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It used to be Tupperware parties… now, its Botox parties.  Gone are the days of applying a moisturizer and flossing before bed!  Enter the world of cosmetic surgery and products – all aimed at steering us ever closer to the appearance of youth!

We likely take our skin for granted most of the time.  Our skin is an organ, yet we don’t often think of it like we might of …say - the heart or liver.  We tend to think of “organs” as those on the inside – that we cannot see.  Skin is our largest organ and needs as much TLC as the other organs of the body.

With that in mind, consider some of the concerns about products we use on our skin on a daily basis:

Mineral Oil – A petroleum product.  Allergenic.  Can promote acne. Becomes toxic in sunlight (photo toxic).  Is cheap and plentiful.  Often used in body lotions and moisturizers.

Talc – Used in facial powders and eye shadows as well as baby powders.  Often contains asbestos.  Known carcinogenic (cancer causing), as well as an irritant to lungs.

Phthalates – Used in hairsprays, nail polish and perfumes.  It can be inhaled (during application) or absorbed into the skin.  Known to cause damage to the liver and reproductive system.

Parabens – Used as a preservative in cosmetic products and shampoos.  Can be allergenic and toxic.  Can also disrupt hormone system by helping create xenoestrogens.

Toluene – Petroleum derived solvent most often found in nail polishes.  Can cause dizziness when inhaled.  Toxic when ingested or absorbed by skin.

Aluminum – Used in cosmetic powders such as eye shadows.  Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease.

This is just a short list.  Combined with sun exposure, environmental toxins, inadequate sleep, poor diet and stress, its’ easy to see how the skin pays a very high price. 

Food?  for thought…

Detoxifying from the inside out, drinking plenty of fresh water and eating fresh fruits, veggies and avoiding prolonged exposure to sun can all help.  But if you’re stuck for some natural alternatives to help make your skin glow, just head for the kitchen and try some of these suggestions:

Avocado – provides a boost of vitamins A, D, and E and can promote healing.  Mash a ripe avocado and apply to skin as a mask.  Rinse and see how nice your skin feels.

Camomile Tea Bags – don’t throw out that bag after you’ve sipped your tea, save and use on tired, red, puffy eyes to help rejuvenate.

Cucumber – also good for tired eyes, but the juice is cooling and cleansing and also acts as a mild astringent.

Honey – mix with a little yogurt and finely ground oatmeal to make a paste.  Smooth on face for a luxurious mask for all skin types.

Papaya – a delicious fruit to eat, but also used for acne, wrinkles, sunspots and as a treatment to slough off dead skin cells.  Mash a ripe papaya or use the juice.  It’s loaded with vitamins and enzymes that are good for your skin.  Rinse thoroughly after use as it can cause irritation if used in high concentration.

Antioxidants
Diet is as important in beautiful skin as anything else.  Antioxidants like fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries) as well as dark green veggies and raisins are all excellent foods to promote healthy skin, as well as whole grains, flax seeds and nuts such as walnuts.  

So, before you decide to go under the knife, apply the needle or peel off the years, try using cosmetic and skin products that are non-toxic and non-allergenic and consider the bounty of products in your own refrigerator.

Erin Bell

 
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Congratulations – you’re pregnant!  Now, what to do about those couple extra cheese burgers over the past few weeks, or what about your fetish for diet soft drinks?  When you finally read the stick, you automatically start thinking of your diet.  But prenatal nutrition really needs to begin before conception, as by the time you find out you’re even pregnant, many, many things have already developed in that tiny life hiding inside.

By just 4 weeks, roughly about when women will even realize they are pregnant, amazing developments have already taken place.  The brain, spinal cord and nerves have begun to form, and the heart is already beginning to pump the blood throughout a microscopic body – a tiny heartbeat is now present.  Organs like the liver and kidneys have already begun to grow and by the 5th week, facial features are beginning to take shape.  Seems pretty advanced for something no bigger than a the tip of your baby finger.

