Helpful tips to keep your family healthy this winter.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention shows that common colds and the flu are the leading cause of missed days of school and work. Though the human body has a natural ability to respond to viruses that attack it during the cold and flu season, sometimes these defense mechanisms require additional support to respond effectively. A strong immune system cannot only reduce the risk of getting sick, but it can also reduce the severity and duration of sickness if you or your child already has a bug.
Here are some helpful tips for preventing colds and flu this winter:
Ensure good nutrition: Avoid refined sugars and processed foods which can depress immune function making you more susceptible to getting sick. Avoiding sugar, and specifically dairy when you are sick can help decrease congestion and mucous production.
Bone broths (yes, just like grandma used to make) are chocked full of nutrients that support immune function.
Additional supplementation with Vitamin A, Vitamin C & Vitamin D can also be effective – though it is important to speak with your Naturopathic Doctor about age-appropriate dosing.
Lifestyle: wash your hands and avoid exposure to others when they are sick. Adequate amounts of sleep and exercise are also some of the most important things that you can do to assist the body in warding off viruses. I stand by the fact that once you are sick, rest and restorative sleep are THE BEST medicine.
Manage Stress: as cortisol levels rise, this hormone suppresses your immune function, leaving you more prone to developing colds and flus. Managing your stress effectively with yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and the appropriate supplements for your body can be helpful.
Hydrotherapy: start your morning with alternating hot and cold showers (how appealing, right?) to improve circulation of immune factors, and try using a Neti Pot with saline solution to keep the sinuses clear.
I often recommend steam inhalations with a drop of eucalyptus oil for head colds, as this can provide immense relief of congestion. For kids, add a drop or two to their bath water for a similar effect, or try warming socks at bedtime.
Never suppress a fever, as this is the body’s natural response to fighting foreign invaders. Try immersing your child in a tepid bath instead.
Botanical Medicine: ingest natural antiviral herbs like garlic and ginger liberally during the winter months. Andrographis, echinacea, astragalus, and elderberry can also be beneficial for parents and children alike – though please speak to your Naturopathic Doctor for appropriate herb selection and age appropriate dosing.
Homeopathy: homeopathics are great options for managing the symptoms associated with common colds and flu, especially in young children.