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This is a guest post by Esther Blum, Integrative Dietitian, Lifestyle Coach and Mom
As you’re loading your shopping cart with school supplies and new jackets, it is also an ideal time to stock up on natural items to help ward off coughs, colds and other maladies. I’m all about making easy but impactful shifts to help families address food and health challenges. And as germs descend upon us, I’ve got plenty of simple ideas to boost your immune system!
1. Crack the Code for Hand Washing
This is one of the simplest ways to ward off colds. The secret to getting the job done is to make it fun. Try equipping your kids’ bathroom with foaming soap, or soap bars in kid-friendly shapes. You can also make handwashing a game by teaching your kids to blow bubbles through their fingers.
2. Prepare your Natural Medicine Cabinet
Be ready at the first sign of a cough or sniffle. Here are seven immune-supporting items I keep in my cabinet at all times:
- Black Elderberry: Take this at the first sign of a stuffy nose or scratchy throat. The antioxidant-rich black elderberry is a real immune health hero. Black elderberries have more than twice the concentration of immune-supporting antioxidants called anthocyanins than is found in any other fruit. They’ve been used since ancient times in remedies for colds, coughs and upper respiratory infections. Chewable Sambucol Gummies are great for kids because they taste like berries.
- Vitamin D: Low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased susceptibility to infection. Supplementing becomes even more important as days grow shorter and there’s less sunshine. Not only is vitamin D3 a natural flu fighter, it is associated with better energy and sleep.
- Zinc: Liquid zinc helps maintain a healthy immune system and boosts white blood cell production to kill off viruses. Supplementing when kids are feeling sick may speed up the healing process.
- Probiotics: Since most of the body’s immune cells are in the gut, supporting gut function with healthy bacteria strengthens the body’s ability to naturally fight colds and flus, not to mention food allergies.
- Omega-3s: Omega-3s found in cold-water fatty fish help the lymph system do its job of seeking and destroying pathogens that cause infections. EPA and DHA boost immune strength by increasing the actions of the major immune cells.
- Magnesium: Magnesium helps nourish and feed the immune system, reviving its shield of defense to keep you healthy. Bacteria and germs in the gut can also be regulated with magnesium use by helping the body absorb zinc, another powerful immune booster.
- Barley Grass Juice Powder: This contains vitamins A, C, B and minerals iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. It is also especially high in chlorophyll, which helps to inhibit the growth of disease causing bacteria, along with balancing the pH of the body to promote excellent health and immunity.
3. Sweeten their Lunch Boxes without Sugar
Refined sugar has a negative impact on the immune system. So instead of processed chips which may be loaded with hidden sugars, pack thinly sliced cucumbers with a side of hummus. Toss in fresh fruit slices to quell a sweet tooth.
4. Tempt them with Nutritious Afternoon Snacks
Red apples are in season! They help clean up the liver as well as support the immune system. Serve them sliced with nut butter or sprinkled with cinnamon. Kids also love pears dipped in chocolate hummus, and Sietta tortilla chips (made with avocado oil and cassava flour) served with guacamole. Quench their thirst with smoothies or coconut water instead of sugary, caffeinated sports drinks.
5. Take Advantage of Opportunities to Serve Healthy Meals at Home
I know all about a packed schedule once school starts. But when meals are prepared in your own kitchen, you have more control over what goes into them. When the weather turns cold, I get excited because it’s bone broth season. Genuine, homemade bone broth helps us recover from colds and it is my go-to afternoon pick-me-up. Pomegranates are also in season right now and they are antioxidant bombs! Carrots and sweet potatoes support respiratory health, and they are freshest in the fall. And be sure to watch for seasonal heirloom tomatoes. They not only taste great in tomato sauces and gazpacho, but I pack them like candy into lunch boxes. My Nutrition School for Families online program has many more ideas and resources for transitioning from fast-food to home-cooked meals.
Boost Your Immune System
Making positive changes is a process. It takes time. Make it your goal to adopt one of these tips each month. Start now and by mid-winter, you may notice fewer sniffles and coughs around the family dinner table.
For more immune system information, check out Picking Your Way to a Better Immune System.
About the author: Esther Blum, MS, RD, CDN, CNS, is an Integrative Dietitian and bestselling author of Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat; Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous; Secrets of Gorgeous; and The Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous Project. She currently maintains a busy private practice in Connecticut where she prescribes whole food diet therapy and supplement protocols to heal and reverse chronic illness. A member of Media Relations Agency’s panel of highly respected third-party experts, she may be compensated to educate and express her professional opinion about certain companies and/or products.
Esther is also the owner of Esther Blum, LLC—a concierge wellness consulting firm that cultivates and curates boutique, one-of-a-kind, experiential events for both small and large companies. Her services have been in demand at corporate special events, wellness retreats, day spas, and private parties.
Widely respected as an industry expert, Esther was voted Best Nutritionist by Manhattan Magazine. She has appeared on Dr. Oz, the Today Show, A Healthy You with Carol Alt, the ISAAC show, ABC-TV, FOX- 5’s Good Day NY, and Fox News Live. Esther is an in-demand authority frequently quoted in E!Online, In Touch, Time Magazine, The New York Post, The Los Angeles Times, In Style, Bazaar, Self, Fitness, Marie Claire, and Cosmo.
Esther received a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Nutrition from Simmons College in Boston and is a graduate of New York University, where she received her Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition. Esther is credentialed as a registered dietitian, a certified dietitian nutritionist and a certified nutrition specialist. She is also a member of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians in Functional Medicine, Nutritionists in Complementary Care, and the Connecticut Dietetic Association.
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