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Building Blocks of Wellbeing: Lifestyle Medicine for Your Little Ones




As a practitioner in holistic medicine, I worry about the substantial attention given to end solutions in healthcare and medicine. Despite the increasing sophistication in explanations and applications of medicine, we often return to fundamental principles. For instance, the correlation between quality sleep and improved wellbeing and the connection between lifestyle choices and overall vibrancy. With around 80% of chronic diseases stemming from our everyday lifestyles. The key lies in fostering a lifestyle that inherently supports good health.


A noteworthy example of a rising chronic disease is dementia, and its connection to lifestyle becomes apparent long before signs of forgetfulness emerge. The lifestyle associated with dementia involves a gradual disengagement from the world—initially innocuous activities such as excessive phone use, prolonged television watching, and constant indoor confinement with minimal exercise. These "checking-out" behaviours evolve into habits, embedding themselves in our daily routines. The opposite of staying present with your body. One Harvard study showed that we spend almost 50% of our time thinking about something else and not present in what we are actually doing. The disease of dementia starts here, the disease of checking-out, demotivation and a sense of withdrawal. As the body reacts to the monotony and weight of an unnatural lifestyle, chronic illness emerges as a means to release accumulated unnatural dis-ease in the body.


You might wonder about the relevance to children's health, as dementia is traditionally considered a disease of old age. Yet, the surge in dementia might eventually trace back to childhood, as the widespread early exposure to screens fosters a lifelong habit of constant device interaction. Formed in youth, these habits become ingrained, as breaking them feels challenging due to the familiarity of "always doing it like this."


 

Instead, encourage your child to be present and focus on one task at a time.

  • Establish connections by making eye contact when communicating.

  • Assign purpose to device usage.

  • Encourage constant awareness of your body and practice staying in the moment.

  • Ensure your child is getting adequate sleep nightly.

  • Encourage your child to play outside in nature.

  • Practicing mindfulness, an active awareness and paying attention to what is happening around you, noticing what you’re thinking, feeling, and doing.


This approach embodies true lifestyle medicine, and healthy longevity naturally ensues.


 

Reference


Santos RMS, Mendes CG, Marques Miranda D, Romano-Silva MA. The Association between Screen Time and Attention in Children: A Systematic Review. Dev Neuropsychol. 2022 Jul;47(4):175-192. doi: 10.1080/87565641.2022.2064863. Epub 2022 Apr 17. PMID: 35430923.


Lindstrom HA, Fritsch T, Petot G, Smyth KA, Chen CH, Debanne SM, Lerner AJ, Friedland RP. The relationships between television viewing in midlife and the development of Alzheimer's disease in a case-control study. Brain Cogn. 2005 Jul;58(2):157-65. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2004.09.020. Epub 2004 Dec 22. PMID: 15919546.


Madigan S, Browne D, Racine N, Mori C, Tough S. Association Between Screen Time and Children's Performance on a Developmental Screening Test. JAMA Pediatr. 2019 Mar 1;173(3):244-250. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.5056. Erratum in: JAMA Pediatr. 2019 May 1;173(5):501-502. PMID: 30688984; PMCID: PMC6439882.


Russell-Williams J, Jaroudi W, Perich T, Hoscheidt S, El Haj M, Moustafa AA. Mindfulness and meditation: treating cognitive impairment and reducing stress in dementia. Rev Neurosci. 2018 Sep 25;29(7):791-804. doi: 10.1515/revneuro-2017-0066. PMID: 29466242.


Katz DL, Frates EP, Bonnet JP, Gupta SK, Vartiainen E, Carmona RH. Lifestyle as Medicine: The Case for a True Health Initiative. Am J Health Promot. 2018 Jul;32(6):1452-1458. doi: 10.1177/0890117117705949. Epub 2017 May 19. PMID: 28523941.








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