Over the next 8 months, the baby will continue to grow and develop, with different systems advancing at different stages. Discovering that you are pregnant is often when a dietary change is considered, but for fetal development, women need to consider their overall health even up to a year before conceiving. While that is not always possible, for those wishing and planning pregnancy, it’s best to lay a nutritional foundation in Mom before conception. 

Let’s use an analogy.  Before one plants a garden, the soil is turned and tilled, fertilized and nutrients are added to make the soil a suitable place for planting. We prepare the bed before we plant the seeds.  The body is much the same.  Preparing for pregnancy with good nutrition is as important as a healthy diet during pregnancy.    A diet full of wholesome and nutritious foods will enhance both the chances of fertility as well as a healthy environment for the embryo to begin it’s journey to birth.  

Millions of women are treated each year for problems with fertility and the problem is increasing.   Almost half of these infertile cases can be attributed to fathers – another ever increasing problem within the fertility pool.  The actual causes of infertility can be numerous and exhausting both physically and emotionally.  Malnutrition is often a cause and yes, even in Western cultures, we can be malnourished.  A diet high in fat, processed foods, food additives, combined with the use of alcohol, caffeine, smoking and drugs can all be culprits.    Maintaining healthy weight and managing stress are two key factors in preparing for pregnancy. 
 
Deficiency in B vitamins in women has been reported as a possible cause of infertility as well.  Fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, wholesome grains, adequate amounts of lean protein, limiting the overuse of dairy products and supplementing the diet with a quality vitamin and mineral supplement will help normalize hormones in both women and men – whereby increasing the chances of fertility.  Herbs like raspberry, nettle and chaste tree, dandelion, milk thistle and cramp bark can be helpful for women seeking to conceive.  It’s best to consult with an herbalist or naturopath before taking herbs as some can have side effects that could be unpleasant.  

If you find yourself struggling to get pregnant, don’t give up hope.  Begin with the most simple of lifestyle changes – your diet.  And even if you’re just thinking of beginning your own family – remember the garden – make the bed fertile long before you begin planting the seed.

Erin  Bell

 
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Most of what we eat consists of acid-forming foods – that is, highly processed, white, sugar-laden, fatty and heavy in meat and dairy products.  An acidic environment paves the way for disease.  The evidence for this lies in the statistics of our current health – diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and obesity are skyrocketing – even among young children.

Foods are categorically acidic or alkaline based on how they affect the body – not whether they are acidic or not.  For instance, lemon may taste acidic, however, once in the body, lemon is alkalizing after being metabolized.  An acidic environment provides the foundation for disease to develop and thrive.

In contrast, many diseases, including some cancers cannot survive in a more aerobic (oxygen-rich), alkaline state.  The body functions optimally at a slightly alkaline pH of 7.5.  A diet ratio of about 70% alkaline to 30% acidifying foods is best for optimal pH. The current SAD (Standard American Diet) is more of the reverse of this, with the majority of food intake being acidic.  Alkalizing the diet is one of the best ways to practice prevention.

pH is a very delicate balance that the body constantly and vigilantly maintains… the slightest variation in pH could be near fatal with symptoms varying from coma induced from blood sugar imbalance to convulsions and quite possibly - death.  
Acid vs. Alkaline Foods

Foods that are acidic are:
  • Coffee, Alcohol and soft drinks
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • White flour and products (pastries)
  • Whole grains
  • Corn
  • Fish
  • Liver
  • Wine
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Oils
  • Fats (such as trans fats)
Foods that are Alkalizing are:
  • Salt
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocados
  • Fruit - most
  • Peas
  • Green Beans
  • Dandelion greens
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes - cooked
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini
  • Vegetables – most, including sea vegetables

Foods like cheeses, milk and yogurt tend to lean more towards acid than alkaline because of pasteurization – which makes them more acidic.  Sometimes they are referred to as buffers, but they are essentially acid forming because they are processed and not in raw form. 

From these lists, it is obvious to see that the Western Diet consists mostly of acidifying foods – heavy meat consumption, white flour, fats and sugars.  These lists do not suggest eating more salt and potatoes - (want fries with that?), but rather give an idea of what is acid forming and what is alkalizing to the body.  What we need is balance.  For optimum health, alkalize!  

