The nights are drawing in and there is a touch of Autumn in the early morning air. Parents are getting their children ready for starting back to school. At this time in past years I have been inundated with phone calls from parents trying to arrange Food Intolerance Tests for their little and not so little ones prior to winter setting in. This year is no exception, the last few weeks I have been contacted by parents of children experiencing a range of symptoms and so many of them linked to allergy type reactions. Amongst them symptoms of asthma and eczema (which may link to exposure to pollens, pollution and over-use of household chemicals). Recurring tummy upsets, loose stools, nausea and loss of appetite. Poor sleep patterns often leading to behaviour issues.
Taking a holistic overview based on many years professional experience my thoughts are that all of the above symptoms are reflective of how the immune system is working. Or not, as the functioning of the immune system can be adversely affected by diet, environment and lifestyle.
Experts tell us that obesity and diabetes in children is linked to poor eating habits and lack of exercise and the same could be said for adults. Common sense tells us that little ones eating too many processed foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat and not eating enough of the fresh seasonal foods that provides the body with the nutrients necessary to promote healthy growth, are not going to thrive. A healthy thriving child will have a robust and strong immune system, will be happy and full of energy, sleep well and be less vulnerable and recover well from childhood ailments. A child with a compromised immune system will be more likely to catch infections, viral or bacterial and take longer to recover. They may be fussy eaters, choosing to eliminate certain foods from their diet themselves and in some instances more reactive to allergy type triggers. I use the words “allergy type” as most of the children I see are affected by varying levels of intolerance, not allergies. Allergy in it’s truest form denotes a serious medically diagnosed condition that is potentially life threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Whereas, Intolerances are not life threatening but can create distressing symptoms.
A Food Intolerance Test will identify substances that may be responsible for triggering symptoms. Advice on replacement foods and supplements will be offered. Chronic symptoms if left untreated can in themselves compromise the immune system further creating another layer of symptoms. So the cycle continues.
Any suggestion of eliminating food or food groups from a child’s diet should be approached with caution and with the professional guidance of a qualified and experienced practitioner to avoid the risk of the child becoming under-nourished. There are risks of following advice from on-line sources where face to face consultations, monitoring and the resources for follow-up consultations do not exist.
To boost a child’s immune system is not rocket science, start with some lifestyle changes. The emotional well-being of your child is just as important as the physical well-being. Develop family time, increase outdoor activities, create a bedtime ritual, ensure mealtimes are a pleasant, peaceful and regular social occasion. Improve the diet by reducing processed and “fast” foods, start cooking fresh and seasonal food, involve your child in meal preparation, introduce a variety of foods especially in the school lunch box, replace sweet treats with fruit, replace fizzy drinks with flavoured water. There are many Homoeopathic and Herbal remedies that can help boost the immune system.