Healthy digestion creates a strong immunity.
By Jordan Hoffman, L.Ac
Most of what afflicts young children is related to immune function and digestion: colds and the flu, ear aches, belly aches, allergies, asthma and eczema. And since both Western and Chinese medicine agree that the strength of the immune system stems from the health of the digestive system, ultimately it is all about digestion. We are certainly born with some pre-disposing factors that can influence our health, but it is diet and lifestyle that can act as the trigger in most cases.
Starting as infants, our ability to grow and be healthy starts with our ability to digest breast milk and then solid food. It is in our bellies that we extract nutrients from food to boost our energy, to build our blood and to strengthen our immune system. At any time, if we overfeed, overeat, or make poor food choices, our health will suffer and our ability to fight off infections will be compromised.
Healthy digestion = Strong Immunity
Poor Digestion = Weak Immunity
The first step in all treatment is to look at food choices and eliminate the offending agents. Sometimes that is all that is necessary. I had one of my patients get her 2-year-old off all dairy and, within 2 weeks, his eczema cleared up by 80%! And that was before giving him any herbs or other treatment!
Food is often the first to harm just as it is the first to help. So the next time your child catches a cold, trace back 1-2 days and see if he had loose bowel movements. Chances are that just before that he was given some poor food choices like too much sugar, dairy, or even a new solid food.
Here are some broad dietary guidelines to follow with your kids (and even for yourself):
• ZERO dairy: loads of bacteria/viruses in one teaspoon; scientifically linked to numerous diseases; mucus producing
• Minimize ALL sugars: sugar is food for ALL infection; no more than 2 pieces per day and no fruit juice: all the sugar (equal to a can of Coke) and none of the fiber that the fruit offers
• Eat cooked food at warm temperatures: cold foods injure digestion; raw veggies are hard to digest
• Drink plenty of water, never iced
• Grains and complex carbs: Congee, or rice porridge, is easy to digest and can be prepared in various medicinal ways;
• Small amounts of animal protein
My goal in working with parents is to help them simplify and focus on the most important changes in their kids’ diets so that they may see immediate results and their kid may quickly feel better. Nothing pleases me more than to see children be exuberant and unencumbered by health imbalances. They are resilient, magical little beings that when given the chance can exude boundless and healthy vitality.
Jordan Hoffman, L.Ac., Dipl. OM is a California Licensed Acupuncturist and Nationally Board Certified Herbalist. He maintains his clinical practice in West Los Angeles and Reseda.