6 Time and Cost Effective Steps to Optimize Your Child’s Health

By Madiha Saeed, MD, Integrative Physician, Documenting Hope Director of Education

Ever feel like a hamster on a wheel — huffing and puffing and going nowhere fast? Do you work long hours then run from one game to the next, only to stop off for fast food just to fill your children’s bellies? Are you consumed by daily deadlines, projects, answering emails, update statuses and tweets, simply losing touch with those that matter most?

As a physician and mother of four boys (8 and under!), I very often get lost between work, children, Zumba, cooking, cleaning, writing books and articles, blogging, traveling to speak to various audiences and other public appearances. One day spills into the next, and by the end of the month, it all seems like a blur. Many of my patients are in the same boat — because of this lifestyle, they and their children have one or more chronic diseases and are suffering emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally, and have all but lost touch with themselves and their bodies’ needs. Clearly, something has gone wrong with the way things are, and it is my passion and hobby to find the cheapest and most efficient ways to heal the body that anyone can easily fit into their busy lives.

While staying healthy in a toxic world isn’t always cheap or easy, there are many low-cost and simple strategies that can be used to optimize your child’s health, but it all begins with making health a priority in your home! Following are six strategies that you can incorporate into your life.

1. Diet

I cannot begin to emphasize how important this first step is, and that’s why I put it at the top. Industrial food production is a multi-billion-dollar business and one of the main objectives of the food companies is to get you to buy processed, empty-calorie and addictive foods that stress the body and deplete it of nutrients. This only results in inflammation, chronic disease and profit for the food industry. Instead, follow these simple food guidelines:

  • Invest in vegetables, fruits, protein and healthy fat sources. Our goal here is to limit and eventually eliminate all processed foods because inflammation thrives on addictive, empty-calorie “food.” To help your family break up with processed food, start by incorporating more of the healthy food sources into your daily diet while weaning off processed foods. While at the grocery store, start swapping your usual purchases that come in a box or a bag for fresh whole foods found mainly on the perimeter of the store.
  • Make clean, filtered water your main (or only!) beverage.   You can save money by just not buying any other beverages. Think of the cost savings! And your properly hydrated body will thank you for it.
  • Eat protein, fat and carbohydrates (vegetables are carbohydrates!) at every meal.
  • Don’t throw your bones away! Learn how to make bone broth and bring an economical wonder food into your home. Bone broth helps heal and seal the gut, nourish our bodies and allow us to heal from the inside out. Broths are also a great way to make use of raw vegetable scraps.

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2. Play and Move!

Allow your child to play and run (preferably outside!)—better yet, play, chase and tackle your children accompanied by tickles, hugs and kisses. Older children can be encouraged to use a pedometer to count steps. Pedometers are easy to use and the best motivator. The idea that something is monitoring your movements is enough motivation for most people to get up and move around when they normally would be sitting down. Taking your children for walks is low impact and a great place to start. In fact, adding any type of exercise or movement will help reduce inflammation.

3. Teach Your Children to Relax

Managing stress is essential in any healing and disease-prevention program, as our thoughts, feelings and emotions directly affect our physical health. A daily practice of relaxation techniques can help manage stress, anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, keep damaging hormones at bay, spark brain growth, change gene expression, improve blood circulation and digestion, aid detox, switch off unhealthy genes, enhance the overall immune system and maintain a balanced inner world. Here are some ideas on how you can help your children relax:

  • Offer encouragement and maintain a safe, serene, well-structured environment.
  • Abdominal breathing is extremely effective in decreasing stress because it helps relax the body almost instantly. This exercise takes about five minutes, is most powerful when done a couple of times a day and can be practiced by both you and your children. Use this breathing technique anytime you feel stress or are overwhelmed.
  • Get comfortable, close your eyes, place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest.
    • Slowly inhale through your nose and into your belly for a count of four, making sure your belly rises when you breathe.
    • Hold the breath for a count of two.
    • Exhale through your mouth slowly for a count of six.
    • Pause for one count then repeat the cycle 10 times.
  • Keep the lines of communication with your child open, being careful not to judge or negate your child’s feelings.
  • Adults and older children can learn to reduce the effects of stress by practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation, prayer, yoga and Tai Chi. Practiced consistently, these techniques can increase attention and calmness.
  • A good night’s sleep. Most people, including children, just don’t get a good night’s sleep anymore. Deep restful sleep is necessary for the body to repair itself. Establish proper bedtimes so the adrenal glands don’t go into overtime and cause undue stress.

4. Gratitude

Being thankful helps create a subconscious world of positivity that governs 90% of our thoughts and actions. The positive energy boosts optimism, which in turn helps prevent disease, improve our health and immune system and has been proven to add years to our lives. As soon as your child wakes up in the morning, take a moment to sing about 10 things you are all grateful for. This may be a challenge in the beginning, but with regular practice, you’ll find that the morning’s gratefulness exercise starts to permeate your day, leaving your child optimistic. Starting their morning on a positive note influences the rest of the day. It guarantees that they always get up on the right side of the bed, helping them make the most of their day! Have fun with it!

