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Family Health

Winter immunity and vitality

Winter – and all the sniffles and coughs that go with it – make their appearance as regular as clockwork. The good news is that there is so much you can do to keep the worst of it at bay, for the whole family. Here’s your toolkit to ensure improved immunity and glowing vitality:

Your baby’s health

By breastfeeding your baby for as long as possible, and feeding whenever your baby is hungry, not according to a schedule, you could help to prevent or alleviate allergies, colds, and a range of typical winter infections. This doesn’t mean breastfed babies will never get sick, but when they do, the illness is often shorter and less severe. You’re investing in health for the whole family this way as there will be less spreading of viral and bacterial infections, and future health prospects are brighter, so this is a long term health plan!

There are five other ways to build your baby’s immunity:

1.       Massage your baby. Research has shown that therapeutic massage strengthens resistance to illness.

2.       Only introduce solids after six months, and offerfruits and yellow vegetables as Baby’s first foods.

3.       One-on-one care in the early years (from a trusted, trained nanny or a loving granny, for example) is often a good solution if day care seems to be causing frequent illness.

4.       Give your baby lots of extra love and attention.

5.       Only give a natural immunity supplement as this will ensure that there are no side effects which might compromise your little one’s health.

Out-of-the-box family immunity tips

Regularly tap into the power of Mother Nature by going for a walk, sitting alongside a river, or game and bird watching – being in nature helps de-stress one and that is a good investment in health. Happiness is also important for health – embrace family and friends, and appreciate the little things in life.

Don’t hand over all responsibility for your family’s health and read up about natural health therapies too.The primary natural preventative health approach is your approach to food and eating. Apply these principles, and food will become your family’s natural link to a strong immune system:

·         Eat simple, wholesome, fresh foods and reduce the amount of animal fats, proteins and harmful additives in your diet

·         Eat with gratitude and acknowledge the nurturing value of food

·         Buy organic food whenever possible

·         Include fresh produce from all of nature’s colour groups

·         As winter approaches, feed your family plenty of fruit, dates, fresh coconut, pure honey and nuts – all known to improve immunity.

Mucus is the root of many winter evils

All mucus membranes are coated with a light layer of mucus to keep them moist and healthy. Excess mucus productionis however an excellent medium for growth of organisms that may cause disease. This can occur due to poor resistance in winter but even more commonly, due to certain hearty winter foods and irritation by cold, dry air. The foods that are considered winter warmers like breads, pastas, pizzas and other grain products as well as dairy based dishes promote mucus production in many children. Foods with preservatives, colourants and flavour enhancers can also cause excess mucus and they are included in many typical winter treats.Rather prepare satisfying homemade soups, sweet potato, butternut, carrot and rice dishes in cold weather. Increase winter fruits considerably and offer warm herbal teas in moderate quantities for thirst quenching. If anyone in the family comes down with blocked nose, a sore throat or sinus congestion, give a natural remedy to nip it in the bud.

Period problems – solved!

Menstruation – the one week a month we love to hate, and yet, something we have to come to grips with … Read up more on what it is, how to combat PMS and some common menstruation problems.

The menstrual cycle is about more than just your period – it’s actually a regular series of changes that occur in your body to prepare you for pregnancy. If you don’t conceive, the lining of the womb is shed, resulting in menstruation – your period. A young girl’s first period (menstruation) usually occurs between the ages of 10 and 16 years, and these cycles continue until the end of her fertile life.

Because women’s cycles vary so much and are affected by so many different factors, it is difficult to define ‘normal’ menstruation. These are some common problems women experience with their periods:

“I’m so moody!”

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, refers to the symptoms some women experience in the week or two before their period starts. These symptoms last until the end of menstruation, and include irritability, anxiety, depression, mood swings, tiredness, hot flushes, breast tenderness and abdominal discomfort. Sound familiar? For about 5% of women, these symptoms are so severe that they can’t manage their day-to-day lives. Hormonal imbalances, an unhealthy lifestyle, stress and unresolved emotional issues all effect PMS.

A healthy diet with a limited intake of caffeine and sugar, regular exercise and taking some time to relax will improve PMS for most women. Women will need extra TLC over this time, so talk to your partner and family members. You may want to look into natural progesterone therapy too, as this can also help quite a bit.

“I get such bad menstrual pain that I can barely function.”

