Besides Covid-19, it’s also flu and a cold season so here are some ways my family and safely and naturally boost our kids’ immune systems.
Good, clean dirt from a garden or forest helps strengthen our immune systems and can even make us happier. Studies have shown that children exposed to microbial biodiversity in green environments — natural playgrounds, parks and forests — perform better on standardized tests, are more creative, are happier; and show that their cortisol levels are lower, making them calmer and less stressed. This exposure can come from food grown in healthy soil, too. Phytonutrients, which are part of the plant’s immune system, are stimulated by organisms in the soil. Being exposed to different organisms improves the health of the plant, which in turn improves our health. So, encourage your kids to get dirty! They’re washable, after all.
Speaking of phytonutrients, eating nutrient-dense “powerhouse” foodsis an effective way to boost the immune system. Avoid processed foods with chemical dyes, preservatives, or sweeteners, especially during cold and flu season. Instead, encourage your kids to eat fruits and veggies packed with vitamins and minerals:
- Organic leafy greens like kale and spinach, are both highly nutrient-dense)
- Nuts and seeds (Look for almonds, roasted soybeans, pistachios, cashew nuts, and sunflower, chia, sesame and pumpkin seeds.)
- Colorful vegetables and fruits (bright colors = vitamins, minerals and nutrients!)
- Probiotics (Healthy gut bacteria influence the immune system, correct deficiencies, and increase T-cells. Try kombucha, yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut — anything fermented.)
Plenty of Exercise
Speaking of playing outside, it almost always involves some physical activity. It’s important to encourage exercise to improve heart and brain function, not to mention boosting the body’s immune system. A recent study found a solid link between physical activity and immune system health.
Even in the winter, try fun indoor activities such as making a blanket fort, navigating a red yarn laser grid, balloon tennis with paper plate paddles, an empty water bottle bowling alley or an indoor discotheque. All are super fun and get those bodies moving.
Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is critically important for infants, children and teenagers alike, because their brains are still developing, with synapses and new connections growing.
- Set and enforce appropriate bedtimes.
- Avoid bright light and exciting activities in the evening.
- Remove nightlights as soon as toddlers are old enough not to be afraid of the dark.
- Get light exposure in the morning.
- For an hour before bedtime, turn off all electronic devices. Computer, television, tablet and smart phone screens emit light primarily in the blue spectrum. Blue light inhibits production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleepiness.
- Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals, like dim lights, soft music, warm baths, and/or bedtime stories.
We Use Essential Oils
If you’re new to essential oils, always dilute them more to be safe. In general, children under the age of 2 should not use oils, but I used heavily diluted lavender and chamomile to massage all my children.
For children age 5 and older, the general dilution ratios are as follows:
To boost immunity — Thieves: Dilute 1 drop with 10 drops of olive oil, and rub on the bottoms of feet. It also is great in a diffuser to keep the rest of family healthy.
I have also made up immune rollers for us to use.
An immunity roller makes applying immune boosting essential oil easy at any time. To be prepared, you can make one. I always have one roller in my purse and one at home so I can apply it whenever I feel the need for an extra boost. Empty glass rollers can be bought here. By the way, they make great gifts, too☺
- 8 drops purification
- 8 drops thieves
- 5 drop of lemon
- 2 tsp. coconut oil
Mix in roller, and roll along spine, on wrist pulses or on bottoms of feet.
Young Living also has a whole line of kids’ oil products. One of their oils is called snifflease. I found that it works great for congestion. The bonus is that you do not have to dilute it.
If you’re interested in buying Young Living oils and/or have your own house emergency kit, click here.
Many herbs have nutritional benefits that support a healthy immune system, and they’re easily absorbed through the stomach lining when made into herbal tea. DO TRY …
- Elderberry — Contains antioxidants, vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, folate, calcium, and iron. A few drops of elderberry syrup a day will fight off a cold or flu.
- Eucalyptus — Great for cough, cold and sore throat. Contains antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal properties that help boost the immune system.
- Chamomile — Mild and soothing, it is perfectly safe for babies and pregnant women.
- Peppermint — Contains immune-boosting vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, vitamin B, potassium and calcium.
- Garlic — In the lab, researchers have seen garlic work against bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Scientists are concerned that widespread overuse of antibiotics will inevitably render it useless, as dangerous bacteria will develop resistance to it. Better to avoid these products for daily use, and save antibiotics for when they are truly needed. Train your kids to simply wash their hands in hot soapy water for 20 to 30 seconds (or as long as it takes to slowly recite the “ABC” song), and clean surfaces regularly with vinegar, baking soda, or various other natural cleanersto kill bacteria as needed. Enforcing good oral hygiene is also important for immune health.
…Which Includes Not Spreading Germs
Talk with your kids about sneezing or coughing into a tissue or their elbow. They should wash their hands after sneezing, coughing, or blowing their noses, and not touch anything else until they do so. They should ask for a tissue instead of wiping their noses on their arms, and learn how to blow their noses. Remind them as needed until it’s an ingrained habit.