5. Fill in the gaps

Your family’s diet is absolutely crucial to the ability to live a healthy life and have a strong immune system. However, any deficiency in your nutritional levels can interfere with the healing process, so consider adding minimal supplements like vitamin D, probiotics (or raw fermented foods like sauerkraut) and high-quality fish oil. Supplements help support the immune system and offer that extra push your child needs toward restoring his body to health and balance. Supplements too expensive? Vitamin D is free from the sun—so get your child outside and exposed to safe amounts of sunlight. Instead of supplementing with probiotics, learn how to make your own probiotic-rich fermented foods.

6. Clean up their world!

Toxins are all around us and are often invisible. Regular exposure can slowly accumulate toxins in their little bodies and force their livers to work extra hard to remove them. A high body burden of toxins can cause problems at every level, wreaking havoc in a child’s internal world, unable to eliminate what the body doesn’t want. One key to combating environmental toxins is clean eating and a healthy lifestyle. Choose non-toxic personal products and cleaners (baking soda and vinegar are inexpensive and make a great replacement for household cleaning products) and using glassware for eating, drinking and cooking are easy ways you can ensure a healthy child inside and out.

Take charge of your family’s heath! Adding these simple, easy cost and time effective tips to your family’s daily life can help optimize health helping to create a bright future for those that matter most! If I can do it, you can too!!! Be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new supplement or dietary program.

What cost effective ways have you found to optimize your family’s health?



  1. Sandra Snyder

    I am 76 years old and have had some autistic characteristics all of my life. It was an older, slower paced world I lived in and I feel I have had a very full life. But by the 1960’s environmental changes began to occur in leaps and bounds. Especially in cleaning products and fabrics. They invented fabric softener to compensate for the inability of static electricity to leave our chemically treated clothing. Soaps and detergents were formulated to work in automatic washing machines. These are what they call TIME DEPENDENT chemicals. One of the things they do is grab and hold dirt. But the TIMING (How long in seconds or minutes) is NOT THE SAME AS THE NATURAL SOAP PRODUCT’s timing cycle. Think of a lullaby as being like natural soap and a hard rock song as how the new soaps behaved. And that’s how they affect the timing (motion) in people’s bodies. (Including babies.)

    They convinced people to use smelly products to supposedly clean your air. (Like airwick) A good way to get rid of industrial waste. Another industrial waste, fluorine, was put into drinking water with the claim of better teeth. (Fluorine is a bully and bumps that, needed for the thyroid, iodine out of place.). Then fabrics began to be coated with formaldehyde products…..and the list kept growing longer.

    How do you pick and choose cleaning products?

    Years ago an allergist recommended a brand of personal soap to me that worked very well. Then we had a recession and the local store no longer carried the product . I began experimenting, but didn’t like the results very well. I had a business friend with a health food store and asked her if she knew anything I could use. She suggested a soap made from olive oil that was not scented. That sounded great, as odors were a major problem for me. I used the soap faithfully and did not have any reason to suspect it was causing some of my increasing health problems. When I was out of town working, I took my soap with me. On one trip I forgot my soap and the ugly purple blotches I was getting on my face during my monthly cycles did not appear. …. Bingo……I now knew what one of my body contaminants was and stopped using the soap. (Years later I learned the soap also contained citric acid,a component of the phosphorus cycle. And years after that a friend decided to buy a commercial block of about 70 pounds of olive oil soap which made me think….industrial waste…… Is the olive oil to make soap an industrial by-product and not the cooking grade oil that I had visualized in my mind?????)

    Ask what other people in your area use and what results they experience. Find out the basics of how old fashioned soap was made so you have some criteria for deciding what to buy. Ask for unscented. Avoid essential oils, as these can have very dramatic effects on the body. Use the essential oils ONLY if the medical effect is needed. Fat, such as lamb fat from pastured animal has turned out to be a good skin healer. It makes good soap. But not much is available..

    I finally moved to a mountain top about 25 years ago and have a spring with water that agrees with me. I have been carrying my water up hill and washing clothing by hand for the past 25 years. And, YES, it has been health beneficial. There was one major setback when I got sprayed by herbicide. More recently society has been cleaning up the chemicals and I am getting out more and can buy select colored clothing fabric again. Mostly for 25 years I wore undyed organic.

    Had I known all of the things I have learned about such things as what pots and pans are made of, which foods help me and which hinder, what kind of heat works best, how to use exercise to ground my body, and many other things, I might not have needed to exit mainstream society. Mercury was a major antifungal in joint compound for dry wall and the acoustical style ceiling tile apparently grab and hold all kinds of chemicals. A local hardware store took that kind of tile out of the ceiling and put up a wood ceiling. I can now go into the store.

    Not being exposed to tobacco smoke has definitely been one of the best parts of my life-style, as it usually affects my respiratory system. But the thing I believe has been most helpful has been fermenting vegetables under pressure. It seems this makes the 4th dimension of water (which they call EZ water). I have been fermenting vegetables for 25 years. Now they are learning how to define it.

    As for staying well, it is still a challenge. I have used many healing modalities. I liked my traditional medical doctors. But when they couldn’t help me I looked for people who could help me step by step. The alternative people I usually avoid are the ones that recommend only one brand of products, Mostly I count on food.

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