It’s that time of year – “Cold & Flu Season.” It seems the cooler it gets outside, the more coughs and colds start popping up. This is especially true if you are a family with small children. These are some of my tried and true “beat the bugs” tips.
Focus on nutrition, lifestyle and supplements to keep your family healthy this season.
Supplement with Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an important role in your immune response and makes it more powerful. In fact, vitamin D’s presence allows your body to make its own antimicrobial task force to fight off infections.
Being outside in the sun is the most effective way to get vitamin D.
But, because our days are shorter during fall and winter, vitamin D supplement is recommended for the whole family this time of year. The adult recommended daily dose is 2,000 IUs and for children over age one, 1,000 IUs.
My preferred Vitamin D3 supplement is Ultra D Complex by Apex Energetics.
This daily liquid supplement contains Vitamin D from cod liver oil, as well as all of the beneficial co-factors to help your body absorb and utilize the nutrients effectively.
Eat Well To Keep Healthy
Eating well is important all year long, but especially during fall and winter.
Munching on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is a wonderful way to get lots of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants – all help improve your immunity.
Eating plenty of wild-caught, coldwater fatty fish (like salmon) keeps your omega 3 fatty acid levels up and immune system on point.
Cooked vegetables are easy to digest and can help warm your body. Soups, broths, and healthy fats (from butter, avocado, pastured eggs, organic and raw dairy and grass fed meats) are also excellent winter foods.
These grounding foods give your family the strength and energy to beat any bugs that come your way.
Consuming plenty of foods rich in Vitamin C (lemons, oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, etc.) is a good way to keep your immune system strong all year long.
Get Your Sleep
Has your family joined the 9:00 pm “Bedtime Club?” An early bedtime can help ward off infections, and can help you heal more quickly if you become ill. The amount of rest you get directly affects your body’s immune system response.
While you sleep, your body is able to repair itself and keep everything running smoothly – this time of day is called “Rest & Digest.”
The more you sleep, the better you feel. So, rest as soon as you start to feel sick. Also, try to sleep at least 8 hours each night (if you are an adult) or up to 10 hours (if you are a child or teenager). Get everyone in the family to bed a little earlier!
Wash Your Hands
Don’t forget to wash your hands often. Germs are everywhere and one of our best defenses against them is regular hand washing.
Your family should use regular soap, and warm to hot water, and wash for as long as it takes you to sing the ABC song in your head. Or, sing out loud with your little ones!
Supplement with Probiotics
Most of your immune system is located in your GI tract, where both good and bad bacteria like to hang out.
In order to stay healthy, it is important for you to have more of the good guys than the bad. Taking a probiotic supplement can help improve your immunity by keeping a healthy balance of the bacteria in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Probiotics should have multiple strains of different beneficial bacteria. There are specific strains which support immunity such as L. paracasei 8700:2 and L. plantarum HEAL9, which specifically benefit the nasal, sinus and respiratory tracts.
These strains can be found together in one of my favorite formulas by Metagenics – UltraFlora Immune Booster – available through FullScript.
Also, look for a minimum of 3 million colony-forming units (CFUs) when selecting probiotics for children, and up to 50 billion CFUs per day for adults, depending on any other health factors.
Probiotics which need to be refrigerated are best because they are “live and active” and will have the most immediate benefits for your body. Everyone in the family should be taking a probiotic supplement.
Since so many of your body’s metabolic functions rely on water, drinking half of your weight in ounces daily will help keep your body running smoothly as well as flush germs and toxins out faster. (If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding a small amount of 100% fruit juice or slices of fresh fruit like oranges or lemons to your water).
Also, add in a daily cup of herbal tea – linden flower, chamomile, peppermint, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and lemon balm are all teas which can help hydrate your body, and keep you healthy.
Kids love teas – you can sweeten with a tiny bit of raw honey, which also helps boost immunity and can soothe a sore throat.
Stay away from sodas, caffeine in tea and coffee, and reduce your alcohol intake. Sugary beverages, caffeine and alcohol all act as a diuretic in the body and can dehydrate you when taken in daily.
Soup is a wonderful tonic during this time of year! Try the miso soup recipe below to boost your immune system.
It’s great to drink if you’re sick, and smart to drink at the onset of a cold or during the healing process. Perfect for warming up on a cold winter day and including it to your family meals will also make everyone happy because it tastes SO good!
For the greatest immunity-enhancing effect, use organic ingredients and filtered water.
Prep: 10 min, Cook: 40 mins
- 5 cups water
- 1 Tbs. fresh ginger, minced 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ½ cup dried Shiitake mushrooms (softened in hot water, drained, stemmed and caps thinly sliced)
- ¼ cup strips wakame seaweed 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
- 1-2 Tbs. light or mellow miso paste (adjust to taste)
- ¼ cup scallions, sliced
- 4 cilantro sprigs
- Combine first 6 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
- Place miso in a bowl.
- Gradually whisk 1/3 cup of the soup into the miso, then return this paste to the soup.
- Heat but do not boil.
- Stir in scallions, then ladle into bowls.
- Garnish each serving with cilantro if desired.