Winter is here, now is the time to ramp up our efforts to protect our kids
And with us facing ever bigger challenges we need to make our efforts even bigger
No supplement, diet, or lifestyle modification — aside from social distancing and practising proper hygiene — can protect you from developing COVID-19.
The strategies outlined below may boost your immune health, but they don’t protect specifically against COVID-19.
With winter here, it means we have now officially stepped into colds and flu season. Add to that the Covid-19 epidemic and you have more than enough things to worry about.
During a “normal” winter I worry about my kids getting sick. The biggest fear would be that they get so sick that they end up in a hospital. Not sure for who it will be more traumatic, me or them, I will do anything and almost everything to ensure that they stay healthy. That being said, and me being me, I rely heavily on natural remedies to not only boost my kids’ immune systems but should they get sick, to nurse them back to health.
As always, I need to put in a disclaimer here – I am not a fool, and will never ever withhold medical advice or allopathic medicine from my kids. Choosing natural does not mean ignoring modern science, it simply means that I will use natural remedies to support my kids’ bodies, and to help them heal, either as the only remedy or in conjunction with prescribed medicine. Should medical intervention be needed I am the first to rush them to the doctor.
We often hear that food is medicine (if not, please read up on it!), and I strongly agree. From personal experience, I can tell you that whenever I become too lenient with the way we eat, we get sick. For that reason, food is always the first thing I consider when having to tackle any medical, psychological or physiological issue. My kids’ immunity is no exception. Diet, in conjunction with the following, is what gives my kids a fighting chance to get through winter without even as much as the sniffles.
My top tips to naturally boost your children’s immunity:
- Give them the right food
Focus on maintaining a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh veggies, whole fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and proteins. Teach your kids from a young age to eat mindfully, meaning to listen to what their body needs. This will help them determine when they are hungry, satisfied, craving something, or just wanting to eat because they are bored/tired/sad/etc. Foods that promote a healthy gut-biome (especially fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir and prebiotic foods such as sweet potatoes) should form an integral part of your child’s diet.
- Ensure they get enough sleep
Sleep plays a very important role in the healthy development of your child. It is also very important in building a strong immune system. According to the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers between the ages of 1-2 years need 11-14 hours of sleep per night, preschoolers between the ages of 3-5 need 11-13 hours of sleep per night and school children between the ages of 6-13 need 9-11 hours of sleep per night.
In order to increase your child’s quality of sleep, it is important that your child sleeps in a room that is dark. This is because the sleep hormone, melatonin, is secreted in the dark. Make sure all electronic devices are off before you put your child to bed.
- Encourage nature therapy
Being outside in nature has numerous benefits, such as supporting their mood, lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and supporting the immune system. Sunshine also boosts vitamin D in the body, which plays a key role in immune health, too. So get them outside!
- Experiment with essential oils
All essential oils have antiseptic properties to some degree and many essential oils are especially good at preventing the spread of bacteria, fungus, and viruses. Some essential oils can help to stimulate the immune system by increasing blood and lymph circulation and generally supporting the different body systems. Read up on the various oils that are safe to use with children and incorporate them into your daily lives to support your kids’ immune system.
- Help to keep their stress and anxiety levels in check
Children’s bodies have the same response to stress than adults’ do—their cortisol and adrenaline rise. When this elevation in stress hormones is sustained, their immune systems’ response is lowered. In fact, one research review that specifically looked at early life stressors assessed that “individuals exposed to chronic stressors can exhibit immune dysregulation.”
It’s important for children to have lots of downtimes, time for creative play, and simple times of rest. Busybodies need to take a break every now and then for their immune systems to thrive.
And my bonus tips:
- Get their bodies moving
Research shows that exercise increases the number of natural killer cells in adults—and regular activity can benefit kids in the same way. Encourage your kids to run, jump, throw balls and play outside, but don’t expect them to move if you do not exercise yourself. To get your children into a lifelong fitness habit, be a good role model.
- Teach them good hygiene
Teach your kids how to wash their hands properly. This does not have a direct effect on their immunity, other than helping to stop the spread of germs that could make them sick.
- Avoid antibiotics unless unavoidably necessary
You are allowed to question your doctor, and since many doctors prescribe antibiotics just because some parents demand that they not leave the rooms empty-handed, this is a good practice. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria, so if your child has a viral infection they will do harm, and no good. With the rise in antibiotic-resistant superbugs, we should all drink antibiotics only when completely necessary.
Grab your free essential oils cheat sheet here – to make it a bit easier to figure out which oil to use for which ailment
Everything is going to be ok. You are going to be ok.
Chronic conditions should not be self-treated, and you should never avoid or delay getting standard medical care. Always consult with your doctor first. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with their doctor before using any natural or alternative treatment, and also speak to your doctor first before using oils on your kids. People who are epileptic, have liver damage or issues, have cancer, are diabetic, or have any other medical problem, or who suspect they might have any of these conditions, should definitely consult with their doctor first.