It’s flu season again and our kids are at risk to bring home a doozy of an illness, pass it around and miss critical days of school – not to mention the fun of holidays. However, your child has a better chance of surviving the holiday without the flu if you take steps to boost his immunity beforehand. Here’s how you can prevent the flu naturally.
Hygiene, An Overlooked Basic
Kids are full of germs and, while a daycare center will make you keep your sick child at home, school aged kids are encouraged to attend school as long as they don’t have a fever. That means you need to make sure your child is skilled in basic hygiene. Here are a few things you must teach them, even if they are little:
- They need to wash their hands for 30 seconds, which is long enough to sing the alphabet at a leisurely rate.
- Make sure they use soap. For little ones, encourage making as many bubbles as they can with the soap! Use clean products like Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap for a nontoxic soap or hand cleanser or make your own.
- Keep their hands and face free of germs. When your child sneezes, teach her to use the crook of her arm or a tissue to reduce the chances of spreading it around.
- Avoid hand sanitizers that contain triclosan or triclocarban, which can actually destroy too much bacteria and make your child resistant to antibiotics. In addition, they may be lowering your child’s IQ.
Feed Your Family to Fight Immunity
Food is a critical element in your arsenal to ward off viruses and naturally prevent the flu. This means bumping up the produce and the spices!
- Reduce Sugar and Carbs:
We tend to think of winter as a time to load up on carbs and sugar, but the opposite is actually true. This type of food can reduce your immunity because your gut flora can be thrown out of balance – and that affects your immune system! Save the sweet treats for a few days around the holidays and balance your child’s gut with a high-quality probiotic just for his age.
- Get Enough Vitamin D:
A 2009 study is one of several that link lowered Vitamin D levels to an increase in infections and lowered immune function in infants and children. Enough studies were done that the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled its recommended daily intake of Vitamin D for kids in 2008. The best Vitamin D intake will come from 15 minutes a day in the sun, if you can spare it. If there are no sunny days on the horizon, take a high-quality Vitamin D3 supplement for those days. Make sure to avoid the synthetic and irradiated D2 supplements, which are more commonly found.
These are the antioxidants that occur naturally in plants. There are a lot of them. You may have heard of they phytonutrient beta carotene, which is found in pumpkins and maize – perfect seasonal vegetables. Other perfect fall/winter season menu items include leafy greens, tomatoes (cooked), sweet potatoes, onions and beets. Bottom line if you want to prevent the flu? Cook meals with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Spices and Herbs:
Many spices and herbs have antiviral properties, such as oregano and ginger. Elderberry syrup is a very popular natural remedy for viruses. Consult a naturopathic doctor to learn what remedies are best to prevent the flu.
- Buy Organic:
Pesticide exposure can adversely affect immunity so we recommend buying USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified foods, meat and produce as much as possible.
For some great healthy ideas, check out Mamavation’s organic recipes!
Take Care of the Body
This may sound obvious, but an out of balance body is more susceptible to getting sick. To help prevent the flu naturally, be sure to:
- Get Enough Sleep:
The National Sleep Foundation says that teenagers need 9.25 hours of sleep – which is more than most of them report getting. Tweens should get about 10 hours sleep – so if they rise at 6AM, they should be in bed by 8PM the latest. Know how much sleep everyone needs and make sure they’re bedtimes reflect it – that goes for you too, Mom!
Of course, we at Mamavation know how important exercise is, but did you know it helps boost immunity? Keep it up and keep your kids moving through those indoor winter days.
- Reduce Stress, Relax More:
Stress can make you more susceptible to illness. Exercise will help, as well as meditation and deep breathing. Also try taking a bath with Epsom salt, which may help reduce stress and improve your nutrient intake.
There is one more thing you should know. If you have the flu, an antibiotic won’t help fight it. According to WebMD, antibiotics are for bacterial infections, not viruses. However, they also write that the flu can induce “bacterial complications”. Again, having your body’s bacteria in balance will help ward this off by building a healthy immune system, so this season, encourage your family to eat right, exercise, and take in plenty of vegetables this winter to naturally prevent the flu virus!
Disclosure: Bookieboo LLC has worked with numerous brands in the natural space, including Dr. Bronner’s.