With the arrival of fall comes the promise of flu season around the corner. Kids are cooped up together in schools and preschools, Minnesota weather keeps us inside more than we’d like, and sometimes there seems to be an endless parade of colds, flus and illnesses all winter.
Here are some simple ways to protect your kids (and yourself!).
- Make up a batch of elderberry honey syrup and take a spoonful every day. Elderberry syrup has been shown to help ward off at least 8 different types of flus. It boosts immunity and dramatically decreases the duration of flus and other illnesses if you do contract them. One study found that 90% of those taking elderberry syrup had a complete recovery from the flu on day two, whereas those not taking elderberry took six days to recover. Here’s an easy alcohol-free version made up of elderberries, water and honey that’s safe for pregnant women and kids over 12 months (with a honey-free version for infants).
- Get the kids outside every day. Vitamin D from the sun is crucial for a strong immune system, as is regular exercise. Here in Mankato, we often don’t see much of the sun in winter. Kids will still benefit from the time outside even on overcast days and even when mostly covered.
- Limit sugar. Sugar weakens our immune systems, making us more susceptible to illness and making it harder for our bodies to fight off illnesses when we do get sick.
- Arm your family with healthy bacteria. Antibiotics and antibacterial products can do more harm than we realize, killing off the beneficial bacteria that ordinarily keep us healthy. Restock your family’s friendly bacteria with products like yogurt, kefir and naturally fermented foods, and consume healthy prebiotic foods as well. Also avoid the use of antibiotics or antibacterial products unless absolutely necessary, since these will generally lead to far more illnesses in the future.
- Make sure everybody gets enough sleep. Lack of sleep weakens our immune systems and makes us far more vulnerable to illness.
- Breastfeed your babies. Not only will this help protect them against illness, it will also pass on antibodies against any illnesses you catch.
- Encourage hand washing. Here are some fun ways to remind kids to wash their hands and an exercise to teach them why it matters.
- Make green smoothies a habit. Green smoothies are an excellent way to start your family’s day with generous servings of greens, fruits, vegetables, vitamins and immune-boosting nutrients. I was pleasantly surprised by how much my children love green smoothies, and my 13-year-old has said that she feels the difference in her health and stamina when she drinks them regularly.
- Serve real, whole foods. Processed foods and chemical additives wreak havoc on bodies, especially children’s bodies. Concentrate on serving fresh produce, whole grains, healthy proteins and natural ingredients.
- Have fun together. Happiness really does make us healthy, and laughter has been shown to greatly benefit our bodies. Studies have shown that laughter boosts immune systems, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes muscles and even prevents heart disease. This is an excellent reason to avoid stress for you and the kids.
Here’s to a healthy year!
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