This is a condition known as dysmenorrhea.You could also have symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, and the pain may reach all the way to your lower back, legs and vulva. Dysmenorrhea can be divided into two categories:

1.       Primary dysmenorrhea is pain without any underlying cause, and is especially common in younger girls. It is medically treated with oral contraceptives and pain medication, but the tissue salt Mag phos offers excellent natural help too.

2.       Secondary dysmenorrheais more common amongst older women and is caused by an underlying condition like endometriosis or uterine fibroids.

Try these safe and natural tips to relieve pain:

·         Eat foods rich in magnesium like beans, lentils, bananas and dark chocolate.

·         Eat more cold-water fish like salmon, as the omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and menstrual cramps.

·         Exercise regularly – yoga especially can promote pelvic circulation.

·         Chamomile is especially effective for dysmenorrhea when it’s accompanied by diarrhoea, bloating, anxiety and irritability.

·         Try drinking a ginger root infusion.

·         Take hot baths with relaxing essential oils like sandalwood, rose and lavender.

“I’ve stopped getting my periods.”

This is known as amenorrhea, and is considered quite normal in teenage girls up until 16 years, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, while using certain contraceptives and after menopause. Many women occasionally skip their periods during times of stress, travel or minor illness, but amenorrhea that lasts three months or longer may be a sign of a medical problem. It can also occur due to excessive exercise and in people who have anorexia, and can have long-term negative effects on fertility.

“I have really heavy periods.”

If you need to change your tampon or pad every 1–2 hours, you may have menorrhagia. This can be linked to problems like uterine fibroids and polyps, although often no cause is found. Apart from the discomfort, the most important complication of menorrhagia is iron-deficiency anaemia caused by the blood loss, and you may need iron supplements. Make sure to reduce environmental causes of oestrogen imbalance too. Hormonal treatment and pain medications are often prescribed, and in severe cases a hysterectomy may be necessary.

“I have irregular periods.”

On average, the menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. Some women get their periods after 35 days or longer (known as oligomenorrhoea), while other women get their periods every 21 days or less (known as polymenorrhoea). Some women experienceirregular menstruation, where there are wide variations in cycle lengths. Spotting or bleeding in-between menstrual periods may also occur. This may be a normal side-effect of certain contraceptives, but consult your doctor if it continues.

The following types of bleeding are abnormal and should be reported to your doctor or clinic:

·         Post-coital bleeding– vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse

·         Postmenopausal bleeding– bleeding 12 months or more after you’ve reached menopause

Calcium Really Counts

 

Did you know that women absorb calcium better during pregnancy than when not pregnant? Even outside of pregnancy, calcium is one of the body’s most important and abundant minerals, forming 2% of a person’s body weight. Although mostly associated with promoting healthy bones, calcium is used by almost every cell in the body and is essential for regulating muscle contractions, nerve impulse signalling, hormonal release, heartbeat, and blood coagulation, to name just a few. Pregnant women have increased calcium needs in order to accommodate Baby’s developing skeletal and dental structure. Occasionally, some women develop temporary osteoporosis or bone loss during pregnancy – teenage mothers in particular may need to be monitored for this.

Don’t forget about vitamin D! Without it, the body can’t absorb or utilise calcium properly. Dietary sources are limited – tuna, salmon, and egg yolks – and the best approach is to spend 15–30 minutes soaking up some sun two or three times a week, to trigger the body’s internal vitamin D production. There are also seaweed and algae extracts that assist the body with the manufacture of this very important vitamin.

Busting the milk myth

It would seem that there is logic behind the belief that cow’s milk is important for women in pregnancy and while nursing a baby, because it contains calcium, which is a vital nutrient at these times.

The untruth in the milk myth lies in the milk itself: although dairy products are high in calcium, they are not the best sources and, if eaten in excess, can leach calcium from the bones instead. In fact, dairy’s negative effects may outweigh its positive elements, as its high cholesterol and fat content increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, and it is linked to breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer, diabetes, excessive mucus production, and skin conditions – especially in infants.

Healthier dietary sources of calcium than dairy include leafy green vegetables (broccoli, kale, and Chinese cabbage), tofu, some forms of seaweed, sesame seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, salmon and sardines, carrots and green peas. If you opt for dairy products, stick to good quality, plain yoghurt, as it is easier to digest than milk and contains a form of calcium which is easier to absorb.