Erin Bell

 
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Believe it or not, everyone’s busy today - even your 3 year old.  With dance class, swimming lessons, music and play dates, toddlers have very little time to pencil in healthy meals – especially if they’re always on the run.

Eating on the go has shown up in childhood obesity rates – which are skyrocketing out of control.  Western society now hosts a growing population of fat kids – with over 30% considered overweight or obese.    It’s just too easy anymore to grab and go at the drive thru.  But what is happening in light of the statistics is too worrisome to ignore. Our children are malnourished. Don’t mistake that for under-nourished (not enough food). There’s just too much bad food.

One thing to remember is to have the proper ‘utensils’ for toddlers.  I have found that the FooGo is a fantastic food container much like Mom and Dad’s Thermos when they were young.  These pint sized stainless steel containers can hold everything from soups to stews, to juniors’ favorite mac ‘n cheese, all just a spoonful away.  Why get mystery meat on a cold, white bun when you can serve up Mom’s homemade chili in a split second?

Speaking of chili - soups, stews and pasta dishes are easily made in large batches and freeze well.  Consider these as main courses for taking on the run.  It’s not a mess when they can eat right out of the container.  Just remember to pack a spoon.  

Grazing on the Go


Kids love to graze… that is, they nibble – sometimes all throughout the day.  But little bodies are growing each and every day, and they need a constant and quality source of fuel for building up muscles, bones, and brains.  Consider some of these healthy on-the-go snacks for the next soccer night:
  1. Fresh cut veggies and hummus – kids love to dip things…so, they often love hummus. Not a garlic fan, try guacamole – made from the good fats of avocados.
  2. Trail mix – make your own… don’t buy cheap brands already made up in plastic bags – these can get rancid quickly.  Buy quality nuts and seeds and store them in the refrigerator (remember, nuts are a legume – like meat, they need to be kept cooler so as not to go bad).  Add a little chopped dark chocolate, dried fruits and even carob chips to add some sweet to the salty if they like.
  3. Wholegrain muffins – muffins freeze well and can be packed in no time.  Butter ‘em up with some nut butter or natural peanut butter for a protein punch.
  4. Fruit – pretty much any kind can travel well.  Whether it’s cut up and stored in a container or remains whole, fruit travels as well as your toddler – and maybe even better at times.  Think color - berries, oranges and grapes, bananas, mangos, kiwi, pineapple, plums and watermelon.  

OK, you didn’t have time to pack anything – now what?  If you really have to end up at the drive thru, then consider things like submarine sandwiches that can be oredered vegetarian (I’d skip the nitrate-laden luncheon meats here) and prepared on whole wheat and whole grain buns.  Opt for the milk over carbonated soft drinks, go for the apple slices, and if at all possible, get something from a local grocery store, which usually has healthier options like fruits, yogurt and granola and veggies – ready to go.  

And finally - having a small, lunch-sized cooler in the trunk or back seat provides for cool storage and easy access. And let them have a say – bring them shopping and teach them to choose healthier options.  Kids appreciate being involved in their own choices.   

It doesn’t really take much to make sure good food choices are readily available for your little superstar. Fuel them well, and watch them go!

Erin Bell

 
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Imagine doing something over 31 million times per year – and that is if you’re in good shape.  Now, imagine having to do it over 42 million times and MORE – and that is if you’re in bad shape.  The heart is a magnificent organ and ironically, the less we use it, the less efficient it is.  That is not to say that 42 million beats per year in a sedentary person is better than the 31 million beats per year in the active person… on the contrary, the person with the lesser beats actually has the better heart.

The heart is a muscle and like all muscles, it needs to be worked.  A heart that is not beating within a healthy, active body can be weak, small, or even enlarged due to hypertension.  When the heart tissue is unhealthy, the arteries and blood vessels are clogged and constricted and the blood supply to the heart is blocked.

It cannot beat and function without having a continuous supply of oxygen.  It then has to beat faster to pump enough blood through to function.  A conditioned, healthy heart actually beats slower, as more blood is pumped through with each stroke.  A normal resting heart rate is said to be between 70 and 80 beats per minute, but sadly, many people are struggling with heart rates that are much higher. 

