Back to School
Never before have the words “back to school” represented such relief and comfort, for stressed out parents. The Corona virus is still a daily threat to our public health but the psychological well-being of kids and parents alike, must be afforded the attention it deserves. The Government have finally committed €300+million to a robust plan to allow schools reopen again as safely as possible. Within the Department of Education’s road map will be advice on sick teachers and students. A 14 day isolation period might well mean a departure from what we are used to, so it is now so important for teachers and students to PREVENT sickness before it occurs. Kids and teachers have missed so much schooling already so I’ve a few tips today to encourage students (and adults) to embrace the “Prevention is better than cure” approach.
Healthy students are better learners.
This topic is too broad to cover in one paper, so I will split the advice over two editions. If anyone would like the complete article altogether, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you.
Back to School Nutrition tips and supplement advice
Water – try to ensure your kids drink plenty of water. Sending your kids to school with a large water bottle daily is one of the easiest and healthiest options. Make sure you look at the water level when they come home as very often they “forget” to drink it. Maybe mark the bottle each day and challenge them to beat the target. Adding freshly squeezed lemon and lime can add flavour and aids in digestion, without adding fake sugar like sweeteners.
Probiotics – offer your children probiotics, and yourself! 80% of our immune system is located in our gut; the balance of good bacteria versus bad bacteria is tipped so quickly with sugar and processed foods. Adding in probiotics to your child’s daily routine can have positive effects on mood, sleep and a healthy functioning immune system. You can get probiotics in yoghurts but not in massive quantities and not all kids will eat non-sweetened yoghurts. My preference here is a good quality probiotic that can be easily swallowed daily by kids. Optibac or Biokult are excellent choices and are tasteless and can be added to food so kids don’t even know they are taking them. I also highly recommend probiotics for teachers and parents. Gut health is linked to so many aspects of our body’s health systems that I could not cover them all today. I will detail them in another article at a later stage. There is huge evidence now that gut health influences so many parts of a properly functioning body that it can no longer be ignored. Suffice to say that keeping our gut health in peak condition from infant stage upwards, is a key way to maintaining our immune systems.
I recommend Optibac or Biokult for kids, and Alflorex, Immunbiotix or Symprove for adults.
Fish Oils – Fish oils/fresh oily fish are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain and eye development. While you can find omega-3’s in plant-based sources (avocados, chia, hemp, nuts and seeds, etc.), evidence indicates that we are not able to convert them with high efficiency into EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fats essential in our bodies. Pretty much everybody’s diet is deficient in omega-3s. Omega-3s are rapidly becoming an important tool in mainstream medicine. They seem to have health benefits for every age group – from before birth to old age. There’s conclusive evidence that they protect against heart disease and lower triglycerides (unhealthy fats in the bloodstream). There’s also some research showing that they might help with dozens of other conditions, too.
To help you better understand the benefits of omega-3s, here’s a quick guide.
What Are Omega-3s?
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids — we need them for our bodies to work properly. One of their most important benefits is that they seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect. There are many claims to their health benefits but bare in mind that larger studies are needed to determine conclusive therapeutic benefit. Also, some studies used food sources of omega-3s, and others used omega-3 supplements.
Omega-3s for Infants, Prenatal Health, and Pregnancy
Omega-3s are important for children’s health right from the start – actually, before they’re even born. Here’s some of the evidence.
- Cognitive development. Some studies show that infants fed formulas enriched with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA show improvements in hand-eye coordination, attention span, social skills, and intelligence test scores. Asthma risk. A 2008 study found that the teenage children of women who took fish oil during pregnancy were less likely to have developed asthma.
- Growth. There’s some evidence that when omega-3s are added to formula, it promotes growth and brain development in premature infants.
Although none of these studies are conclusive, there’s good reason to make sure that infants – and pregnant women — are getting their omega 3s such as DHA and EPA.
