Home Archive by category Health (Page 2)

Health

It’s about being a part of a group … not apart from a group.

What do we mean by belonging?

When we belong to a group, we feel we have a place in it or a right to be part of it.
Groups can be of any size and makeup. Often they are made of people who share a common passion or interest – for example a group of friends, a band, or a sports team. They can also be made of people who share something else in common – for example being from the same community, religion, or country; or having special needs.

What do we mean by including and excluding?

To belong to a group we have to feel included in it by its other members: we must feel that they welcome us into it, or at least agree with us being part of it. Sometimes we have to make an effort to be included in a group (like practising our music for band, or learning a new language); sometimes we are automatically included (like being born blind or a Kiwi).
If we don’t feel included in a group, we can feel excluded from it.

Why is belonging important?

When we belong to a group, we feel accepted, respected and supported by it. It can form part of our identity (who we feel we are). Not only can this make us feel good about ourselves, but it usually makes us want to join in its activities. When we belong to a group we know that there are others like us on whom we can rely in good times or bad, so it can make us more resilien .

If someone feels excluded from a group they want to be a part of they might feel sad, rejected or angry. If they can’t find another group to join, they might feel lonely and vulnerable. It can also be hard for people to value, understand – or even care – about groups to which they don’t belong. 

We may belong to some types of groups all our lives.

There are also lots of groups to which we may belong for a while only.

Can you think of some examples of each type?

How can we belong to groups or include people in them?

There’s a lot we can do to include people in groups or belong to them ourselves:

Belonging Including
Accept invitations to play and invite people to join us in return; join in group activities in school and outside it Invite people to play with us at school and at home – especially if they’re new in town  
Join sports, games, music or community groups Welcome people into our play, sports, music or community groups
Offer to help others and show that we appreciate their help and friendship; contribute to groups Share things with others – toys, sports’ gear, our time, our friendship
Try to understand or fit in with the customs of another group, community, culture or country; maybe explain yours to them Ask someone to tell us about their different ability, lifestyle, culture or country; avoid judging people before you get to know them
Keep an open mind, be ready to take on new ideas and experiences and give everyone a “fair go” Keep an open mind, be ready to take on new ideas and experiences and give everyone “a fair go”

References

One-eighty.org., n.d. “Belonging – Why is it so Important for Children to Feel like they ‘Belong’ around Other People?” Retrieved from: http://one-eighty.org.uk/belonging-blog/ 4 December 2017.
National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Republic of Ireland, n.d. “Identity and Belonging”. Retrieved from: http://www.ncca.biz/Aistear/pdfs/PrinciplesThemes_ENG/ID&Belonging_ENG.pdf 5 December 2017.
Women and Children’s Health Network, 4 May 2017. “Feeling Lonely”. Retrieved from: http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&np=287&id=1800 4 December 2017.
Women and Children’s Health Network, 14 November 2016. “Prejudice – Not Giving a ‘Fair Go’”. Retrieved from: http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335 &np=287&id=2348 4 December 2017.

Useful links

Life Ed factsheets “What is Empathy?”[HO5] , and “What is Resilience?”

Read but not cited:

Bilmes J, (2012), ‘Beyond behaviour management’, 1st Ed, St Paul, Minn, Redleaf Press.
Teach Preschool, 28 July 2014. “Every Child Needs to Feel Like They Belong”: author Deborah Stewart. Retrieved from: https://teachpreschool.org/2014/07/28/every-child-needs-to-feel-like-they-belong/ 4 December 2017.
Women and Children’s Health Network  “Social Skills” http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&np=287&id=2905


Loving ourselves: self-love and self-compassion

Self-love (sometimes called “self-compassion”) is the belief that you are a valuable and worthy person who deserves to be treated with love and kindness.

Why is it important to love ourselves?