Cardiovascular disease remains the top killer of society.  Major risk factors include:
  • high blood pressure
  • high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • smoking
  • lack of exercise
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • and stress.  
The two most important preventative measures against cardiovascular disease are diet and exercise.  However, for some reason, people just still are not getting it when it comes time to prevention.  They continue to look for a “magic pill” – one that allows overindulgence in junk foods and too much time on the couch!   

Can vitamins help?


Vitamins and minerals are called supplements (i.e. in addition to a well balanced, healthy diet).  Supplemental vitamins that help maintain a healthy heart - specifically vitamin C, B-complex, and vitamin E, along with the minerals calcium, chromium, zinc and selenium are all excellent supplements to a heart-healthy diet.

Although not literally called “vitamin Q”, another powerful supplement is Coenzyme Q10.  Claimed as a miracle nutrient, it is not actually a vitamin in itself, but rather a vitamin-like substance naturally present in our tissues, but declines with age.   Q10 energizes the coronary system and actually strengthens the heart muscle and improves tissue respiration.  It is been extensively researched and has no known side effects or toxicity.  It has been remarkably successful all over the world to enhance the immune system, treat heart disease, and high blood pressure.  It is remarkable for its ability to help treat heart attack and stroke victims.  It is also a powerful antioxidant capable of destroying the damage done by free radicals.   Q10 is found in such foods as salmon, sardines and mackerel as well as in supplement form from the health store.   

Of course, there is no sense in taking a handful of vitamins and minerals each day and continuing with a sedentary lifestyle packed with unhealthy, processed foods and other poor dietary choices.  Nothing can replace the heart-healthy benefits of a proper diet and exercise along with supplementation of heart friendly vitamins and minerals like those mentioned including the miracle nutrient Coenzyme Q10.  Take care of your heart – because if it stops, so do you!
 
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Not many foods would be able to bear the name “perfect food”, but breast milk proudly wears the label.  Anxious as a new mom only a few years ago, I opted to breastfeed my daughter.  Nothing could have prepared me for the challenge.  I thought childbirth would be challenging, but it was a cakewalk compared to breastfeeding.  At first, I envied new moms with glowing smiles – abundant with milk while their satisfied babies cooed and cuddled.    The breast just came naturally for their babies.  

However, for me at first, it was exhausting, frustrating and seemingly impossible. I think I ended up crying more for the first few weeks than my new baby.   What I had to do was learn to breastfeed my new little princess, and this took a great deal of patience and effort.  I often wanted to quit… just throw in the towel and run for the formula, but my determination paid off and I proudly gave her nature’s most perfect food for 18 months.  The challenges in the beginning became soothing, comforting, pleasant and bonding.  I soon got over the irritation of sore nipples and engorgement and learned to master the art - and it is an art -of breastfeeding.

Why is breast the best?


Breast milk compares very differently to other forms of milk, say - like cow’s milk.  In nutritional comparison, cow’s milk contains 3 times more protein than human milk, and is substantially lower in complex carbohydrates – of which is the largest component of human milk.  We tend to think that protein is best, but for baby, complex carbohydrates are required for development and growth, not heavy protein.  Human milk does have a little more fat in it than in cow’s milk, but the type of fat here is “good fats” – specifically what babies need for brain growth and development.   

Human milk contains a smaller ratio of calcium, phosphorus and sodium compared to cow’s milk, but again, these ratios are much more adapted to a new infant, whereas the higher levels of these micronutrients in cow’s milk can lead to excesses of these elements.  This can be hard on kidneys and other organs.  Often infants do not digest cow’s milk very well.  It was explained to me once using this analogy:  molecularly speaking, cow’s milk is a much larger “molecule” – something like trying to push a basketball through a garden hose, whereas human milk has a much smaller molecular size – like pushing a marble through a garden hose.  

Human milk “fits” through babies’ digestive tracts much better than cow’s milk.  It’s the protein content and type in cow’s milk that makes it so hard for babies to digest - the protein ratio is too high and consists mostly of casein, whereas breast milk is mostly whey protein.  Consequently, many children develop intolerances to cow’s milk and mostly to the protein casein.

