Back to school is here again! New season, new teachers, new friends and new surroundings are all things that make this time of year exciting for our kids. New experiences can also come with anxiety and attention issues, and a classroom full of kids can guarantee exposures to unwanted bugs and germs.
By Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D.
Making sure your child’s diet is packed with the following nutrients can help ensure a positive transition for you and your child, during this exciting new time.
1. Probiotics – These little guys can help protect and strengthen your child’s digestive tract, one of the most common routes for bad bugs enter the body. It stimulates the powerful immune system, helping to prevent infections from settling in the body. Plain organic/local yogurt is a great probiotic addition to your child’s daily diet.Avoid fat-free yogurts – stay with the sugar-free, and on occasion, naturally-sweetened versions. Those with dairy allergies (and sensitivities) may require the encapsulated alternative to probiotic supplementation.
2. Vitamin D – As the sunlight dwindles in to the fall months, it’s important to supplement Vitamin D to keep your child’s immune system strong. Sources of vitamin D include fish, nuts and seeds, eggs, and Vitamin D fortified foods (dairy and soy milks in particular). As some may have potential sensitivities to these foods, adding a high-quality supplement to your child’s daily dietary regime ensures they get the right amount of vitamin D daily.
3. Polyunsatruated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) – PUFAs are essential for brain development, immune strengthening, and soft, clean, skin in children. Clinical studies have found that these nourishing fats can actually increase concentration in kids with attention-difficulties. Examples of PUFAs to add to your child’s diet include olive oil, flax oil, and fish oils. Make sure to keep these oils uncooked to preserve the health benefits.
4. Vitamin C – A diet full of vibrant, colourful fruits and vegetables can boost Vitamin C levels. Fresh vegetables like bell peppers and leafy greens beat out the fruits in Vitamin C levels but if you choose a fruit, fresh, local strawberries are the best. Leave the tropical kiwis and clementines for an occasional sweet treat. The powerful antioxidant properties of Vitamin C is responsible for boosting immune system, as well as strengthen the adrenal glands, which are involved with good levels of energy (aka, no more falling asleep in class!).
5. B vitamins – Not only do B-vitamins help with detoxification, immune health and concentration, they are actually known help with stress and anxiety, which some kids can experience during this transition in to the new school year. Sources of B vitamins include whole grains, beans and lentils, which are also great sources of fibre.
A good way to get these nutrients in your child’s diet is to pack a lunch that is rich in healthy foods. Packing snacks that are high in sugar and saturated fats can actually work against your child, leading to poor immune function, and possible attention problems. Instead, try including fruits, cut up vegetables, or naturally sweetened granola for everyday snacks for your kids. Be aware of dried fruit as a substitute for fruits – the sugar content is high enough to be addictive. Also, a high quality, age-appropriate multivitamin can provide your child all the nutrients they need.Please consult with your healthcare provider for suggestions.
Dr. Tanya Lee is a naturopathic doctor currently practicing in Toronto and Milton Ontario. Tanya was drawn to the naturopathic profession for its core beliefs in treating the whole person. Dr. Lee practice general medicine, with a special interest in children’s health, women’s health and pregnancy. For more information on Dr. Lee and her practice, please visit, www.tanyaleend.com .
Tanya Lee, BSc (Hons), N.D.
Infinity Health Centre
39 Lower Simcoe St.
Toronto, ON M5J 3A6
Health Centre of Milton
400 Main S. E Suite 210
Milton, ON L9T 1P7