THE KIDS ARE BACK IN their classrooms here in Hays, KS, and life is already bustling with after-school activities. In addition to homework, they may be bringing home coughs, colds and other maladies.
Obviously, there’s no convenient time to get sick. So I’m all about making easy but impactful shifts to help families address food and health challenges. And as germs descend upon us, I’ve got plenty of simple ideas for naturally supporting your child’s immune system!
1. Crack the code for hand-washing. This is one of the simplest ways to ward off colds. The secret to getting the job done is to make it fun. Try equipping your kids’ bathroom with foaming soap, or soap bars in kid-friendly shapes. Or, make hand-washing a game by teaching your kids to blow bubbles through their fingers.
2. Prepare your natural medicine cabinet. Be ready at the first sign of a cough or sniffle. Here are five immune-supporting items I keep in my cabinet at all times:
- Black elderberry: Take this at the first sign of a stuffy nose or scratchy throat. The antioxidant-rich black elderberry is a real immune health hero. It’s been used since ancient times in remedies for colds, coughs and upper respiratory infections.
- Vitamin D: D3 is a natural flu fighter, so getting enough of this becomes even more important as days grow shorter and there’s less sunshine. Parents and kids can either take vitamin D3 supplements, or make sure you’re eating plenty of wild Alaskan salmon, which is a rich source of D3.
- Zinc: Liquid zinc boosts white blood cell production to kill off viruses; take the ionized form with food for best absorption.
- Probiotics: Since most of the body’s immune cells line the intestinal tract, keeping the gut microbiome healthy and populated with friendly bacteria helps the immune system stay strong and fight bacteria and viruses.
- Omega-3s: Also found in wild Alaskan salmon, omega-3s boost mental focus, as well as gut and immune health.
3. Sweeten their lunchboxes without sugar. Refined sugar has a negative impact on the immune system. So instead of sweets or even processed chips, which may be loaded with hidden sugars, pack thinly sliced cucumbers with a side of hummus. Toss in fresh fruit slices to quell a sweet tooth.
4. Tempt them with nutritious afternoon snacks. Red apples are in season. They help clean up the liver and support the immune system. Serve them sliced with nut butter or sprinkled with cinnamon. Kids also love pears dipped in chocolate hummus, and cassava tortilla chips cooked in avocado oil with a side of guacamole. Quench their thirst with smoothies or coconut water instead of sugary, caffeinated sports drinks.
5. Take advantage of opportunities to serve healthy meals at home. I know all about a packed schedule once school starts. But when meals are prepared in your own kitchen, you have more control over what goes into them. When the weather turns cold, I get excited because it’s bone broth season. Genuine, homemade bone broth helps us recover from colds, and it’s my go-to afternoon pick-me-up. Pomegranates are also in season right now, and they’re antioxidant bombs! Carrots and sweet potatoes support respiratory health, and they are freshest in the fall. And be sure to watch for seasonal heirloom tomatoes. They not only taste great in tomato sauces and gazpacho, but I pack them like candy into lunchboxes.
Making positive changes is a process. It takes time. Make it your goal to adopt one of these tips each month. Start now, and by mid-winter, you may notice fewer sniffles and coughs around the family dinner table.
SOURCE: US News