Natural, healthy foods help build a healthy immune system. Warming foods are root vegetables, tomato sauces, lentils, yams, oats, and squashes. Garlic, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon and oregano are also warming spices. The term warming does not imply the temperature, but rather, the effect that these foods have on the body.Foods rich in vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as minerals like selenium and zinc will keep the immune system functioning to boost a child’s ability to combat bacteria and viruses.
Reducing intake of orange juice, and dairy products is advisable during a cold or flu as these foods can produce mucus and make things worse. Supplementing a child’s diet with a good liquid (better absorption) multi-vitamin and mineral is also beneficial. Make sure it includes vitamin D (D3) as Canadians are prone to lack of D vitamins.
We often try to rid the body of cold and flu symptoms as soon as possible, but the body needs time to work things out. Provide fresh water and avoid junk and processed foods. Unpasturized natural honey (choose organic) has good antibacterial properties and is effective for coughs and colds. Do not give infants under age 2 unpasteurized honeys, as it is not advisable. Garlic has strong antibiotic properties. Extra vitamin C (choose Ester-C) is advisable for its ability to boost the immune system. Homeopathic remedies and herbs are also very effective at helping relieve symptoms and restoring health without the side effects of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Echinacea, cat’s claw, chamomile and ginger (made as weak teas for children) are beneficial. Your child may prefer a hot lemon or apple drink (make sure it’s natural and not sugar-laden) or warmed pear juice with cinnamon. Peppermint and spearmint have relaxing properties on the digestive tract. Choose fresh or dried herbs or organic tea and allow the child to sip warmed. Supplementing with a good quality fish oil with DHA will help keep a child’s immune system in peak performance all winter long. If your child does not like the taste, choose a capsulated form or choose a marine-based form of omega-3 that is derived from seaweeds. Essential fatty acids (EFA’s, fish oils, omega 3 blends) are delicate oils – buy only products that are in dark bottles and are sold refrigerated, otherwise, they are rancid and no good.
No Sugar Please! Avoid sugar as much as possible and eliminate sugar completely during any type of illness. Sugar suppresses the immune system for hours after it is consumed and paves the way for bacteria and yeasts to grow. Sugar can prolong and intensify cold or flu. Avoid carbonated beverages and pop as they are extremely high is sugar (as much as 8 teaspoons per can). Cold medicines, cough syrups and pain relievers are usually laced with colorants and dyes, as well as sugars, and actually do not provide much relief. Ice cream and frozen treats like popsicles may feel soothing, but they do nothing to help the immune system combat the illness. Viruses simply need time and antibiotics are useless against viral infections.
By Erin Bell, RNCP, R.BIE