Boosting immune function for kids

Although I have the ability to, I don’t do much tracking of my blog traffic.  I periodically glance at the numbers, but since my intent when starting to blog is share things I’ve found helpful with other moms, whether the numbers are staggeringly huge or staggeringly small, as long as someone is helped by something, then to me it’s worth my time here.

Sometimes I wonder, though, about when I see huge spikes in traffic, like today, how did you find this blog?  There are currently blog readers from all over the U.S., as well as the U.K, Canada, Israel, Brazil, Colombia, and Australia – isn’t that nice?  I don’t know how people find their way here, but however it happens, it’s nice to have you all there! 

With the winter quickly approaching, if not already here for most of us, I thought you might find it helpful if I shared some ways to boost immune funtion for children.  Winter too often is a time of non stop visits to doctors, sniffles, coughs, if not worse.  We can’t always ward off everything, but there are ways to strengthen our children’s systems so that they are less susceptible, or if they do catch something, to help it run its course faster or for a shorter intensity.

There are two aspects to this: what you do before your child is ill, and what you do once his is feeling unwell.  The biggest thing I think a parent as regards to prevention is to boost the nutritional quality of the child’s diet, and limit sugar consumption.  Sugar lowers the immune function for something like thirty minutes after eating it, and is connected to a host of other bad things.  Along with this I’d suggest taking out as many artificial preservatives and additives that you can.  None of these do anything positive for your health. 

Here are some more specific suggestions that we’ve found helpful:

Chicken soup – this isn’t just an old wive’s tale – it’s been tested in laboratories and found that there’s a natural penicillin like quality about chicken soup.  Not only does it taste great, it’s warm and soothing, and makes a person pychologically feel better after drinking it.  It’s also a great way to get some solid nutrients into a child who doesn’t feel like eating anything. 

Echinacea – echinacea is great to take when you’re feeling unwell, but shouldn’t be used as an ongoing health support.  I prefer not to use chewables because of the sugar content, but I do use the echinacea leaves in the Supertonic tincture I make (look in recipes category if you missed it and are interested), and have more loose leaves to brew into a tea if I feel it would be helpful. 

Liquid Advantage concentrate – grapefruit seed extract – I have a friend who swears by this – she gives her daughter four drops every morning before she goes to school.  She told me that whenever she forgets it, her daughter gets sick.  I have another friend who is extremely knowledgeable about natural healing, who also uses this all the time – when she sent her daughter to stay with us for a couple of days several years ago, she sent along a bottle of this with her.  The taste is pretty strong (horrible, my kids would say :)) so either drink it with some juice or be prepared to kill the flavor left in your mouth with a cracker or something like it afterwards. 

Vitamin C – I prefer to use sodium ascorbate (SA), and since almost all of the kids (and adults) vitamin c tablets or chewables are in a different form I don’t use them.  I buy the powdered form and put it in some juice for them.  They are best taken with bioflavanoids for ideal absorption, but my kids don’t like the look or taste of the powdered bioflavanoids that I bought (neither do I!) so the bioflavanoids have ended up sitting in my cabinet, mostly unused.  I use very large doses of SA as soon as one of the kids is feeling under the weather, but don’t use it much otherwise.  There’s no problem with taking it daily, it’s just that I don’t do it. 

Garlic – I sometimes think the smell alone of garlic could drive away germs, but seriously, it’s a powerful antibiotic and can be easily used in cooking to a health advantage.  It can be added to chicken soup, roasted, or sauteed, but is most potent eaten raw – chopped up and added to a salad or some yogurt is the easiest thing (I remember having yogurt, raw chopped garlic, and honey when I was a kid).  I have to confess that although I like the taste and smell of garlic, once it’s on my child’s breath I can’t stand it.  I literally have to turn my head away when they come too close to me.  I would use this with caution only as a point of sensitivity to those around you.  So around here, I stick to cooked garlic, and again, it’s one of the Supertonic ingredients. 

Apple cider vinegar – by this, I only mean raw, and the only one I know of that fits the bill is Bragg’s.  You can find it in your local health food store, and I’ve seen it recommened for a variety of things.  A tablespoon of this vinegar added to a warm cup of water with a tablespoon of honey, first thing in the morning, is the perfect way to take it. 

Cod liver oil – this is something that has been used for many generations, and there’s a good reason for it!  Fish oil is also good, but cod liver oil is the best.

Probiotics – if your child has been on antibiotics at any point, it’s killed some of the beneficial bacteria in the gut along with whatever the disease killing bacteria there was.  Probiotics are crucial for healthy immune systems – yogurt and kefir are great sources and are easily purchased in the store.  Make sure it says it has acidophilus in it. 

Many moms are scrupulous about hand washing and keeping their kids out of germy places.  I’m not one of them.  Being homeschoolers, they aren’t exposed on a daily basis to all the stuff kids in schools are, but even before we homeschooled, our kids were sick much, much less than their friends.  If someone tells me before a playdate that their child or one of the child’s siblings has a cold, it usually wouldn’t concern me enough to keep the kids from playing with him.  Usually – unless I already saw that one of our kids was feeling sick, in which case I wouldn’t be rushing to have my kids playing with other children and spreading germs.  I’m not picky about others spreading it to me, but I do try to be careful about not spreading anything to others. 

I think that anti-bacterial cleansers and hand wipes sound like a better idea than they are, and don’t use them.  We need to have a certain amount of germs in our lives, or we wouldn’t have a chance to develop immunity!  I remember reading several years ago that there was a link between asthma and kids growing up in very sterile environments – to which I laughed and said that wouldn’t be a problem in our home!

By the way, all of these are helpful for adults, too!  I hope some of these suggestions give you a starting point for this winter.   May this be a winter of health for us all!


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