To celebrate Natural Health Products (NHP) Week, the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) is launching a free, five-part guide aimed at helping Canadian families make informed decisions about natural health. The Canadian Family’s Guide to Navigating Natural Health,was developed with nutritionist and author Lianne Phillipson-Webb. Canadians can download the guide at chfa.ca for practical tips on how to make simple changes in their daily routines to improve their overall health and the health of their families.
The guide is designed to help Canadians sift through the massive amount of existing information on organics and natural health products and help them prioritize where it is most important, as they shift toward natural and healthier options.
Part 1: Proven Must-haves for the Whole Family
The sheer variety of natural health products available to Canadians can be overwhelming. Which products are right for women my age? Which are best for active men? And how do I make sure my picky eaters get all the nutrients they need? We get it. That’s why the Canadian Health Food Association has identified the must-have NHPs for busy families that are safe and beneficial for everyone in your family; Omega-3s, Probiotics, Vitamin D and a Multivitamin.
Omega-3s are a fantastic all-around supplement that has benefits for every member of the family. For developing babies and little ones, it helps support proper brain, nerve and eye development. For kids, low levels of Omega-3s have been linked to ADHD. And for adults, it provides heart-protective effects among a variety of other benefits. It’s a great all-around supplement for every family member.
Cognitive development – DHA, a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, is an essential structural part of the retina and brain cells. Some studies show an association between DHA intake and improved hand-eye coordination, attention span, social skills, and intelligence test scores in infants. Children of moms who took EPA and DHA omega-3 supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding had higher scores on common cognitive tests at 4 years of age.
Cardiovascular health – Omega-3s in fatty fish have been shown to have heart-protective effects. One study found that fish oil – in foods or supplements – cut the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by over 30 per cent. In fact, people with heart disease are encouraged to consume at least one gram of omega-3s from fish per day to protect against future cardiovascular events like a heart attack.
ADHD – There is an observed association between blood omega-3 levels and ADHD in children. Some studies have found that supplements might improve behaviour, reduce hyperactivity, and boost attention in kids under 12.
Mood – Omega-3s in fish oil have been used as an accessory treatment for depressed mood in adults. There may even be some benefits for kids, too!
New research is revealing immense health benefits of having a happy set of gut microbes. Probiotics, also known as beneficial bacteria, offer benefits for aiding digestive function, strengthening healthy intestinal function and boosting the immune system. The benefits of these healthy bugs are expanding with new research linking probiotics to improved mood and reduced colic in infants!
Balance the digestive tract – Having a healthy digestive tract is essential for filtering and eliminating potential harmful products. Needless to say, it’s also essential to absorb all the macro- and micro-nutrients we need to say healthy. Having a healthy balance of gut bacteria, and ensuring their success by consuming pre-biotic fibre helps protect against diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.
Boost the immune system – Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it isn’t properly maintained, we can fall victim to allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections (for example, infectious diarrhea, skin infections, and vaginal infections). Keeping a healthy bacterial population helps to keep the immune system primed and ready to protect against any invading pathogens.
Canadians don’t get enough – For five months of the year, between October and March, the sun’s rays are not strong enough to activate the Vitamin D in our skin. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and an active immune system. It has a host of other emerging benefits including protecting against depression, various cancers, early death, autoimmune disorders and multiple sclerosis). Taking a Vitamin D supplement in the winter is a must to keep your body’s Vitamin D levels peaked. Look for Vitamin D3 supplements (Vitamin D2 doesn’t show the same benefits). Liquids and drops are available for children and infants. Another neat tip is to flip your mushrooms gill-side-up on a window sill (particularly portabella and shitake mushrooms). By doing so, the mushrooms will provide you with an extra boost of Vitamin D when consumed.
Affordable insurance policy for the entire family – With our busy lifestyles coupled with family members who are picky eaters, it can be hard for families to cover all of their nutritional bases. Multivitamins can fill in dietary gaps and ensure that you and your kids are getting the required amounts of vital nutrients for growth and vitality. Select a multivitamin formulated for your age, gender and life stage. For example women who are pregnant and breastfeeding require different levels of nutrients than teenage girls and women over 50.
Be sure to speak with your health care practitioner to see which products are right for you and your family.
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