Breastfeeding benefits both baby and mom

In addition to being low to no cost, it’s always available and extremely convenient.  A study in the journal New Scientist indicates that breastfeeding was shown to reduce the risk of heart attack in women as well as help the mothers regain their metabolism after pregnancy – something most moms look forward to.   Breast milk is easily absorbed by baby’s delicate intestinal tract and delivers millions of immune boosting factors with each feed.

To increase and maintain milk supply, drink at least 1.5 -2 litres of pure water per day and use herbs like fenugreek to increase production.  Eating a diet rich in:
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • lean protein
  • and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, 
will ensure your milk supply as well as deliver the best quality milk to your baby. Moms should supplement with a quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement suitable for nursing mothers and make sure it has vitamin D in it. Or take a separate vitamin D supplement – as cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D, but human milk has less vitamin D, simply because the D in cow’s milk is added at production.  

Nothing brings you closer to the joys of new life than providing that life with perfect nourishment.   Breast really is best.

Erin Bell

 
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Our eyes are the windows to the world around us.  They are very complex organs and we often just take them for granted.  That is, until they begin to show signs and symptoms of damage and or vision loss.  Diseases and conditions of the eyes include:

-   cataracts
-   eyestrain
-   colorblindness
-   glaucoma
-   inflammation and infection
-   macular degeneration
-   dryness
-   bloodshot and blurred eyes 

These disorders and symptoms are often an indicator of a more serious health problem within the body.

Protecting our eyes goes beyond wearing UV protecting sunglasses and minimizing eyestrain at the computer screen.  Many other considerations can affect eye health, including the use of various pharmaceuticals, inadequate water intake, poor lighting and malnourishment.
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Key to good eye health is diet.  A poor diet contributes to many of the symptoms of eye trouble.  The well known vitamin for eye disorders is vitamin A, but often overlooked is essential fatty acids, commonly known as omega 3 and 6, alpha-linolenic and alpha-linoleic acid respectively.   To be healthy, we must include these essential fats in our diet.  A deficiency of these fats in the body are associated with many physical and mental conditions, and specifically, the eyes require essential fatty acids for optimum function and health.


Sources of EFA’s


The Standard (North) American Diet (SAD) is exactly that… sad and lacking in general in omega 3’s but overly abundant in omega 6, which is found in products like safflower, sunflower, canola and corn oils, as well as almonds and olive oil.  It’s omega 3 that our eyes are looking for. This essential fatty acid is absolutely necessary for good eye health.  Good sources of omega 3 are flax seeds, flax oil, evening primrose oil, nuts and seeds such as walnuts, dark leafy green vegetables and cold-water fish.  

Also available are EFA oil blends sold in most health food stores.  Essential fatty acids are very susceptible to oxidation.  This means that they do not have a long shelf life and they are very prone to the formation of free radicals.  Essential fatty acids should be kept in a refrigerator away from air, light and heat sources.  They should also be kept in a dark bottle or container. 

Deficiencies of essential fatty acids can lead to any of the potential eye problems mentioned above.  It can also lead to retinal damage and problems with pressure in the eyes.  Nutritional deficiencies affect the entire body and as mentioned, poor eye health can be an indication that there is another problem going on elsewhere in the body.  Our eyes are precious, delicate and very susceptible to damage.  We need to nourish them as much as any other part of our body and a diet including fresh vegetables, fruits, sufficient protein, carbohydrates, pure water and the essential fatty acids are a healthy approach to protecting one of our greatest blessings – to be able to see!

Erin Bell

 
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“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is more delightful than wine…”  
(Solomon’s Song of Songs)


OK, so, you thought that would say chocolate.  It is funny how we associate some foods with passion… wine, chocolate, strawberries and champagne.  Sex is a workout in all areas of the body.  Work requires fuel and what we fuel our bodies with has a direct impact on sexual drive.  We associate food and sex as both pleasurable, but how often do we consider that what we eat affects our sexual performance?  While a perfect evening could begin with a succulent steak aside a billowing baked potato, swished away with a few glasses of wine before a mound of chocolate ecstasy for dessert, it could all end with nothing but the lights out.  Food affects every aspect of our lives – mentally, spiritually emotionally and physically.  The synergistic flow of all of these systems sets the mood for sexual relations, and the stage for sexual health.

