Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could help our children live long, healthy lives? As little as 50 years ago it was a rarity for a pediatric visit to focus on much else besides infections and injuries. Of course this is still important, but today we are all too often facing a different foe: chronic disease. Currently the CDC reports that roughly one in five children already suffers from obesity, and over 200,000 children have diabetes in this country. In nearly every category of chronic disease we see that numbers in the United States are going in the wrong direction. Even though technology can accomplish what was once thought to be impossible, it is by returning to our roots and establishing healthy day-to-day habits that we can find hope for changing this tide.
As a naturopathic physician, I often get asked what my specialty is. While I like to think of myself as a well-rounded primary care provider with a broad range of skills, the simple answer is that naturopaths are experts in helping to develop lifestyles that can support long-term health and happiness. Now think about the last habit that you tried to change to improve your health, be it changing your diet, increasing exercise, or even quitting smoking. (Good Job!) How hard was it to make that change? Wouldn't it have been nice if you had learned these healthy habits from the beginning? This is one of the most impactful ways that we can work together to protect our children’s future, by working to fortify habits that will support them for the rest of their lives.
For the most part, we all have an idea of what to do: drink plenty of water, eat fruits and vegetables, avoid excess sugar, exercise regularly, sleep 8 hours a night and so on. All families can start here and support each other in making healthy choices. The trouble is, there really isn't a single lifestyle prescription that fits everyone and obstacles are bound to come up. We aren't all blank slates already in perfect health, and even if there aren't issues like skin rashes or tummy aches that need to be addressed, there are often other hurdles that need to be overcome, i.e. “But Mom, I don’t like broccoli!” Naturopathic medicine offers patients of all ages expertise in developing plans that meet the patient where they are, while also enabling greater heights of health.
— By Maeghan Culver, ND naturopathic doctor and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the Seattle teaching clinic of Bastyr University.
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