Calcium supplementation

Ideally, all nutrients should be provided by a healthy and balanced diet; however, with the increased need for calcium and other key minerals during pregnancy and the challenge of getting the recommended daily intake, it is often necessary for supplementation. Calcium supplements can be very beneficial during pregnancy, and research has shown that they can decrease the risk of pre-term delivery, hypertension, and pre-eclampsia.

Take into account though that in tablets or capsules which have high doses of both iron and calcium, neither nutrient is absorbed optimally. Pregnancy supplements tend to skimp a bit on calcium in favour of iron, so women might need to take an extra calcium supplement along with their pregnancy supplement. In addition, make sure that your supplemental intake of minerals is not excessive by taking more than one at a time.

During breastfeeding, the body’s need for nutrients such as calcium, zinc, selenium, B-vitamins and vitamin C increases even more than during pregnancy, so continue with your calcium supplement after birth. The recommended daily calcium dose is 1,000mg for pregnant or breastfeeding women

 

Comprehending croup

Croup is a common childhood disease that often strikes during the late autumn and early winter months. It’s a respiratory tract illness that’s best known for causing a sudden onset of barking cough and breathing difficulty in the middle of the night, in a child who was seemingly healthy at bedtime.

The name originates from the 18th century word ‘croup’, which meant ‘to cry hoarsely’. It occurs due to inflammation and swelling of those important airway structures, the larynx, trachea and occasionally the bronchi. Croup mainly affects babies and toddlers between the ages of six months and three years, although it can occur in older children. It is more common in boys, and anxious or excitable children.

Before 1826, diphtheria was the only known cause of croup. In 1826, viral croup was identified, which the French then called ‘faux-croup’, as the word ‘croup’ referred to diphtheritic croup. Croup due to diphtheria is now nearly unknown.

What causes croup?

Croup can be due to an infection or spasmodic in nature. Influenza viruses are the most common cause of infectious croup, although viruses like adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus and rhinovirus may also be the culprits. These viruses are spread through inhalation or direct contact with respiratory secretions, or from direct contact with contaminated items.The infected areas of the larynx and trachea swell, after which the infection starts to spread. Because this area is the narrowest part of a small child’s airway, swelling can significantly reduce air flow. There is usually a gradual onset of fever.

In spasmodic croup swelling occurs without inflammation. Although a viral illness could trigger this, the swelling is usually in response to an allergen. Spasmodic croup tends to recur in a susceptible child, which is why it’s known as ‘recurrent croup’. There is often a hereditary element to spasmodic croup, it’s often accompanied by reflux symptoms, and it’s unusual for the child to have a fever.

The inflammation and swelling partially obstruct the airway, resulting in a barking cough, hoarseness, wheezing, noisy or difficult breathing, blueness of lips and fingernails, and the chest pulls in as it uses accessory muscles to aid breathing. Croup symptoms can range from fairly mild to severe. Warning signs of severe illness include abnormally rapid breathing and heart rate, floppy muscles, lethargy and blue tinges to skin and nails.

Home and medical treatment and outcomes

A croup attack is as frightening and upsetting to the parents as it is to their child. These five tips for at-home care will help you:

  1. Carefully observe your child for warning signs of breathing distress, and seek medical attention if necessary, or if the symptoms do not resolve fairly quickly.
  2. Anxiety and persistent crying increase airway demands, so try to keep your child as calm as possible.
  3. The soothing vapours of eucalyptus oil can help disinfect and open the airways – add a few drops to your child’s bathwater or a humidifier.
  4. Self-help homeopathic remedies for cough, mucus and inflammation can help treat mild croup symptoms and relieve anxiety.
  5. Massage your child’s upper back between the shoulder blade and spine on both sides – this will stimulate acupoints to support lung function and boost immunity.

Medically, croup is treated with steroids to reduce swelling, and nebulisation may be recommended – this can quick relief which lasts for up to two hours. However, the child needs to be carefully watched for at least three hours after an inhalation, as it could lead to a rebound airway spasm, which will make symptoms worse. Symptoms can last for up to two weeks, although they usually improve within three to seven days. Complications are rare, but include secondary bacterial infections. Children may struggle to drink enough fluid while they feel ill, so you’ll have to encourage frequent intake of small amounts throughout the day and night.

Moist air for croup

A common home treatment for croup is to fill a room with warm, moist air by running a hot bath or shower, or by boiling a kettle. Despite controversy in current research on whether this method is effective, many parents report that it helps to relieve their children’s symptoms when the prevailing climate is cold and dry. Care should be taken to avoid burning and scalding.

