How Can Functional Medicine Help With Children’s Health?
Read below how Functional Medicine can help with Children’s Health
Children's Health & Functional Medicine
The foundation of good health is laid during childhood, yet more and more children in the UK are developing chronic diseases. Children have unique nutritional needs as they are developing and growing.
If you’re concerned about your child’s health, you’re not alone. Parents commonly worry about childhood immunity, cognitive development or behaviour.
- Recurrent Infections and Allergies
If your child picks up infection after infection, particularly ear or sinus infections and seems to take longer than expected to recover from them, it’s a sign their immune system is struggling. Gut health is closely linked with immune health, with bacteria living in the gut interacting with immune cells. So the number one priority when supporting the immune system is nurturing gut health.
Children start life with a unique population of gut bacteria inherited from their mother. These bacteria support health in numerous ways. This bacterial ecosystem is then shaped by your child’s diet and lifestyle. Any childhood doses of antibiotics will deplete the healthy bacteria in their gut, while picky eaters who shun fruit and vegetables and prefer sugary treats aren’t feeding their healthy microbes. If this happens unhealthy, opportunistic strains of bacteria take over, adversely affecting immune health.
The immune system needs its own set of nutrients to function well, including vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc. Stress, including changing routines and exams, as well as spending a lot of time indoors, can deplete the immune system.
- Brain Development
Children’s brains develop at an amazing rate in early childhood, setting the stage for the rest of the child’s life. This growth is dependent on a good availability of certain nutrients such as Omega 3 fats, iron and zinc.
One concern is the impact of screen time on developing brains. MRI scans have revealed significant differences in the brains of children who are heavy screen users. Even children spending just two hours on screens per day scored less well on thinking and language tests. With homeschooling the norm at times children are spending more and more time online.
Good sleep is crucial for brain development, and sleep quality is impaired by screen time late at night.
- Behavioural Issues
The incidence of autism and ADHD are on the rise, and with them our understanding of how diet, lifestyle and environment can affect children’s behaviour. For example, zinc and magnesium deficiencies have both been found to be connected with poor attention span and hyperactivity. Children with zinc deficiency can crave sweet and salty foods, generally packed with additives. A high toxic load from a wide range of environmental chemicals has been found to contribute to behavioural issues.
Other commonly-encountered children’s health issues include digestive issues, headaches, poor skin health and sleeping problems. Maintaining a healthy weight for their child is also a concern for many parents, with over one-fifth of UK children now obese by the time they’re eleven and some children developing eating disorders as young as six years old.
Testing For Children’s Health Issues
Functional medicine is interested in finding out the root causes of your child’s health issues and looks at your child as a whole person. Functional tests can reveal imbalances in the body contributing to their symptoms. Testing can evaluate food sensitivities, nutritional status, imbalances in the microbiome, immune function and toxin exposure.
Functional Medicine Approach to Children’s Health
If you’re tired of seeing your child suffer from frequent or chronic illnesses, you’re concerned about behavioural issues or you simply want to support your child’s immunity and general health by natural means, functional medicine can help.
During a consultation, your practitioner will discuss your concerns, spending time with you and your child to evaluate their health and medical history, along with any genetic influences and lifestyle factors increasing their risk of chronic disease. Working together, a personalised nutritional plan will be constructed for your child, with dietary and lifestyle modifications to maximise health by addressing the underlying cause of their symptoms.
We can help your child to thrive on their journey through life.