Being a mom can be tough on your body. From spending time with your kids to looking after the home and earning a living many of us are always on the go. What’s more, nutritionists have long realized that as we age our skeleton can change, with our bones getting progressively weaker.
This, of course, can have an impact on our health – and especially our joints. Sadly, being a mom isn’t a part-time job, and taking a few days off for rest and recuperation isn’t very likely – no matter how appealing it may sound. So what steps can we all take to keep our joints in the best health possible?
Know Your Limits
Child-rearing can ask for superhuman feats of endurance, during which our bodies can be exposed to pressures never before experienced. In many cases it can be tempting to just push on through any tiredness or discomfort, worrying about the consequences later. Sadly, such an attitude, no matter how admirable, can increase the risk of physical damage or extend recovery times.
It is important to remember that we can’t do everything ourselves, and to be more conscious of our physical limits. If you feel discomfort, aches or pain then this is your body’s way of telling you to slow down. In most cases you’d be wise to listen carefully before risking further health problems.
In the same vein, don’t be ashamed to ask for help when you need it. Sometimes making use of grandma or grandpa, while taking a few hours for yourself, can be one of the best investments you can make in your health (and sanity!).
Consider Your Footwear
There’s no denying those new heels make you look like a million dollars – but they’re unlikely to be doing much for your health. Generally speaking more comfortable footwear won’t just make moving around more enjoyable but also has the potential to help keep your joints in good condition.
A great example of this is a study that involved a group of golfers suffering from serious back pain as a result of their stretching and turning. Scientists invited half of them to swap their smart golf shoes for some comfortable sandals. Six weeks later both groups were asked to report back on any discomfort they were experiencing. The resultsshowed that the volunteers wearing the comfier (if less stable) sandals experienced huge improvements in back pain when compared to the control group. (In case you were wondering their golf abilities didn’t decline either, despite the change of shoe).
Elsewhere, scientists asked a group of people to swap their normal shoes for some that had been specially-designed to allow the foot to move naturally – as we would when walking barefooted. A range of gadgets were used to measure how much pressure was being placed in the leg joints, with the “barefoot technology” showing significantly reduced pressure on the knees.
The lesson here is that some types of footwear are much better at helping to cushion and protect the joints. The more naturally your feet can move, the better. This means that walking around in bare feet at home, and choosing shoes with flexible soles (like ballet pumps or sneakers) for when you’re outside are likely to be best. Put another way; if you’re concerned about your joints, leave the stiff-soled heels in the closet; your knees and ankles will thank you.
Take Cod Liver Oil
One of the most common reasons for joint discomfort is inflammation. This can lead to swelling, a burning sensation and a reduction in joint mobility. While in most cases this should subside after some rest, in other cases it may become a progressive issue. It is also associated with cases of arthritis, so becomes ever more likely with age. The good news is that good old cod liver oil might be a suitable solution for you.
Cod liver oil is a great source of omega 3 oils, which in turn are believed to help fight inflammation in the body. Experts believe that they function by simply disrupting the chemical channels that cause inflammation in the first place. But this isn’t all hearsay; numerous scientific studies have also indicated the benefits of taking fish oils regularly.
One particularly notable study involved 250 volunteers with persistent joint-related pain who were given 1200 mg of cod liver oil per day. After a period of 75 days these individuals were asked to complete a survey reporting back on any changes experienced. 60% of the participants stated their pain was now less, and an even more impressive 88% said they planned to keep taking cod liver oil – even at their own expense.
Pleasantly, while this article primarily focuses on keeping your joints healthy it also seems that cod liver oil can help in a range of other inflammatory conditions. For example one study asked a group of women to take fish oils before taking part in a resistance training program. The results showed that the fish oil group experienced less muscle soreness afterward. A large body of evidence also suggests that cod liver oil can help to reduce the inflammation that is associated with cardiovascular problems in later life, keeping your most important muscle in the best condition possible.
Consider Supplementing with MSM
MSM is the acronym for Methylsulfonylmethane, a naturally-occurring compound found in the joints. It is popular as a treatment for joint conditions and is widely available in supplement form, meaning that supplementing with MSM is as easy as swallowing a tablet.
