In our home, we have just moved through the first round of the common cold and flu. Both my children, my spouse and I all had the usual symptoms in varying degrees; coughs, aches, unhappy bowels, sniffles and sneezing. Over the last few years since becoming a parent I have increasingly sough natural ways to booth boost immunity as well as fend off the bugs when they have settled in. Especially this fall being pregnant, I am straying away from the over the counter medicines and reaching into my cabinet of homeopathic and natural alternatives.
Here is a collection of some of my favourite tips and techniques researched and applied over the years:
1. Minimize sugar- known to inhibit immune function, sugar is a nasty ingredient that is hidden in the majority of our grocery store packaged products. Ensure you are getting a robust amount of fruit, vegetables, whole gains and good fats in your diet. Smoothies, stir-fries and “picnic platters” can be very simple ways to get these immune boosters onto your menu and into your children. Seek to have as many different colours as possible on your plate at each sitting.
2. Vitamin D- as we move through fall and into winter, we do not get the naturally occurring levels of vitamin D from the sun that we see in the spring and summer. A simple solution is to get a bottle of Vitamin D drops, just a drop a day can help you meet your daily requirements (there are different recommended doses for children and adults.)
3. Sleep - we all hear it but seriously, allowing yourself to get ample amounts of rest and sleep is critical to fighting off illness. Our bodies recover and regenerate while we sleep, this is especially important for children and pregnant women. Simply slowing down for a few days can allow for the extra rest and peace of mind that will get you through the fall illness blues.
4. Natural remedies- Daily use of Probiotics like acidophilus and bifidobacterium can go a long way to boosting your immune system and creating a healthy gut. Other sources you can look into that will be great to have on hand are wonderful antiviral and antibacterial herbs like: oregano oil, grapefruit seed extract, andrographis and supplements like zinc and vitamin C. I recently was recommended to try a powerful vitamin C powder that is naturally extracted from cherries. It has been super simple to add into our morning smoothies or mix with water or freshly squeezed juice.
5. Review your hand washing- It sounds so simple, but most of use aren't doing it enough! Frequent hand washing works to prevent the transmission and spread of germs and infections. This is especially important toremember when you have been in high traffic public places, are preparing orconsuming foods or are attending to your runny nose and cough. Children really need extra emphasis on this one!!!
6. Steams and Neti-Pots- I thought these last two items were worth a mention as I have found them to be particularly helpful for the dreaded head cold. When my children were young I certainly used a nasal aspirator (Nosefrida has been a life saver!) to alleviate the oozing nose. Another trick that a mama shared with me was a “steam snuggle”. Here I would wrap my baby/toddler up in my arms, sit on the toilet beside the tub and crank the shower on hot. A few drops of essential oil on the bottom of the tub make it even more enjoyable. As your bathrooms fills with stream we would do lots of deep breathing together. This seems to not only calm an ill child but help to loosen thing up. You will likely need to give your walls a wipe down after, but the relief if worth the few minutes of clean up! For myself, I have gravitated towards using a Neti-Pot to help drain and alleviate the sinus congestion and pain.
As we move towards the winter holidays I know that the above tips will become even more important to apply. It is often in our times of busy schedules, lots of group gatherings and deviating from our normal diets that our immune system needs the most care and attention!