When we love ourselves, we feel good about who and what we are. It’s not being selfish. It’s about allowing ourselves the same love, kindness, compassion and support that we’d show our friends or family; and not judging ourselves too harshly.
It’s important because it helps us to be stronger and happier people:

  • We know that we can be kind to ourselves and ask for help when we need it
  • We know that we can accept the love and kindness others offer us
  • We feel more positive, and less anxious or worried, about life
  • We bounce back from stress and set-backs more easily
  • We find it easy to give love to others because we have a big store of it inside us.

How can we practise self-love?

There are many things we can do to practise self-love and help it develop:

  • Treat ourselves kindly and don’t judge ourselves too harshly
  • Tell ourselves something really good and positive about ourselves each day
  • Respect ourselves for who we are and what we are; if other people think differently, that’s OK too but we’re not going to let it worry us or get us down.
  • Make a list of all our achievements and happy things when we’re feeling really good: remind ourselves of these when we’re feeling down
  • Admit we’re human: everyone makes mistakes and can learn from them
  • Love our bodies by making sure they get healthy amounts of good food and exercise
  • Learn to sometimes say “No”: we can’t always please everyone all the time
  • Be comfortable asking for help if we feel we can’t deal with a situation on our own: we deserve the same support that we would offer others if they were struggling.
  • Have fun, find something to love in what we do each day, and enjoy being ourselves!

How can we help others to love themselves?

Self-love is similar to, but not the same as self-esteem[HO1] . Encouraging our friends, family and classmates to feel good about themselves will develop both their self-love and self-esteem.  We can also persuade them not to beat themselves up or blame themselves at those times when things don’t go so well.

References

Huffington Post, 15 February 2017. “Self-love Must Come First: How to Love Yourself”: author Joyce Marter. Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/joyce-marter-/selflove-must-come-first-_b_9237282.html 4 December 2017.
Psychology Today, 29 June 2017, “* Powerful Steps to Self-love”: author Melanie Greenberg. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201706/8-powerful-steps-self-love 4 December 2017.
Women and Children’s Health Network, 14 November 2016. “Being Happy”. Retrieved from: http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&np=287&id=2243 4 December 2017.

If anything bad happens online, we need to report it or talk about it.

What are we talking about?

Most of the time the messages, posts, tweets and images we send and receive on our phones, tablets and other devices let us share fun stuff. But sometimes bad things can happen online: like cyberbullying, identity fraud, or inappropriate communication.

Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology like shared texts, emails, online posts, images, messages or videos to embarrass, threaten or harm another. It can range from spreading rumours to encouraging violence (see our separate sheet [HO3] on cyberbullying).
Identity fraud is when someone pretends to be us by using our login/password details – maybe to post nasty messages, perhaps to spend our money. It generally happens without our permission or knowledge.
Inappropriate communication is anything from someone sending violent or sexual messages or posts that upset us to blackmail and stalking (= unwanted attention). It could be a suggestion that we meet up and do something with them in real life, perhaps something that doesn’t feel right or safe.

What can we do if we’ve been sent something nasty on a mobile or online?

If we’ve received a nasty call, been sent an upsetting message or image, or seen one on another person’s device, there are some practical things we (or our caregivers[HO4] ) can do:

  • Tell someone, preferably an adult, what’s happening, that we’re upset by it, or think it’s not right. If we’d rather not talk to friends, family or school we can contact[HO5]  Netsafe , Kidsline, What’s Up, or Youthline for confidential support and advice.
  • Text back the sender/caller and tell them to stop; or turn off our phone.
  • Change our phone number, mute, block or unfriend people we are worried about, and alter our online profile or privacy details so they’re more secure; most providers offer online help with these settings.
  • If it’s cyberbullying, see our factsheet on What can I do if I’m being bullied online[HO6] ?
  • Gather evidence of the activity: save messages, take screen shots or photos, record dates and urls, or print emails.
  • Maybe take a short break from some or all social media; we all have the right to be online, but sometimes “disappearing” for a bit is the safest and wisest thing to do.
  • Report what’s happened to our internet or mobile provider – they may be able take down or block certain numbers, users or sites that break their code of conduct.
  • If what’s happening is really serious or scary, consider telling the Police.

