good enough to wash away the bad bacteria and to keep the good ones.

Gut Busters

While the above-mentioned points help us build the microbiome, one of the biggest disrupters are the use of OTC drugs and antibiotics. When a normally healthy adult has one round of antibiotics, it takes upto six months to get back the gut bacteria destroyed (by the antibiotics).

Poor diet with refined and processed foods, poor sleep , frequent travel, chronic stress, inactivity, smoking , alcohol and  certain medications(read most OTC medicines and antibiotics) destroy upto 40% of the good microbe species in as little as 10 days.

Organizations like WHO have been reminding medical and healthcare professionals to reduce the use of antibiotics.  Not only are we having too much of antibiotics in the form of medicines, we also have antibacterial chemicals added to personal care products. They are added to toothpaste, floor cleaners, deodorants, handwash and body soaps.  The personal care products also have endocrine disruptors that cause hormonal imbalance. Antibiotics  are also there in most of the food that we consume on a daily basis like dairy, eggs and meat and ( animals injected with antibiotics).

When we ensure that our kids have the right microbes in their body, they will automatically have a robust immune system .


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Fitness

How to workout through your cycle?

Whether or not we should workout is out of question with the current lifestyle we lead.

Workout is not a choice. Even if you belong to 10-15% of women who have PCOS or the rest who get regular periods (25-35 days), workout shall help in improving health.

Women are hormonally vibrant and so our hormones, energy, appetite are not the same even on any two days of our menstrual cycle.

If our energy, stamina and pain tolerance changes through the menstrual cycle, doesn’t it make sense to change our workout according to that?

Optimizing our activities according to cycle will help in getting better results and fat burn as we know what to focus on and when.

This article divides the menstrual cycle (28days) into 4 weeks. For those who don’t have regular periods, consider the time of bleeding as week 1, time around PMS as week 4 and the rest of the days as week 2 & 3. You could also use an ovulation kit or track basal body temperature or vaginal discharge to know when you ovulate. Soon after ovulation is week 3 .

Week 1 : During the period

Whether or not you should workout during your periods is a personal question. There is no objective ( yes/no) answer for that. It depends on one’s body, how they feel during their period and how long they have been working out for. Generally, if a woman has been training right ( with respect to time/duration/fuel/recovery and intensity) periods and working out during periods will not cause much discomfort. Nevertheless, light workout is recommended and starting something new, increasing intensity/duration or workouts with inversions are to be avoided at any cost.

 

Week 2 : Soaring high

Either in week 2 or towards end of week1 as the bleeding stops, the energy levels will soar. Evolutionarily this is the time when women are fertile, look more attractive, have high energy, stamina and pain tolerance .

This is the time to intensify workout, try new workouts, increase duration etc as our hormones and body will support us through this.

Working out at this time will help reduce PMS and other discomfort during periods.

 

Week 3 : Embrace the change

Soon after ovulation, the energy levels starts dropping. Continuing the workout with same intensity as week 2 is fine as long as your body is able to cope up with it. If the recovery and energy levels are reducing , closer to the end of week 3 reduce the intensity of workout.


Week 4 : PMS week?

This is the week when PMS kicks in for most women, as  energy levels hit rock bottom, anger, irritability reach new heights. The feel to cut off from any physical activity might be overwhelming. These symptoms will reduce within a few months of working out and eating right. If PMS and periods discomfort has not reduced in a few months of lifestyle change, it means that there is something still not right.

Checkout this article to know more about PMS and how to reduce it.

Focus on keeping your activity levels and work on your flexibility this time.

For a beginner even 5 rounds of suryanamaskar and few minutes of walking will improve energy, mood and reduce PMS . For those who have trained their body for more than 3 years, it is recommended to reduce the intensity of workout and listen to the body.

The basic idea of workout or any physical activity is not to exhaust you, but to energise you so that you can focus on things that are important to you.

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

How to Sleep better to lose fat?

Sleep is one of the most undervalued aspect of health. I have mentioned this umpteen times in my videos, posts (including my previous article on sleep and its significance on health).