While it is most commonly taken for arthritic joints there is also growing evidence that it can help our joints to recover quicker after physical exercise. For example, in 2014 a group of marathon runners were given either 3 grams of MSM per day or a placebo capsule before and after a run. Interestingly, the experts found that the group taking an MSM supplement experienced less joint pain in response to their exercise.
Elsewhere individuals with ongoing joint problems were assessed on a specially-designed questionnaire for the level of pain they experienced. The volunteers were then divided into two groups and for six months they took either 6 grams of MSM or a placebo. In comparison to the control the scientists reported “significant decreases” in all measurements of joint function and discomfort among those taking MSM.
Bearing in mind how widely available such supplements are, and as a result how reasonably priced they are, it seems that it may be worth considering daily supplementation if your joints are causing problems.
Factor Stretching Exercises into Your Day
When we were at school it was considered perfectly normal to “warm up” and stretch before exercise. Professional athletes do it before every race. Yet somehow many of us have forgotten how beneficial it can be before a busy day of physical activity.
Interestingly, while stretching is most commonly recommended to prepare your muscles for action, there is evidence that it may also help to keep our joints in good condition too. The reason is simple; stronger muscles provide more support for your joints, reducing the chance of injury or pain.
A great example of this principle in action involved a group of ice skaters that were complaining of knee pain. The experts in question taught them a number of stretching exercises designed to increase flexibility, and found that 75% of those involved experienced reduced joint pain as a result – all without directly targeting their knees.
Now might therefore be the perfect time to consider taking up yoga, or simply having a decent stretch and a warm-up before you start the day.
Improve Your Sleep Pattern
It’s no secret that many of us aren’t getting enough sleep each night, and this is doubly so among the parents of young children. What might surprise you is just how much of an impact this can have on our experience of joint pain. For example, studies have found that “sleep continuity disturbance…increases spontaneous pain” meaning that if you’re regularly waking up during the night – such as tending to an unhappy child – you may be more likely to experience joint pain as a result.
This is hardly surprising when you consider some of the more interesting research to be carried out on the links between sleep and pain. Scientists have found that when we sleep the inflammatory response involved in many cases of joint discomfort slowly decline. Sleep really can be the best medicine as a result. As one group of experts summarized “maintaining adequate sleep duration…may reduce inflammatory processes”.
While getting a proper night’s sleep can be difficult at the best of times, this evidence does highlight the importance of meeting the recommended 7-9 hours as regularly as possible. So don’t think that sleeping in a little is a weakness or a sign of laziness; it might turn out that getting some shut-eye really will do you a power of good.
While many of us put with aches and pains for years on end and just accept it as a part of everyday life this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Thanks to the wealth of research that has been carried out in recent years busy moms are better prepared than ever before to reduce discomfort, helping to improve your quality of life. Try implementing a few of the tips discussed and see just how much of a positive impact they can make on your life.
My Kids Can’t Eat That: How to Deal with Allergies & Intolerances in Children. Christine Bailey Nourish Books August 2018
As a coeliac myself and mother of three boys who between them have reactions to various foods I have learnt how to adapt our family life and eating patterns without compromising our health or enjoyment of delicious foods. I feel I am lucky. As a qualified Nutritional Therapist and Chef if anyone was going to be able to create delicious healthy allergy free family recipes it was going to be me. Being trained through the Institute of Functional Medicine I am also aware that there are many reasons why allergies develop and if you can address the route causes and the underlying imbalances in the body you can reduce your child’s allergic potential and optimise their health long term.
As parents we want the best for our children. Being diagnosed with a food allergy can feel very daunting both for the parent and the child. That is why my latest book includes plenty of practical advice on living with a food allergy in addition to tackling the underlying imbalances – whether it’s avoiding cross contamination, coping when travelling, eating away from home or managing parties and family events.
