The onset of the fall weather is a taxing time for our children – as they start back to school, their little bodies are fairly quick to come down with the routine cold and flu.
Although many might call it the result ofa change in weather, it’s actually a combination of many things – one of which is a diet that involves an overabundance of sugar. From sugary drinks to kids cereal, soda pop, packaged food and sugary treats, their little immune systems struggle to fend off what’s usually lurking in every classroom.
I’m always surprised how many kids I see at this time of the year that are struggling with a weak immune system – and it’s not just kids but parents too. A visit to Starbucks can put your sugar intake over the limit with just a few gulps. Combine that with lack of sleep, and stress at work and it’s no wonder that people are always feeling ill and sniffly.
While consuming sugar doesn’t directly cause a cold, it does make you more susceptible to catching a cold and can prevent you from overcoming that cold as well. In humans, glucose (sugar) competes with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) – so a diet that is high in sugar can lead to a weaker immune system.
How does Sugar Weaken the Immune System?
A high in sugar can lead to inflammation in the body. When inflammation happens, your white blood cells (which would normally be fighting the cold) are too focused on fighting that inflammation, leaving wiggle room for that cold to sneak in.
When you have a cold, it’s best to avoid sugar and boost your vitamin C intake – take a minimum of 15-75 mg for children, 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men.
Beating your Cold or Flu
Our immune system can fend off the virus that causes a cold – but how well we do that varies by person. There are many factors that come into play when it comes to a strong immune system.
#1 – Sleep
An adverse effect of not getting enough sleep is a compromised immune system.
“There’s evidence that people who don’t get enough sleep show higher levels of inflammation,” says Sheldon Cohen, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University who’s been studying the common cold for decades and co-authored the study. (Source)
Play it safe and try to capture 7 hours a night or more.
#2 – Watch your Diet
The best foods to eat when one is sick are real, whole foods – foods that aren’t loaded with pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and unnatural ingredients. Always try to either grow your own food or, buy from places that you have knowledge of where they are from – for example your CSA, or local Farmer.
Anything else you might have in your pantry that does not fall in the category above might just be processed, modified or not in their original state – things like kids cereal, microwave meals, boxed products, vegetable oils, or sugar laden drinks.
#3 – Stress Less
People who suffer from chronic or long term stress can experience symptoms like anxiety, depression and sleep problems. Physically, they risk high blood pressure, heart disease and digestive problems. Another danger they face is a weak immune system. … Cortisol suppresses inflammation during a response to stress. (Source)
Find a healthier approaching for dealing with stress – try to see if you can bring a better balance to your situation/life through exercise, music, using essential oils or, lessening your workload.
#4 – Focus on your Gut
When your immune system is off balance you can see everything from allergies to poor skin health – eczema, and dermatitis, too.
When food sits in your colon, the more bacteria forms – and the more bad bacteria forms, you run the risk of diarrhea, or constipation. It’s important to stay hydrated and drink 8 – 10 glasses of water each day, in addition to taking probiotics (or, drinking raw milk kefir).
Probiotics are helpful bacteria that naturally occur in our guts and protect our digestive tract. They help us get rid of toxins from our body. They also help us digest food that we eat. One of the best functions of probiotics is that they help protect us from weakened immunity.
Using a probiotic can be helpful, but even better than that is consuming kefir — raw milk Kefir has more strains of probiotics and thus is even better than taking a supplement.
#5 – Boost your vitamin D
Vitamin D works wonderfully in boosting immunity – as it enables your body to produce over 200 antimicrobial peptides – which can fight a wide range of infections (over 200!) (Source). It actually boosts your immune system by 3-5 times. In addition, being in the sun can also boost the production of vitamin D and reduce the risk of health conditions.
Several other supplements you should also keep in mind are fish oil, vitamin C, vitamin d, zinc, and rosehips.
#6: Consistent Use of Essential Oils
Likewise, Essential Oils can be a great way to boost immunity too – unlike prescription medicine that can largely affect your gut flora, essential oils don’t disturb your gut bacteria and can support your immunity.
It’s important to know the difference between cheaper fragrance oils that are synthetically produced and pure, unadulterated essential oils – as you don’t want to use fragrance oils for boosting your child’s wellness.