by Sarah Harris, FGHG Paediatric and Family Naturopath
Your special little person is trying to find their way in a hectic world; undergoing stress, having emotions, all within a dynamic group – be it family, childcare, or school – whilst simultaneously enduring an often multitude of dietary variations. So to ensure your child is ready for the year ahead – let’s focus on some key elements.
Building blocks for growing and developing requires an optimal intake of nutrients – essential for a healthy brain and nervous system. With many children not consuming the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamins and minerals during critical stages of development – growth may be adversely affected. Nutritional deficiencies interfere with neurological development and cognition in children. Optimal maturation is supported with vitamins B6, B12, and D and minerals zinc, magnesium, iron, iodine, selenium and folate. Dietary sources are key, though often a well absorbed, prescribed multivitamin may be needed to ensure intake and utilisation of these key nutrients.
Oil the kids with DHA (sourced mainly from fish oil); whilst it’s most abundant in our brain, childhood development requires the highest amounts for normal, healthy functioning of the brain, eyes, and nervous system. Essential for cells to function and communicate, fish oil from a high quality supplement and dietary sources may support healthy cognition and memory in children.
Good bugs are vitally important for digestion. From preconception – good gut flora assists the gastrointestinal health of the child, supporting baby’s behavioural and immune functions throughout life. Microbes, transferred from mother to newborn, initiate the establishment of the child’s own microbiome. A healthy gut and immune system is adversely affected by antibiotic therapy, stress and unhealthy food choices whilst probiotic therapy and dietary intake can help to promote beneficial bacteria numbers. Specific probiotic strains reduce the incidence and duration of tummy issues in infants; reduce the incidence of intestinal candidiasis; reduce atopic conditions such as allergy and eczema – all by supporting the development of a healthy microbiome balance early in life. Inclusion of probiotics, taken during pregnancy and throughout childhood, may also assist in minimising behavioural complaints in later childhood.
By prioritising optimal nutrition and healthy microbiome development during the early stage of life we can enhance the health of our growing people. Dietary and lifestyle advice with supplements to support their development or medicines to treat a wide range of childhood conditions can bring out the very best – from preconception, through childhood and beyond!
Sarah Harris is a qualified and experienced naturopath, herbalist and nutritionist with more than a decade of knowledge and practice in complementary medicine. As a mother of three children and highly skilled in providing naturopathic care, Sarah has a special interest in treating children of all ages. Her empathetic and kind nature instills comfort and confidence when providing advice to parents about their child’s health and she works well with families and individuals to find solutions for health concerns.