Supporting Your Child With Allergies
When doctors refer to a food allergy, most of the time they are referring to an IgE-mediated food allergy, which is also called a “true” or “classic” food allergy. These types of reactions are more common in children rather than adults. Symptoms tend to be immediate, typically occurring within two hours of eating and are normally very obvious. It can be triggered by consumption of only a tiny amount of food. It may result in a range of symptoms, including itchy rashes, sneezing and in some cases anaphylaxis. While any food can trigger such a reaction the most common are cow’s milk, eggs, fish and shellfish, peanuts, soybeans (and related products), tree nuts (e.g. almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, Brazils, macadamia nuts) and wheat.
Once you know what your child’s allergies or intolerance are then you can start to make practical steps to ensure their diet is safe and nourishing. This includes taking steps at home, eating out, dealing with schools and nurseries, parties and travelling
Caring for a child who has been diagnosed with a food allergy is a whole household – even lifestyle – experience. From the moment that you know there are certain foods that are now out of bounds for one (or more) of your children, you’ll need to get organized.
For many families, the simplest, clearest and most failsafe approach to ensuring that home is not a place that exposes children with allergies to foods they can’t eat is to remove the culprit foods completely. That is, everyone eats in the same, allergen-free way. For example, if one child is diagnosed coeliac, the whole family switches to a gluten-free diet; if a child is diagnosed with a nut allergy, your home becomes a nut-free zone.
If you are cooking separate meals you will also need to take steps to avoid cross contamination. Using separate chopping boards, baking trays, dishes, pans and so on for free-from foods and washing utensils thoroughly is important.
Whatever food allergy your child has, instead of focusing on what your child cannot eat explore all the nutritious foods they can enjoy. By cooking real food from scratch you’ll find your meals are fresher, tastier and more nutritious. It can also be cheaper too.
Just as it is important to speak to children about their allergies, it’s really important to have good communication with your child’s school staff. When your child starts a new school and at the beginning of each school year, make an appointment with the head teacher, the class teacher and the school nurse to talk about what your child is allergic to and what to do if he or she has an allergic reaction. If they are having school meals you will also need to speak to the school caterers to ensure the menu is suitable. If you’re worried, you may prefer the option of bringing a packed lunch rather than eating a school meal.
In many schools it is common practice to share a birthday cake or sweets on special occasions. There may be other times, such as festivals or international celebration days, when new foods are shared in class. When you speak to your child’s class teacher at the start of the term, explain that you’d like warning of any occasions that the class will celebrate in order that you can provide alternative foods for your child to enjoy at the same time as everyone else, so that he or she can join in.
European and UK law require eateries across all European countries to let customers know which foods on their menu contain any of the 14 primary allergens. However, there is no regulation as to how this information might be conveyed, which can make eating out incredibly stressful, particularly in the early days of diagnosis, when you’re just getting used to the kinds of questions you need to ask on behalf of your child.
Some restaurants, for example, will train their waiting staff to convey information about allergen foods on their menu directly to their customers in response to queries; others might add labels, highlights or symbols to the menu; in takeaway restaurants, labelling might be on the counter, on signage or in fridges next to food itself. Many restaurants will have special allergy-free menus to make choosing appropriate dishes as straightforward as possible – you just need to know to ask for one. In the book I provide my top tips on how to keep eating out the fun experience it should be.
Points to consider
Choosing your venue – Some restaurants – and cuisines – may be better suited than others for catering for people with allergies. For example, restaurants that cook everything to order, from scratch rather than buying in prepared sauces and other menu items are usually good choices. Look at the menu online – do they have a special allergy free menu. This can help you decide if they have a good selection of dishes your children will enjoy. Forget the children’s menu – good restaurants will be able to provide smaller portions of dishes on the main menu
Plan Ahead – Book a table and explain your child’s allergies when you book – make sure they note it and you feel comfortable they understand the implications. Ask about cross contamination – how do they prepare allergy free dishes and make sure it is not contaminated during preparation and cooking.
Ordering – When you order, ask questions if you need to double check ingredients. For example, ask whether sauces are thickened with wheat flour, or whether fried foods are dusted in flour before frying. If your child is dairy free, ask whether butter is used as an emulsifier in sauces or to coat vegetables before they come to the table. Have eggs been used to bind burgers or as a glaze on meats or breads?
