Each year there are millions of cases of the common cold in the US and anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of the population will come down with the flu.. Luckily, there are many natural ways you can reduce your chances of getting sick.
Make sure everyone in your family is getting enough sleep, moving and exercising daily, getting outside for some fresh air, eating immune supporting foods, managing their stress, and reducing exposure to toxins. I have talked a lot about the importance of downtime, rest, and nutrition in this space. See my Beat the Back-to-School Blues post from August 2017.
Nature is fuel for the soul! Research shows that that spending time in fresh air, surrounded by nature, increases energy in 90 percent of people. In just one year, the presence of trees saved 850 lives and prevented 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms, according to new research published in the journal Environmental Pollution. Trees remove pollution from the air, making it healthier for us to take into our lungs.
MOVEMENT AND EXERCISE
Active free play, especially outdoors, is one of the most beneficial gifts we as parents…can bestow on our children. Playing outside not only provides them with exercise, but also builds their immune system, and provides the much needed Vitamin D we are all lacking, especially in the winter. As the winter months approach, there may be days when it’s just too cold to spend the recommended 3 hours a day outside. Enter: Go Noodle!
My son’s kindergarten class takes “brain breaks” and presses “Play” on movement and mindfulness every 7 minutes. And we have embraced this at home as well. Go Noodle turns “screen time” into active time and creates great family fun! Check it out here:https://www.gonoodle.com/
The gut holds 80 percent of the body’s immune system. All along the digestive lining, white blood cells help protect us from viruses and bacteria that try to invader our system. Healthy gut bacteria work outnumber unwelcome pathogens. All of these functions promote a balanced immune system and ensure we are protected from the viruses that bring on colds and the flu. The best way to keep your gut healthy and ready to fight off disease is to eat a clean diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains.
- EAT A RAINBOW
Why are there so many songs about rainbows? Because choosing a variety of naturally occurring colored whole foods throughout the day and week are essential for good health and overall immunity.
Many kids are picky eaters and may not be getting enough of immune-supportive nutrients from their diet alone. The best supplements to boost a child’s immune system are vitamin D and zinc. In general, you want to choose a supplement that is free of artificial flavors, colors, allergens and sugar. You can provide a Vitamin D supplement alone, in multivitamin form, particularly if for a picky eater. I like:Nature’s Plus Animal Parade Gold, Smarty Pants Kids Complete, Garden of Life My Kind Kids Multivitamin. For infants try: Swanson Baby D drops
The herb elderberry is my favorite for recurrent respiratory tract infections. The dried berries of the Sambucis Nigra plant are naturally high in immune-boosting compounds that are specifically shown to help beat the cold and flu more quickly. They can be used to make a simple elderberry syrup:\
We like the sugar free option: Natures Sunshine Elderberry Immune chews
For allergies, fish oil and vitamin C work wonders. I recommend:
Nordic Naturals Nordic Omega 3 Fishies for older children or baby DHA for infants and babies; Natures Plus Animal Parade Sugar Free Vitamin C
As a supplement to a healthy diet you can also support your gut flora with probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria that naturally occur in our guts. They protect our digestive tracts, help us to digest food, assist in toxin clearance, and shield us from invading bacteria and viruses. The best cold-fighting strains to look for are lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosis GG, Bifidiobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum.
I recommend starting children on a probiotic supplement containing lactobacillus and bifidobacteria strains early on — between 5 and 20 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day depending on age.
My favorite probiotics are made by Klaire Labs and available from your child’s healthcare provider. Please contact me if you need help finding them.
*Please make sure to see your health care provider before starting your child on any new supplement or herb.
- BONE BROTH
Bone broth provides some of the most important trace minerals that we need for ongoing energy, immunity, and digestion. It is one of the most nutrient-dense, healing foods for the digestive system and therefore a great way to kick off a healthy cold and flu season! In short bone, or marrow broth is one of the best foods you can feed your family. It is a multivitamin, a medicine for all kinds of illness, and a delicious food wrapped up in one.
Here’s how to make your own:
1-2 lbs (455 to 910 g) marrow bones, knuckle bones, oxtail, or soup bones from organic, grass-fed animals (beef, lab, or poultry)
2 tablespoons (28 mL) vinegar (white distilled, raw apple cider, or brown rice)
In a slow cooker, soak the bones for 1 hour in the vinegar, adding enough water to cover. This helps to leach minerals from the bones.
Add enough water to fill the pot and simmer on low for 12-72 hours (the longer the bones simmer, the more minerals and gelatin will be present in your stock).
Let cool. Add a pinch (less than 1/8 teaspoon) of Pink Himalayan sea salt into a serving for flavor and to provide trace minerals.
Pour through a mesh strainer into either mason jars or ice-cube trays as an option for freezing individual serving sizes.
For use within a week or two, place in refrigerator; otherwise, freeze. If frozen and defrosted, use within 3 to 4 days.
When refrigerated, Bone Broth should be gelatinous (jiggly like Jell-O).
If you are local to my area, you can purchase grass fed marrow bones from our local friend, Growing Dirt Farm and already made broth from Au Brothier . US Wellness Meats ships bones, meat, broth, and a variety of grassfed products nationally.
We are constantly surrounded by toxins in our food, water, air, and home environments. These toxins can damage the very cells that work to keep us healthy. When our body’s system is overwhelmed by trying to detoxify toxins, it is less able to support immune function.
- Eat organic foods when possible The Environmental Working Group (EWG) singled out produce with the highest loads of pesticide residues. Trust the DIRTY DOZEN to highlight foods you should be getting organic.
- Support your body’s detox system by drinking a lot of filtered water.
- Air out your home frequently by opening the windows. Chemicals from our heating systems have nowhere to escape to. These toxins can damage the mucosa- the lining in your throat and nose that traps germs and is key for flu prevention
- Choose natural home and body products, like Norwex, which use only water and a microfiber cloth water to clean your entire home….and body!
It’s no surprise that hand washing is crucial to avoiding colds and flu. But, kids aren’t doing it well enough. The average person touches his face 60 times per hour. That’s a lot of chances for a virus to get from your hands to your nose, eyes or mouth. The key with kids is to make it easy and fun for them to wash up. To prevent rushing, suggest washing hands for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
Since research has shown that triclosan, commonly found in antibacterial soap, can negatively affect the immune and hormone systems, choose traditional soap and water. Or avoid this problem altogether and grab Norwex cloth and wash your kids hands with just water and a cloth everywhere you go! I keep the travel cloth in my car, purse, and every lunch and school bag. The Norwex pet-to-dry cloth hangs on my stroller and each bathroom.
Megan Jolin of Mother Earth Mama is a board certified Holistic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner whose passion is to bring health and wellness to the whole child.
Megan provides evidenced-based, family centered care in prenatal health and wellness, lactation counseling , newborn care -infant feeding , infant massage , vaccine consultation , nutritional analysis and counseling , toxin free home environment , self care for parents and children, children’s yoga and a natural/integrative approach to common childhood illnesses. Contact
Disclaimer: Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not a substitute for advice from your health care professional. You should not rely solely on this content, and Mother Earth Mama assumes no liability for inaccuracies. These products and recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.