Preventing Influenza and Other Viral Illnesses through nutrition and taking good care of your body is as easy as:
- Drinking plenty of fluids, especially warmer fluids. When the air is dry inside our homes and outside, it can be challenging to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of fluids supports all of your bodies’ functions including the immune system. Soups and teas help your body during this dry time. Drink herbal teas like ginger, chamomile, and echinacea every day. Keep a bottle of water with you all day long and take a sip every 15 – 20 minutes. Avoid concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages. High amounts of sugar, especially refined sugars, are harmful to the immune system. If you do offer juice to your children, dilute it with 2/3 water but it’s best to stay away from juice and all refined sugars.
- Flushing the germs away and keep your sinuses moist.. Along with staying hydrated, flushing your sinuses with mild salt water helps to keep mucous membranes moist which protects you from microbes. There are several options at the pharmacy – a neti pot, a plastic bottle with saline packets (great for travel), or a bottle of saline nose spray. Flushing saline up both nostrils, once or twice a day as a maintenance is fine. When you are sick do this 5-6 x per day.
- Avoiding simple sugars This includes those sweet treats and desserts but also the white flour and refined grain products that turn into sugar quickly. Refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours after ingested and should be avoided at all costs.
- Having a healthy protein 3 times a day. Proteins are the building blocks of the body. This includes your immune and detoxification systems. For children 6 months of age and older, it’s recommended to offer organic and lean animal protein (no more than once per day) and plant-based (beans, lentils, hummus, nuts/seeds) proteins 2-3 times per day.
- Adding garlic, onions, ginger, and lots of spices (oregano, turmeric) to your meals Add these to your soups and vegetable dishes, as well as bean dips and sauces. Garlic and onions offer a wide variety of antimicrobial properties and the ginger and turmeric are anti-inflammatory.
- Eating 3-5 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C, A, and phytonutrients that support the immune system. Choose more leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes, and squashes. Pomegranates, mangos, oranges, kiwi, and pineapples are all a good choice. Pineapple actually has an enzyme called bromelin that is 5 x better at thinning out throat secretions and post nasal drip compared to Mucinex. It also has lots of vitamin C to help fight infection. Choose a Nutribullet as your family’s next kitchen appliance. This product pulverizes whole fruits and veggies (skin and all!) and makes it easy to consume these higher amounts of fruits and veggies every day. It’s easy to get in your servings if you use the nutribullet to make smoothies for breakfast or after school snacks.
- Getting the sleep your body needs Sleep restores and heals the body. Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible! Start a nightly bedtime routine that includes a warm cup of herbal tea, quiet activity (listening to music or cuddle time with your child), and head to bed earlier on those dark winter nights. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night (little kids need up to 12 hours a night). Adding in relaxation time during the day (even for 5 minutes 2-3 times per day) can help alleviate stress and allow the mind to rest and keep your body and your child’s body healthy.
- Getting regular exercise. Mild to moderate exercise (for approximately 30-45 minutes) helps boost the immune system. Avoid overexertion and over scheduling when you are feeling run down. This will lower immune defenses and keep your body in a stressed state.
Last but not least… when your child’s body starts to show signs of illness (congestion, cough, headache, achiness, fatigue), you can choose a homeopathic product like children’s oscillococcinum to help relieve some of those flu-like symptoms. And, Children’s Chestal Honey cough medication helps relieve dry cough and bronchial irritations that occur with cold symptoms.