As a mom in the trenches of our first illness of this season, boosting my kids' immune system is really fresh in my head, we've just recuperated! From the past five years of experience, we have a pretty large arsenal of first aid and have more or less figured out what works best for different types of symptoms as well as what helps prevent an illness from materializing when first symptoms are present.
It's absolutely essential for the body to have adequate sleep to have a strong immune system, especially for children (see here). Overworked, tired little bodies are more susceptible to disease. It may be tempting in this modern age to schedule your children for every available activity, but consider that their health and rest are more important and should be guarded. This is just one of gazillion reasons we love homeschooling, our learning revolves around a healthy lifestyle and not an exhausting schedule.
Since our immune system cells are largely contained in the gut, probiotics are naturally a great way to boost immunity. Not to mention they address many unwanted symptoms such as IBS, recurrent yeast infections, bloating and other digestive issues. Probiotics may also help with absorption of vitamin D3, minerals, and other nutrients. Not all probiotics are created equal though! Most do not survive the acid in your stomach before they reach the intestines. Make sure yours is not just one most commonly marketed strain like acidophiclus. Some of the most effective strains are lactobacillus reuteri (as found in breast milk) and bacillus coagulans.
I'm sure you already know Vitamin C is great to ward of colds and flu, but did you know that most vitamin C supplements on the market are derived from genetically modified organisms? It's usually made from GM corn. Your best bet is just buying some organic lemons and incorporating that into recipes (such as this yummy, healthy dessert) and smoothies. If you must supplement though, invest in a whole food, real vitamin C supplement such as this.
I have heard so many great things about elderberries from other moms that I had to finally try it. I am getting on the bandwagon, this stuff is amazing! I don't know what it does, but it works fast and is great for cough and anything that affects respiratory system. I bought this syrup but plan on making my own out of whole dried elderberries with this recipe, which will be cheaper for the amount it yields.
I love this locally made (to me) remedy from Vermont, this syrup does wonders for lingering, persistent, or "whooping" coughs, especially when kids have trouble sleeping. It was recommended by a naturopath and I'm so thankful to have it on hand for the winter season.
Olive leaf extract is miraculous! Let's see: antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal - great for any internal infections. It did wonders for an aching tooth I once had. Antioxidant, lowers blood pressure, contains anti-cancer compounds apigenin and luteolin (remember, all of us have cancer cells). You have to use your head and figure out dosage for a child, it's definitely not something to be taken regularly.
At the recommendation of our doctor we got these syrups for lingering cough last winter, both the dry cough and the wet cough. It's great for those night time coughing spells, one dose and baby is fast asleep! It really calms things down and gradually gets rid of cough for good. Not cheap, but in our humble opinion worth it for the relief we see in our kids.
This is a supplement that is great to take daily all through the year, cod liver oil has a ton of benefits and is great for overall health. During flu season we up the dosage and skip less often than summer. I notice a difference in my own health when I take it and when I don't. Not to mention it's great for skin, nails, teeth, and hair!
Of course what you put in a smoothie can also boost the immune system. Berries, spinach, lemon, apples, ginger, carrots, chia seeds, cucumber, and cinnamon are all great healthy ingredients. To make it yummier and more tolerable for the kids you can add a little banana or mango, raw milk would be great if you have any.
Of course fruits and veggies in their raw or lightly steamed form are awesome! I stock up on broccoli as my kids surprisingly like it steamed. Carrots to munch on. Slightly sour green apple slices. Sauteed cabbage. Raw sweet peppers. Sauteed cauliflower. Green peas. Offer a variety of veggies throughout the day regularly and they will learn to like them.
Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Talk to your trusted healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding your health.
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