Immune Boosting for Kids
Last year, my family and I made it through the whole winter with only one cold! Think that’s impossible? It’s not, and I’ll tell you how we did it.
For starters, we made sure the usual precautions were taken – ate lots of vegetables and fruit, drank lots of water, practiced good hand-washing, and made sure we all got to bed in good time. Beyond the basics, I added some natural immune-boosting measures to ensure that our already busy lives were not hampered with pesky viruses.
As soon as the weather turns cool, I start adding extra garlic and ginger to everything I cook. These flavorful herbs have potent anti-inflammatory properties and they’re gently warming to the body, especially when it’s cold and damp outside. These days, if you can’t get past the smell of garlic on your hands, you can get pre-chopped garlic cubes in the freezer section of your grocery stores. However, I find smashing and chopping my garlic to be cathartic (and yes, please be sure to give it a good smash to release the active form of allicin). For ginger, grate a whole bunch in one go and put it in an airtight container in the fridge for use all week long. The leftover nub of the ginger root can be steeped in some boiling water for a great cup of tea! Both garlic and ginger work well in soups (like the chicken soup below), stir-fries, vegetable sautés and stews.
Next, we ramp up the vitamin C, not only from foods (citrus fruits, kiwi, red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) but also in supplement form. I find that a powder like Genestra’s Ascorbate C that dissolves in water is very effective at boosting our defenses.
The final preventive measure is probably the most important – probiotics. Our gut, not our respiratory tract, is actually the point of entry for many pathogens that come aboard food, or fingers and toys that go into little mouths. Supplementing with at least 6 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of Acidophilus or Bifidum species guards our 20-foot long GI tract from bad bugs.
If these extra preventive measures (ginger, garlic, vitamin C, and probiotics) fail and someone in your family does get stricken with a cold or flu, here are some natural but effective ways to fight back:
Echinacea – take it at the start of a cold or flu for one week, then stop for a week.
Elderberry Extract – very potent antioxidant to take for 3 to 5 days at the start of symptoms.
Oil of Oregano – one drop on the feet of children, or one to two drops in juice for older people, is very effective at killing viruses. (Also only recommended for short-term use.)
Chicken Soup – This recipe is a twist on an age-old remedy with a extra veggies and immune-boosting herbs added:
- 6 cups water
- 4 cups broth
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 2 skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
- 3 cups fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 3 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1 bunch kale, chopped
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
- 2 tsp miso paste
- ½ cup dried goji berries (from a health food store)
- 6 pieces dried astragalus root slices (from a health food store) – optional
Saute garlic, onion, and ginger in olive oil. Add mushrooms, sauté for 30 seconds. Then add chicken and sweet potato. Pour in the water, broth and lemon juice. Add astragalus (if using). Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Remove from heat and remove astragalus.
Makes 6 kid-friendly servings
What do you do to avoid getting a cold or flu?