Does Natural Mean Good for You?
Like most things in life, the answer is: it depends. All natural, organic and other healthy-sounding terms have gotten a huge marketing boost in the last several years. Some of this is with very good reason. Children (and adults!) definitely should eat more naturally-occurring, non-processed foods. Fruits, vegetables or nuts are definitely better snack options than chips, cheese puffs, candy or other processed foods. In fact, at least half of what your child eats should be fruits and vegetables. A diet low in saturated fat, sodium (salt) and added sugars will help your child focus better during the school day, feel better and avoid obesity and diabetes.
What About Organic?
There is no clear evidence that eating organic foods will help your child’s health. However, many organic practices are good for the environment and may help prevent the spread of drug-resistant bacteria.
What About Other All-Natural Products?
Many all-natural “remedies” (cold medicines, essential oils, supplements) are not legally considered foods or medicines, so they are not closely regulated. They may not have been tested for safety (or efficacy) – even if they are on the shelves at your favorite store. It’s important to remember that nature makes lots of things that are harmful to humans – that’s how plants protect themselves. Some natural remedies can be harmful. Some can interact with medications.
I recommend discussing all supplements and natural remedies – as well as the conditions you are hoping to treat or prevent – with your pediatrician. When it comes to your child’s health, it’s better to be safe than sorry.