Omega-3s for Children and Teens
Some of the childhood conditions that have been studied include:
- ADHD. Kids with ADHD may have lower levels of omega-3s in their bodies than normal, and a few small studies have looked at fish oil supplements as a treatment. They found that the supplements might improve behaviour, reduce hyperactivity, and boost attention in kids under 12.
- Depression. Fish oil is often used as a treatment for depression in adults; there have been a few studies in children too. One small 2006 study of fish oil in depressed 6- to 12-year-olds found it helped their symptoms significantly.
- Diabetes. One small study looked at kids who were at high risk of developing type II diabetes. The researchers found that those who ate a high omega-3 diet were less likely to develop the condition.
- Asthma. Omega-3s may reduce inflammation in the airways, which could benefit those with asthma.
Keep in mind that many of these studies were small and other studies have sometimes found contradictory evidence. More research needs to be done before we’ll know the full implications.
Omega-3s for Young Adults
As an age group, young adults tend to be pretty healthy. But it’s a good time to start thinking ahead and considering your health in the long-term. So how can omega-3s help?
- Cardiovascular health. Studies have found that people who eat oily fish twice a week have lower rates of heart disease. One study found that fish oil – in foods or supplements – cut the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 32%.
- Cancer. So far, the evidence is not very strong. But a number of studies have noted that people who take in higher amounts of omega-3s seem to have lower levels of certain cancers. These include cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, ovaries, oesophagus, and others. Are the omega-3s really responsible? It’s impossible to say. But the evidence is promising and more research needs to be done.
- Depression and other psychiatric conditions. There’s some fairly good evidence that omega-3s can play a role in brain chemistry and a number of studies have found some benefits.
Omega-3s for Middle-aged and Older Adults
As you get older, the risks of serious conditions like heart disease grow. The good news is that omega-3s have their best established benefits in people of this age group.
- Heart health. Omega-3s have enormous benefits from a cardiovascular standpoint. Not only do they help prevent problems in healthy people, they also cut the risk of complications and death in people who already have heart disease. Omega-3s seem to help keep the heart rhythm steady. Fish and fish oil also seem to slow down arteriosclerosis and lower the risk of strokes.
- Triglycerides. The omega-3s — DHA and EPA — can slash triglyceride levels by 20% to 50%. The effect seems to depend on the amount, so your doctor might recommend fairly high doses.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. While the evidence isn’t conclusive, a number of studies have found that fish oil can reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, like morning stiffness and pain.
- Osteoporosis. Studies have found that people who eat higher levels of oily fish than average have greater bone density in the hip.
- Memory, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies have found that diets high in oily fish may help prevent memory loss and lower the risk of dementia in older people.
In conclusion, it seems that fish oils have multiple health benefits that cannot be ignored. I really like fish oil supplements that are extracted from Krill oil. They don’t repeat on you and often have the best ratio of DHA to EPA in them. We have many in Grants Pharmacy so please ask us for advice and we will point out the supplement that best suits you and your kids.
Remember if you are taking blood thinners, the use of fish oil supplements should be on the advice of your GP. High doses of fish oil supplements can interfere with some medicines or increase risk of bleeding so please ask your Pharmacist to advise you.
Today, we have covered
- Fish oils
Next Free Press, we’ll chat about
- Physical activity
- Vitamins and minerals
Once again, Grants Pharmacy would love to welcome you to our pharmacies for the best healthcare advice in a safe environment. Our staff and customers alike are protected with masks and screens for your safety. We are located in St Aidan’s Shopping Centre, beside Pettitts in Wexford, we’re also beside Pettitts in the Duffry, Enniscothy and in Arklow. You can also find us on Rafter St in Enniscorthy and on the Avenue in Gorey. We are open 6 days a week from 9am until 6, 6.30 or 7pm depending on the shop and the day! New customers are always welcome – why not try our friendly service. You can ask your GP to email your prescription straight to our dispensaries where we will have your medicines ready when you drop in. Even if you are not one of our regulars, please support your local businesses at this challenging time. Your towns depend on your custom. Shop local and keep your towns alive. 053-9123068. FB and IG.