Frequently asked fertility questions – answered!

How can I work out when I’m ovulating?

Ovulation, the most likely time to fall pregnant, usually occurs close to mid-cycle. In an average 28 day cycle, where Day 1 is the first day of your menstrual period, you would mostly ovulate on about Day 14. This is not always exact, so look out for other signs of ovulation like increased vaginal discharge or abdominal pain.

How long will it take me to fall pregnant?

If you have not conceived within six to 12 months of trying, you should see your gynaecologist for a general check, or go for a fertility assessment with your partner.

Why am I taking so long to fall pregnant?

There are many factors that influence fertility. These include:

·         Age – fertility declines from 35 years

·         Cysts and fibroids (see page 8) in a woman’s reproductive organs

·         Conditions like endometriosis (see page 7)

·         Emotional factors – generally, women are perfectionistic and extremely time-management aware have greater difficulty falling pregnant

Which lifestyle changes can I make to improve my fertility?

·         Relax! Take a homeopathic remedy to help ease stress.

·         Eat organic produce, avoid medicated animal foods, and choose cosmetic products that don’t have an oestrogenic effect.

·         Avoid smoking, excessive caffeine, chronic medication (as far as possible), drugs and excessive alcohol intake.

·         Do regular exercise (yoga is especially good), and keep your weight in healthy ranges.

·         Improve your diet drastically: eat at least 10 portions of fruit or vegetables daily; eat less meat; avoid fast foods, sodas, additives and preservatives and eat a low-GI diet.

What can men do to improve fertility?

·         Prevent the over-heating of testicles by avoiding tight underwear and very hot baths

·         Avoid alcohol, as it can affect the delicate testicular tubes that carry the semen, as well as sperm quality

·         Stop smoking – tobacco can destroy the sperm post production

·         Avoid recreational and muscle-building drugs at all costs

·         Get regular, moderate exercise 

What to do about fever, earache and croup at night

Baby has been crying constantly, it’s the middle of the night, and you wonder if there’s something seriously wrong – should you go to the hospital? This is a difficult call to make because illnesses always appear worse at night, and not all illnesses require urgent medical attention. Here’s a quick guide to what you can do for three conditions which commonly strike at night – and when to call in help:

Fever

Normal body temperature is 36-37° Celsius – don’t guess, measure! If Baby’s fever climbs quickly, measure it frequently and if it reaches 38.5° Celsius and the measures below don’t help, you should seek medical help.

·         Strip Baby to his nappy and vest, and put cool cloths on his forehead, arms, legs, and the back of his neck

·         Cool the room with an electric fan

·         Bath him in lukewarm water

·         Give the tissue salt Ferrum phos and a homeopathic fever remedy

·         If you have used fever medication before, give some according to dosage instructions

Go to the emergency room if Baby has seizures, a dark red or purple rash develops, or Baby is very listless.

Earache

This may be related to an infection, though sometimes it could be due to congestion of the upper airway mucous membranes, or to teething troubles.

·         Let Baby sleep upright against your chest to relieve pressure

·         Give homeopathic earache remedies

·         Put a covered hot water bottle under the affected ear

·         Breastfeed often to help fight infection

·         Don’t bottle feed with Baby lying flat

See a doctor if Baby is very distressed, his fever is high, or the homeopathic remedies haven’t provided relief by the next evening.

Croup

Baby’s vocal cords become inflamed and swell, making Baby wheeze and go blue around the mouth. It can be accompanied by a cough.

·         Humidify the room and steam it with a non-automatic kettle to ease breathing

·         Dab a few drops of eucalyptus oil on Baby’s bedding

·         Make sure Baby is warm, but not overheated

·         Give homeopathic Croup or cough remedies and rub vaporiser on Baby’s chest (if he’s not allergic)

·         Add a capful of friar’s balsam to a bowl of boiling water and steam Baby over it – be careful of burning!

Get medical help immediately if Baby’s breathing gets progressively worse or his lips and fingers turn blue. 

 

Bladder infections - the nitty gritty details

Did you know that at least 56% of women will have a urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime, and for many these often recur? The most common UTI is an infection of the bladder.

Although urine itself is sterile, the proximity of the urethra to the anus means that harmful bacteria can easily reach the bladder. Various factors also predispose a woman to bladder infections. These include sexual intercourse, a vaginal infection, the use of certain contraceptives and the use of antibiotics (as these cause bacterial imbalances in the vagina and gastrointestinal tract).