When your order arrives, double check with the staff that they’re confident your requests for allergen-free ingredients have been followed and check to make sure there aren’t any sauces or extras that might have been added inadvertently and be problematic.
PARTIES AND PLAY DATES
No child should feel awkward or embarrassed about going to a party and not being able to eat the food. One thing I would say: there will always be a handful of children at a party who won’t eat what’s put in front of them, simply because of personal likes and dislikes – a child with allergies almost certainly needn’t feel alone.
Take control. If your child is invited to a party, let the host know when you accept the invitation about his or her allergies and tell them you’ll drop off a special party tea when you arrive. Ask what sorts of things their party tea will serve up and offer to bring similar allergy-free food to take the pressure off the host. Some parents will even be happy and confident to make something special for your child themselves – especially if it’s as simple as swapping in gluten-free bread or pasta, for example. But many will be grateful not to take the risk. Good hosts will never be offended if an allergic child refuses food. Reinforce the idea of saying no politely before your child goes to the party, so that he or she feels confident when there.
If your child is staying overnight at a friend’s house, offer to provide plenty of provisions to cover breakfast, as well as other meals and snacks. Use a cool bag, if you need. Keep foods wrapped or sealed within the containers and label them clearly. Remember to pack drinks, if relevant, too. Before you leave your child, make sure the host knows what to do if your child has a reaction and leave labelled medications just in case. Ask if he or she would like a list of culprit foods, and make sure you provide your mobile phone number. This is not only essential in case of emergency, but if the host is concerned about a certain product he or she is serving up, they can take a photo of the food label and send it to you to check yourself.
My Kids Can’t Eat That is available on September 18th in the US and August 16th in the UK and available to buy at Amazon and in all good book stores.
Better Body Ancient Grains
Several ancient grains were worshipped and used by many ancient civilizations, from the Aztecs to the Greeks and Egyptians. Quinoa is one of the oldest grains in the world. It was called the “mother of all grains” and considered sacred by the Inca people. Chia seeds have been eaten for thousands of years in Central America starting with Aztec warriors who ate them before battle or running long distances. Runners would carry water and a pouch of chia seeds because they helped increase endurance. Quinoa and chia seeds are known as two of the seven Ancient Grains. These two grains contain great nutritional value, containing a myriad of vitamins.
But how do we incorporate these mystical and magical products into our daily diets today? BetterBody Foods makes eating like an ancient warrior a breeze. With their Organic Chia Seeds and Organic Quinoa, we can all channel the ancient Incas and treat our bodies like a temple!
Did you know that chia seeds can be used in baking as an egg replacement? These magical little seeds are small in size, but they pack a punch in terms of nutritional value, texture, taste AND versatility. In fact, “chia” was the ancient word Mayans used for strength.
Chia seeds contain a vast array of nutritional properties. Just one serving of organic chia seeds gives you protein, fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, thiamin and omega-3 fatty acids. With all of the fiber they contain, chia seeds can absorb around 12 times their weight in water. This means they give you more sustained energy and helps you feel fuller longer.
“How can I incorporate chia seeds into my daily routine?”
For starters you can remember ‘shake and bake’. Shake some Organic Chia Seeds into your favorite muffin recipe, or use as an egg replacement by mixing 1 Tbsp. Organic Chia Seeds with 3 Tbsp. water and let sit for 5 minutes. Are you in the mood for a protein packed drink? You’ll find 2g of protein in every serving of Organic Chia Seeds, so you can add it to your smoothie or juice. To add more nutrients to your favorite bowl, go ahead and sprinkle chia seeds on yogurt, salad or cereal to add a natural, healthy boost full of texture and protein.
You don’t have to worry about your meal not tasting right because chia seeds are virtually tasteless. Just add them to your favorite foods and enjoy your meal along with the added nutrients. Don’t stress about adding chia seeds to your diet because they are suitable for all. They are an omega powerhouse that supports all dietary restrictions- considering they are gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, raw, low-carb and paleo-friendly.
