The winter months can play havoc with our health and many parents struggle as their kids get sick during the influx of seasonal bugs and viruses which `do the rounds` at school and this cycle can seem never ending. Oh the joys!
We cannot avoid ourselves or our kids being exposed to bugs and viruses but we can look at ways of supporting immune health so we can all better prepared to fight them off and recover more quickly.
The food we eat can have such a powerful effect on our immune health due to the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they provide. Try to eat good quality proteins such as lean meat, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and wholegrain carbs such as quinoa, wholegrain rice and pasta, beans and lentils. White and refined carbs, junk food and sugar don’t have much nutritional value and sugar actually stresses and lowers our immune fighting response.
Try to tempt yourself and your kids with a rainbow colour of fruit and veg to keep your immune army in tip top shape. Try carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, broccoli, pears, plums, berries, bananas, lemons, peppers. Enjoy in soups, stews, stir fries, smoothies, keep a bowl handy for snacking and hide in your kids dishes! Reishi, oyster and shitake mushrooms actually have antiviral and anti-bacterial properties.
Try to include healthy fats such as oily fish, avocados, seeds, olive oil to the family diet and other immune power foods are citrus fruits, blueberries, dark chocolate, garlic, ginger and onions.
Smoothie ice pops from bananas, berries, kiwi etc are a great way to boost nutrients and also can be soothing when a child is feeling unwell or has a sore throat and doesn’t want to eat much. Lighter more easily digestible foods such as soups are great during illness and recovery.
For many dairy products can be mucous forming so removing from the diet for a few days and replacing with sugar free almond or coconut or oat milk can help clear congestion.
Supplements for adults and kids for supporting immune balance include beta-glucans (from mushrooms) and are good also for short term use when you or your kids start to feel run down. We can also be more susceptible to bugs when we have had a busy spell, the kids have had lots of activities / homework / exams etc. Vitamin C and Vitamin D, a good quality multi are important for immune health as are probiotics. Healthy gut bacteria is very important for good immune responses. If children don’t like taking tablets they can always be ground up and put in juice or fruit puree.
Remember sleep is vital for adults and kids, for rest, healing and repair. I know this is a busy time of year so make sure you schedule some time for rest and good sleep! Keep good hand hygiene and keep fluids up for prevention and also when sick, plain water, with some fruit to help the taste, diluted fruit juice and herbal teas such as lemon and ginger, berry or immune teas – make sure you cool first if giving to kids and you can also add a little honey to sweeten. Coconut water can help replenish lost electrolytes.
Natural light, fun, friendships, being outdoors in nature, gratitude and laughter can all help boost our immunity too! Anne xx