Common symptoms of a bladder infection include frequent, painful urination; pressure and pain over the bladder area; a slight fever; urine that smells strongly of fish or ammonia; a bloody vaginal discharge and lower back pain.

How to get rid of a bladder infection

It’s important to clear up your bladder infection, as it could spread to a kidney infection if left untreated. The bad news is that antibiotic therapy is not always very effective. The good news is that there are many self-treatment tips:

·         Drink enough water (about six to eight glasses daily)

·         Drink three cups of unsweetened cranberry juice or cranberry tea every day

·         Prepare a topical rinse to use after going to the loo; steep 7g dried calendula blossoms, 4g dried lavender blossoms and 3g dried thyme leaves in 1litre of boiling water for 30 minutes

·         Homeopathic remedies with active ingredients like Berberis, Petrisolenium and Cantharis often help

·         Use the homeopathic tissue salt Ferrum phos for burning pain, and Nat phos to balance your body’s acidity

·         Avoid bath oils, soaps and foams, and use an appropriate intimate wash for your genital area, but do not douche

·         Wear cotton underwear and avoid synthetic fabrics and very tight panties and trousers

·         Avoid sexual intercourse while the infection is being treated

·         If you do have sexual intercourse, pass urine afterwards

·         If it burns when you urinate, take medication to neutralise the acidity of your urine

Endometriosis - what women need to know

This is one of those lifestyle-related conditions that plague many women. Often, women themselves hold the key to alleviation.

Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, known as the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus, in places like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder and pelvic side walls. This tissue also responds to hormonal changes, multiplying and shedding during a woman’s menstrual period, causing inflammation and pain. It can also form scars and lead to dysfunction of the affected sites.

Although the cause is not yet understood, risk factors include:

·         A family history of endometriosis

·         Early onset of menstruation (before 12 years)

·         Previous intrauterine device use or uterine scrapes

·         A diet high in fats or fried foods

·         Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals

Endometriosis is exacerbated by a stressful lifestyle, so women should remember to pay heed to their emotions, and should try not to fall prey to any undue stress. Stress management techniques could also help greatly.

Signs and symptoms

Some women are asymptomatic, but common symptoms include pelvic and abdominal pain, abnormal menstrual cycles, nausea, vomiting, bladder problems, frequent infections, lethargy and insomnia. It is also associated with up to 25% of cases of infertility. The diagnosis is usually confirmed through a laparoscopy. Factors that reduce a woman’s risk are previous full term pregnancies, breastfeeding, a low intake of caffeine and alcohol, and physical exercise.

How is endometriosis treated?

The treatment of endometriosis depends on the severity of the disease, and whether the woman still wants to have children. Unfortunately, the recurrence rate of symptoms for conventional treatment approaches is very high (20–50%). Medically, it is treated with hormones that act on the pituitary gland to make the woman temporarily menopausal, which stops the hormonal stimulation of the endometrial tissues. This suppresses the symptoms, but doesn’t treat the condition.  Surgical treatment is used to either remove the affected tissue, or do a hysterectomy, which includes the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries.

If you have endometriosis, it is worthwhile to pay a visit to a qualified herbalist or homeopath. Their natural treatments focus on finding safe and alternative symptomatic pain relief, a reduction of inflammation, prevention and treatment of recurrent vaginal and pelvic infections, stress relief and support of overall immune function. Fatty foods stimulate oestrogen production, and can indirectly stimulate endometriosis. Rather follow a diet that is rich in balanced whole foods, low in fatty foods and completely dairy free – even doing this for as little as one month may help. Focus on stress reduction techniques and get regular exercise. A full-body massage at least every other week for a minimum period of two months will also bring relief for many.

Preventing and treating eczema and other skin rashes

Does your little one have a skin rash? The most common skin rash in little ones is eczema, which has two types. Atopic eczema is the most common type of eczema and produces red and often dry and scaly skin patches mostly on the face, neck, hands, in the creases of the limbs, and over the genital area. Seborrheic eczema is often related to cradle cap in babies and produces thickened, sticky-moist skin patches.

When treating eczema and rashes, it’s important to remember that they can be caused by both internal and external triggers. Whatever type of allergic skin condition, eczema, nappy rash, or itchy skin your little one has, these tips should help.

