Now that cold and flu season is approaching, a few people have asked me what I do to boost my three year old son’s immune system. I have shared my thoughts with them, and I thought I would also share with you.
Before I do, I want to remind you to read my disclaimer. I am not a medical doctor and you should always consult your physician for medical advice and opinions before you try any of these ideas. I am providing this information for educational purposes and sharing what works for me.
1. Vitamin C
Probably one of the best-known immune enhancers is good ol’ Vitamin C. It’s important to get most of the Vitamin C in natural form like from oranges or other Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables (vs. orange juice or synthetic vitamin supplements). When our son is sick or needing an immune boost we give him a few slices of orange at a time, several times a day.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important in preventing illness and diseases of all kinds. Instead of directly killing bacteria and viruses, Vitamin D increases the body’s production of anti-microbial peptides, which directly and rapidly destroy the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including the influenza virus, and play a key role in keeping the lungs free of infection.
New studies show that about 85 percent of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient. You can get Vitamin D through the skin from sunshine, but this may be difficult to do during the winter, if you spend a lot of time indoors, or if you always use sunscreen when you go outside (sunscreen blocks the UVB radiation that causes your skin to produce it naturally).
You can also get Vitamin D from supplements. If you are considering Vitamin D supplementation, it’s important to know two things: your current Vitamin D levels and the correct dose for your age. I refer to Mercola.com; there is great information on both of these topics.
One good brand of Vitamin D drops is Carlson Vitamin D Drops for Kids; there are 400IU of vitamin D in each drop, making it easy to give just the right amount.
3. Elderberry (Sambucus)
After hearing how great Elderberry is for providing natural support for the immune system I found a product for kids called Sambucus, which contains Elderberry, Echinacea, and propolis. Elderberries have great value in fighting flu and other similar viruses.
We don’t use it daily due to cost and the echinacea it contains. Instead, we use it at the first sign of a cold or other illness, or when we are planning to go on a trip (we want to boost his immune system so he doesn’t get sick before we leave).
Echinacea is also a well-known immune booster. We use liquid echinacea for kids (that contain no alcohol) as another option for our son. We do this every now and then when necessary (for ourselves too), but not every day. We simply put some in water and drink.
As with all herbs, you need to be cautious when using them since some people can have a reaction; get advice from your doctor.
We also use probiotics often since a healthy gut is important for immune function, as well as overall health. (80 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system.) We use two types of probiotics: chewable tablets and powdered form. For the chewable tablets, we use these Buddy Bear ones; our son really likes them! For powdered form, we use Nature’s Way Primadophilus for Children; we store it in the fridge and mix it with water when needed. We have no real reason as to when we use which type. Some days our son won’t drink the water if he’s at all suspicious of it (even though it has no taste) so we give him the chewable tablets. Other times when he’s had a stomach virus or diarrhea, it’s good to give him liquid form.
We personally don’t use yogurt for our probiotics due to the extra sugar and dairy (see below).
6. Homeopathic Remedies
We also have several homeopathic remedies on hand for various ailments, including the flu. (I travel with my little homepathic first aid kit, too.) We don’t use these every day, but rather if we have been exposed to someone with the flu or if we feel the earliest signs of coming down with the flu.
The two most frequently indicated homeopathic flu medicines over the past 100 years have been Gelsemium and Bryonia. We successfully used Gelsemium last fall during the H1N1 flu period. My husband and son were playing with our neighbor girl one night and the next day I found out she had the H1N1 flu. My husband later said he had the slightest sensation of something happening himself, so I immediately gave all of us a dose of Gelsemium. None of us got the flu.
Oscillococcinum is another homeopathic flu remedy and probably the most familiar one to many of you; I think it’s sold in mainstream stores.
Here are a few articles mentioning homeopathy for the flu:
- Tips to Avoid Becoming Cold or Flu Victim This Season on Mercola.com
- Ten Homeopathic Remedies to Use During the Flu Season on NaturalNews.com
- Homeopathy and the Flu
7. Adequate Sleep
Adequate sleep is important for immune health, too; make sure you and your kids are getting enough sleep. Just as you find it harder to do tasks when you’re tired, if your body is overly tired it will be harder to fight off disease. Sleepfoundation.org has a chart listing the amount of sleep required depending on age.
8. No Sugar
We drastically limit our son’s sugar intake (we don’t eat much sugar ourselves). Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately. If we feel like we are starting to come down with something, we avoid sugar completely. Keeping sugar out of your diet is important for overall health as well. Dr. Mercola has an article about the 76 ways sugar can ruin your health.
9. No Dairy
Dairy foods can promote the overproduction of mucous in the respiratory tract, which can support the growth of bacteria and viruses. We don’t drink milk in our family, but when we feel like we are coming down with something we do eliminate cheese.
Our son still gets sick from time to time; I think that’s just part of being young. They are boosting their immunity when they are sick, so in a way I guess it’s good-even though it’s not always easy. Hopefully I’ve provided you with helpful information.
Wendy – ParentingTips365.com
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