September 22nd marked the beginning of the most wonderful season of all, FALL! As great as this season is, it does mark the beginning of cold and flu season. Both the common cold and flu are infections caused by different viruses that target the respiratory tract, mainly the throat, nose, airways and lungs. There are more than 200 different viruses that can cause colds, but not as many viruses can cause the flu. This is why flu shots are available every flu season and no shots are available for the common cold.
It is especially easy for children to develop these infections, as their immune systems are not fully developed until the age of 7. In order for our bodies to fight off the infection, our immune systems need to be functioning at its best! I have compiled a list of my favourite tips to prevent your kids from catching a cold or flu through optimizing their immune systems. It is best to act RIGHT AWAY once you start noticing the first few signs before it gets FULL-BLOWN!
Top 10 Tips To Strengthen Kids Immune Systems
1. Wash their hands
Washing hands frequently throughout the day can help stop the spread of germs and reduce the risk of catching a cold or the flu. You want to make sure hands are being scrubbed for at least 20 seconds with soap. A secondary option would be to use hand sanitizer as often as possible.
2. Clean, Clean, Clean away!
Clean common surfaces in your household, such as countertops, children’s toys, door handles and bathroom facilities. This can be done with an anti-bacterial disinfectant. Once again, this can help to stop the spread of germs.
3. Say NO to sugar and YES to the rainbow of fruits
You really want to keep your kids away from the processed/packaged foods that are high in sugar and additives. These foods can weaken their immune systems and decrease their ability to focus. Instead, focus on eating whole foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Focus on a wide variety of fruits, fresh veggies, whole grains and protein sources. Increasing the following foods that are high in Vitamin C can really help to boost immune function: Oranges, lemons, grapefruit, berries, broccoli and cauliflower.
4. Increase consumption of warm foods
Our bodies require more internal heat during the fall and winter months in order to fight off infection. Include things like bone broths, soups and warm teas in your children’s diet.
5. Get the Zz’s
As the seasons change, our bodies require more sleep. Making sure your kids sleep at least 8 hours a night is key.
6. Drink lots of fluids
Teas, water, dilute juice, soups. This keeps your mucous membranes moist to help flush out the microbes
7. Castor Oil Tummy rubs
Rubbing castor oil over the tummy (from chest to below belly button) can drain the lymphatics in the intestines. This helps with improving digestion, elimination and boosting their immune systems!
The gut is the largest immune organ in the body. Presence of “friendly” bacterial flora is essential for antibody production which helps kill off the “bad bacteria”. Supplementing with a probiotic will introduce “good” bacteria into the gut, which will help to keep the immune system strong.
9. Take your supplements
10. Feed them 1 Brazil Nut a day
They are literally the most nutritious nut! Brazil nuts have all the nutrients (selenium, zinc and iron) necessary to build and support immune cells to help fight off infection. They also have amazing antioxidant properties.
Be sure to act quickly if and when you notice the first signs of a cold or flu coming on. Timing can make a world of difference. Immune strengthening for children can take place all year round. Diet, sleep, hydration and reducing the spread of germs are the key building blocks to a robust immune system. Hope all your kiddos have a flu-free, cold-free season!
Written By: Dr. Saira Kassam, ND | 2018
The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.