By Dr. Lindsay Grieve, DC
Becoming a mom has been such a life-changing experience for myself. As a “modern-day” mom I try to be a variety of things for my son: role model, health advocate, provide a loving & nurturing environment and help my son grow up and develop into the person he was meant to be. Oh and did I say fun? I want to do all of the above and also be remembered as the “fun mom”….am I asking for too much?
With all those objectives in mind I make an effort to prepare healthy meals, incorporate fun activities, play dates, get him to bed in a timely manner, teach him to move his body, challenge his mind and exercise his brain. Yes you read that right, exercise his brain!
There is so much growth and development that happens in a child’s first year of life. By the age of 1, the brain grows 2.5-3x it’s size from birth. 1,000 to 100,000 brain synapses are formed in the first year of life alone. By the age of 2, the brain reaches 80-90% of it’s adult volume. And by the age of 6, they have formed almost all of the major sensory and motor pathways they will need for their entire adult life. That is an immense amount of growth and development in a short amount of time! There are a lot of things, particularly in modern-day, that can interfere or hinder a child’s normal growth and development: birth trauma, skipping milestones (ex: going from sitting straight to walking, missing the crawling stage), overuse of “screen-time” (iPad, computer, cell phone, video games, TV, etc), lack of movement and stress.
Did you know movement and brain function are inter-related? A large study conducted in California assessed 1 million students over a 10 year period and found that just 20 minutes of walking improved a child’s ability to concentrate and improved their overall performance on an academic test. Movement and cognition happen in the same parts of the brain and use the same pathways. Our ability to think, control our emotions, pay attention, understand math, learn to spell and use language are all related to our body’s ability to move well.
What if I told you that you can help stimulate your child’s brain by doing specific exercises? When we practice movement patterns we build nerve pathways and establish connections in the brain. A study was conducted in 2003 that looked at the effect of 6 months of brain-coordination exercises on kids with learning difficulties. The children who were in the exercise group had significant improvements in reading, writing & comprehension, dexterity and speech fluency. When they followed up with those kids 4 years later the children had still maintained those same improvements….it’s long lasting!
Tonight try these 3 brain stimulating exercises with your little ones. (Some of the exercises may be challenging at first but the exciting thing is, the brain will catch on.) Get down on the floor with your kids and and make it a fun activity. My son has a blast doing them and some of the exercises are even challenging for me too! We aim to do the exercises every other day.
Log Rolls: great for stimulating the vestibular area of the brain.
Have your child lay on their stomach with their arms out overhead. Keep the body straight and try and encourage them to use their abdominal muscles to slowly roll onto their back. Continue rolling back and forth and work up to 12 rolls to each side.
Inch worms: Great for increasing central muscle tone and overall increasing stimulation to the whole brain. This exercise incorporates cross-body movement which connects the two halves of the brain.
Have you child lay on their back on the floor with their arms at their side, knees bent and their feet flat on the floor. Instruct them to roll one shoulder up and backwards well pushing a little with their feet. This will drag and push the body along the floor. Then roll up the opposite shoulder and do the same. Continue the exercise for 2 minutes.
CrossCrawling: This is great for integrating the left and right sides of the brain. All actives of the brain require input from both sides of the brain and this movement is essential for optimal brain function for all forms of learning: Reading, thinking, math behaviour, emotional control and planning. Cross-crawling is also essential for training the eyes to cross the midline and for the eyes to focus and track.
Get on your hands and knees. Move the opposite arm and leg forward at the same time. Try to focus on your hands when you do this exercise. Continue for 60 seconds.
For more information and video demonstrations of the above exercises, check out Dr. Lindsay Grieve’s website and blog: www.drlindsaygrieve.com
As the temperatures begin to cool and our schedules begin to look hectic, we can all succumb to that first seasonal cold. Cold and Flu season may not be here yet, but we know that it is on its way!
We at Thrive wanted to give your immune system a little boost by giving you some ideas on what you can incorporate into your diet that might help you fight off those nasty germs.