Preventing rashes

Skin rashes are often caused by food, so you may need to make the following changes to your tot’s diet

·         Avoid allergenic dairy and grain products and foods which are known to impact skin health, like shellfish, non-organic peanuts, eggs, and ‘fast foods’

·         Reduce sugary foods and refined carbohydrate foods like pasta and pizza

·         Increase naturally fatty foods like dates, avocado, nuts, seeds, sardines, and salmon

·         Add essential fatty acids like flaxseed or linseed oil to your tot’s diet

Rashes can also be caused by things that Baby’s skin comes into contact with, so try to use only gentle – and preferably organic – brands of Baby soaps, skin lotions, and clothing detergents. You may need to change yours too, because Baby comes into contact with your skin and clothing all the time!

Treating rashes

Whether the eczema or rashes are caused by Baby’s diet or external factors, these are usually effective methods of treating them:

·         Keep your little one’s fingernails short and clean to avoid infections from scratching

·         Add a pot of rooibos tea to bathwater to soothe affected areas

·         Apply diluted tea tree oil to the affected area

·         Use zinc-based sprays and creams – zinc has skin healing properties which have been recognised for thousands of years!

·         Make all-purpose wash lotion and cream by taking two rooibos tea bags, adding a teaspoon of boiling water to each, placing the tea bags in a tub of good quality aqueous cream containing minimal additives and no colourants or perfumes, letting them sit for a while, and then stirring up the cream to stain the cream with rooibos essence

If making changes to Baby’s milk or diet and following the skincare tips provided don’t work, you may need to see a dermatologist or paediatrician. Don’t be too quick to go the medical route though; often it truly is the simple steps that can have the most profoundly positive effects

Where body and soul meet

Diets and exercise plans are so yesterday! And yet, good nutrition and physical activity are the fundamentals that shape mind and body health. Contrary to popular opinion, it can be easy to eat well and be fit as a fiddle.

There are a number of innovative guidelines that truly do make a positive, long term difference.  Try these tips to up your nutritional health plan:

Ø  Respect the individuality of taste buds – not all foods suit all people

Ø  Try to have a light breakfast, your main meal at lunch and a medium supper

Ø  Sip hot water each morning and evening

Ø  Breakfast can be a fruit only meal with very good results for health

Ø  Snack on fruit until the main meal at lunch

Ø  Good mood of the cook and at mealtimes is an important part of nutrition

You are what, and how, you eat

Gradually introduce as many of these tips as possible and you are guaranteed to feel on top of the world. What’s more, everyone will be able to tell that something is different, and that this something is showing you off at your best. Cultivate these mealtime habits:

Ø  Be seated when eating so that your body can concentrate on digestion – take time to enjoy the experience the meal and you will be less likely to experience cravings.

Ø  Don’t eat too quickly – digestion starts in the mouth and chewing food well optimises the process.

Ø  Avoid ice cold drinks at mealtimes – enzyme activity is a type of chemical heating process which is affected by very cold beverages.

Ø  Drink little at mealtimes – so as not to dilute digestive juices and to allow them to optimally work on the food you have just eaten.

Ø  Don’t skip meals on a regular basis unless fasting under medical care – the human body is designed to eat two to three times daily, or snack healthily more regularly, for stability of many functions.

Ø  Eat to comfort levels and avoid over-eating – and always wait for 15 – 20 minutes before taking second helpings as often the brain takes a while to register that the tummy is full and that you are in fact not hungry!

Four common sense food tips

1.       Avoid leftovers as freshly prepared food is the healthiest

2.       Don’t eat when you feel that your last food is not yet fully digested

3.       Cut down on animal fats and proteins and increase fresh fruit and vegetables

4.       Minimise processed and saturated fatty foods

Three top tips to win the battle of the bulge

1.       When craving sweets, first eat two fresh dates – you will happily do without that chocolate!

2.       Replace supper with nutritious, chunky soup two or three times a week – you can even have seconds, but no bread allowed!

3.       Have a grapefruit or freshly squeezed grapefruit juice an hour after a main meal

Movement therapy

One woman’s curse is another’s delight, when it comes to exercise. Most important is to know that regular physical activity releases relaxing hormones, the magical ingredient in true health.  Simply get started and before you know it, you will reap the rewards and be able to do more – and enjoy it!

