Monday, August 30, 2010

Little Bodies, Big Immune Systems :: Part Two

If you missed Part One of this post, read it first.

I talked a lot about supplements in the first post - while supplements are grand, and I hope they make a huge difference in the kid's bodies, I'm not foolish enough to think that if I throw a few gummies (which really aren't my favorite because of cavities) and powders down their throats they'll have all the nutrition they need for a healthy cold and flu season.
Two other vital components of a strong immune system are sleep and diet.

My kids are in bed by 7:30 pm at least five nights of the week. At first, the early bed time was instituted to preserve my sanity. When Beck and Evie were just little piglets I would count the hours until 7 pm so I could put them to bed and sit my rear end down and stare at the empty wall. That's all I wanted. Time to stare.

Now I realize that children need so much more sleep than many parents let them have (I'm not the only one that thrives on a 7 pm bedtime). People have got to stop these 10 pm bedtimes (or later!) and expect their little ones to be happy and healthy people.

Naps are vital too. All three of mine nap for a few hours in the middle of the day.
Here are the recommendations for sleep (by sleep experts):
3-11 months: 14-15 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
1-3 years: 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
3-5 years: 11-13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
School-aged children: 10-11 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
I can't stress enough how much I believe in sleep.
I think I need a nap...

Here is my list of immune boosting foods. Some of them are packed with antioxidants and some are great for pH balance (which has a lot to do with keeping a body healthy):

Strawberries + Blueberries
Pink Grapefruit
Sweet Potato
Soy products
yellow veggies
Lemon (pH)
Lime (pH)
apple cider vinegar (pH)
avocado (pH)
spices and essential oils (pH)
amongst many others...
Foods to avoid or limit (for pH balance):sugar
tea (black or green)
vinegar (other than apple cider vinegar)
meat/cheese/animal products
I keep these lists around the kitchen to remind myself; I need them especially when I'm composing my grocery list.

Our Supplement Routine
I had a commenter (anonymous) remind me to be careful about the amount of vitamins and minerals that are going into the kid's systems to avoid toxicity. I'm so glad s/he brought that up! (Come out, come out, whoever you are!)
The threat of "too much of a good thing" entered my mind as I was figuring out how I would implement all of this knowledge; that is why we stagger some of the redundant supplements.

Everyday -
~fish oil: I put it in whatever I can find that will hide it. Macaroni and cheese, drinks, smoothies, salads, anywhere that will disguise it which isn't hard if you buy a flavored one like the lemon one I have.
~wellness drops + thieves: I just give them the dosage on their little tongues and have a treat waiting nearby for when they are finished. I'm not above bribery.

3-4 times a week -
~flaxseed meal: I sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of this in their oatmeal or put it in a smoothie, I've even put it in pasta sauce. They don't even know it's there. I love the taste, it is nice and nutty.
I also use it in baking. It replaces oil at a 3 to 1 ratio. For example: the recipe calls for 1 cup of vegetable oil, use 3 cups of ground flaxseed meal instead.
~green drink powder: I've mentioned fruit smoothies a few times. Smoothies (or "smoovies" in our house) are where a put the powder. I do 1-2 tablespoons for a batch of smoothies; which averages out to 1/2 tablespoon per serving.
That about covers what I had in mind to share in this series of posts but I had a few questions posed in comments and via email that I'd like to address on the blog too. I'll do a final post in the series to try and answer some of the questions. (If you have a question, feel free to drop a comment.)
I won't pretend to be an expert in this field, I'll leave that to someone else. But I do have some resources that I can fall back on (remember that semester of Nutrition class a couple of years ago?).
And now, for the good part. I'll leave you with my Feel Good Smoothie recipe.

It's got yogurt for a dose of the probiotics that are so important to keep that gut healthy.
(Did you know that the term "gut" is a technical medical term? It is!)
And blue agave nectar for a touch of extra sweet without the toxic sugar.
Okay, so she's not the most photogenic smoothie I've ever seen, but she's hiding that green powder, remember? It's what's on the inside that counts, people.

Now, dig out that blender and go at it.
Whip yourself up a SMOOVIE.


Annie said...

I am SO with you on the sleep thing. maybe it has to do with my desire to sit and stare at nothing, but I have been a sleep commander since day 1.

If I can add's water/liquid. It is suggested that kids drink 1.5 ounces of liquid per pound of body weight per day, and most don't get anywhere near that. I am always pushing water on my kids!

I love this series. I am such a nerd.

Lindsey B. said...

Thank you so much Ashley! I am loving this! Shhh...but your blog is my favorite!
I only wish we had a Whole Foods closer. The closest one is in St.Louis Park. I may try Natural Valley Foods though!

Question: If I were to only get 2 things which should I get? In other words which would be the most important?

Thanks again!

Mrs.M said...

I love you. I do. I agree with the sleep. No one seems to get it!

I loved your first post and I'm headed to Whole Foods later to pick up my stash. We don't do flu vaccines here, so its crucial for us to try natural preventions. Is it ok if I link your post on my blog?* said...

7pm = Tristan's BEDTIME. Actually, he was so tired, I put him down right now. :) I believe it with my WHOLE HEART that he needs MAJOR amounts of sleep. If he doesn't get sleep...


Ya know what I would love to see.. :)

YOUR GROCERY LIST! :) Do you plan out your meals weekly? :)
I would love to see what you do! You always seem SO WITH IT! :)


Jamie Willow said...

I think sleep is the number one for sickness.

people may not get why I put Judah down to sleep at 6:00 but the kid is healthy. I blame the sleep. It speaks for itself.

He gets about 14 hrs and he's 16 I am happy with that!

Alicia Marie said...

Good stuff.

How do you like the Agave to cook with? I am interested in it...just scared ;)

I like Lindsey's question about your top 2. Ditto.

I am a big advocate in feeding your kids what you eat...not what "kids" eat. Jack eats what we eat, and knowing that forces me to cook better. Everything whole grains, lots veggies and fruit. So far, it has worked. He is eating quinoa right now for a snack. He won't eat mac n cheese or chicken nuggets. He prefers brown rice or ww pasta...i think it helps.

The Arnold Family said...

Ooohhh my blender is SO broken! I need a new one. It's not going to happen...until Christmas. :(

Loved reading this!

Kristi said...

I totally agree with you on sleep, supplements and food!! I have only recently become a LITTLE more lax on bedtime (they will be 10 in January) because it's summer. But tonight it's back to earlier bedtime. Because mine are school aged (going into 4th grade) I have a time they go in their room to "unwind" and a bedtime. Works VERY well. They can play quietly together, cars, draw or whatever. Then we read a Bible story of the day, pray and nite nite :)
Food, I could write a novel on this, SO important in our over-processed world!
And the supplements are WONDERFUL! Also wanted to tell you that Rainbow-light makes a great (food based) multivitamin. We do Carlson's Cod liver oil in lemon flavor for the whole family. And also we take probiotics and eat lots of organic yogurt.
Your doing great! :)

Kristi said...

I forgot to say that my 2 yr old still naps for 2 or 3 hours a day. And sleeps 11-12 hours a night. We ALL NEED SLEEP :)