The questions that I have been asked often is how do we improve the quality of sleep? How to fall asleep fast, stay asleep and wake up fresh?

Following a peaceful bedtime routine or rituals for sleep hygiene will help you getting there.

  1. Have a happy and peaceful day.
    Happy hormone – Serotonin is converted in to sleep hormone Melatonin at night. A happy , peaceful and active day is a pre-requisite for sound sleep.
  2. Have 20 min of Sun exposure in the morning or by noon
    Bright light from the Sun in morning or early noon will set our circadian/body clock. This will help us fall asleep naturally post sunset.
  3. Eat right.
    Remember the happy hormone Serotonin? 80% of that hormone is produced in our intestine. Hence eating right food at the right time will not only make us fit, but also help us sleep better.
  4. Workout at least 5 hours before bedtime.
    The core temperature and energy of our body will be high for 5 hours post workout. If the bedtime is within that time, we will struggle to fall asleep. Workout in the morning or early evening to get the sleep benefits of exercise.
  5. Have a nourishing light dinner
    Heavy party food, Friday night dinners etc are taxing for not only our intestines, but also our sleep. Post sunset, the body is ready to wind down and the metabolism slows down. Light nourishing dinner can be a combination of a grain with a lentil (rice and moong is the best) with some vegetables (not raw). Sambar rice, kanji payaru , roti dal sabji, khichdi, etc are some of the delicious, nourishing and light dinners.
  6. Use a home-made sleep aid if needed.

    Have a glass of warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg powder, turmeric powder, sugar with some crushed cashews 60 min before bed.

    This is not needed on a regular basis, but is highly recommended after a tiring day of travel, if you are jet lagged or if you had a long stressful day . This is the most delicious and safest sleep aid. Cashews (most nuts) contain an amino acid called tryptophan which is needed to convert serotonin to melatonin. Nutmeg is also a mild sedative.

  7. Stay away from gadgets 60-30 minutes before bed.
    Some sleep experts also advocate staying away from gadgets 2 hours before bed. Artificial lights known as ‘blue light’ include light from lamps, devices like TV, Laptop, mobiles and other gadgets. The sleep hormone melatonin is produced only during darkness. Exposing ourselves to such gadgets and devices closer to bedtime will block the secretion of this hormone.
  8. Goto bed at the same time every day (including weekends)
    Nature and our body does not know the difference between weekends and weekdays. It works the same every day. Practicing sleep hygiene from Sunday to Thursday and derailing it on Friday and Saturday with night out or a late-night movie will only confuse and upset the biological clock. On weekends, go to bed within 90 minutes of normal weekday bedtime.
  9. Make bedroom a gadget free zone
    Bedroom is meant for two things – to unwind and sleep, and to make love.
    Laptop, TV, mobile phones and the numerous other gadgets should not enter bedroom. If you need an alarm, use an alarm clock (like how humans lived 20 years ago i.e. before mobile phones invaded us). An even better idea is to not use an alarm and wake up to natural light.
    If its winter where you live and day doesn’t break early, use a light alarm clock which will emit light to wake you up and not the irritating beep sound of the normal alarm clock.
  10. Practice positive affirmations before bed.
    Note down the top 3 or 5 positive things that happened during the day. This will help us have a more positive outlook towards life and secrete more happy hormones. This will also improve hormonal balance, conditions like Hypothyroid, PCOS , PMS and our brain chemistry.IMG-20190212-WA0009.jpeg
  11. Light up tea light candle in an essential oil diffuser with lavender+ rosemary essential oil
    Lavender and rosemary oil are excellent for calming. Use that in a tea light essential oil diffuser or mix a few drop of these in an oil wick lamp .
  12. Deep breathe and massage feet when on bed
    Massage the sole and toes of the feet with coconut oil( summer) or sesame oil(fall, winter). Even the thought of massaging the feet after a long day , feels so soothing. Mixing lavender or rosemary oil in the massage oil will help in relaxing . Deep breathe and you will not know when you fell asleep.Do you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep? Let us know in comments.

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