What can we do to protect ourselves online?

  • Choose carefully with whom we share our mobile, personal and online details and any messages or posts: one US study found 17% of all so-called “private” emails/texts were shared – often with more than one person.
  • Set our privacy[HO7]  settings to protect what can be shared on social networks like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat; organisations like Netsafe and Sticks ‘n Stones also have great advice on how to do this and how to report things like bullying.
  • Never share our passwords or logins.
  • Never join in cyberbullying or trolling – what goes around often comes around.
  • [HO8]  the age limits on websites and games ­ – they are there for a good reason.
  • Think before posting an image of ourselves; be cautious if someone asks us for one.
  • Never agree to meet anyone we’ve “met” online anywhere alone in real life, unless we know exactly who they are and that we’ll be safe with them. The same goes for giving them our contact details (address, phone etc.), however much they ask.

References

Women and Children’s Health[HO9]  Network, 16 October 2017. “Mobile Phones are Great … Aren’t They?”. Retrieved from: http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&np=288&id=2701 15 November 2017.
Netsafe, 29 October 2017. “Help with Online Harassment, Bullying and Abuse”. Retrieved from: https://www.netsafe.org.nz/hdc/ 15 November 2017.
Sticks ‘n Stones, n.d. “Dealing[HO10]  with Bullying”. http://www.sticksnstones.co.nz/youth/dealing-with-bullying/ 1 November 2017.

Useful[ links

Facebook https://www.netsafe.org.nz/adjusting-your-privacy-settings-on-facebook/
Kidsline http://www.kidsline.org.nz/Home_312.aspx
Netsafe https://www.netsafe.org.nz/aboutnetsafe/  
Office of the eSafety[  Commisioner https://www.esafety.gov.au/complaints-and-reporting/cyberbullying-complaints/social-media-services-safety-centres
Snapchat https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/a/privacy-settings
Sticks ‘n Stones http://www.sticksnstones.co.nz/our-project/
Twitter https://support.twitter.com/articles/20169886
What’s Up? http://www.whatsup.co.nz/
Youthline https://www.youthline.co.nz/contact-us/


We need a little bit of fat as part of a healthy diet but some fats are better for us than others. Fat is used for energy and helps our brain to work properly. It is found naturally in animal products such as lamb and butter but it is also added to many processed foods such as potato chips. Unsaturated fats are helpful to the body but we only need small amounts of them.  We mainly get these fats from plants and fish. Trans fats and saturated fats are the unhealthy fats which have been linked to heart disease.  If people have too much saturated or trans fat in their bodies it can build up and block their blood vessels, which causes heart trouble.

What are they?

Fats and oils belong to a larger group of substances called lipids. We call fats that are liquid at room temperature “oils”.  Fat is a source of energy and essential fatty acids.  Some foods have almost no fat whilst others have plenty of fat.

What’s the difference between the main types of fat?

Saturated fatty acids (SFAs)

Saturated fats are considered to be the unhealthy fats.  Eating too much of these has been shown to link to high cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.  Saturated fats are found in meat and other animal products and in many takeaway and processed foods.

Unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs)

Unsaturated fats are sometimes called the healthy fats and in small amounts they are helpful to the body.  There are two types of unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA).  Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are types of PUFA that we get mainly from plants or fish. They include two essential fatty acids (EFAs) that we can’t live without or make ourselves and must get from our food.

Trans fats (TFAs)

Trans fats are produced during some manufacturing processes and have been found to be more harmful than saturated fat to heart health. For this reason, trans fats should be avoided in the diet and replaced with mono or polyunsaturated fats where possible.  Natural TFAs are present (about 2% to 9% total fat) in beef, mutton and lamb and dairy foods.

Why do these differences matter?

