Creative ways to keep your kids hydrated this summer

Summer is a truly amazing time. It allows children to experience the outdoors and parents to spend a little more time playing with them, helping them grow and discover the world. However, the summer heat also brings forth an unsuspecting danger than many people overestimate:

Dehydration!

Especially when they are really young, children can be affected by the symptoms of dehydration very quickly. Just a couple of hours of play time under the hot sun could indeed already produce dangerous effects, such as a general sense of weakness, dizziness or headaches, among other signs that your kids might be exposed to too much heat and too little water.

In order to understand how to prevent dehydration, it might be useful for you to gain a clearer understanding of what it actually really is. Essentially, this is what happens when a human body doesn’t have as much water as it needs. About 60% of the human body actually consists of water, and when we are not able to stay consistently hydrated, some issues might arise. Naturally, we lose liquids every single day through a wide variety of process, ranging from peeing to secreting tears and even saliva and sweat. The weather will have a really significant impact on the amount of water we lose, with heat causing us to dehydrate much faster. For children, keeping their liquid intake consistent is even more important, since their constitution relies on it even more so than a fully developed adult.

How can you keep your kids hydrated? The obvious solutions are to give them enough to drink and make sure they don’t spend a lot of time directly exposed to the heat of the sun without any proper protection or time to chill in the shade. However, there are many other fun ways and strategies that will help you keep your kids hydrated, without making them feel like you are constantly worried, hovering over them and watching their every step. The trick is to turn hydration into a game, or in some cases, into a fun treat!

– A fun alternative to water: Water is a great and primary source of hydration, but sometimes, you could spice it up by offering your kids a nice, healthy treat. Coconut water is a particularly great alternative. It makes for a sweet, refreshing drink that also has the extra bonus of being full of electrolytes, particularly calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Think of it as nature’s sports drink! 

-Coconut water is not your only healthy, natural alternative to offer something nutritious to your kids: make them a nice fruit juice or smoothie, which will help keep them hydrated, with the extra benefit of giving them all those vitamins and fiber that make fruit and veggies really important for any kid’s (or anyone else’s) diet.  If you want to up the ante a little bit, make the drinking more fun with some cool straws or mini cocktail umbrellas! Kids will look forward to enjoying their hydrating treat even more.

– Fresh Fruit is a great everday hydrator! Fruit like watermelon, apples and grapes are made of mostly water, not to mention the healthy benefit of eating fresh whole foods!

– Feeling a little extra indulgent and in the mood for something sweet? Even an icicle, a slush or a snow-cone helps hydration, Just keep the sweets as special treat rather than an option to use on a regular basis.

If you see your kids energy level or their lips chapping then you know your starting to lose the hydration battle.  Stay ahead of the game by using these suggestions  – your kids will feel great all day!

Can Sugar in a Child’s Diet Trigger Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?

One of the things, I truly love about becoming a nurse and working in the healthcare profession, is that it is constantly evolving and researching ways to improve the health of people like you and me.  We that are your healthcare professionals are constantly challenging conventional wisdom and thinking, as well as, reevaluating traditional treatment modalities.

This type of thinking can result in some fantastic discoveries, which can alter how diseases are treated and managed. A recent example to this is the research that has taken place with gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as, GERD. For years (approximately 80 to be exact) the healthcare community have been lead to believe that this digestive disorder was caused by stomach acids backing up into the esophagus. This can result in burning, irritation and even damage to your esophagus. However, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) appears to be questioning this line of thinking. The research from this study seems to suggest that the damage caused by GERD is not the result of stomach acid entering the esophagus. The study proposes that the damage caused by GERD is a result of an inflammatory response prompted by cytokines, which are inflammatory messenger proteins.

The researchers took a group of 12 men who were on proton pump inhibitors to use as their sample group. Proton Pump inhibitors, otherwise known as PPI’s, is a medication that reduces the amount of acids produced in the stomach.  When you have less acids produced in the stomach you diminish the harmful effects (the burning, the irritation, and the damage). 

The men were asked to stop taking their PPI’s for 2 weeks. The researchers expected to see a resumption in the symptoms.  What the researchers did find, however, is that in 11 of the 12 men, there was changes in the esophagus. The change in the lining of the esophagus was not indicative of burns (which is what the researchers expected).  What they discovered is that the esophagus was stimulated by the stomach acid, to produce cytokines. This led to the beginning of a cascade of inflammatory processes which led back to the disease.

Their research concluded that it is not the stomach acid that is causing the problem but rather it is the cytokine messengers. They believe that the development of GERD is cytokine-mediated and not the result of chemical injury.

So now, you might be asking the question, “why is this finding and change in thinking so important?” Well, the answer is that it tells the medical community that we might be placing our focus in the wrong area.  When you consider that this is a disease that affects millions of people, this could be huge.  Perhaps, we need to place our focus on cytokine blockers and inflammation since this appears to be the catalyst to the development of this disease.

Why should we reduce cytokines?

The problem with cytokines is that when activated, they drives chronic, low-grade inflammation process. This type of inflammation is linked to certain diseases such as Diabetes,

Cancer ‘and Heart Disease.  In regards to the link between cytokines and GE Reflux Disease, we certainly need to see more research, to justify changing our treatment modalities but it does sound promising.

So, the question you might ask at this point is, what if additional research does prove that cytokines are the cause of the damaging effects of GERD?  What would be the next step? The next step would probably be to find ways to lower their presence in your body. And that would not be hard to do, considering there are cytokine blockers currently in use to treat some of our most formidable inflammatory diseases, such as, Arthritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s) and Psoriasis. Some clinical trial leaning in that direction might prove them to be effective against GERD. To the medical community and sufferers of this disease, this is exciting news! 

So, what could you do in the meantime? Well, your healthcare professionals at yourkidshealth.net have several suggestions to offer. One way you can help your child is by lowering their intake of sugar.  It is sugar that triggers the release of cytokines.  You can also increase your intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. If taking omega-3 supplements aggravates your child’s reflux (which has been known to happen in some cases) you can always eat foods rich in omega-3. Meals containing salmon, mackerel, trout, albacore tuna, and sardines two or three times a week would be adequate. And, of course, with GERD you want to avoid highly acid foods (oranges, lemons, tomatoes, etc.) and spicy foods.

Reference

Dunbar KB, et al. JAMA. 2016;315(19):2104-112.