Category Archives: Children’s Health

Early Exposure to Friendly Bacteria Lowers Risk of Asthma and Allergies

In my last post, “How Fruits and Vegetables Can Treat Asthma“,  I mentioned that my “life-long” asthma (mine for 48 years), was a thing of the past since I found a way to smuggle those vital green veggies into my diet.

Good-BacteriaNow it appears my early sickness (almost from birth) may have also contributed. My parents kept me from exposure to germs, and in the process may have limited my exposure to  the “good bacteria” that it now seems could have prevented my asthma from developing.

A team of Canadian scientists, reporting in Science Translational Medicine, analyzed the billions of bugs that naturally call the human body home. Their analysis of 319 children showed they were at higher risk of asthma if four types of bacteria were missing.

The team, at the University of British Columbia and the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, compared the microbiome at three months and at one year with asthma risk at the age of three.

Childhood asthma

Children lacking four types of bacteria – Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, and Rothia (Flvr) – at three months were at high risk of developing asthma at the age of three, based on wheeze and skin allergy tests.

The same effect was not noticed in the microbiome of one-year-olds, suggesting that the first few months of life are crucial.

Further experiments showed that giving the bacterial cocktail to previously germ-free mice reduced inflammation in the airways of their pups.

One of the researchers, Dr Stuart Turvey, said: “Our longer-term vision would be that children in early life could be supplemented with Flvr to look to prevent the ultimate development of asthma.”

“I want to emphasise that we are not ready for that yet, we know very little about these bacteria, [but] our ultimate vision of the future would be to prevent this disease.”

Asthma is caused by airways that are more sensitive to irritation and inflammation.
Cases have soared, and one in every 11 children is now diagnosed with asthma.

One explanation for the rise in asthma and allergies is the “hygiene hypothesis”, which suggests that children are no longer exposed to enough microbes to calibrate the immune system to tell the difference between friend and foe.

Giving birth by Caesarean section and not breast-feeding both limit the bacteria that are passed to a newborn. Antibiotics taken by a pregnant woman or newborn child can also change the microbiome.

Dr Brett Finlay, another researcher in the project, said: “[I was] surprised to realise that faecal microbes may be influencing things.

“What data’s really starting to show these days is that the immune system gets itself set up in the gut and influences how it works everywhere else in the body.”

‘Right bugs, right time’

Dr Benjamin Marsland, from the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland, said: “For a number of years, exposure to microbes has been linked with protection against asthma, a classic example is growing up on a farm and drinking raw milk.”

“This new study adds weight to these observations and supports the concept that there are certain developmental windows in early life, where it’s really important to get the right signals.”

“A common factor in all studies so far has been the microbiota, in fact making sure babies have the right bugs, at the right time, might be the best step towards preventing asthma and allergies.”

Dr Samantha Walker, from the charity Asthma UK, said: “Asthma is a complex condition, and this research suggests that the delicate balance of gut bacteria in our bodies affects our immune systems and may have a role to play in why some people go on to develop asthma.”

“However, much more research is needed to help understand what these findings mean in terms of providing advice for new parents, developing treatments and ultimately a cure.”


Another “However”: let’s not forget the vital role nutrition (and Juice Plus+) play in transforming our health. After, all my “life-long asthma” is no more!

Get your family into gardening

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Studies show that children who are involved with growing their own food are likely to eat more fruits and vegetables, and a larger variety of each, than kids who do not garden at home.

“Whether a food is homegrown makes a difference,” according to Debra Haire-Joshu, director of Saint Louis University’s (SLU) Obesity Prevention Center. “Garden produce creates what we call a “positive food environment.”

In fact, Haire-Joshu’s SLU study found preschoolers were more than twice as likely to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily than their non-gardening peers.

Good nutrition is only one of the many benefits of gardening as a family. Gardening offers many lessons.

There’s the science of working with plants, soil and water and seeing firsthand how the seasons, weather, pests and beneficial insects play a role in plant development.

Kids learn responsibility by caring for living plants, and patience waiting for seeds, flowers, and produce to develop.

A successful garden creates confidence, while unsatisfactory results can provide a lesson in coping with disappointment and then problem-solving to search for better gardening techniques.

