Don’t you wish you could cold and flu proof your children? I do! I know building immunity is important but what about building strong bodies that handle sickness better? That’s what this post is about. Having a strong immune system so that when you, or your child, encounters a germ the body can fight it off quickly and hopefully minimize symptoms. These are the top things you can do on a regular basis to cold and flu proof your family.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional! I am a mama who researches a lot and am sharing what I have found to be helpful for our family. Always consult your doctor with any questions or concerns. I am not responsible for any outcomes. I use affiliate links at times in my posts. This does not cost you any more but does help off set my time writing this blog. Thank you in advance for supporting my affiliate links.
Top 12 ways to Cold and Flu Proof your family
These are the top 12 things you can do on a regular basis to cold and flu proof your family
Being well rested is one of the most important things you can do. Children need regular bedtimes and need to be getting adequate sleep nighty. Getting enough sleep as an adult can be hard. I’m a night owl, and as I’m typing this it is nearing midnight! Michael Walker, a sleep scientist at University of California, Berkeley, states: “Without sleep, there is low energy and disease. With sleep, there is vitality and health.” That quote explains everything. To be healthy you need to get enough sleep. If you aren’t getting enough sleep your immune system weakens. He also states “Once you know that after just one night of only four or five hours’ sleep, your natural killer cells – the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in your body every day – drop by 70%….”. To cold and flu proof your family you all need to be well rested! If your children are cranky and dragging while you are out take that as a que that they need some down time at home. During cold and flu season don’t be afraid to step back and spend more time at home. Let them have the rest and relaxation that their bodies need.
This is not huge news that we need to stay hydrated. However, our immune system depends on water and electrolytes. If you are not drinking enough water you will be dehydrated and your immune system will suffer. Make sure everyone in the family drinks enough water. Your water should be filtered of contaminates so that your body can focus on fighting germs and not chemicals. To see the water filter we use in our home click here (we use the Ultra UC. $10 off coupon using NBM10). If we feel like we need some extra electrolytes we will occasionally drink organic coconut water as well.
Seriously, no sugar. I hope I don’t lose you after this one but sugar immediately reduces your ability to fight off disease and increases inflammation in your body. We go into cold and flu season with the holidays and a focus on candy, sweets and other processed, high sugar foods. Just say no to refined sugar. Organic maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar are fine substitutions in limited quantities.
Strong Gut Health
Immunity, and health in general, starts in your gut. Make sure your gut health is strong. Do you have leaky gut symptoms such food allergies, IBS, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disorders, nutritional deficiencies, weakened immune system or skin rashes? If you do, you need to work on healing your gut. The first step is an elimination diet to determine which foods are triggering your symptoms. The next step is to start repairing your gut. You can find help from your naturopathic doctor or many resources online. It can not be stressed enough, that if you have leaky gut your immune system will suffer and you need to make healing your gut a priority. A majority of people living in the United States have leaky gut, or have had, due to the standard american diet. An author, and nutritionist, that I have followed for years and have a huge amount of respect for has a book called The Elimination Diet which you can find here.
Organic Whole Foods
The importance of organic, whole foods can not be stressed enough. Eating freshly prepared, non-packaged foods is the best possible way to feed your family. We strive for 100% organic food. Eating food that has been sprayed with toxic pesticides will damage your gut health. It will also tax your body. Both will lower your immune system (as well as increase the chance for other diseases). GMOs (genetically modified organism) can cause leaky gut. By staying with organic you will be avoiding GMOs. To see where I shop to save money on organic foods click here.
Immune Strengthening Foods
There are some super foods you can add to your diet to help immunity. Try to incorporate these foods on a regular basis and up the quantities when you are sick. Onions, garlic, mushrooms (shiitaki), turmeric, ginger and of course citrus. Onions contain quercetin which fights inflammation as well as allicin which is known for attacking viruses and bacteria. Onions can also break up mucus in your chest and head. Garlic is nature’s antibiotic. It fights off colds and flu viruses. Shiitaki mushrooms are anti-viral and combat both cold and flu viruses. Lentinan is a compound found specifically in shiitake mushrooms that has been shown to stimulate the immune system. Turmeric contains curcumin which is a powerful antioxidant that supports the immune system. Ginger is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Citrus is one of the main sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for fighting off infections.
