Natural Choices to Keep Your Child Healthy This Cold/Flu Season

It’s important to note that colds and the flu are caused by viruses, not by bacteria, and therefore antibiotics will be of no use against them. So now what to do?

This season, work towards supporting your child’s developing immune system to prevent and shorten illness.

How do you achieve this?

* Nutrition:  Breastmilk is a natural immune builder and protector for infants.

As babies head into childhood, the introduction of solids should include:

o  wholefoods such as dark green leafy veggies,

o  grains such as brown rice, millet and quinoa,

o  organic fruits and

o  hormone-free meats.

Consider these foods as an important investment to your child’s health.

Why wholefoods?  They are jammed-packed with high quality nutrients that have not been altered.  Processed foods have been altered – their fats are not as healthy and the nutrients depleted.  For example, simple carbohydrates (white flour, sugar, etc.) and hydrogenated oils both stress the immune system.  In one study, sugar suppressed the immune system for up to two hours after consumption!

Other choices like cold-water fish, flax seed (oil) and blueberries enhance immune function because of their antioxidants and vitamin and mineral content.

* Decrease stress: Encourage healthy play and a loving and supportive environment for which your child can grow and learn.  When our body is under stress, it produces specific hormones and chemicals that suppress the immune system.  If you create a happy environment, your child will flourish!

* Exercise: Such as walking, hiking, running and yoga have a positive effect on stress and our body’s natural healing.  Children learn from what we do so consider becoming be a great example and get them involved at an early age.

* Hygiene: Simple hand washing is VERY effective, especially after contact with surfaces such as toys in a public place, door handles, diaper change pads, toilet seats, etc.  Natural products such as vinegar or tea tree oil for surfaces are very effective at killing germs without the harsh chemicals.

* Sleep: Sleep is vital to our body’s recuperative processes. Healthy bed time habits formed at an early age encourage life-long sleep habits.

Infants need to feed regularly throughout a 24-hour period so their sleep is sporadic.  Toddlers and children usually settle into a more predictable routine around 12-18 months of age.   Consistent and gentle bedtime habits help sleep happen! Talk to your health care provider if you have any concerns.

* Supplements: Wholesome and organic foods provide nutrients and vitamins that are easily absorbed into the blood stream. If you give your child a multi-vitamin, ensure it’s of high quality and contains Vitamin C, D, and E.

Probiotics are a dietary supplement containing beneficial bacteria that aid the digestive system and are especially helpful after antibiotics have been used. Probiotics also support the immune system and manufactures vitamin B-12, which can help with iron absorption in some people.

Infants, children and adults require different strains so be sure to use the help of your practitioner or local health food store in picking the appropriate strain for your family.  Look for one that contains human micro flora (HMF) and a large number (in the billions).

Many of these suggestions are easy to incorporate however they take time, baby steps are the way to go when making any lifestyle change.

Consult your health care practitioner today for advice, support and encouragement!