In today’s episode of The Whole Circle Podcast we talk to Dr Leila Masson, Paediatrician, about all things children’s health.
Dr Leila Masson is a Sydney Paediatrician who is also trained in nutritional, environmental and breastfeeding medicine. She focuses on preventing illness in children’s bodies so that they can live their best and healthiest life.
The No. 1 thing we can do for a healthy life for our children is to give them good nutrition. This means cutting out things like:
- Packaged and processed food
- White flour
To name just a few. It is also important to ensure that our kids get enough:
- Outdoor activities
These are essential, as we cannot be healthy without them.
There have been research studies conducted showing what the effects of being active outdoors has on a child’s brain. The research shows that they:
- Are happier
- Can concentrate better
- Are better at problem-solving
- Are calmer
The research also shows us that we are needing to get back to our roots in life.
This essential vitamin is produced when the sun hits your skin. If you are spending all your time indoors then you are most likely deficient in vitamin D. This can cause:
- Bone deficiency
- Exacerbated autism symptoms
- Low immune system
Our bodies are designed to move and to not be as sedentary as they have now become. We understand that it’s much easier to get your kids out and about and not worry about them as much (ie. stranger danger) if you live in the country because you often find that most people know each other.
However, how do you counterbalance that if you live in the city? Create connections with your neighbours and those around you. Engage with those people so they are no longer strangers and then from that, your kids can make connections with their kids and be active and outdoors together.
Ensure you make the time to supervise your kids outdoors because they will benefit from being outdoors as will you!
OTHER THINGS THAT ARE AFFECTING CHILDREN’S HEALTH
It’s important to note that one of the big things about nutrition, when you look at what we eat compared to what was eaten one or two generations ago, is the processing of food and the additives put into food.
These days when you average it out and look at lunchboxes there are a lot of packets and processed foods in them and less of fruits and vegetables than what there ever used to be.
All those packages have additives added to them to make them more attractive for kids to eat such as bright colours or taste that has kids craving more because they’re full of MSG, salt, sugar and oil. Their bodies end up craving and wanting more and just can’t stop eating them.
Or preservatives and antioxidants are added in to prolong the shelf life. Food now is not really made for us as consumers, but instead for longer shelf life.
These all have a negative effect on us. In children things like artificial colour yellow (102), which studies have shown it affects:
- Fine and gross motor coordination
There are studies where they took two groups of children, one group received a drink with artificial yellow food colouring (102) in it and the other group received a drink that didn’t have it and within half an hour you could see completely different behaviour in the two groups. The kids who got the yellow colouring in their drink were fighting, hyperactive and couldn’t draw anymore and the group of children who didn’t get it were cooperative and playing nicely and just generally happy.
Artificial yellow colouring (102) causes inflammation in the body and we now know that the underlying mechanism of any disease in the body is inflammation, whether that’s in the gut, brain or joints. Inflammation makes you sick!
HOW OUR BODIES REACT TO TOXINS
Whenever we take a toxin into our bodies our bodies instinctively need to get rid of it. Adults are better at excreting toxins than what children are. We excrete toxins via the liver, kidneys and sweat which adults are better at doing than children.
Another way to excrete them is to use up your zinc. Our bodies need four molecules of zinc to grab one molecule of toxin and excrete it.
In Australia our soils are very low in zinc, so everybody is teetering on the edge of zinc deficiency. When you look at the average zinc levels in Australia compared to other countries such as Spain where they have good zinc levels, you will see that Spain has an average zinc level of between 16-24, whereas Australia is 9-19.
If you are already low in zinc and your body takes on the artificial yellow colouring (102) toxin, your body uses your stored zinc levels in order to excrete that toxin which sees your zinc levels drop rapidly. Then you are left with no reserves of zinc for your mood and concentration. This can be why kids react so rapidly to these additives.
Preservative 202 is a harsh preservative that is found in a lot of foods that are considered healthy, such as hummus, so we have to be extra vigilant.
Some companies are now making their products without 202, but you have to ensure you read the ingredient labels to find the ones that don’t have it.
Before we label kids with things such as ADD/ADHD or ODD, it could be a good idea to first take a look at what they’re putting into their bodies to see if that is the cause. The first and most important step would be to remove the additives and preservatives from their diet.
We have had so many parents or teachers write to us after having done our Additive-Free Made Easy course and tell us how they have been able to either reduce or get rid of medications either in their children or themselves simply by removing the additives and preservatives from their diets.
CHILDREN’S HEALTH ISSUES ON THE RISE
There is an increase in children’s health issues such as ADD/ADHD, ODD and Autism. Australia now has the highest rate of food allergies in the world at 9%. In America, a study was released this week that 1 in 40 children have Autism.
So how do we keep our kids healthy? On the one hand, it’s been said to us that we need to expose our kids to bacteria but on the other hand, we don’t want them getting sick from it. It’s about finding the balance. Yes, kids can play in dirt which gives their immune systems exposure to bacteria which will boost their immune system, but just make sure that the dirt they are playing in is not contaminated.
Having pets such as dogs can be great. We know that kids who grow up with dogs have a better immune system, fewer allergies and less eczema but at the same time is also exposes their risk to parasites. There is no easy answer other than to find the balance.
It’s no secret that the world is vastly different now from what it was 100-200 years ago. We are exposed to so many more pollutants and toxins every single day and children’s bodies are so much more vulnerable than adults to these pollutants and toxins.
In the case of Autism, a lot of symptoms of autism co-exist with symptoms caused by inflammation within their bodies and poor gut flora. Get these things in check and it can have a massive impact.
BODY CARE PRODUCTS
It is so prolific now to have a product for every tiny little thing and proof of that is how many body care aisles you find in the supermarket. There are so many body care products these days, way more than there ever used to be.
We have to be so careful of what we put on our bodies because our skin absorbs all of it so we may as well have eaten it. Dr Masson has a great rule regarding body care products for her sons whereby they shouldn’t buy anything that they couldn’t eat. They don’t always stick to this rule, but they do most of the time.
It’s very important to avoid chemical-laden body products because they disrupt your skin barrier, they cause inflammation, they can even affect your liver. When it comes to babies, don’t use anything other than water to clean. If they have really dirty nappies, a little bit of regular soap without any fragrance will be fine. Always go with the less the better.
These sorts of products are on the rise and let’s face it, it’s just a good marketing ploy. You can get the same result with natural soaps such as castile soap.
Not only do you not need ‘anti-bacterial’ marketed products, but they actually do more harm than good to your body.
Triclosan for example, which is the most common ingredient used in ‘anti-bacterial’ products, is very harmful to your skin and immune system. Studies show if you use these ‘anti-bacterial or disinfectant’ products then your children have a higher risk of allergies.
There is a movement afoot to a more natural way of living and we’re so glad it is gaining momentum because it can only make us healthier and our environment better off too.
DR LEILA MASSON
Dr Leila Masson has been a wealth of knowledge to our podcast today. If you want to find out more information, check her out at:
Clinic: Tamarama, Sydney
Book: Children’s Health A to Z
Links and Resources