Keeping Kids Healthy with Ayurveda

From an Ayurvedic perspective, kids are inherently healthy. Then why do we think that colds, fevers, allergies, earaches and sore throats are a natural part of childhood?

The traditional medical view is that kids get sick with colds, flu and other common illness because their immune system is untested and they have not previously been exposed to viruses. When they do come in contact with viruses and upper respiratory infections, they easily succumb. Later in life, having developed a resistance to these diseases, they do not get sick as often.

Ayurveda takes the view that children tend to stay healthy if they eat the right foods, get proper rest and have a good routine. This helps the child maintain his or her own resistance and immunity. We know that some children are exposed to such things as upper respiratory viruses and do not get sick at all, where as other children seem to get sick all the time. To some extent this is due to the child’s body type and inherent resistance, but proper rest, diet and routine will maximize the possibility of remaining in good health.

UNDERSTANDING KAPHA

According to Ayurveda, each of the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—are responsible for the expression of various aspects of nature in the body. Vata is responsible for movement, quickness and change. Pitta is related to heat processes and energy production. In the body, Vata directs circulation and nervous system functioning. Pitta governs digestion and metabolism.

Kapha is more structural and is responsible for heaviness and solidity. And Kapha is responsible for maintaining the structural aspects of the body—muscles, joints, tissues, etc. as well as lubrication.

During the growing years, as the physical structure of the body is forming, Kapha dosha is more predominant than the other doshas. Kapha is slow, heavy, sticky, firm and strong. And its proper functioning is essential for the ever-strengthening physiology to grow. If Kapha becomes imbalanced, it can—because of its heavy and sticky qualities—slow digestion and produce excess mucus in the body. This will lead to colds, ear infections, etc.

DIET

What is a proper diet for your child? The recommendations from Ayurveda take into account the Kapha-dominated period of early childhood.

Excess of sweets and cold drinks and foods are more difficult for the slower digestion of early childhood to handle. It is better to avoid offering these kinds of foods to children. Unfortunately, many of these foods—especially candy, chocolates, pastries, ice cream, cold drinks, cheese, potato chips and highly processed foods—tend to be easily accessible and are often what children ask for. This is one reason that holiday times—between Halloween and Christmas—are times when it is common to see an increase in colds and sickness in children.

Ayurveda recommends a vegetarian diet as the ideal diet for a young child. It should include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and can provide plenty of protein through a combination of grains, legumes, dairy and nuts.

Ayurveda recommends mild for most children. Boiling milk makes it easier to digest and it is best to drink it warm. Avoid serving milk with a meal containing tastes other than sweet as milk mixed with salty, sour, astringent, bitter and pungent tastes causes problems with digestion. Milk is best taken with grains (cereal) or by itself.

Children should take their main meal at noon, when digestion is stronger. Try to avoid serving heavy foods such as cheeses, yogurt or meat in the evening.

REST

The second essential in keeping kids healthy is making sure they get enough rest. According to Ayurveda, the great the rest (in both children and adults) the stronger the immune system.

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When children are tired from staying up too late they become more susceptible to colds and other respiratory illnesses. For greater strength and balance physiological functioning, children should go to bed earlier in the evening than is generally practiced. Children under five should go to bed between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Children between the ages of eight and ten should go to bed by 8:30 p.m.

EXERCISE

Ideally, children should get enough exercise through their daily play. Try to avoid having them sit for hours in front of the television or playing on electronic devices. Kapha requires exercise to keep balance and healthy. Otherwise, dullness and lethargy can develop.

If your child has repeated health problems, a parent should ask, “Do I have a proper routine?” Children are very sensitive and impressionable. If a parent is stressed, fatigued, has a poor diet or does not have a good routine himself, the child can easily pick up these habits.

In fact, the diet and routine that Ayurveda recommends for adults is very similar to that for children: early to bed, early to rise, eat fresh, well-cooked foods, get proper exercise, and meditate regularly to relieve stress and promote well-being and happiness.

