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Health store help

Looking for advice on natural wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Hannah Dare of Organico in Bantry, Co Cork

Independent health store advice on helping your baby and toddler survive the virus-prone seasons

Why do babies need to develop their own immune system? Because in the womb a baby’s immune system needs to ‘back down’ to tolerate mother’s cells. Once the baby is born, their immune system must evolve from scratch. So how can you best facilitate that development, and make sure you have a healthy robust baby and toddler?

Breastfeeding is designed to kick start and support your baby’s immune system. Your first milk or colostrum contains a lot of antioxidants and antibodies and helps create a positive gut flora. Thankfully there is a move back to breastfeeding these days, however it is not always easy. You need to be prepared for sore breasts, cracked nipples, tiredness and a commitment to something that is not always an easy fit with modern living.

Despite making every effort to do what’s best, sometimes your child’s immune response is not in your control. I have two kids, now 10 and 7, and each had very different experiences of dealing with viral infection when they were small. My first child had a tendency to react to the most trivial colds and sniffles with a viral wheeze and a high temperature. My second child was robust from day one. They were both fed the best organic food, have the same parents, live in the same house and have the same lifestyle.

If you have a child that struggles with their immune response, don’t beat yourself up. But do try as many things as possible to avoid antibiotics unless they are absolutely essential.

Once your baby starts eating, the foods you choose are critical in helping to support (or undermine) your child’s developing immune system. It is really important to limit foods containing sugar (sugar lowers immune response, and bacteria thrive on the acidic environment created by eating sugar, plus it’s terrible for your baby’s gut flora).

If you really need to make a cake, check out the new sugar substitutes found in health food shops – there are a few which work well in baking and which don’t boost blood sugars. Look for products containing a blend of stevia and erythritol.

Encouraging raw fruit and veggies is important in so many more ways than we even know – I loved the recent study that found that a raw apple not treated with pesticides contains more than 100 million diverse bacteria that could make them better for our health than conventional apples.

It’s great to make sure your toddler gets plenty of zinc, as zinc is essential for a good immune system. Make sure your kids eat plenty of nuts and seeds, chickpeas and lentils, and fresh veggies. Eating organic wholegrains (brown rice etc) will also help your baby get the minerals she needs. Vitamin C (I find a powder or chewable tablet handy for smallies) and vitamin D drops are also helpful – D for immunity as well as building healthy bones, and C to help fight off colds and viruses.

If your child gets a cold or virus, elderberry and olive leaf extracts are both worth having on hand. Both are safe and effective if taken in time. I also found nasal washing very helpful - it is much easier to sleep when we don’t have a blocked nose.

What’s What and Who’s Who at Organico

Organico was opened in Bantry, Co Cork in 1992 by Alan Dare and over the years he was helped by daughters Hannah and Rachel, who now run the health store, cafe and bakery.

“Organico was primarily a food store and you could buy everything in sacks and shop on a budget,” says Hannah. “Now you can do your complete weekly shop – we don’t go to supermarkets ourselves. The shop is situated in an old forge on the outskirts of town and has become a destination partly because of the cafe.

“Our customers are a cross section of all strands of local people, and tourists in the summer. We have lots of families coming in, people doing their weekly shop, those looking for supplements, cosmetics and advice and of all ages. Anyone coming to our store is usually looking for something a bit different.

“We are still predominantly a food store with an organic licence which allows us to sell loose vegetables; a bakery with for example spelt bread, organic sourdough, seed and oat breads; fresh eggs; local greens and mushrooms; a cheese counter and local honey.

“We have a drinks fridge and another with raw milk and cheese, sheep’s milk, home-made humous, dressings and seaweed pesto. We also stock vegan ice-creams, dairy alternatives and vegan ready meals in our freezer, olives, handmade local low sugar chocolate, organic wine and local roasted coffee. Our zero waste area and refill room is going really well with the top 50 dried goods available.

“Our beauty section includes all of the top brands with a full hair and skin range and limited cosmetics. A new product for example is a cream-based deodorant that is proving popular.

“We stock about six ranges of eco cleaning products for the home and have set up a new system of refilling liquid products that avoids spillages. It uses a compressor, similar to one used for beer, and decants it into any container the customer brings. We offer 16 different cleaning products this way.

“Our supplements include all the big names and good value, high strength, liquid, spray and homeopathics. Plus there probiotics, medicinal mushrooms and Irish organic CBD products. We offer 2500 products online with free delivery over €30. Our customer loyalty card doesn’t store data – you simply get a stamp for every €20 you spend and once you have 15 stamps you get 10% off a shop.”

VISIT: Organico, Glengarriff Road, Bantry, Co Cork
PHONE: 027 51391
SPEAK TO: Owners Hannah and Rachel Dare, manager Fleur Hindley, assistant managers Elizabeth Ewing and Christine Meadows and shop assistants Ceri Williams, Helen Tobin and Sile Ni Cheidigh among others.

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