Immune Boosting Foods:
Add some garlic to your dishes and not only enhance the flavours of your foods, but also allow your white-blood cells (aka. The Cold Fighters), to flourish and increases the efficiency of antibody production. This means your body is able to fight off any virus more easily, and makes the long cold and flu season a bit shorter. Have trouble digesting garlic? Try taking out the green root in the centre of each clove to make those garlic burps a bit less potent.
Lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges- you name it- if it’s a citrus, it has Vitamin C. Increasing your Vitamin C intake naturally increases your immune efficiency, which is exactly what we need for this time of year. If you need an easy way to add a bit more Vitamin C into your diet, as well as help increase your water intake, try adding lemon to your morning glass of water. Not only do you instantly have flavoured water, you start off your day right with a bit of Vitamin C!
Have you been noticing this spice everywhere these days? Us too! But for good reason- turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and more recent studies show that it also might be good for reducing fever. So drink up those Turmeric lattes and eat up some Indian curries and you may be helping your health!
These beauties have twice the amount of Vitamin C as citrus, and the added bonus of beta-carotene which is great for healthy skin. Add some to your stir fry or simply eat as a snack with hummus (perhaps garlic hummus?) and your body will thank you!
Ginger works in the same way as Vitamin C and can help you avoid a cold. It can also help if you are just starting a cold by relieving your sore throat. Feel a tingle in your throat? Boil some ginger and lemon to make a natural tea that soothes the throat and boosts your immune system. Add a bit of honey and you have a sure fire way of fighting those cold systems.
For an easy way to combine some of these great immune-boosting ingredients (and some not mentioned here), check out this Turmeric Pineapple Kiwi and Kale recipe:
2 cups frozen pineapple
¾ cups unsweetened almond milk
½ tsp turmeric
2 cups Kale
Blend all ingredients and enjoy!
Summertime carries with it an energy of excitement, enjoyment and freedom. The days are longer, the weather inviting. For many, we translate this energy into a lifestyle that includes more barbeques, social events, alcohol and often less nutritious food choices. With so few months to enjoy social time comfortably outside with friends, I think switching our mindset from “avoidance” to “improved” is a great way to approach food and alcohol consumption this summer. Many patients come in and ask how to make reasonable improvements to their summer routines and so decided to share a few tips and suggestions in this month’s newsletter:
• Loading up on creamy side dishes and red meat barbeque is not great for heart health or our waistline. Opt instead to grill vegetables on the bbq and experiment with salmon and fish recipes that cook in a flash and are part of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.
• Alcohol intake is typically a calorie exploder in the summer. Try and clean up your drinking, to the extent this can be true, by using clear alcohol (vodka, gin, tequila) and mixing with low sugar and low sodium options like soda stream water with lemon and lime slices or low sodium San Pellegrino. Remember also that most beer and many vodkas are wheat-based …. so if this is a food group you try and avoid in food form it is typically best avoided as an alcohol also.
• Most of us are more social in the summer. Try making socializing and connecting with family and friends the “treat” and not use social events as a reason to have two plates of dessert.
• Bring nutritious and seasonal fruits and vegetables to parties or have them out at your own! Opting to pick at these as snacks between meals is a great way to fill the urge while also being good to your body.
A Word on Blood Services and Our Community:
Many of us know that donating blood can save lives. Medical advancements make it so that today, a number of blood related diseases like leukemia, aplastic anemia, certain metabolic disorders and inherited immune system diseases can also be treated with donated stem cells.
In September, Thrive has decided to have information available at the clinic for patients looking to learn more about donating blood services. We want to offer patients more detailed information on steps and facts about blood donation and registering to be stem cell donor. Keep your eyes and ears open and don’t forget to pick up your fact sheet when in the clinic.
If you want more information today, start by checking out www.blood.ca
By: Dr. Kristin Heins ND, RP (qualifying)
I wanted to share an article on allergies as many this time of year suffer seasonal allergy symptoms. At a fun time of year to enjoy the outdoors, no one wants to be overwhelmed with congestion and low energy!!