The close relationship between parents and children is reflected in the health of the entire family. As a parent it is important not only to give care and guidance to your children but to take care of yourself as well.

For more information on Ayurveda, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Keeping Kids Healthy with Ayurveda

kids-yogaThe traditional medical view is that kids get sick with colds, flu and other common illnesses because their immune system is untested and they have not previously been exposed to viruses. When they do come in contact with viruses and upper respiratory infections, they easily succumb. Later in life, having developed a resistance to these diseases, they do not get sick as often.

Ayurveda has a different view: Children tend to stay healthy and maintain their health if they eat the right foods, get proper rest and have a good routine. This helps the child maintain his or her own resistance and immunity. Teachers have long observed that some children who exposed to viruses and colds never get sick, while other children seem to always pick up the latest bug. While to some extent this is due to the child’s “prakritia” (body type) and inherent resistance, proper rest, diet and routine can help maximize the possibility for children to avoid colds and flues.

In Ayurveda, each of the three doshas—vata, pitta and kapha—are responsible for the expression of various aspects of nature in the body. Kapha is more structural and is responsible for heaviness and solidity. And kapha is responsible for maintaining the structural aspects of the body—muscles, joints, tissues, etc, as well as lubrication.

During our early, growing years, as the physical structure of the body is forming, kapha dosha is more predominant than the other doshas. Kapha is slow, heavy, sticky, firm and strong. And its proper functioning is essential for the ever-strengthening physiology to grow. If kapha becomes imbalances, however, because of its heavy and sticky qualities, it can slow digestion and produce excess mucus in the body. This can lead to colds, ear infections, etc.

DIET

In determining the proper diet for children, Ayurveda takes into consideration the domination of kapha at this time. Excess sweets and cold drinks and food are difficult for the slow digestion of early childhood to handle. Unfortunately these are the very foods that children often ask for: candies, chocolates, pastries, ice cream, cold drinks, cheese and heavily processed foods. They are also the kinds of foods that are easily accessible for busy parents. It is no coincidence that holiday times, beginning with Halloween, Thanksgiving and following through Christmas and Hanukkah, are times when parents often see an increase in colds and sickness in children.

A vegetarian diet is ideal for a young child. It should include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and can provide plenty of protein through a combination of grains, legumes, dairy and nuts.

Mild is healthy for most children, but Ayurveda cautions against serving milk cold. Boiling milk makes it easier to digest (for all ages).

Ideally the main meal should be at lunch, when digestion is stronger. Dinner should not include heavy foods such as cheese, yogurt or meat.

REST

According to Ayurveda, the more rested the physiology, the stronger the immune system will be. This is true for adults as well as kids. When children are tired from staying up late, they become more susceptible to colds and other respiratory illnesses. For greater strength and balanced physiological functioning, children under five should go to bed between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. Children between the ages of five and eight should go to bed by 8:00 p.m. And children between the ages of eight and ten should be in bed by 8:30. This is far earlier than is generally practiced.

ROUTINE

Adopting an ideal Ayurvedic routine for your kids means getting up early in the morning, performing Ayurvedic oil massage before bathing, getting plenty of exercise and learning the Transcendental Meditation technique or the Transcendental Meditation Word of Wisdom for children under the age of ten. These techniques help promote well-being and happiness for a growing child.

Back in 1992 a study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that levels of stress—rather than exposure to a virus—determines which people catch colds. Providing children with a tool to relieve stress at an early age is a gift that will keep them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

Of course creating an ideal routine for children means parents creating and participating in that routine themselves. Children are very sensitive and impressionable. They absorb the influences around them. The close relationship between parents and children is reflected in the health of the entire family. Parents must take care of themselves in order to provide maximum care and guidance for their children.

A family consultation with an Ayurveda expert can help parents develop an ideal diet, routines and guidelines their children — and for the entire family. For more information on scheduling a consultation, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

 

 

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