Q: I am looking at boosting immunity in the whole family…we seem to have had this wicked streak of illnesses and I am doing Elderberry and ginger tea for everyone, but is there something more I can do to give everyone a boost?
A: Well, we are almost through cold and flu season but if you have a child, especially one who is in daycare, then you know that cold and flu season seems to last all year. Prevention is key, so I have compiled a few tips to help your whole family boost their immune system and stay healthy year round.
Healthy nutrition is quite simple: eat foods in their whole and unprocessed forms, the majority of your meal should consist of a rainbow of vegetables and include lots of protein and healthy fats like wild salmon, avocado, seeds and nuts and olive oil. Avoid sugar and fast foods. The concept is easy, but the application in real life is where it becomes complicated. Meal planning, batch cooking, smoothies and easy access snacks make eating a whole foods diet much easier. Many of my patients are more interested in what supplements I can give them rather than taking a hard look at what they are feeding themselves and their families. All the supplements in the world aren’t going to keep you well if the food you are putting in your body is dragging you down.
Food like garlic (anti-viral properties), kiwis and oranges (high in vitamin C) and bone broth (contains a high concentration of minerals and amino acids that boost the immune system, thin mucus and reduce inflammation) are great additions to your diet to help boost your immune system.
Not all supplements are created equal and it can be hard to know if you are buying a clean and effective supplement.
Vitamin D is a wonder vitamin: it has positive effects on so many different systems in the body. It boosts the immune system, helps make strong bones, promotes good mood and reduces your risk of developing multiple sclerosis, heart disease and many other diseases. Vitamin D supplementation is especially important in the winter months when there is less sunshine, as the lack of sunshine results in decreased Vitamin D activation in our bodies. Adults and children should take a vitamin D supplement at least from October-March and infants should be supplemented year-round.
The immune system is a complicated arrangement of cells, enzymes, tissues and organs located on and within your body. The majority of your immune system is located in the tissue surrounding your digestive tract, called GALT (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue). Probiotics modulate this gut immune system, which in turn influences the systemic immune system. Therefore a healthy digestive tract promotes a healthy immune system. Probiotics are also found in the mucus membranes that line your nose and sinuses and on your skin, helping to modulate the protective barrier. Newborns, infants, children and adults can benefit from taking a probiotic as part of a basic wellness plan. Supplementation with a probiotic is especially important for babies who were born by c-section and children or adults with digestive problems.
Teas, tinctures (alcohol extract of a plant) and glycerites (glycerin extract of a plant) are excellent forms of herbal medicine. There are many herbs that are safe and beneficial for children and adults. For prevention of colds and flus, I like St Francis Deep Immune Kids, which contains glycerine extracts of Astragalus and Codonopsis (there is also an adult version). Some herbs that are helpful once you or your child are already sick include Echinacea, Lemon balm, Elderberry and Licorice root. Botanica Kids Cold and Flu contains most of these.
Warming Socks Treatment
Take a hot shower or bath before bed while soaking a small pair of cotton socks in ice cold water in the sink. Ring them out well and place them on your feet. Then put on a pair of thick wool socks, bundle up in warm pajamas and head directly to bed. Seriously, it doesn’t feel as bad as it sounds! This treatment is used for congested sinuses, fever and to boost your immune system. Sinus congestion is a form of stagnation or lack of movement of body fluids – often lymphatic fluid. The goal is to get the fluid to move and drain.
For a complete cold and flu prevention or treatment plan, and to ensure that any natural remedy is safe for you, consult with your Naturopath or complimentary health care provider. The information in this blog does not constitute medical advice. You should always consult your medical provider before starting a supplement protocol.