Throughout life, the appetite for sex will rise and plummet, like the stock market – peaks and bounds.  The nutritional and chemical component of foods has a direct impact on our sexual health.  Women often suffer from extremes in hormonal fluctuations.  Men equally can experience dips and dives in hormones, making him migrate to the TV rather than the bedroom.  Sigh.  

Hormones – Not Just A Female Thing

Increased estrogen in men can lead to andropause – which actually sounds boring even before we realize that it represents a condition in men when testosterone has declined.  Its’ this decline that ultimately leads to the “pause” of andropause, or as I like to call it “Men on Pause” - strikingly close to menopause… only, in him!  Next time your lover’s not in the mood, blame it on his hormones.

Men have to feed the machine. However, a 12 oz. porterhouse washed down with half a dozen cold ones will not really achieve an amorous night. Fresh, unprocessed, natural foods promote a healthy sexuality.  Men benefit from lean meats, whole grains and plant-based proteins, as well as foods high in zinc, selenium and lycopene.  Keeping a moderate exercise program that includes weight-bearing exercise also helps men retain testosterone – the essential sex hormone for men, and reduce harmfully high estrogen.  A good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement should accompany a well-balanced diet to enhance his performance.

Sex or Chocolate?

Women, on the other hand require a little more effort to balance the delicate nature of their hormonal system.  Women will go through phases of sexual appetite more remarkable than that of men. Childbirth, motherhood, work obligations, and homemaking can interfere and interrupt a woman’s sexual desire.  Then, you can add in the hormones and the seemingly impossible ability to relax.  Hormones are chemical messengers, continually signaling our bodies to perform and regulate certain functions of our daily lives.  If hormones are out of balance, so are we.  Surges and dives in estrogens, progesterone and a handful of other hormones can often leave a poor girl opting for the chocolate instead of the sex.  A diet rich in fresh green and brightly colored vegetables and fruits, modest amounts of meat, dairy, nuts and seeds and whole grains will bring a remarkable balance to a woman’s hormones and revive a dwindled libido.  Adding a regular form of exercise will also increase metabolism and act as a natural aphrodisiac for women.  

Quality is more often better than quantity.  Maximize your relationship potential by fueling your body with natural foods that will support healthy sexuality and reproductive health.  Bon appetite!

Erin Bell

 
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Since becoming a nutritionist, I have a habit of scanning people’s shopping carts when they are in the grocery stores - particularly if they have children with them.  I am often shocked at what I see in the carts… actually - frightened is more the term.  Sugar laden, pre-packaged foods, rolls of salty, nitrate soaked luncheon meats, neon-colored fruit drinks packed into tiny plastic bottles, and cookies, cakes and all sorts of sticky snacks, all designed to look “fun”.  But when did we decide that eating had to look “fun”?  What used to happen when food just looked like… food?

A sandwich is no longer fun unless it’s shaped like a dinosaur, and macaroni and cheese went from creamy comfort to traffic-cone orange!  What is in those rolled up “fruit things” is not only scary, but apparently, they smell bad when left in lockers and lunchboxes.  Yuck!

Are your kids sluggish in the afternoon? 

If the teacher tells you that your kid is falling asleep by mid-morning, or they are sluggish at 2 PM, check the lunchbox – as this may be where the problem started.  See, kids need stabilized blood sugar levels throughout the day in order to maintain focus and be active.  Low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, is very common in children and this is also frequently linked to the child’s behavior patterns.  Out come the clipboards and diagnoses… and we are all too aware what that may lead to – a diagnosis and medication.  What is quite often the problem, is food – the wrong amounts and the wrong kinds.

What's in your kids lunch box?