Beauty. Goodness. Delicious. Versatility. Flavor. Organic Quinoa really does have it all going on. Quinoa (keen-wah) has taken the world by storm because it takes on the flavors you cook it with, adds protein and fiber to any dish, and is easy to make. Originating with the Incas, Quinoa has grown in Peru and Bolivia in the mountains of the Andes for thousands of years acting as a staple food for indigenous people in South America. It is to be believed that the Incan emperor would hold a ceremony and plant the first quinoa seeds every year. It didn’t appear in the United States until NASA discovered the super food as they searched for a nutrient rich food to give astronauts on long space missions. The United Nations name it a “super crop” because they believe it can relieve world hunger.
“What health benefits am I getting?”
Quinoa is in the same family as sugar beets and spinach. It contains many health benefits that can give you a daily boost. Organic Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids that your body needs every day: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. One serving of this delicious blend has calcium, iron and six grams of protein. Quinoa is one of a few complete plant-based proteins.
Quinoa is a great substitute that will keep you full, energized, and wanting more. Use in place of rice, couscous or other grains. It is a great ingredient to put in salads, soups, breakfast and more. It’s even a great choice for everything from hot cereals to dinner side dishes. Be creative!
One serving of Organic Quinoa contains six grams of protein. Go ahead and power up.
BetterBody Foods believes that making better food choices contributes to a happy and healthy life. They are committed to providing the best organic and natural foods for cooking, baking, health and wellness. There is a reason their peanut butter powder, PBfit has become one of the top selling peanut butter products in the country!!
With ingredients that are sourced from top farms around the world, and BetterBody Food’s state of the art manufacturing facility (which has received a long list of certifications and awards) their goal is to teach their customers about how to use their revolutionary products to make powerful and healthy changes in their lives. They want you to live life to your fullest!
Add these delicious and nutritious products to your daily eating routine and have confidence that you are putting only the best ingredients into your body!
Don’t Suffer in Silence – Take Your Gut Health Seriously
Taking care of our gut health can often be something we overlook in favour of other health concerns but our gastroenterological vitality is of paramount importance to our overall well-being. It can often be embarrassing to talk about the subject but reputable gastroenterologist clinics have years of experience in everything from indigestion to colonoscopies and they can provide you with specialised dietary advice to help you promote a healthy gut.
Whatever the reason you are seeking a private gastroenterologist, it is important to carefully consider the benefits of getting specialised help, especially if you have been suffering for a while.
Gastroenterology is a large field and it encompasses a variety of complex conditions, so let’s take a look at a few of these conditions and how they can be treated.
- Crohn’s Disease – This condition which affects individuals of all ages and is a lifelong issue where the parts of the digestive system become inflamed. It is characterised by fatigue, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and weight loss. It can be consistent or can go through periods of ‘flare ups’; however, regardless of the frequency, it can cause severe disruption to your life. The main treatments for Crohn’s are steroid tablets to reduce inflammation and sometimes surgery is needed to remove part of the digestive system.
- Acid Reflux – This occurs when stomach acid travels up towards the throat acid and if it is an ongoing situation it is referred to as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and it can cause heartburn which can be incredibly uncomfortable. Other indicators of acid reflux are hiccups, bloating and sickness as well as a hoarse voice. Changing your lifestyle can stop acid reflux in its tracks. Reduction in spicy and fatty foods, quitting smoking and reducing stress all contributing to limiting acid reflux and restoring the balance.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – An incredibly common condition, IBS causes diarrhoea, constipation and stomach cramps that can last days or even months. It is an ongoing problem that affects 10-15% of the population. There is no cure for the syndrome and it is mostly controlled through diet and medication. It has been linked to a number of causes such as stress, overly sensitive nerves in the gut and the too slow or too quick movement of food through the gut.
- Gallstones – Gallstones are quite common and often do not require treatment but if one of these small balls of cholesterol gets trapped in the opening duct of the gallbladder then intense pain lasting anywhere between 1 and 5 hours occurs in the abdominal area. They can cause fever and even jaundice and are often removed along with the gallbladder itself through keyhole surgery.
Seeking specialist advice is the best thing you can do if you have been suffering from gut problems, a trained gastroenterologist will be able to give you tailored dietary advice and make the right recommendations that can see vast improvements to your health and well-being.