How do we build up our children’s immune system during cold and flu season
One of the most common questions I get each year particularly with young children entering school is “How do we keep my child from getting sick all the time and build up their immune system?”. Generally my answer is “every child gets sick almost constantly at a rate of about every other week when starting school” . You have to catch the germs in order to build up an immunity and be able to fight it next time. But it does not stop the parents frustration and their constant quest for that magic remedy to build up their immune system so they do not get sick or at least fight the viruses better. There is no shortage of supplement companies, snake oil salesman, and wannabe physicians promoting their short cut to immune stardom. Basically my advice is old fashioned grandma like advice which always included fresh air, go to the ocean ( living in South Florida is easy), exercise, eat your vegetables, chicken soup, don’t eat so much candy, and get plenty of sleep. Well, things have not changed that much with all our searches, supplements, and advances in medical science. I believe premier nutrition and healthy lifestyle is your best means to a good immune system and ability to stave off disease and fight the common childhood ailments. Junk foods, fried foods, processed sweets and snacks at the very least do not help your immune system and conservatively speaking cause more inflammation and irritation when you need to be fighting viruses.
Eating well is the cornerstone of good health and immunity. This is easier said than done for children. For those patients and families familiar with my feeding guidelines you have a head start. But eating well is none the less the best way to begin to build a strong immune system. Prevention starts with good food including – lots of greens , sweet potatoes, fruits , apples with red skin, red onions, and purple and red fruits for example. Lots of fiber. Making sure your are hydrated with lots of water.
Organic food itself is the best way to get the vitamins and phytonutrients to boost immunity and keep it at peak in cold and flu season in order to be ready for the influx of germs.
Dark fruits have the best and most bio-available vitamin c, and phytonutrients. ( vitamin supplements do not)
Eat them– eating the fruits is the best source of these immune building nutrients – blueberries, pomegranate, cherries, raspberries, dark grapes, etc.
Juice them– dark juice as a second choice if they won’t eat the fruit. Blueberry juice , pomegranate , dark grape, or tomato juice.
Blend them and hide them- Super power HealthfulMD immune smoothie – base of almond, hemp, or soy milk; walnuts, avocado , super greens ( if they don’t like green vegetables- you can buy in health food stores ), spinach hides the best, and also kale. Blueberries, strawberries , bananas, peach , pineapple, or cocoa powder for sweetener. Flax seeds for fiber and omega 3, mushroom, ginger , cinnamon help boost the immunity.
Super power soup before or during illness. Vegetable soup or chicken soup base : add mushrooms , garlic , turmeric as tolerated, oregano in good amount, greens if liked by child – kale, spinach, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, sweet potatoes, spices as tolerated -chili peppers, cumin, and ginger.
Probiotics may help. If you or your child is a healthy eater particularly vegetarian style or for a healthy vegan probiotics may not be necessary or beneficial . The type of probiotics depends on the system you want to enhance . Gastrointestinal symptoms would be one type and upper respiratory ( colds) would be another form to use . Types of probiotics include lactobacillus acidophillis, and bifid bacterium. Look for recommendations in future blog posts. Ask your physician for safety of any supplement and probiotics and their recommendations.
Sleep is essential to maintaining health- children 8-9 hours
Manage stress – lavender, chamomile. Exercise, yoga, meditate.
Tea– as calming and immune boosting
Hibiscus – mix with ginger.
Other red rooibos teas are sweet and may be more palatable for children.
Green tea – honey , lemon and add ginger and cinnamon
Chamomile tea has both calming and immune enhancement
Nutritional yeast – tablespoon a day increase immunity
Supplements: not medically researched or approved but have anecdotal improvement in immunity.
Eldeberry. Astralagus, Grape seed extract, Oil of oregano all are purported to have immune enhancing properties to fight and ward off colds.