Want your (born or unborn) child to live a long and healthy life? Studies show that we are living longer year after year (with one little backward blip last year because of our collective obesity issues). The frightening (at first) fact is that much of your child’s genetic makeup (and therefore, inheritance of disease or illness genes) is set when your mother was in HER MOTHER’S uterus.
Here is what you need to know if you are pregnant…much of the health of that infant is pre-set because the genes that will express themselves for her entire life were assembled in your grandmother. Got that? The egg that became your daughter was made while your mother was in utero, forming her ovaries. So, depending upon the environment available to your grandmother while she was preggers (war? ration? factory worker? poverty? mental depression?) much can be predicted about her health.
Do not freak out! The good news is that we have a massive impact on the outcome of these genes and whether they are turned on and off. The long term implications of this are that, if you are pregnant, you are making your grandchild right now, not just your child. It’s like that other children’s song, “there’s a bump on a log, in a hole, in the bottom of the sea”.
But the good news is that there is a lot that you can do at any point, at any stage along any life that will have the impact of turning those bad genes on or off! And those things are simple, they are managing stress and food.
There is strong evidence now that the environment that a child grows up in has direct impact on the formation of his brain. That environment actually hardwires behaviors that the child uses to cope. This, in turn, can predict how much stress he will feel later in his life. Here are two easy things that you can do that will have a positive impact on your child’s health.
1. Finding a way to deal with your own stress…sing, chant, pray, laugh
2. Express yourself. Even negative emotions have to come out in a constructive way.
Doing both for yourself will help you with your stress. It will also lay the groundwork for your child to learn how to handle his or her own stress. This skill is a huge predictor of lifelong health.
The secrets lie in the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. This is why parents need to be sure to raiser veggie lovers. More pressure, I know but sing chant, pray, laugh and get on with it.
The highest nutrient fruits are berries and the highest nutrient vegetables are dark leafy greens so let’s find a way to get both into our children daily. The berries should be easy, most kids like fruit and all like milkshakes or smoothies which can hide a cornucopia of nutrients. Frozen berries are fine and 5 or 6 is all it takes to get a full serving into a little one.
The dark leafy greens, I will admit, are a tougher sell. Especially after the age of 2, kids can turn up their noses at anything green. Broccoli is the most popular vegetable available and it is a good one but spinach, kale and collard greens are even better. The key with these veggies is to remember that they cook down quickly so one teaspoon of cooked or pureed spinach is like a cup or so consumed. Soup is a great way to start. Simply chopping some greens into their favorite soup and letting the greens cook through works wonders. Oh, sure, they may push it aside or leave it in the bowl but the greens have left some of their goodness in the broth. And the mere sight of them has shown your commitment to the child. You just can’t give up.
If you are already in the place of “nothing green, ever!” start with herbs. Growing some mint, parsley or basil on the window sill is a good (and tasty!) project. A child who has invested some time into the planting and watering is more likely to try the fruit of their own labor. And, when they do, they will find that green stuff tastes good! Putting one foot in front of the other will guide them down the foliage lane that you want them on. I know it isn’t as easy as singing, chanting or praying, but it is worth every effort to give your child everything she needs to grow and live a long and healthy life.
Spinach and Apple Soup
A couple of tablespoons of this soup adds a whole lot of nutrients into any meal. Great as an adult appetizer soup, simply swirl some yogurt in or add a tablespoon of parmesan cheese.
Recipe By:Theresa Albert, DHN, RNCP
Serving Size: 4 adults
Preparation Time :0:15
- 1 tablespoons grape seed oil
- 1 onion — small, chopped
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (or rice flour)
- 2 1/2 cups Vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 pound baby spinach leaves
- 2 cups applesauce
- 1 pinch nutmeg
Warm a large pot, add oil and cook the onion until soft.
Stir the flour into a cup of broth and set aside. Add the remaining stock to the onions, stir well and bring to a boil. Whisk in flour/stock into the broth and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the spinach, applesauce and nutmeg and cook 5 minutes. Use a puree wand to make a smooth soup or leave chunky.