Packing a lunch that delivers high quality protein (no, that is not bologna!), quality fats (like those found in nuts and seeds, avocados, lean REAL meats (not processed luncheon meats), beans, natural cheese and yogurt) allow blood sugar to remain stable as these proteins are digested slowly and provide for long-term energy needs.  A variety of complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, as well as colored veggies and fruits will sustain optimum energy levels as well as sharpen attention levels. Lunch is no fun without a treat of some kind, but keeping it to something homemade or natural is better than something electric blue or laced with sugars.

Nutritious lunches do take a little more time and planning, but the payoffs are the foundation of a lifetime.  Learning is hard work and to make it to the top of the class, you need to provide quality fuel for growing little brains.  

Scrumptious ideas:
  • homemade soup/pastas in a heat-safe storage container 
  • oatmeal cookie, 
  • veggie sticks and hummus 
  • fruit salads 
  • pitas stuffed with natural, lean meats and cheeses, or egg salad 
  • yogurt 
  • sandwiches made with whole grains topped with veggies and avocados
  • homemade muffins chock full of raisins, apples, fruits and honey
Adding a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, as well as supplementing with a good quality fish oil that contains both DHA and EPA (long words that are usually abbreviated to mean “really good for brain development”) are essential to learning and development.  

If you want your kids at the top of the class, feed their brains what it really wants – good, wholesome food.

Erin Bell

 
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source: Erin Bell
Tiny fingers, tiny toes!  You take the time to count each one and then watch as they grow.  That growth, by the way, will amaze you.  It seems they go from tiny to training wheels overnight.  And with that, it’s best to start thinking of their vitamin and mineral needs long before those training wheels.

Breast is best

Breast milk is best for your baby, as it’s the most important of food for at least the first 6 to 9 months.  Don’t be in a hurry to shove a spoonful of cereal into your baby’s face, as they don’t digest grains as well as we can. Our children’s digestive systems don’t have the strength to digest what adults can – and it’s at age 6-7 before their system has even matured.  

If you’re breast feeding, then Mom should be taking a good multi-vitamin and mineral supplement for breast feeding, as well as at least 1000 I.U. per day of Vitamin D as breast milk is a little shy of vitamin D.  Breast really IS best, because it has the correct ratio of fats, complex carbohydrates and protein for babies.  Unlike cow’s milk formula, which is very difficult for babies to digest, Momma’s milk is much easier for baby to receive and nutrients are better absorbed by their tiny digestive tracts.  

I always recommend that nursing mothers also take a good pro-biotic supplement with at least 10 billion active bacterial cultures in it.  This helps strengthen both Mom and baby’s digestive tract, providing all the “good” bacteria that helps combat infection and ward off illness and nasty things like thrush, ear infections and sinus infections.  

What about "real" foods?

Once baby is eating some foods, start with ripe bananas, avocado (which provides good fats) and continue to breast feed as much as your baby wishes.   Steamed, mashed veggies are good first foods and they digest well.  A good multi-vitamin supplement, in liquid form is best for babies aged 6 months and up – one that includes vitamins A, D and C. 

Supplements like these can be mixed into fruit and they usually taste good to baby. Again, probiotics are key to good digestion, so a good infant strain of probiotics can be added to fruits, veggies and cereals so baby has a good start in the intestines.  Too many times I see kids with ear infections, sinus infections, rashes, eczema, tummy problems and chronic coughs – and it’s probiotics to the rescue!  

Some parents argue against their child needing supplements – citing that their vitamin and mineral needs are “in their food.”  Well, yes, and miserably – no!  Today’s over processed, transported, imported, genetically modified, food-additive and fat-laden foods don’t deliver the needed vitamin and mineral content babies and toddlers need each day.  Even if you eat healthy, the soil conditions we grow our foods in today pale in comparison to soil conditions decades ago – leaving us with fewer and fewer naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.  This is why supplementing is almost completely necessary these days. 

Speak with an expert!

Health stores offer a staggering variety of supplements; so it’s best to invest… take the time to see a registered or certified nutritionist or natural health care provider if you are boggled by the bottles on store shelves.  These people are trained to help - and it’s better to know before you buy!

Erin Bell