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Holistic Tips For A Successful School Year

By Lawrence Rosen, MD
 
kids_gardenAs summer rolls to autumn, parents in my practice each year ask me, “What can we do to keep our kids safe and healthy?”  I help them focus on these five holistic prescriptions for a successful start to the school year.
 
1. Rx Food: Perhaps the most important key to a healthy immune system is nutrition.  Provide your kids with a balance of colorful fruits and vegetables, rich in immune supporting antioxidants.  Real, unprocessed foods are the healthiest, free of artificial additives like sweeteners and dyes.  Don’t forget about liquids as well – drinking plenty of water keeps our urinary and digestive systems moving along, ridding the body of toxins that can get in the way of optimal health.
 
2. Unplug and Recharge: I always teach kids that their bodies heal best when they get plenty of rest.  Rest means sleep, yes – getting to bed with a good soothing routine to get at least 10 hours of sleep, but it also means finding time during the busy day to relax and recharge.  Put those electronic devices away at night for optimal rest.
 
3. Get outside and play: Exercise comes in many forms for kids.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, structured, scheduled time – sometimes just free time playing outside in nature is just what the doctor ordered.  More schools are doing away with recess; advocate for your kids and keep recess in schools.  Connecting with the natural world provides significant physical and emotional benefits.  Sunlight will provide plenty of vitamin D as well, an important preventive factor for immune health. 
 
4. Build the stress coping toolbox: We can’t eliminate stress entirely but we can help our kids cope with stress more effectively.  The anticipation of that first day of school and the first weeks often bring increased anxiety and can result in more complaints of headaches and stomachaches.  Encourage your child to learn yoga or develop other mind-body skills to help them deal with the stressful things that inevitably come their way.
 
5. Keep hands clean (naturally):  Not all germs are evil, but most kids get sick in public places from putting dirty hands in their mouths.  Encourage regular hand washing with simple soap and water, and if those are not readily available, make a cool DIY natural hand sanitizer for them to use on the go.  Avoid chemical, alcohol based sanitizers which can irritate the skin, lead to resistant germs and potentially harm the immune and hormone systems.  
 
 
dr_rosen_bio_pic_3-6-14Lawrence Rosen, MD is an integrative pediatrician and co-author of Treatment Alternatives for Children, an evidence-based guide for parents interested in natural solutions for common childhood ailments. He is the founder of one of the country’s first “green” pediatric practices, The Whole Child Center, in Oradell, NJ, and serves as Medical Advisor to the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center at HackensackUMC. Dr. Rosen is a founding member and Past Chair of the AAP Section on Integrative Medicine and is appointed as Clinical Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at Rutgers/New Jersey Medical School. A graduate of New York Medical College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he completed his residency and chief residency in pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Dr. Rosen has been featured on Good Morning America, CNN, and Imus in the Morning, and he is a frequently cited expert on children’s and environmental health matters. He is a contributing editor and pediatric columnist for Kiwi Magazine, as well as a contributing author/editor for several books, including Integrative Pediatrics, Green Baby, and Pediatric Clinics of North America: Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Dr. Rosen serves on many integrative health advisory boards, including the Holistic Moms Network, Teleosis Institute, IntegrativePractitioner.com and Integrative Healthcare Symposium, Integrative Touch for Kids, PedCAM, Kula for Karma, and MarbleJam Kids.
 
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