My life changed dramatically since the birth of my first baby, as life does when a new baby arrives, but more than the sleepless nights and change of routines and the crazy abounding love that comes with having children, I found myself spending alot more time on google, and visiting the local library searching and cross referencing anything and everything in my crazy quest to provide my child with the best I possibly could. This is around the time when our grocery shopping changed dramatically, from buying the cheapest and quantity over quality, we converted to buying only organic foods and produce, despite it being more costly and the tight budget we had to work with, everything that I ate or drank while I breastfed and thereafter whatever our baby ate or drank when he started solids would be organic, and cooked from scratch using the safest methods of cooking known to me at that stage in order to preserve as much of the nutritional content possible and to avoid harmful chemicals as much as possible.
Everything, absolutely everything, that was to be be fed to my baby would be scrutinised for its nutritional benefits and I never touched a store pre-packed/bottled baby food, until baby was around 2 years and even then I would only get them if it was an 'emergency' situation-if I was unprepared and unable to provide a more natural alternate, I would be tough on myself for not being prepared enough as every mouthful of store bought processed food went into my child's little messy mouth and I would punish myself... The organic brands were the only option for me and I would spend ages scrutinising the ingredients on the back of the pack to ensure they was no added salt, sugar and things like palm oil and rapeseed oil, colourants and preservatives etc. … Life had become so stressful and intense!
I had the same approach when it came to bath products and lotions and sun creams, the ingredients found in most popular skin care products and specifically baby skin care products are pretty nasty chemicals to say the least, and sadly even some brands claiming to be natural and organic are including some very dangerous ingredients, this is how my journey began in creating my own skin care ranges for babies and young children.
My vision for my brand came from my kids, they loved being covered in mud and digging in the sand discovering all things earthly. Kids really are such pure wholesome little beings just like wholesome little potatoes, and thats when 'Grubby lil Spuds' sprang to my mind!
In Afrikaans, a potato is an Aardappel, directly translated meaning: Earth Apple.
I decided to create a 'pure' range that is aimed at the newborn baby and kids with sensitive skins. I wanted this range to still be fun, but with less aggravating ingredients that you find in most other products out there, therefore I specifically did not add any fragrances or essential oils and the bubble bath has a low foaming formula.
My 'Grubby lil Spuds' range, is targeted at the older baby and child and takes into consideration that as soon as babies start becoming mobile there is more chance of getting bumps, bruises and little 'owies' as well as the added fun of them getting more grubby whilst they explore the world around them. I believe most kids love to get muddy and in touch with the earth and it is meant to be good for them- you can read further about this here- I wanted to create bath products that would still be gentle on their skin but offer mild antiseptic and soothing properties by adding Rooibos (Red-bush tea) as well as my favourite nourishing Baobab oil in my balm, but also added my children's favourite smelling essential oils, Lavender and Orange, which besides smelling gorgeous, Lavender is mood boosting and calming as well as high in anti-oxidants. and is know for its skin healing properties. Orange has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
I always will try to do the absolute best I can for my children, at some points to the detriment of my own wellbeing- I'm sure lots of mums can relate! I am definitely not claiming to be a perfect parent or an expert in any of the fields I mention in this blog, however I would like to use this blog as a way to share my findings with like minded people in a mutual quest to not only raise healthy, happy, whole kids but to take care of ourselves whilst doing it! I hope you will enjoy being on this journey of discovery with me!
Thanks for reading!
"Kids get sick alot, especially once they have started going to school," is what I heard so many mums tell me during those early days of motherhood, and in the beginning, I remember thinking... No way- Not my kids!
Before my eldest, Daniel, started nursery school, I thought I had the winning formula, a healthy organic diet, exercise outdoors daily for at least 1 hour- even when it was cold or raining, a rigid sleep routine and good hygiene regimes- to the point where I even asked a doctor to wash her hands in front of me before she examined my son at a routine appointment- awkward moment to say the least...I became known for carrying around my antibacterial hand sanitizer and wasn't embarrassed to use it.
Im all for getting muddy and dirty- but should I be using antibacterial hand wash and gel after a good 'mud kitchen' session? And what else could I do to help build and maintain healthy Immune systems in our home?
Firstly, it turns out...dirt is good for kids and can actually apparently lengthen our lifespan,apparently antibacterial and disinfecting products are creating a sterile environment in which our children are growing up in which in turn studies have shown could be linked to the increase in allergies, autoimmune and gut-related issues(especially in children) and that Soil Based Organisms (micro-organisms) which have stronger strains of bacteria than most of the probiotic foods and supplements we take are what could be the key to boosting immune function.
Babies seem to have a natural desire to put sand, dirt and objects in their mouth, Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote in her book, Why Dirt Is Good...
"What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment,” and “Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.
So, I could be sure I could hold my head high when my children would be regularly seen covered head-to-toe in mud from one of our regular walks in the park.
But when they did get a cold or fevers, I would feel terrible and question my parenting, why do they end up always seemingly ill once they are on the move more?
Apparently.... children start to get colds after about six months of age when the immunity they received from their mom starts to fade and they have to build up their own immune system
When kids are young, their bodies have not yet come into contact with all the strange and not so wonderful viruses and bacteria's out there that make our bodies poorly, as the body does not recognise that specific strand of bug and therefore doesn't know how to fight it off and that's why they get ill and then once they have recovered they build up a resistance to that bug so that the next time that bug comes into contact with them, their body should be more able to fight it off easily, but viruses are tricky and are mutating all of the time so they are constantly changing so this makes things difficult!..
