Tips to help you and your kids stay well as the seasons change
Written by Elisabeth Carlsson
It’s that time of year when everyone you know is sick, has a poorly child or knows someone who has succumbed to the dreaded flu. It’s no wonder then that we would all rather stay at home until the weather properly warms up and the spring birds return. It feels as if all we can do is cross our fingers that we will dodge the worst of the season’s bugs, especially for our children that seem to be absolute germ sponges.
Here are my top tips on how you can boost your immune system, so next time you hear that half your child’s class is off sick you know you can take on any germs that come your way!
- Ditch the boxed breakfast cereal and any packaged processed snacks. They add nothing in terms of nutrients, but plenty of added sugar and empty calories. All cold cereals contain sugar but children’s cereal in particular contain about 40% more sugar per serving than adult cereals. Make sure your child gets adequate protein (chicken, beans, lamb, fish) and fats (butter, coconut oil, avocado) at every meal. Add nuts and seeds for zinc and increase fresh fruit and vegetables for extra Vitamin-C. Did you know that a red pepper has 3 times more Vitamin C than an orange? Your little one doesn’t have much of an appetite? See smoothie recipe below.
- Chicken soup – studies have shown that a chicken soup can be more effective than any over the counter remedies for colds and flu. It also helps with respiratory issues by improving the functionality of the protective cilia which is the tiny hair like projections in the nose that prevents contagions from entering the body.
Having a few bowlfuls of this will help your body’s defences. However, if your child doesn’t like some of the ingredients, cook the soup with the vegetables (releasing all those beneficial nutrients into the broth) and then remove before serving. It’s the broth itself that gives the immune boosting hug your body needs. Cook organic chicken together with things like onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery and ginger. It’s important to cook with chicken on the bone as it’s the bones that contain most of the beneficial nutrients, amino acids and minerals. Add sweetcorn and parsley at the end. If you are vegetarian try making a vegetable broth and be sure to include potato peels, celery and onions.
- Eat some good bacteria. Lowered immune function is often a sign that the balance of bacteria is off in our digestive tract. Get lots of probiotic foods in them like natural yogurt, kefir - both milk and water, or kombucha. Also, increase pre-biotic foods as they’re the fuel for the good bacteria, so include foods like onions and garlic (add the garlic right at the end of cooking) apples, oats and ripe bananas.
- Supplements. Supporting immune function through food is preferable but in the wintertime, supplements can help to cover the gaps. I recommend a probiotic for kids (Optibac does a good one) and Pukka Elderberry syrup - with added Manuka Honey - is great for colds too.
- What do you do if you or your child comes home with the sniffles? A warm bath with Epsom salts, early to bed and keep the window open for lots of fresh air to circulate.
Immune boosting smoothie for when your kids don’t want to eat.
Makes two portions.
½ cup of plain yogurt
½ cup of unsweetened almond milk
1 small oranges. If they are organic and you have a powerful blender add some of the peel too.
1 cup of spinach
2 tbs of raw honey (leave out for little ones under 1)
If your child has an upset tummy exchange the kiwi and orange for 1 cup of frozen berries.
If your kids are constantly getting bugs and are run down or you have any other concerns come in for chat with Elisabeth and get some sound and solid advice. Nutritional Therapy appointments are available on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at The Wellness Rooms.
 Chicken Soup for Allergies and Asthma, , Dr. Murray Grossman, 2003, Coping with Allergies and Asthma