With back-to-school season coming hard at us in full swing, it’s time to start thinking natural immunity. Here are some great ways to really ramp up your child’s immune system before he or she comes into contact with all of those fun, new, germy best friends.
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Foods & Supplements
1. Probiotics: Since 80% of our immune system lives in our gut, beneficial “good” gut bacteria is a must for any child (or adult!). Read more about gut health here. Investing in a good quality probiotic and offering it to your child everyday will heal their gut and populate it with the good bacteria they need to stay healthy throughout the school year. And we all need gut healing. With the intake of over-processed foods, vaccine and anitbiotic use and GMO’s, our gut takes some brutal hits. Personally, I find that this probiotics are missing puzzle piece to a good immune system. With a leaky gut, no other immune booster will work to it’s full potential.
The best species of probiotics are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Available as liquid, powder, and capsules. We use Hyperbiotics, a great quality probiotic sold on Amazon. My whole family uses it. My 3-year-old son uses the kid version (orange flavored) and loves taking it everyday.
2. Elderberry Syrup: is a highly effective remedy for colds, flu and coughs and a great, natural alternative to those flu shots! Elderberries contain high levels of A, B, and C and ramp up the immune system when taken daily. Elderberry was our saving grace last Winter, and we plan on using it again this year.
You can purchase elderberry syrup in some health food stores or online, but they tend to weigh on the pricier side and don’t always come in an organic option.
You can check out my Organic Dry Elderberry Kit here on Etsy. One kit makes enough to fill a 16 oz. mason jar and it’s half the price of the smaller bottles found in stores. All you have to do is add water, your choice of honey and cook. Super easy and convenient 🙂 If you don’t feel like making your own, another store-bought brand I like that you can find on Amazon is Nature’s Way Organic Sambucus for Kids Syrup.
3. Thieves Oil: Thieves has a bit of a fairy tale past, but also impressively holds up in scientific studies as a great blend to help support immunity and prevent illness. Thieves oil was used decades ago when “thieves” were robbing townspeople and trying to prevent getting the black plague. Well, it worked, and it was later studied at Weber State University. The study found that diffused Thieves essential oil blend has a 99.96 percent kill rate against airborne bacteria after only 10 minutes of exposure. Read more about the study here.
Usage: If your child is age appropriate, you can put a few drops on the bottoms of their feet to promote immune support and prevent illness.
4. Greens: Yup, ya can’t avoid ’em. Those dark green, leafy vegetables. Due to their ability to alkalize the body’s PH levels, they are and will always be your child’s lifeline to health and immune support. If you have a picky eater, try to hide greens in a fruit smoothie or inside your meat loaf or casserole. You can also invest in a high quality greens powder and add it into your child’s juice in the morning. We use Vibrant Health. My son drinks it right down and honestly enjoys the taste.
5. Vitamin C: Dont’ wait until your little one is already sick. Get them on a good vitamin C regimen to pump up their immune system. Vitamin C is a simple vitamin, but is serious when it comes to fighting off invading germs. Dr. Sears advises that younger kids up to age 6 will benefit from around 250 mg per day. Older kids and adults can take 500 mg per day. Available as a powder, chewable, or capsule. We use Nutrigold Vitamin C Gold.
6. Vitamin D: The sunshine vitamin. This vitamin might be the missing link to full immune support in the Winter time. It is speculated that flu outbreaks occur much more often in the winter because people are naturally not outside as much and their vitamin D levels drop dramatically, leaving them unable to fight colds and flu as effectively. Supplementation may be a great idea in those colder months.
7. Zinc: This mineral is a safe and effective way to boost the immune system. Dr. Sears advises that children up to age 6 years can take 10 to 20 mg per day. Older kids and adults can take 20 to 40 mg per day. We use Garden of Life.
8. Raw Honey: The sweet stuff for your health. Most versions of raw honey have multiple great benefits ranging from wound healing to prevention of sinus infections, and they should not be overlooked when it comes to immune support. According to Healthy Eating, natural compounds found in raw manuka honey, made from bees that live around the New Zealand-native manuka bush, may help your immune system fight off infections. Manuka honey contains more methylgloxal — the compound thought to be responsible for its antibacterial activity — than other honeys. *Never give honey to infants under 1 year of age*
When taken daily, honey can be a great addition to a powerful immune system.
9. Avoid Over-Medication: Avoid overusing antibiotics unless necessary. Antibiotic use compromises gut health, which makes up the majority of our immune system.
10. Hydration & Elimination: Make sure your child is drinking lots of water and is having regular bowel movements. Proper digestion helps their body metabolize and eliminate unwanted toxins and pathogens daily.
11. Avoid Dairy: Hold the cheese! I know this may be tough for a lot of kids, but dairy is mucus forming and very inflammatory to the body. The best functioning immune system has the best chance to work best with no added dairy products
12. Avoid Flu Shot: Yes, I said avoid. Last flu season, the CDC admitted that their flu vaccine was only 23% effective at preventing the flu. You can read the chart here. Not only is this a very small efficacy rate, the flu shot comes with risks and side effects. It’s better to prepare the immune system naturally, so if your child does end up getting the flu, he or she is healthy enough to fight it effectively the way nature intended. Our immune systems were built for illness!
13. Limit Refined Sugars: Sugar can suppress your child’s immune system and impair their defenses against infectious disease. Just ONE teaspoon of sugar suppresses your child’s immune function by 50% for 24-48 hours! Yikes!
** The content of this article is for informational purposes only. The intention is to share knowledge and relevant information in the natural medicine field but not to diagnose or treat anyone or any condition. Please consult with your Naturopathic Doctor or Other Primary Care Physician before taking any supplements or stopping or starting any regimen**
Best of luck to you and your tot this back-to-school season!