Getting the family into the garden also provides a healthy dose of exercise by working the major muscle groups. For example, 30 minutes of raking leaves typically burns 162 calories, weeding or mowing with a power mower burns 182 calories, turning a compost pile burns 250 calories, and double-digging your garden soil burns 344 calories.

If you want to expend less energy – saving it for other activities – and use much less water, space and nutrients, try Tower Gardening!

Stephen Ritz – Global Teacher Prize Top 10 Finalist – knows ALL about this:

Prevent peanut allergies – give children peanuts early in life!

In just the last 10 years, there has been a threefold increase in peanut allergies in young children in the US and the UK.

In order to prevent the development of a peanut allergy, pediatricians and nutritionists often recommend parents avoid giving their children peanuts until they are older. But what if that’s the wrong advice?

Israel has provided the best indication of that; only 0.17% of children in Israel have peanut allergies, while in the US and the UK the number is 10 times higher. In Israel, there is no recommendation to avoid peanuts at a young age. In fact, one of the most popular snacks given to babies as young as 6 months is a peanut based puff called Bamba.

Researchers in the UK conducted an experiment (published in the New England Journal of Medicine) on 640 British infants, who were at high risk for developing a peanut allergy (they already had an egg allergy).

One group received a supply of Bamba, the other didn’t. Following up after 4 years, the rate of peanut allergies was 1.9% in the consumption group and a whopping 13.7% in the avoidance group.

Bottom line: Early introduction of peanuts may reduce, not increase, the risk of peanut allergies in children.

Lessons from the Lunchroom

What Do We Know About School Lunch and Kids’ Diet?

This is a guest post by Lindsey Haynes-Maslow.

This week was the release of my first co-authored report at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Lessons from the Lunchroom: Childhood Obesity, School Lunch, and the Way to a Healthier Future details the extent of America’s childhood obesity crisis and how school meals play a role in influencing diet.

Currently, 30% of children are overweight or obese, and while obesity rates have plateaued for some races and ethnicities, they continue to rise for others. Children with obesity are as much as 10 times more likely to become obese adults. This is especially worrisome since obesity is linked to dangerous, costly diseases including type II diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Research shows that the U.S. spends over $200 billion annually for obesity-related illnesses, and taxpayers foot some of the bill through public insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

But the costs of obesity are also borne by real people and families who suffer from the condition and related illnesses. Our analysis of national health data reveals that overweight and obese young adults (ages 18-25) with unhealthy diets already have medical costs one-third higher than those with healthy diets. The situation only worsens with time, as adults across all ages with unhealthy diets have medical costs 90% higher than those with healthy diets. If we do nothing, obesity-related medical costs are estimated to exceed $515 billion by 2030.

Overweight and obesity are linked with poor eating habits, and eating habits start when children are young. UCS looked at the impact of school lunch on children’s diets and health. The National School Lunch Program, which was created in the 1940s in response to the malnourishment of U.S. children, is supported by taxpayer dollars. It also includes funding for free- and reduced-price (FRP) lunches for low-income children. In 2010, a bipartisan Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act—which brought nutrition standards for schools into accord with federal dietary guidelines. This meant more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on kids’ plates. Congress is set to reauthorize this legislation during 2015, and our report recommends specific steps they should take to set kids on a healthier path.

To help inform Congress about the impact of school lunch, we used national data following the same group of kids from 5th until 8th grade. We looked at students who participated in the FRP lunch program and found that participating kids ate more fruits and vegetables than kids not in the program. Fifth grade FRP-meal participants ate 3 more servings of fruits and vegetables per week than non-participants. As FRP-meal participants aged, they continued to eat more fruits and vegetables than non-participants. However, FRP-meal participants also ate fast food and drank sugary drinks more often—and were more likely to be obese—than kids not in the program.