If we have lots of SFAs in our bodies, the ones with melting points around our body temperature can start to build up and solidify (set), attract “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and block our blood vessels. This can cause heart trouble. Man-made TFAs cause similar problems and are now banned in some countries, like the USA. Fish and plants operating at lower temperatures that could risk SFA blockages tend to use fewer fats and/or more UFAs.

Why do we need fat?

Fats are a part of every cell in our body and the building blocks for many hormones, including steroids and sex hormones. We need them for our brains to work properly and when we are injured or have bacteria or poisons in our body tissue as fat helps to combat infections.  Eating fat guarantees a source of our two Essential Fatty Acids, the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and helps us absorb some vitamins like Vitamin D.

Fat also provides energy. It releases over twice the energy of proteins and carbohydrates (37 kJ versus 17 kJ per gram) when burned, so is great for active bodies.  It is vital for maintaining healthy skin and hair.

Which foods contain which fats?

Saturated fats are common in animal foods like fatty meats and full fat dairy foods like butters, cheese, cream, yoghurts; and cocoa butter, palm oil, & coconut products.

Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and man-made trans fats are found in processed foods like hard margarines, shortening, cakes, crisps, crackers, biscuits, processed meats like salami and corned beef; dairy foods, beef and lamb have natural trans fats.

Monounsaturated fats are in good amounts in many nuts and their oils (including cashews, macadamias and peanuts), avocado and its oils, and lean meat.

Polyunsaturated (including omega-3 and -6) fat sources include common vegetable oils (canola, corn, sunflower, soybean) nuts, seeds, fish and some margarines. Oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines, seafood like mussels, flax oil and walnuts are good for omega-3s. Sunflower, soybean, corn, sesame and walnuts are good sources of omega-6s.

What information is there about fats on food packets?

In NZ a food label can only legally claim it’s “low-fat” if it contains less than 1.5 g total fat/100 mL liquid or 3 g total fat/100 g. Nutrition Information Panels (NIPS) in NZ must list total and saturated fat levels but do not have to give TFA, PUFA, MUFA, omega or EFA levels unless the manufacturer wants to or is making health or nutrition claims. Foods with less than 10 g fat/100 g (or 2 g/100 g for dairy) are usually considered low fat. If you check out Harold’s Food Analyser you’ll find that most fruit, breakfast cereals, grain foods, legumes and veggies meet these levels and some meats and dairy – but hardly any snacks.

What can we do?

Watching the level of SFAs and TFAs in our foods is a good start as these are the fats most likely to cause us harm. The Ministry of Health reckons that SFAs provide 14% to 15% percent of energy in the diets of NZ children and young people– more than the 10% recommended – but our TFA levels are below the 1% recommended levels, at around 0.6%.

To reduce how much fat – particularly SFAs and TFAs we eat – we can:

  • Use less fat and replace foods or oils rich in SFAs with ones rich in PUFAs and MUFAs.
  • Cut down on the amount of heavily processed foods we eat.
  • Try leaner meats or fish, and low fat or lower fat dairy options.
  • Think about how the total amount of energy in all the food we eat each day balances out against the energy we use – the excess is mostly stored in fatty tissue in our bodies.

 

 

Iron is a mineral. When we eat plants and animals we get it in two main forms: as non-haem and haem iron. Dairy foods, eggs and plants have non-haem iron only; good sources are nuts, legumes and dried fruits. Lean red meat, poultry, and fish are good sources of haem iron but also have non-haem. We sometimes add iron to foods like yeast spreads and breakfast cereals.

Human bodies can’t absorb (take in) non-haem iron nearly as well as haem iron. Some substances (like Vitamin C) can help us absorb non-haem iron, while others make it harder.

We need iron to help blood carry oxygen round our bodies and give us energy. It also helps make chemical messengers like hormones and the neurotransmitters in our nerves. We need a lot when we’re growing. If we don’t eat enough iron we can feel tired, get sick, and look pale.

What is it?

