There are a lot of natural strategies to stay healthy during cough, cold, and colds season. Dr. Alina with Whole Child Texas is providing us with some great strategies to stay healthy during the pinnacle of flu and colds season. Children could get on average of 10-12 viral infections (“colds”) per year, but this doesn’t mean that your child should get sick almost every month!
Every family should have a cough-and-cold prevention and treatment plan that works for everyone, parents, and children.
The cornerstone of disease prevention! I am frequently asked by parents what supplements to use to prevent colds, but before considering any store-bought vitamins, it’s crucial to talk about nutrition! As the father of medicine, Hippocrates, said: “Make food thy medicine and medicine thy food.” As all illness starts and ends with inflammation, I educate all my patients on the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet. Below are some simple tips on how to make your child’s nutrition anti and non-inflammatory:
- Eliminate all processed food and artificial dyes and sweetener
- Check out the Environmental Working Group’s www.ewg.org website for information on what produce to buy organic
- Brightly colored veggies and fruits, at least 5-8 servings/day
- No sweetened beverages or sodas
- Drink water
- Limit cow milk dairy
- Healthy fats: fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, olive oil
- Fermented foods: sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kimchi, kombucha, kefir
- Dessert should be a special treat, not a daily food. Save it for Sundays or special occasions, like birthdays and holidays. Help children develop a palate for dark chocolate and desserts made with fruits.
2. Nutritional support:
The reality that parents and pediatricians know is that although this sounds like really great advice, it is hard to implement daily. Some days kids just aren’t going to get all the nutrition they need.
To maximize health and vitality, it’s relatively easy to add the following three supplements to a child’s diet.
- Omega 3 essential fatty acids: 500-1000 mg per day, depending on age. Pediatricians tip: buy a liquid supplement. It is hard to achieve the recommended dose using gummies.
- Vitamin D3: 800-2000 IU (International Units)/day, especially during fall and winter months when kids do not spend much time outside in the sun.
- Probiotics: recommended daily dosages vary widely, but most experts suggest 1-10 billion CFU (Colony Forming Units) for infants and 10-20 billion CFUs for older children and adults. Remember, supplements do not replace a healthy, balanced diet, especially when it comes to the benefits of fish and fermented foods.
3. Water! Water! Water!
Getting even mildly dehydrated is a stress for tiny bodies, and stress weakens the immune system.
- Children need to develop a taste for regular, plain water. For some kids, it is an acquired taste, but they really need to get used to drinking water!
- For little ones who just don’t care for water, try making “spa” water to make it more appealing to drink: infuse water with fruits like berries or slices of oranges. Let kids pick whatever fruits they want. Children are more likely to try new things if they are involved in the process of creating it.
4. Medicine cabinet:
Keep at home and start at the first signs of a cold
- Zinc lozenges – use lower doses for children or it may upset their stomach
- Pelargonium (“V-clear” or “Umcka”) – it comes in different formulations for children; most kids prefer syrup or fizzy tablets. My personal favorites are the syrup from V-Clear (Integrative Therapeutics) or the Umcka lemon tea.
- Elderberry – different products, syrups, or gummies. Very kids’ friendly!
Let’s go back to basics and teach children to wash their hands to avoid getting sick!
- Handwashing frequently with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom, playing in public places, and before meals!
- “No hands on the face” rule: teach children to keep their fingers out of their mouth, nose, and eyes. (I know it’s easier said than done!)
6. Nasal saline washes:
- my favorite nasal spray is Xlear, a combination of nasal saline and xylitol.
- Establish good sleep hygiene, no TVs in the bedroom, and no screen time two hours before bedtime!
- Especially outdoors: spend time outdoors daily, at least an hour per day.
- Allow children time to fully recover after an illness. Do not send them to school barely a day or two after they stop having fever if they still feel tired or do not have an appetite. The body needs a period of recovery, called convalescence, after an illness. If children go back to school when they are not completely healthy, they are more vulnerable to catch another cold.
10. Stress management:
- Increased stress can weaken the immune system and make children more vulnerable to getting sick. Children as young as 5 years old can learn how to de-stress and manage anxiety. Children can quickly learn mindfulness and relaxing breathing techniques, but the parents have to remind them to practice daily.(link to my online meditation videos).