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Children's Health Q&A
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I have three children, and it seems like someone is always sick at our house. Is there anything I can do nutritionally to help keep my family healthy and illness-free?

Karen Prior responds: You can't protect your family from every cold and flu bug out there, but you can take measures to keep their immune systems strong so that they heal faster and have the strength to fight bacteria and infection when it does happen. A healthy immune system fights off illness so you have less incidences of cold and flu.

A healthy immune system is the result of taking care of your body. We often don't think about the immune system until someone is sick. A healthy immune system includes organ and bone marrow health, circulation and endocrine gland function as well as balance in the central nervous system. Having an imbalance in any of these areas lowers your immunity.

When immunity is lowered, not only will you have problems fighting off colds but you’ll also recover from injury much slower. Broken arms, scraped knees and ear infections take longer to heal and are more likely to develop complications related to slow healing and/or presence of bacteria.

Simply watching children’s consumption of sugar can make a big difference in their health. Having too much sugar in the blood stream causes white blood cells move slower in fighting infection. Sugar also lowers zinc levels in the body, which in turn lowers sense of taste. When sense of taste is lowered, your body craves still more sugar.

In a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “100 grams of sugar from glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey or orange juice caused a significant decrease in the ability of white blood cells to engulf and destroy bacteria.” This decrease in immunity was present for five hours following the initial intake of sugar.

If you want to give your family’s immune systems a boost, plan healthy meals and snacks, reduce sugar in your diet, snack on fruit rather than cookies and drink water instead of soda. Eating healthier will boost your immune system and allow your body to heal faster when it does fall ill. Teach your children that they have choices in staying well!

© Karen Prior.

Karen Prior’s impressive breadth of knowledge in the therapeutic uses of yoga, nutrition and prenatal fitness is backed by solid credentials: she is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance, a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, a clinical nutritionist and a retired La Leche League leader. Karen runs a Registered Yoga School, where she offers specialized training in prenatal yoga and yoga for children through her programs MamasteYoga and Let'sPlayYoga. Karen lives in Texas with her husband and young daughter.

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