Iron is the fourth most common mineral element in the earth’s crust. It’s also in the bodies of plants and animals. In animal meats, just under half its iron is there as “haem iron” (in blood) and the rest as “non-haem iron” (found in plants). The iron in dairy, eggs, and edible plants is only there as non-haem iron. Sadly, our bodies can’t absorb non-haem iron from foods nearly as well as haem iron.

What foods do we get it from?

Lean red animal meats, liver, poultry and seafood are good sources of haem iron. There’s a good amount of non-haem iron in fortified breakfast cereals (to which iron has been added), many dried fruits, nuts, legumes and other veggies, and spreads like marmite/vegemite. People eating only the less absorbable non-haem iron need to make sure they get enough to meet their iron needs.

Can other substances affect how much iron we get?

Vitamin C helps us to absorb non-haem iron from food in our gut if it’s eaten at the same time: try a kiwifruit or some fresh orange juice with your cereal. Haem iron also helps with absorbing non-haem iron – suggesting there might be something to old idea of “meat and two veg”. A number of substances including tannins (which give us the bitter taste in tea and coffee), oxalates (found in spinach and chocolate) and phytates (found in some legumes and grains) interfere with non-haem absorption, so eating a varied diet will help to balance out their effects.

Why do we need it?

We need iron to help make haemoglobin and myoglobin – the proteins that help carry oxygen in our blood and to our muscles. Iron helps us to get energy from our food. We also use it to make certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) and hormones. And our immune system needs it. People who are active or growing fast like infants, children, teenagers and athletes – or losing blood like teenage girls and women of childbearing age – need more iron.

What happens if we have too much or too little?

Too little iron (deficiency) isn’t common in NZ. Adolescent girls are most at risk. Someone with a deficiency could feel tired, look pale, feel puffed, or get more infections. Anaemia (a lack of red blood cells or haemoglobin) has these symptoms. We’re unlikely to get too much iron unless we’re taking high doses of iron supplements or have a genetic condition (haemochromatosis) that causes it to build up. A bit too much might upset our stomach and make us feel sick, but too much over a long time could damage someone’s heart or liver.

Funky fact

About 0.005% of an 80-kg adult’s bodyweight is iron: that’s about 4 g­ or enough to make 3 or 4 nails. We store about half the iron in our bodies in our liver.

Levels of nutrients like vitamins can be changed by storing and processing fruit and veges. Many plants start to lose vitamin B and C once they’re picked: stored spinach can lose all its Vitamin C in a week. Freezing fresh fruit and veg can reduce how much Vitamin B and C they lose, and even increase Vitamin E levels. In other plants, storage increases levels of vitamins A or D.

Cooking fresh plants can also cut their Vitamin B and C levels by around 15% to 50%. Just how much depends on the plant and how it was cooked. Canned plant foods lose about 60% of their Vitamin B and C compared to fresh. But many canned vegetables concentrate minerals like calcium or sodium, and canned tomatoes may contain more Vitamin E.

Aim for a mix of very fresh, chilled, frozen and canned foods, cooked in many ways.

What happens to vitamins when we store fruit and vegetables?

Levels of water-soluble vitamins like B and C start to fall at different rates after we pick some plants: fresh spinach stored at 20 °C for a week loses 100% of its Vitamin C, but carrots only 27%; refrigeration at 4 °C slows down these losses (to 75% and 10%, respectively), as does flash freezing vegetables like peas right after harvesting. But other plants (like pumpkins and mushrooms) only develop higher levels of carotenes (coloured substances related to Vitamin A) or fat-soluble vitamins like A and D after they’ve been kept for a while.

How do frozen and refrigerated vegetables and fruits compare?

A 2015 study found certain stored frozen foods (like corn, green beans and blueberries) had higher Vitamin C levels than the same refrigerator-stored fresh food. There was no major loss of Vitamin C for frozen strawberries, carrots, spinach, peas or broccoli. For Vitamin B2 the results were similar except that frozen peas lost more than refrigerated ones. Beta-carotene (from which we make Vitamin A) levels were 50% lower in frozen peas, carrots and spinach than in refrigerated but no different for beans and broccoli. Vitamin E levels were up to 50% higher for frozen peas, beans, blueberries, spinach and corn.

