Organization: Erin Falco RDN, Inc.
Authors: Veronica Rechten MSc & Erin Falco, RDN
Publish Date: 12/29/22
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The winter months are always rough when it comes to viruses and infections, and this year has already proven to be extra difficult. So, how do we help our kids fight back against the sickies? Let us help you!
Below you'll find all the tools you'll need for your kid's immunity arsenal!
Boost their Immune System with Food
Food is your first line of defense when it comes to the immune system. In addition to adequate food intake, A diet rich in micronutrients will give their bodies what it needs to fight off invaders.
Vitamins & minerals: vitamins A, C, D, & zinc are amazing for immunity.
Vitamin C: Strawberries, red bell peppers, oranges, broccoli and Brussel's sprouts
Vitamin A: Organ meats - try adding chicken liver into a chili recipe (there's one on our site!) Also great are: cod liver oil, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, squash, carrots and turnips!
Vitamin D: Cod Liver oil, salmon, sardines and orange juice
Zinc: Beef, breakfast cereals
Anti-inflammatory foods: Reducing inflammation in the body helps your immune system to be able to focus on the invaders it should be fighting. Try adding turmeric and/or ginger to foods and smoothies. Foods high in omega-3s like: salmon, sardines, avocado, walnuts and flaxseeds are also great for reducing inflammation.
Anti-viral/fungal foods: onions, garlic, honey, coconut oil, coconut and cinnamon, all boast anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Add onions and garlic to soups and stews. Make a tea with cinnamon and honey, or even homemade honey lollipops if your child needs something to soothe their throats. Add herbs into cooking as much as possible- oregano, thyme, rosemary and use coconut oil for cooking wherever possible. Coconut oil pulling is a great way to decrease bacteria in the oral cavity.
Antioxidants: Antioxidants are important to fight off free radicals in the cells and help our bodies fight infections/viruses. To get these from food add in the rainbow! Dark berries like blueberries, raspberries; red cabbage; purple grapes; sweet potatoes and nice green spinach are all full of antioxidants. Glutathione is an important antioxidant for the immune system and can be found in: Spinach, avocados, asparagus and okra.
Probiotics/prebiotics: Having a balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut are essential to all aspects of immune, systemic and mental health. Building our good bacteria is especially important if our kids are prone to getting sick often and have used antibiotics frequently. Even a single dose of antibiotics can pull all our good bacteria out which make it difficult to maintain the balance!
Consuming both pre and probiotic rich foods are important. There are ‘good’ bugs called probiotics, which we can constantly replenish. These "good bugs" need food to help them grow. The food is the prebiotic which are the fiber-rich foods that we need to get through our food.
Foods high in probiotics include: yogurt (plain, active cultures), cheese (aged), cottage cheese
Non-Dairy sources: Fermented vegetables, kombucha, kimchi, raw pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh Food high in prebiotics include: asparagus, banana, flaxmeal, leeks, onions, garlic, honey, cocoa, dandelion greens, apple, peas, and yacon
While we do the best we can with food, sometimes supplementation is needed in order to make sure our kiddos are getting what their bodies need to thrive. Here are our recommendations for immune boosting supplements:
Vitamin D3 + K2 Drops: This vitamin D is easily absorbed and has the added benefit of helping calcium absorb into bones.
Liposomal Vitamin C: This liposomal formula helps with absorption across the cell membrane, making it an ideal form to make sure your child is getting all the immune and antioxidant benefits.
Probiotics: This is a great, chewable, kids probiotic blend to help support their gut health.
Multivitamin Chewable: a comprehensive multi-nutrient blend that contains vitamins, minerals, and trace elements important for a healthy nervous system, immune function, antioxidant defenses and normal growth and development.
Olive Leaf Combination: Olive leaf extract is great for helping the body fight unwanted microorganisms that make us sick.
* For both preventative and acute illness support, check out our full immunity protocol HERE.
Our bodies can't heal and restore without good sleep! Sometimes that's hard for some kids (and parents!). Try these tips for the best night's rest for your kiddos:
Set a routine: As most parents know, routine is really important in many aspects of a child's life, but especially so when it comes to bedtime. Setting a routine and sticking to it, even on weekends, will set your child up for good sleep habits that they will keep for years. Try starting the wind-down process at a specific time every evening when your child is not yet overly sleepy. A small balanced snack (like turkey and crackers, or peanut butter and apple slices) a couple of hours before bed may help to keep their sleep deep and keep them from waking hungry in the middle of the night. Next, taking an epsom bath and brushing teeth helps their bodies to warm and sooth. Whatever ritual is special to you can come next. Read a book, sing a quiet song, or say prayers. Try to leave the room before your child is fully asleep as this will help them learn how to fall asleep on their own and keep them from panicking if they wake up and find you're not there.
Limit screens: Our bodies have a 24-hr sleep-wake cycle that is largely regulated by light. Blue light emitted from electronics like, computes, phones, and TVs can reduce or delay the natural production of melatonin (the sleepy hormone) in the brain and decrease feelings of sleepiness. Setting a "turn-off-time" about an hour before your bedtime routine will be helpful for your child to be able to sleep effectively. Reading, playing a board game, or doing a puzzle are great alternatives to a late-night movie or video game.
Try essential oils/epsom salt bath: Smells from essential oils work on the limbic system of the brain, which is tied to our emotions. Studies have shown that smells from essential oils can help us to relax and may help with deeper sleep1. Try a diffuser, or room spray with lavender, chamomile, clary sage, or jasmine oil. You can also rub the essential oil on the bottoms of their feet after a relaxing epsom salt bath!
Weighted blanket/stuffie: Weighted blankets, and stuffed animals help to calm the central nervous system. Its like pressure-therapy which is used to reduce anxiety, overstimulation, insomnia, and restlessness. Many children sleep better with sensory input. The blankets come in all different weights, so make sure you check out the weight guides for your kids before purchasing.
We know that this is a difficult time of year for illnesses in families, but we hope that our tips can help you to get through it as healthy as possible! If you need more nutritional support, visit us at www.erinfalcordn.com for more posts, recipes and webinars, or contact us for a discovery call to become a patient.