If I couldn't avoid them, how could I build up and strengthen the body’s natural defence mechanism–the immune system?
Firstly, we decided to spruce up our Vitamin intake, the best Vitamins we found for our kids are these ones from Garden of Life, they are derived from whole food and are not synthetic or combined with chemicals as most supplements are. My hubby discovered the Youngevity supplement range for us (and the kids if in a reduced quantity) and it's absolutely POTENT stuff- quite pricey therefor- however very effective and worth it!
Do we really need to take supplements despite you eating all your fruits and vegetables, getting adequate sunlight, plenty of sleep, and staying well hydrated? The answer is Yes, and Eating organic foods is really important too, here's why...
With the modernisation of farming methods the soil has been depleted of essential nutrients, the plants growing in the soil will not contain all these essential nutrients and ultimately if the plant doesn't have them then you 're not going to get them from eating that plant. Commercial harvesting, shipping processes, long term food storage, processing, and addition of preservatives degrades the nutrient content of food, therefore, unless you're eating a very fresh plant, it is far different at consumption than it was when initially harvested. Compounds are added to the food during many of these processes, such as MSG, saccharine, nutrasweet, splenda, colorings, and flavors which increase your body's need for nutrients in order to deal with these damaging synthetic derivatives. Pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals found in the modern food supply are combined with chemicals in water, environmental contamination from elements such as degraded plastic, air pollution from carbon monoxide, lead and mercury and increase our need for extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to combat formation of free radicals and the attack upon our metabolism and immune system. Also, our ability to absorb nutrients as we age decreases and growing children should absolutely be taking a multivitamin to support healthy tissue and bone formation. Eating more food won't help as it will interfere wither calorie intake and also be aware that taking any medications could interfere with nutrient absorption. Daily exercise is very important but the increase in the amount of oxygen and energy used up will necessitate additional nutrient supplementation, for athletes, consuming just the stated RDA can actually limit your athletic performance...
So, take the nutritional supplements!
Probiotics- get some good quality probiotics like these Garden of Life
Did you know 80% of your entire immune system is located in your digestive tract!? In addition to the impact on our immune systems, our digestive systems are the second largest part of our neurological system, called the enteric nervous system and is located in the gut. This is why it’s called our second brain! Many people with health issues, such as thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, autism and many other conditions don’t realise that these illnesses originate in the digestive system.'
According to Dr Axe here are the top seven probiotic killers that can prevent your body from getting all the tremendous probiotics benefits it needs:
-Try to maintain a good PH level in our bodies
What we call pH is short for the potential of hydrogen. It is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of our body’s fluids and tissues. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. The more acidic a solution is, the lower its pH. The more alkaline, the higher the number is.
A pH of 7 is perfectly neutral. The healthiest pH in our bodies is one that is slightly alkaline. Optimally, we want a pH of 7.365. This number will fluctuate throughout the day, but the normal range is between 6 and 7.5.
What affects pH? Normally, the kidneys maintain our electrolyte levels, those of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. When we are exposed to acidic substances, these electrolytes are used to combat acidity and high degrees of acidity force our bodies to rob minerals from the bones, cells, organs and tissues leaving the cells lacking enough minerals to properly dispose of waste or oxygenate completely. Vitamin absorption is therefor compromised by this mineral loss and toxins and pathogens accumulate in the body and the immune system becomes suppressed.
What causes acidity in your body?
Foods you should eat more of...
Organic foods are always best. Increase your green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale Fruits, mushrooms, avocado, radishes, cucumber, broccoli, oregano, garlic, ginger, green beans, cabbage, celery, zucchini and asparagus. Especially citrus, dates, raisins and spinach promote an alkaline pH.
Strangely enough, acidic fruits such as grapefruit and tomatoes don’t create acidity in the body, they do just the opposite and contribute to an alkaline environment.
Uncooked fruits and vegetables are said to be “life-giving.” Cooking foods depletes alkalinising minerals. Increase your intake of raw foods, and try juicing (more about juicing at the end of this article) or lightly steaming fruits and vegetables.
Alkaline water has a pH of 9 to 11. Distilled water is just fine to drink. Water filtered with a Reverse Osmosis filter is slightly acidic, but it’s still a far better option than tap water or purified bottled water. Adding pH drops, lemon or lime, or baking soda to your water boosts alkalinity.
Drinks made from green vegetables and grasses and spirulina in powder form are loaded with alkaline-forming foods and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is structurally similar to our own blood and alkalises the blood.
Apple cider vinegar
This tastes acidic but actually may help restore pH balance.
JUICING....(and I don't mean Steroids)
We invested in a new Philips juicing machine, a this juicer is a lot smaller than the last one we had but it takes up less space and works just as well, and is quick and easy to rinse off and clean. which is a great way of getting a higher amount of vitamins and minerals into the body and the kids love helping and drinking the colourful nutrient rich juice at the end!
Why should you start juicing? Because our bodies can only eat so much food at each meal before we get full and generally our meals don't have enough of the vitamins and especially minerals that our bodies are lacking. Incorporating juicing into your daily diets allows for a more concentrated amount of these nutrients to be extracted and ingested contributing to a healthier lifestyle, for some interesting information and juicing recipes you can find Joe Cross' book here.
I grew up in what they call 'the sticks' in KwaZulu Natal, South African.