When my son was 3 months old, we were fortunate enough to find a lady who ran a daycare out of her home. The traditional daycare wait lists were crazy long and without her help we would have been up the creek without any solution since we both work full time.
The benefit to an at-home daycare was there were fewer kids to spread their germs and sickness wasn’t too much of an issue. Last October, a few months after his first birthday, we enrolled Bennett in a traditional daycare. What followed was the “Winter of Crud”. He got 3 ear infections (no coincidence they came shortly after I stopped breastfeeding), croup twice, we all had the flu over Christmas, at least one bout with a stomach bug, and plenty of runny noses. Add in the adjustment of a new daycare situation, teething and weaning and it’s a wonder I wasn’t drinking daily.
I know the first year of daycare can be brutal while the kids’ immune systems adjust, but I vowed to buff up my preventative measures for this winter and try to avoid repeat illnesses and missed work. We’ve added several steps into our routine now that temps are dropping and I’m confident they’ll not only lessen our chances of getting sick, but if we do happen to catch a bug they’ll lessen the severity.
Side note: let me say that I’m not against modern medicine. I am very grateful for the latest and best medical advances and practices that are within a short drive for most of us. I do think our society is over dependent on prescriptions that usually cover up the root cause of the issue and bring along potential side effects that can require their own prescriptions. It’s a vicious cycle.
Many of the things we’ve incorporated have been safely used to prevent illness for hundreds or thousands of years. Although natural doesn’t guarantee safe, I do my research and make decisions thoughtfully. My approach for my family is to have alternative solutions that support the body as a first line of defense and if things escalate, we don’t hesitate to go to the doctor.
So here’s my list for what we do on a daily basis to keep our immune system and overall health functioning well. You can also incorporate these steps if you’re already feeling under the weather and it’ll help get you back on track in no time.
1. Take Care of Your Gut
Did you know 70% of your immune system lies in your gut? That’s why ditching overly processed and sugary foods is so helpful in staying healthy and freeing up the immune system to do more important things like fighting off The Crud. If it’s bogged down dealing with Fruit Loops and leftover double-stuffed crust pizza it’s not going to handle the incoming croup or stomach bug germs too well. Sticking to produce and lean meats and home cooked meals as much as possible goes a LONG way with overall health and sickness prevention. Add in a good probiotic too and you’ve done your body a huge favor already.
2. Wash hands frequently
Kind of a no brainer. We wash when we get to daycare and as soon as we get home. I wash my hands throughout the work day too. When we’re not near a sink we like to use hand sanitizer (sparingly) as not to create resistant super bugs.
3. Use a humidifier
The heat is kicking on this time of year and the humidity outside is dropping, and with that combo comes dry skin, chapped lips and sinus issues. A humidifier keeps the respiratory system happy and lubed, which alleviates sinus issues and can promote healing when you are sick. We use this one in my son’s room. In our room we use Young Living’s humidifier which is also an air purifier, atomizer, and aromatherapy diffuser so we can use oils with it.
4. Use a Neti Pot
Yep, these things are awkward and gross, but they work! They irrigate the nasal passages to flush out any allergens, bacteria, dust, mucus, etc. and can alleviate congestion and sinus pressure. No meds necessary – just water! Make sure to use distilled or boiled and cooled water. You can see how to use one here and buy one here. I use for a few days in a row when I feel like might possibly be getting sick. I’ve learned that if I’m asking myself that in my head, it’s time to act!
5. Drink tea
There are lots of teas now for every ailment. Throat Coat is a great one for soothing a sore or scratchy throat. Rosehip tea (which is a source of Vit. C) helps the immune system. Ginger tea curbs nausea. Chamomile is calming and great for sleep, which is important to restore the body especially during an illness. Plus tea helps you stay hydrated – win win!
6. ACV and lemon
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is the underdog of the medicine cabinet. Although I can’t personally vouch for the 2,541 claimed benefits seen all over Pinterest, I’m pretty sure it’s an underutilized and potent little health asset. I put about a tablespoon in a glass of water, a dash of cinnamon and maybe a squeeze of lemon and drink it before breakfast when I remember. It has been shown to help with blood sugar regulation (great for those suffering with diabetes or PCOS), and helps feed good gut bacteria. Plus it can clean your counters. I mean really, why wouldn’t you have this in your house!? Be sure to get the kind with ‘the mother” a.k.a the floaties like Bragg’s brand. And never drink it straight as it’s too acidic full strength.
7. Essential Oils
I’m still discovering the many uses of essential oils. Everything from supporting your health in countless ways to cleaning your home to using them added to your personal care products or even to make your own. They’re potent additions to a wellness routine. You want to make sure you choose high quality oils because like everything else, you get what you pay for. There’s little regulation in this market so you have to buy from trusted brands, such as Young Living. Their Thieves oil is a go-to during cold and flu season, having been tested by Weber State University and shown to kill 99% of airborne bacteria when diffused into a room. I put in our diffuser regularly and also drop it into a rollerball with some carrier oil to keep in my purse. If you’re interested in using oils and want to know more, shoot me an email!
8. Elderberry Syrup
Last year the flu shot was less than 20% effective. What’s worse is for the second flu season in a row the FluMist nasal spray didn’t work at all for kids ages 2 through 8.* We didn’t get the flu shot last year because of this and we got the flu, but we also weren’t taking preventative measures yet and again, Winter of Crud. So to understand how effective elderberry can be, PubMed says:
Sambucus nigra L. products – Sambucol – are based on a standardized black elderberry extract. They are natural remedies with antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus. Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, Sambucol reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days.
You can buy elderberry syrup here or in most drug and grocery stores or, if you live in Charlotte, I can pass on the name of a lady who makes the syrup herself and uses local honey to sweeten (and is a natural immune booster). Always good to support local! During the colder months we take a small dose 1x day and up to 4x day when sick.
For some this may seem like a lot to buy or incorporate into an already busy daily routine. It’s a lot easier to just pop a few Tylenol Cold and Sinus and move on with your day. But sometimes conventional drugs do more harm than good and we don’t find out until much later. For instance, there were some days in my first trimester I couldn’t function without the help of Zofran to control my nausea. I only took it when I had to (like at work) but it saved me from tossing my cookies during meetings or at my desk. Little did I know GlaxoSmithKline falsely and fraudulently claimed Zofran was safe for pregnant women when it wasn’t even approved by the FDA for such use. It’s no longer recommended during pregnancy and has apparently potentially caused birth defects.
Prescription meds such as antibiotics can also wipe out our good gut bacteria which can lead to more sickness. Or cause side effects like sleeplessness, nausea, diarrhea, anxiety and rashes to name a few. No thanks.
Rest assured the above remedies will not only help prevent sickness, but support your body in a way that strengthens it, not depletes it. That’s important to me and if it’s important to you, give them a try!
What remedies do you use to prevent colds, the flu and other nasties?
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