What happens when we cook fruit and vegetables?

Most cooking techniques like boiling or baking  break down water soluble vitamins so they’re less helpful to us. Home cooking causes a 15% to 55% loss of Vitamin C depending on plant type and method. Microwaving, boiling and steaming generally cause least loss and frying the most, but it varies. Boiling carrots concentrates their beta-carotene but can damage  other nutrients. The nutrients that leak out of plant cells into cooking water aren’t totally wasted if you use this liquid in a sauce, stew or soup. But if you peel plants before cooking them, remember you’re also removing some of their nutrients: about 90% of the iron, 70% of the fibre, and 30% to 50% of the B and C vitamins in a potato are in its skin.

How do frozen and canned fruits and vegetables stack up?

Blanching (briefly putting food in boiling water or steam to stop the enzymes that break it down from working) before freezing or canning can damage sensitive vitamins like B and C. Vitamin C losses average around 50% for freezing and over 60% for canning. And because picked plants – even refrigerated ones – naturally lose Vitamin C, frozen produce can end up containing similar amounts of Vitamin C to fresh foods which have been stored for a while. Canned tomatoes often have more Vitamin E than fresh or frozen ones, but levels are similar for other vegetables. Canned veges often take up minerals (like calcium) from water during processing so may have more than fresh. But they often also have added sodium (brine) – and tinned fruits may come in sugary syrups. It’s good to check can labels and aim for low or no sodium and sugar products, and maybe drain or rinse what’s inside before eating it.

So what’s the best trade-off?

By the time we balance vitamin losses during storage against those from freezing or canning and cooking, most cooked fresh vegetables will contain similar levels of nutrients like Vitamin C and beta-carotene (from which we make Vitamin A) to cooked frozen or canned ones. Although fresh is good, it’s not always practical or economical: a variety of fresh, chilled, frozen and canned produce, prepared in a range of ways should provide most of the nutrients we need in a balanced diet.

A processed food is anything we eat that we’ve changed on purpose in some way from its natural state. We call the process that causes the change ‘food processing’, and we’ve been doing it for thousands – even millions – of years.

Simple processing includes things like bagging, washing and cutting up food.  This doesn’t change it too much. Heavier processing includes cooking, adding preservatives, sugars or salt, combining foods, or changing their textures. It is more likely to change the properties of a food and also how good it is for us. When people talk about “processed foods” they usually mean heavily processed ones like snacks and convenience foods.

Washing, cooking or chilling food to kill harmful bacteria are examples of processing which can make food safer. Adding lots of sugars, fats, or salt are examples of processing which can make it less healthy.  We need to balance the helpful and harmful.

There are different degrees of food processing

We can think of processed foods as falling on a scale depending on their level of processing:

Simple processing keeps most of a food’s natural physical, chemical, and nutritional properties. We do it when we wash, clean, bag and cut up fresh food.

Minimal to moderate processing changes more food properties. It includes blanching*, cooking, freezing, drying, juicing and extracting, crushing, mincing, pickling and canning; it’s also processes like pasteurising, refining and milling. It can involve adding ingredients like fats, oils, sugars and sweeteners, salt, flavours, and preservatives; or using processes like baking to combine foods and change their structure.

Heavy processing involves even more ingredients (including additives: emulsifiers, colours, and stabilisers) and more complex chemical or physical processes (like adding hydrogen to saturate unsaturated fats, water to plump up bacon, or carbon dioxide to make fizzy drinks). This further changes the structure, taste, time it will last, texture, and nutritional value of foods. It creates the products most people think of as “processed foods”: crackers, snacks, cakes, biscuits, deli meats (like salami, ham and bacon), cook-in sauces, breakfast cereals, soft drinks … all the way up to convenience foods and ready-to-eat meals.

Why do we process foods?

