words by Cassi Cowlam, BHSc(Nat)
NATURE CURE – a term that underpins the philosophy of Naturopathy, and encompasses using nature to treat what ails us. Nature Cure includes drinking plenty of fresh water, exercising daily, playing in the sunshine, eating as close to nature as possible, and getting restorative sleep.
It doesn’t sound that hard does it? In reality we lead very stressful lives, eat high amounts of “quick” and processed foods devoid of nutrients, drink commercial and packaged drinks instead of water, don’t go out in the sun to play, and spend too much time on the screen which not only makes us very sedentary, but can also affect our sleep. And our children are worse for it.
Children can get hooked on tablets and smartphones, and Dr Sigman, (associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine) states “they can unintentionally cause permanent damage to their still-developing brains … The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary – all those abilities are harmed.”
Professor Beazley (former WA Chief Scientist) offers a solution in that “children need to experience nature as much as possible because it is good for their growing brains. It allows them to ask all sorts of questions”.
Playing in nature provides fresh air, social interaction, physical activity and Vitamin D which all improve their immune system and mental health. Outdoor games also helps develop motor skills, builds self-confidence, and allows connection with the natural world. Sleep is also often improved.
So, how to prepare your little ones for their venture to the great outdoors? First, take away their phones! Provide plenty of water to keep them hydrated and encourage them to drink regularly. Sometimes, depending on the exercise, I recommend a homemade electrolyte drink that includes magnesium and potassium powder, celtic sea salt and honey. Snacks are essential to keep up their energy and help maintain growth and function. Healthier options include fresh or dried fruit (not roll-ups or tinned) mixed with nuts and seeds as a trail mix, cheese cubes if they are not dairy intolerant, fresh vegetable sticks like carrots and celery stuffed with peanut or almond butter, rice cakes (not flavoured), naturally dried vegie chips (yum) and you can make some great energy bars using wholegrains, nuts and fruit, or protein balls. See my recipe ‘protein balls’ which includes nuts, but you can swap for seeds if there is an allergy. Children can have fun making them too, and they will keep them playing outdoors for ages.