"I like taking care of my sick kids" - said no mom ever
As we enter into the “everyone gets sick season” there are tangible things I know I can do to make sure my kiddos don’t get sick. Who really likes taking care of a sick kid?
There are times when I think to myself, "I know exactly why I got sick." This article is written to point out specific ways you can avoid saying this about your kids. I hope you find tangible things you can do to support your kids immune system.
Basically your immune system functions in two ways. Now mind you, your immune system is incredibly complicated, but just to simplify a bit let’s think of it like a battlefield. You are either on the offensive or the defensive side.
Your body is either in control of the war being waged on your immune system or it isn’t. Either your lines of defenses are pushing the bad guys back or they have over run your line of defense. Offensive or defense, we want to stay on the offensive. This article is all about staying on the offensive. An article on what to do when you are the defensive is for another time.
I will say every year I try to do better to stay on the offensive. Once you start getting sick I feel like it just rolls from one virus to the next. Everything spreads through the whole family. These five things will help this cycle never even get started.
1. Take Care of Your Gut
This is crazy but 70% of your immune system lives in your gut. That makes it pretty important when it comes to supporting your immune system. One way to do this is through taking probiotics. These are good bacteria that live in your gut. When you have enough of them they are able to fight off the bad bacteria.
Food allergens can also cause plenty of problems with weakening your kid’s immune system. There are so many symptoms that might be related to food allergens it can be hard to tell. They can range from eczema to stomach problems to something much more serious. This is where your detective work will have to come in. I wrote a whole article on how to do this, here. The most common food allergens are: eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soy.
2. Support With Nutrition
We don’t really have a cold and flu season. What we have is many months in a row of people eating immune depressing foods. - Shari Lieberman, PhD Nutritionist
Our children's bodies need such a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to function properly. To do this we need to feed our kids a wide variety of fruits and veggies.
Eating processed foods doesn’t do anything to support our kiddos immune system. I know you have heard of antioxidants. Well they help build a strong immune system. How to know if a food has a lot of antioxidants is based on their color. The deeper and brighter the color the more antioxidants… think blueberries.
Your children's white blood cells are really important when it comes to fighting off sickness. Basically white blood cells fight and destroy the germs that cause disease. Sugar has been shown to reduce our white blood cell count… I know you know where I am going with this one. Has your kiddo ever gotten sick after Halloween? A birthday party? This is why, their defenses were down.
Fish are full of Omega 3 fats, cold water fish to be more specific, like salmon. Basically, this fat increases the activity of the part of your immune system responsible for killing bacteria. Sounds like a good force to have nice and strong to me. So… most kids don’t eat fish, which means lots of kiddos are not getting their Omega 3s. Since this is the case I typically recommend supplementing with fish oil. I recommend this one, it is in liquid form.
3. Herbs and Spices
I love the thought that God put things on this earth that work like medicine, just like herbs and spices. The most common herb for immune support is echinacea. If your child is having recurring problems with respiratory issues try elderberry and/or astragalus.
Cinnamon is antimicrobial, can eliminate bacteria, and it just tastes yummy. You can put it your kiddos morning oatmeal or sautee up some butternut squash and dust it with cinnamon.
Turmeric has recently been shown to boost your immunity. This one is going to be a little harder to get your kiddo to eat than cinnamon. I make this turmeric “tea” for my little one, usually before bed. It also has cinnamon in it, so that is great. I leave out the black pepper and cayenne.
4. Vitamin D and Zinc
The best supplements to boost your kiddos immune system are Vitamin D and Zinc. I know before I started researching this I was totally thinking Vitamin C. However,
Zinc increases your production of white blood cells (remember these are important) and helps them fight infection more effectively. Naturally zinc is in eggs, red meat, nuts, seeds, and spinach.
Dr. Meccola describes Vitamin D as the “miracle nutrient for your immune system.” This is interesting to me because in the winter when we are all getting sick is really when we are not exposed to the sun to get our Vitamin D.
If you are concerned about them getting zinc and vitamin D from their diets, this is the daily supplement I give my children. It has the daily amount of Vitamin D and Zinc they need.
Ya'll I know this one is obvious, but it is just so important I had to include it. I know things get so crazy over the next few months, and we are out late at parties. Getting your kid to sleep on time will save you so much heartache (and headache) by keeping them well. I just want to encourage you to put your foot down this season for yourself… taking care of sick babies is no fun.