The trick with exercise is to find what you enjoy. Not everyone likes to do a gym workout, or run for miles. Regular participation in activities like yoga, dance, walking, swimming, hula hooping, trampoline jumping and tennis, are just as valuable. Here are a few important pointers to bear in mind:

Ø  Prioritise time for your activity of choice and don’t deviate too often.

Ø  Mix up your warm and cold weather activities to suit.

Ø  Never do exercise just before or after a meal.

Ø  Yoga is one of the best exercise types for you for mind-body balance.

Ø  Avoid competitive sport if you are feeling out of control, excessively angry or fatigued.

Ø  If your endurance is naturally good, do some exercise that requires greater strength and perseverance.

Shaken baby syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a form of child abuse that occurs when a baby's brain or eyes are injured because he was shaken to such an extent that his brain bounced back and forth against his skull. SBS usually occurs in babies younger than two years, but has been seen in children up to the age of five years.

Rest assured that gentle bouncing, playful swinging, tossing Baby in the air and jogging with Baby will not cause SBS.

The symptoms of SBS include extreme irritability, lethargy and listlessness, poor feeding, difficulty breathing, convolsions, and pale or bluish skin. Nearly all victims of SBS suffer serious health consequences like blindness and cerebral palsy, and approximately one in every four babies with SBS will die. Most infants that survive SBS will require lifelong medical care.

How to preventSBS

If you become so stressed that you think you may hurt your baby, take a deep breath, place Baby somewhere safe, like in his crib, and leave the room. If possible, try calling someone youu trust to watch Baby while you calm down. Take a safe homeopathic remedy for anxiety, and seek professional counselling, or book a telephone consultation with Sister Lilian. Also, choose your baby's caregivers carefully, and if you suspect someone may be abusing your baby, never ignore your instincts!

If you suspect your child has SBS, take him or her to a hospital or clinic immediately.

Snotty noses sorted – not snorted!

Wiping snotty noses – it’s simply part of being a mom. But what does all the mucus mean? Is it allergies, sinus, or something worse which requires medical attention? Sister Lilian’s mucus guide (that’s probably something you never thought you’d read before becoming a parent…) will help you to identify and treat the different mucus niggles which affect babies, toddlers and even adults!

First of all, mucus is not a bad thing. Mucus membranes form an ‘internal skin’ which lines all hollow organs and passages. When a foreign or allergenic substance irritates the mucus membranes, they produce extra mucus to cover the substance and help the body to expel it (gesundheit). However, excess mucus is also a great environment for the growth of organisms which may cause infections.

Here are four common types of mucus and how to treat them:

·         Clear, frothy, watery mucus – usually accompanied by sneezing. It’s often related to acute and short-lived bouts of allergy, and all the mucus and the nose-wiping often makes Baby’s nose red and painful. Treat with the tissue salt remedy Nat mur #9.

·         Thick, whitish grey, sluggish mucus – usually linked to a family history of sinus congestion. Because the upper airways are clogged, Baby may often suffer from constant blocked nose, noisy breathing and may be more prone to bronchitis or croup. Treat with the tissue salt remedy Kali mur #5.

·          Yellow, sticky or slimy mucus – usually linked to a simultaneous family history of skin rashes and eczema. Treat with the tissue salt remedy Kali sulph #7.

·         Green, lumpy mucus – may be a sign of infection if accompanied by a raised temperature. This may prove slow to respond to medical treatment. Treat with the tissue salt remedy Calc sulph #3.

It’s normal for newborns to splutter a little and sneeze a lot; they’re simply clearing the amniotic fluid and accumulated mucus from their airways. Your early breast milk, colostrum, helps to break down this mucus so that it can be expelled in this way, and congestion should clear quickly by itself. You can get Baby to sneeze by tickling his nose with a tissue, or putting a drop of breast milk or saline in his nostrils.

Sister Lilian’s top ten tips for preventing excess mucus in tots

  1. Avoid allergen foods like dairy, grains, shellfish, peanuts, soya, and eggs during pregnancy
  2. Breastfeed babies as long as possible
  3. Reduce dairy and grain products in a breastfeeding mom’s diet
  4. Avoid giving baby cereals as a first food
  5. Use home cook fresh veggies, or organic bottled baby food
  6. Use organic produce in the home
  7. Avoid grain products in baby’s diet until well after a year
  8. Avoid smoking around children and during pregnancy
  9. Avoid processed foods, colourants, and preservatives
  10. Give baby homeopathic remedies for mucus

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