To help ourselves. Simple or minimal processing makes foods cleaner and easier to eat and transport. We also process foods to make them suitable or safe to eat (e.g. milling grain, boiling raw potatoes, pressing oil, pasteurising milk, or cooking meat). Some processes (like blanching*, canning and freezing) preserve foods so we can enjoy them safely at our convenience and out of season. But we also process foods to make them more appealing – whether by adding sugar, fats and salt for taste, removing some fats, swapping artificial sweeteners for sugars, removing fibrous husks, adding or removing caffeine, adding vitamins or minerals, altering textures, or using preservatives to make foods last longer.

Sometimes processed foods may not be the best choice

Some processed foods encourage us to eat more salt, sugar and fat (especially saturated) than we need, and various substances about which we know very little. Our understanding of what’s in a food usually decreases as processing increases, so it’s harder to make healthy food choices. Processing can also alter concentrations of key nutrients.

Sometimes processed foods are helpful

However, many processed foods have a place in our lives – and not just because they keep foods safe from unwanted bacteria. If someone is busy, being able to use frozen, pre-cut, or washed fruits and vegetables for a meal could make the difference between eating them or deciding not to; canned foods like cooked kidney beans or tuna provide nutritious foods we might not have time to prepare safely or at all; and affordable tinned foods like tomatoes, fruit salad and pineapple can add useful amounts of vitamin C to our diet.

*Briefly putting food in boiling water or steam to stop the enzymes that break it down from working.

What is the Liver?
The Liver is the largest solid organ in the body. It grows as we grow until, when we are adults, it has reached the approximate size of an American Football. It can be found on the right side of the body, just under the rib cage. Blood constantly flows through the liver to be cleaned and processed, and the liver holds approximately 13% of the body’s entire volume of blood at any one time.

What does the Liver do?
The Liver has over 500 functions, but some of the most important ones are:
• Processing digested food and absorbing useful nutrients into the blood.
• Removing harmful substances and waste products from the blood.
• Breaking down food and converting it to energy, especially heat.
• Storing energy as glycogen, ready to be used when it is needed quickly.
• Making bile, which is stored in the gallbladder until it is needed in the blood to help absorb fat from food.
• Fighting infections within the body, and cleaning bacteria from the blood.
• Storing iron, vitamins, and other essential chemicals until they are needed.
• Making enzymes and proteins to be used elsewhere in the body.

What are the Kidneys?
We each have two Kidneys. They sit under the ribcage – one on either side of the spine – and filter the blood that they receive from the renal artery.
Their most important task is to filter waste. They also filter enough water from the blood to keep the fluid levels in our bodies balanced, and combine this excess water with the filtered waste to make urine. The urine travels through the ureter to the bladder, where it is stored until we go to the toilet.

Our Kidneys are also involved in:
• Keeping levels of certain minerals in the blood such as potassium, sodium and phosphate stable.
• Producing hormones that make red blood cells.

What is the Pancreas?
The Pancreas is a long, flat gland about 12 cm long that sits behind the stomach. It has two main jobs:
• Making enzymes which digest fats, carbohydrates and proteins, and sends them to the small intestine through the pancreatic duct. The nutrients can then be absorbed into the blood.
• Making hormones: most importantly insulin, which controls and regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) that the body can store and use. When the Pancreas cannot make enough insulin, the person may develop diabetes.

Being part of a team
When we are part of a group of people who share skills and work together to achieve a common goal, we are part of a team.
Sharing ideas and collaborating with others enables us to work creatively together. When each team member contributes, we can benefit from a wide range of strengths and skills. We can also help other people to be a good leader, by being a good team member.
Skills involved in being a good team member include:
. Reliability – do what you say you will do
. Communication – listen to others, and respond clearly and calmly
. Flexibility – be prepared to adapt when circumstances change within the team
. Focus – concentrate on your own work, and let others concentrate on theirs
. Being Respectful – of the roles and abilities of other team members