Immune Boosters: Chiropractic, Acupuncture, and Acupressure
All three of these things, if done regularly, can improve immunity. I’m not saying do ALL three of these, pick one or two that works for you and your family and incorporate it into your life. Chiropractic supports the nervous system function. When the nervous system is functioning optimally, your immune system will benefit as well. To find a pediatric chiropractic click here for the ICPA directory. Acupuncture is a bit more complex but utimatley will get the root of stress or immflamation in your body which will then increase your immune system. There are also specific acupuncture points that can be used to target your immune system when you are not feeling well. Acupressure is great and easy to do at home. We do a very basic assupressure massage on our kids every night to help support their immune system. You can watch a brief YouTube video on Tunia Back Roll massage here that we do nightly.
Vitamins B, C & D
Make sure your vitamin D and B levels are optimal. If they are low, you will have lower immunity. Getting vitamin D from the sun is optimal. If you live in an area where there isn’t sun year around then you can supplement with vitamin D. We use Thorn vitamin D/K which you can find here. Vitamin B you can get through foods but certain diets or people with MTHFR might require additional supplementation. Using a food based vitamin C for extra support during the winter months is helpful for some. We save taking vitamin C for when we are sick. This is the vitamin C we use in our house.We do however make it a priority to eat high vitamin C foods on a regular basis. Kiwi, citris, red bell peppers (which is a nightshade and can cause inflammation in some), kale, broccoli, cauliflower are all great sources of vitamin C.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Drinking raw apple cider vinegar with the “mother” can provide many benefits. The “mother” is beneficial bacteria and it’s important to make sure you are using a good brand. We use Bragg’s Organic Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) contains acetic acid which is antimicorbal. ACV also is loaded with minerals, enzymes, and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps promote an alkaline state in your body. All of these things combined help boost your immune system and help ward off illness. It is unrealistic to think our children will drink this. Instead, I make an ACV, honey and mustard salad dressing that my kids love. I personally just add a tablespoon of ACV to 8 ounces of water and drink it (if I get sick or feel something coming on I up this to 3 times a day). My husband has a very strong dislike for vinegar so he mixes his ACV into his kombucha and he can tolerate it that way.
Probiotics and Fermented Foods
We take a high quality probiotic as well as eat fermented foods that have probiotics from the fermentation. We take Klaire labs probiotics (for infants we use this one, for children who can take a chewable we use this one, and my husband and I use this one. We love Firefly Kitchens fermented kraut. You also need to make sure you are eating enough prebiotic foods so that your probiotics can stay alive. Think of prebiotics as food for probiotics. Prebiotic food sources include raw garlic, raw and cooked onions and bananas.
Plenty of time outside
Spending time outside daily is a benefit for everyone. Fresh air (better than most indoor air quality), exercise, free play for kids, and an increase in vitamin D are all reasons to make sure you spent as much time as possible outside daily. We aim for between 1 and 3 hours a day for our children.
This might seem very obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I see kids eating food before washing their hands. Everybody needs to wash their hands before eating (every meal and every snack). You should also wash your hands when you come home from being out. If we are at a park, indoor play area, grocery store, etc we wash our hands when we return to our car or use a natural hand sanitizer like Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizer. You don’t need to go overkill on washing hands (which can be very bad for your immunity) but a few basic, preventative measures go a long way in helping to stay healthy.
While getting an occasional sickness is part of life, these tips should help reduce systems or keep those illnesses at bay! We were on a 7 month streak of not getting sick for my kids which I think was pretty impressive. Next up will be a post what to do if you DO get sick. Then finally a post that I often get questions about – what is in my natural medicine kit. Stay tuned!
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Sources: Sleep article