Allergies occur when the body mounts an immune system response to substances inhaled or ingested from the environment. For allergy sufferers, these substances (called allergens) enter the body and then the body sends out an immune particle (called an immunoglobulin) to attack the foreign substance! An inflammatory cascade is then set in motion. For allergy sufferers, the rest is known and seen through their symptoms!
Common Allergy Symptoms:
Runny nose, runny and / or itchy eyes, sinus inflammation and headaches, generalized fatigue, shortness of breath, asthma. Skin conditions can include rashes or darkening around the eyes “allergic shiner” is also common. For some ingested allergens we can have anaphylaxis or severe swelling in the throat, hives and for less severe sensitivities you may have indigestion, gas, cramping or bowel changes (not considered an allergy but still a cause of immune response).
What we also now know is that allergen / immune complex binding can have mood and brain involvement causing symptoms like agitation, irritability and / or depression.
Allergy Triad: allergies, asthma, eczema – all signs of a hyper responsiveness of the immune system.
Tip #1: Eat Plenty of foods rich in antioxidants as well as minerals essential to the immune system.
- Oxidation increases as our body fights off germs. Help offset this reaction with antioxidant foods.
- Foods containing beta- carotene, including dark green, yellow, and orange vegetables. Eat at least two servings of one or more of these vegetables daily.
- Vegetables and fruits that contain vitamin C, such as broccoli, green/red peppers, cabbage, collard greens, and citrus fruits. Eat at least one-2 servings daily. Vitamin C is especially important for those with allergies as vitamin C plays a major role in modulating the histamine response which plays a major role in allergic congestion and skin irritation.
- Foods containing vitamin E, especially seeds and nuts, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and beans.
Tip #2: Reduce Allergen exposure by using a salt water (saline) nasal rinse daily during allergy season.
Tip #3: See a specialist to devise an individualized plan to optimize your immune functionality and support organs of elimination (liver, bowel, lymph, kidneys) that may be under functioning. Dr. Heins or a licensed Naturopathic Doctor can customize a supplement approach based on your specific symptoms and allergy (immune) presentation.
Written by: Dr. Kristin Heins, ND
The sunny days between all of the cloudy, rainy ones are giving us some hope for brighter days. Many families are making plans for the summer, and it’s exciting to finally be anticipating more time spent outdoors. We want our clients and community to enjoy a safe and healthy season, so we thought we’d share some basic and natural tips. High temperatures and sunny days can mean adjusted dietary and health requirements for the whole family.
1. Fluid replacement: During day trips, team sports, active play and afternoons at the beach, be sure to drink plenty of water and encourage your children to do the same. But skip the sports drinks-Children don’t often sweat excessively, especially during moderate play. Any fluids your child may lose are easily replaced with plain fresh water. Sports drinks contain unhealthily high doses of sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and chemical additives –so be careful what you reach for to replenish fluids and quench thirst.
2. Choose healthy frozen treats: Popsicles and other frozen snacks are a family favourite during the summer –and they can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Skip the artificially flavoured freezies and sugary ice cream, and make your own snacks instead. Opt for frozen bananas, smoothies, or homemade popsicles that use natural sugars and flavours.
3. Be sun-smart. Choose a high SPF sunscreen and remember to re-apply every 1-2 hours that your family is in the sun. When possible, take refuge in the shade and minimize direct sun exposure to your skin. Have your children wear brimmed hats and light, cool clothing. You may want to avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, a chemical that is thought to affect hormone levels and cellular health. And it goes without saying- children of all skin types and tones need sunscreen. For fair-skinned children, choose an SPF of 30 or higher.
4. Support your immune system, particularly before big day trips or family vacations. Eat a vitamin-rich diet that features lots of vegetables and probiotics, and be sure to get plenty of vitamin C, even during warm weather. If you know your children are picky eaters during travel, plan ahead when you pack. Take multi-vitamins and easy-to-grab nutritious snacks. Front-load their diet on busy days by sneaking some extra fruit and veggies into a breakfast smoothie.
Wishing you and your family a safe and healthy start to summer!