Types of Teams
When we think of a team, we often think first of a sports team, but a team is really any kind of group that is formed for a specific purpose. Some examples are:
. School student council
. School crossing patrollers
. Library monitors
. Class maths group

Being a Leader
Just as being a strong team member is crucial to the success of the team, so is having good leadership. A leader helps a team to stay on task, as well as making sure that all team members are valued and effective. Good leaders are positive and inclusive, not bossy and judgemental.
Although some people appear to have ‘natural’ leadership abilities, in actual fact, leadership skills can be learnt by anyone.
Good leaders:
. Help everyone to understand and ‘see’ the goal
. Motivate the team to keep going when things get hard
. Know how to listen to others, and communicate well
. Ensure that all team members feel valued
. Lead by example: be hardworking and reliable themselves
. Know how to encourage, not dominate, the team
. Are respectful of others and their abilities
. Treat all team members fairly
. Are prepared to take responsibility for the team and the outcome
. Can make difficult decisions when needed

At school, and in the community, it is important to take opportunities to lead – perhaps starting with small groups and projects. Leadership experiences can be very rewarding.
With a good team and good leadership, great things are possible. Whether the goal is to write and perform a play for the class; to plan and organise a school disco; or to compete in a sports tournament, teams need the participation and commitment of each team member to be truly successful.

The skeletal system is the name for all the bones and joints that make up the internal structure of our body.  There are 206 bones in the human body. 

What are bones made of?

  • The outer layer of a bone is called the Periosteum. It is a thin, strong layer containing nerves and blood vessels which nourish the bone.
  • Compact Bone is the shiny white layer of bone that we imagine when we think of a skeleton. This layer gives the bone its strength and structure.
  • Cancellous Bone, also known as spongy bone, is the spongy-looking layer of bone underneath the Compact Bone. This is designed to be strong but light, so that we can move around easily.
  • Protected in the centre of some bones (such as the femur, or thigh bone), we can find Bone Marrow. This is where our body makes blood cells.

 

What do our bones do?

  • The skeleton is the scaffold for our bodies. It provides a stable, strong structure for our muscles to attach to, and gives us shape.
  • Muscles and bones act together so that we can move. They act as levers – for example when we lift things, or kick balls – without too much effort.
  • Our organs are protected by our skeleton. For example: the skull protects our brain, while the rib cage protects our heart and lungs.
  • Blood cells are produced deep inside flat bones (such as the skull or hip bones) and long bones (such as thigh or arm bones).
  • Essential minerals and substances are stored in our bones for use when needed. The most important of these is calcium.
  • Bones change and develop as we grow. When we are born, we have about 300 bones.  As we grow, some of them grow together (fuse).  Other ‘bones’ are made of a substance called ‘cartilage’ when we are born, and slowly absorb calcium and turn into adult bone as we grow up.  This process happens at a certain rate, and is completed by the time we are 25 years old.  This explains why archaeologists can sometimes tell how old a person was, just from their skeleton.
  • Bone cells release a hormone that regulates blood sugar and fat deposits.

What are joints?

The point of contact between two bones is called a joint.  We have several different types:

  • A Fixed joint doesn’t move at all. A flat plate in the skull fused to another plate is an example of a fixed joint.
  • A Synovial joint is the most common type in our body. The space where two bones meet is covered with a kind of capsule which holds liquid called synovial fluid. This fluid acts like oil to stop friction and allow the bones to move.
  • A ‘hinge joint’ is where the bones can only move in one direction, such as the elbow.
  • A ‘ball and socket’ joint can move in many directions. The shoulder and the hips are ball and socket joints.

Public Domain images courtesy of WPclipart.com

References:

KidsHealth.org, Your Bones, October 2012.  Retrieved from:

http://kidshealth.org/ 20 March 2015

InnerBody.com Skeletal System, n.d. Retrieved from: http://www.innerbody.com/image/skelfov.html  20 March 2015

With support from       JSB Education

LET NZ 20 March 2015