Based on our research on the free and reduced-price school lunch program, the bottom line is that the school lunch program is doing a good job—but it needs to do much more to overcome other unhealthy influences in kids’ lives. Therefore, we recommend that Congress:

Protect the gains made in 2010. Now is not the time to back down on nutrition standards—with the obesity crisis, we need more time to evaluate the gains made in 2010.
Prioritize fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are critically under-consumed by children. More can and should be done to reverse this trend.
Increase the federal reimbursement rate for healthy school meals. Less-healthy processed foods are often cheaper than whole-food ingredients. Schools need more flexibility to buy the healthiest foods possible.
Finance school cafeteria kitchen equipment. Outdated kitchen equipment creates barriers for cafeteria staff trying to prepare healthy meals. Schools need funding to help modernize their kitchens.

Improving nutrition education. Schools can complement efforts to provide children with healthier food by giving them the information they need to make healthier choices.
Increase funding for the Farm to School Grant Program. This program supports educational initiatives related to food production and nutrition. Given the overwhelming popularity and demonstrated success, schools should have increased funding for farm-to-school activities.

Not allow politics to trump science. Nutrition experts are the best sources for setting nutritional standards in schools. Use these experts for guidance on these standards.
What You Can Do: School lunch is an effective tool for increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, but school lunch alone is not strong enough to counteract unhealthy influences in kid’s lives and prevent obesity. I hope the report’s recommendations will serve as a foundation for renewed legislation that better sets kids up for a healthier future. And you can help. Send a letter to your members of Congress today!

Full article…    More on Children’s Health…

How Can Schools Get Kids to Eat Their Vegetables?

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Have them exercise first! (Do I hear “Duh!”?)

A survey of thousands of elementary-school kids came up with a simple way to get kids to eat their fruits and vegetables, one that doesn’t require any costly changes to the menu or even any extra education to teach kids the value of produce. Turns out, all the kids needed was a bit of exercise.

The National School Lunch Program, which provides free or low-cost meals to more than 100,000 public and non-profit schools across the country, has had a difficult time getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables. The program actually requires kids to pick out a fruit and a vegetable at lunchtime, thinking that if the fruits and veggies are on the tray, there’s a greater chance they’ll get eaten. But that’s no guarantee.

Researchers at Brigham Young University conducted a survey of elementary school and middle school kids, from first to sixth grade, getting a total of over 22,000 observations. They were trying to test a hypothesis based on observations from school staff. Most schools place lunch right before recess, giving the kids a chance to work off what they just ate. But in order to get to recess, the kids tend to rush through lunch, only eating what they want, and often throwing the good stuff (the healthy stuff) in the garbage. So what if we simply…switched the order of lunch and recess?

The researchers found what strikes us as a ridiculous increase in the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten by kids at schools that placed recess first. Without the rush to get outside, and with the benefit of some extra appetite thanks to exercise, the kids demolished everything on their plates. These kids ate 54% more fruits and vegetables than before, and they saw a whopping 45% increase in the number of kids who ate at least one serving of produce.

The researchers recommend that every single school make the switch, and though this study only looked at kids of a certain age in one town in Utah, the results certainly seem promising enough to convince schools to try it. What’s the worst that could happen, after all?

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Child’s Diet Determines Heart Health In Adulthood

childs-heart-healthHow To Feed A Young Heart

In my blog this past week, we have been focused on children’s health – specifically how to get more veggies into our kids. So it’s timely that the results of a major study of almost 9,000 children have hit the headlines this week.

Children need to maintain a healthy diet to protect their adult heart. The way each child’s heart develops goes a long way to determining their health for the rest of their life. New research, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, outlines the American Heart Association’s new findings on the long-lasting health effects of a child’s diet.

“Our findings indicate that, in general, children start with pretty good blood pressure,” the study’s lead author Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, a professor and chair of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said in a press release. “But if they have a horrible diet, it will drive a worsening body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol levels. The better we can equip our children to make healthy choices, the more cardiovascular health will be preserved into adulthood. And those who preserve their heart health into middle age live much longer and are much healthier while they live.”

Researchers found most of us start out with a heart fit for a lifetime of activity, but it is in childhood that a heart’s health makes a turning point that will affect the person throughout adulthood. The team studied 8,961 children they examined between the ages of 2 to 11, looking at body mass index, diet, total cholesterol, and blood pressure, which represents four out of the seven components that determine one’s heart health. 

