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Have you heard of “nature cure”? It’s a term that underpins the philosophy of naturopathy and encompasses using nature to treat what ails us. The Medical Sanctuary’s Cassi Cowlam explains.

The concept of “nature cure” is simple. It includes drinking plenty of fresh water, exercising daily, playing in the sunshine, eating as close to nature as possible and getting restorative sleep.

It doesn’t sound that hard does it? In reality, we lead very stressful lives, eat high amounts of quick and processed foods devoid of nutrients, drink commercial and packaged drinks instead of water, don’t go out in the sun to play and spend too much time on the screen which not only makes us very sedentary, but can also affect our sleep. And our children are worse for it.

Children can get hooked on electronic tablets and smartphones and  Associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine, Dr Sigman, states “they can unintentionally cause permanent damage to their still-developing brains… The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary – all those abilities are harmed”.

Former WA Chief Scientist Professor Beazley offers a solution in that “children need to experience nature as much as possible because it is good for their growing brains. It allows them to ask all sorts of questions”. Playing in nature provides fresh air, social interaction, physical activity and Vitamin D which all improve their immune system and mental health. Outdoor games also helps develop motor skills, builds self-confidence and allows connection with the natural world. Sleep is also often improved.

So, how do we prepare our little ones for their venture to the great outdoors? First, take away their phones! Provide plenty of water to keep them hydrated and encourage them to drink regularly. Sometimes, depending on the exercise, I recommend a homemade electrolyte drink that includes magnesium and potassium powder, celtic sea salt and honey. Snacks are essential to keep up their energy and help maintain growth and function. Healthier options include fresh or dried fruit (not roll-ups or tinned) mixed with nuts and seeds as a trail mix, cheese cubes if they are not dairy intolerant, fresh vegetable sticks like carrots and celery stuffed with peanut or almond butter, rice cakes (not flavoured), naturally dried veggie chips or you can make some great energy bars using wholegrains, nuts and fruit, or protein balls.  My recipe below includes nuts, but you can swap for seeds if there is an allergy. Children can have fun making them too, and these balls will keep them playing outdoors for ages.

CASSI’S PROTEIN BALLS

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of raw mixed nuts (full of good fats, protein and minerals)
  • 60g fermented rice protein powder
  • 30g lecithin (great for the brain and nervous system)
  • 30g chia seeds (excellent fibre and protein source)
  • ½ cup of pumpkin seeds (great source of zinc)
  • ½ cup of dates (fibre and energy)
  • ½ cup of goji berries (antioxidants galore!)
  • 20g cacao powder (great for mood and memory and gives a chocolate flavour)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder (regulates blood sugar and mood)
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Dessicated coconut

Method

In a food processor, blend nuts. When moderately chopped, add all other ingredients (except coconut oil) and blend. Whilst still blending, slowly drizzle in coconut oil until ingredients start to stick. I also add some water at this point. Take a tablespoon of mix and roll into a ball (it should stick together quite well), then roll in dessicated coconut and pop in fridge. Can also roll in cacao powder or sesame seeds etc.

Words // Cassi Cowlam, Naturopath & Nutritionist

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