Baby boy preparing healthy food isolatedIn terms of their diet, less than 1% ate an “ideal, healthy diet”; fewer than 10 percent ate the recommended amount of fruit and vegetable, fish, and whole grains each day, while 90 percent of them ate more sodium and 50 percent ate more calories from sugar-sweetened beverages than recommended by the AHA. About 40 percent of children had moderate to poor cholesterol levels, and 30 percent of the children were obese or overweight (which isn’t far off from the general American children population).

We know from other studies that children as young as 12 years old show the beginning stages of hardening of the arteries.

“We really need better surveillance data, especially in children,” Lloyd-Jones said. “Information on physical activity, blood glucose, and smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke are not available for younger children. Without knowing how much physical activity a child is doing, and therefore how many calories are needed, we can’t scale the diet metrics to a child’s needs. So we used the adult metrics, but understand that it would be difficult for a 5-year-old to take in as many fruits and vegetables as an adult. The bottom line is that we need even better data, but what we do see is that we are losing an awful lot of our intrinsic cardiovascular health very early in life, which sets us up to be unhealthy adults.”

Experts recommend we eat 7-13 servings for fruit and vegetables daily. Did you know that the 13 is recommended for an active (not athletic) young male, and the 7 is for a 4 year old girl? So, children NEED to eat plenty of produce for health, especially to set them up for  life-long heart health.

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Juice Plus+ (in capsule and chewable forms) is proven to Bridge the Gap – what could be more important or valuable for the children in your life? We even offer Juice Plus+ FREE for children and students (even full time college students) through our Children’s Health Study.

More on Children’s Health… 

How to get more veggies into your kids part 4

Neither we nor our young ones are getting the recommended 7-13 servings of fruit and vegetables that we need every day. Did you know that even a 4 year-old girl needs 7 servings every day?!

To help address this problem, two “Mom’s on a Mission” have created Motherhood Mafia. Here is the fourth in their 4 part video series.

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pht-participate“Children are more harmed by poor diet than by exposure to alcohol, drugs and tobacco combined. This is the first generation of children expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.” ~ Dr. David Katz, Yale University Medical Center

“Over 70% of disease is preventable through good nutrition.” ~ Dr. Bill Sears

What is more important than the health of our children?

Here’s more on this important subject… 

How to get more veggies into your kids part 3

Neither we nor our young ones are getting the recommended 7-13 servings of fruit and vegetables that we need every day. Did you know that even a 4 year-old girl needs 7 servings every day?!

To help address this problem, two “Mom’s on a Mission” have created Motherhood Mafia. Here is the third in their 4 part video series.

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pht-participate“Children are more harmed by poor diet than by exposure to alcohol, drugs and tobacco combined. This is the first generation of children expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.” ~ Dr. David Katz, Yale University Medical Center

“Over 70% of disease is preventable through good nutrition.” ~ Dr. Bill Sears

What is more important than the health of our children?

Here’s more on this important subject… 

How to get more veggies into your kids – part 2

pht-participateNeither we nor our young ones are getting the recommended 7-13 servings of fruit and vegetables that we need every day. Did you know that even a 4 year-old girl needs 7 servings every day?!

To help address this problem, two “Mom’s on a Mission” have created Motherhood Mafia. Here is the second in their 4 part video series.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 10.55.21 AM“Children are more harmed by poor diet than by exposure to alcohol, drugs and tobacco combined. This is the first generation of children expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.” ~ Dr. David Katz, Yale University Medical Center

“Over 70% of disease is preventable through good nutrition.” ~ Dr. Bill Sears

What is more important than the health of our children?

Here’s more on this important subject… 

How to get more veggies into your kids

pht-participate“Children are more harmed by poor diet than by exposure to alcohol, drugs and tobacco combined. This is the first generation of children expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.” ~ Dr. David Katz, Yale University Medical Center

“Over 70% of disease is preventable through good nutrition.” ~ Dr. Bill Sears

What is more important than the health of our children?

Neither we nor our young ones are getting the recommended 7-13 servings of fruit and vegetables that we need every day. Did you know that even a 4 year-old girl needs 7 servings every day?!

To help address this problem, two “Mom’s on a Mission” have created Motherhood Mafia. Here is the first in their 4 part video series.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 10.54.55 AM
Here’s more on this important subject…