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10 tips to boost your child’s immunity

Are you sick of being sick? For many families back to School or Daycare is also the start of colds, flu and other bugs and a string of absences from work and a backlog of tasks. What if you could take out a wellness ‘insurance policy’ against bugs and gain back some precious time. This year, arm yourself with the tools you need to boost your families immune function and help ensure everyone against illness.

A penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure! There are many Natural Medicines that are beneficial in preventing infections! Incorporate these handy tips into your family life to improve your loved one's resistance and support recovery from colds and cases of flu:

1. Add herbs and spices to your foods. Go for garlic and ginger. Garlic is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent and an immune booster. Other great immune boosting herbs are chilli, horseradish, thyme, sage and oregano.

2. Gut health. Believe it or not, your tummy contains approximately 70% of your immune system, so ensuring your kid’s gut is populated with plenty of beneficial micro-organisms (‘good bugs’) is central to maintaining tip-top immune function. These beneficial bacteria or ‘probiotics’ are now understood to have very different health benefits depending upon their ‘strain’, be sure to choose probiotics with immune boosting strains! If your child has a food intolerance, it's important to avoid those foods (see below).

3. Eat warm, nourishing foods. Homemade chicken and vegetable soup can help break down mucus that often accompanies a cold or flu. If you don’t have an appetite, the broth alone will provide minerals and vitamins to help give you strength. You can also pack it with those immune herbs from point 1.

4. Super Mushrooms can save you! Did you know that when it comes to the immune system, medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps, coriolus, shiitake and reishi have superhero-like properties? Individually, each species of mushroom has demonstrated huge effectiveness in enhancing the immune system and can assist in resolving short-term, chronic and recurrent infections.

• Coriolus: This medicinal mushroom increases the production of immune cells that help you fight off infections more effectively. • Reishi: Another medicinal mushroom, which exerts potent antiviral activity to help you recover faster.

5. Rest! You may be surprised by how effective the immune system can be when you give it a chance, lots of cuddles on the couch. Ensure your little one gets a good night’s sleep and let their body work its magic. Ensuring they get sufficient sleep also enables their bodies to rest and repair, keeping them ready to fight whatever battles they may encounter tomorrow.

6. Enjoy plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. Aim for at least two serves of fruit and three cups of vegetables daily. Fill their plate with a rainbow of colour to provide nutrients and antioxidants to help build strong immunity. These foods contain abundant immune supportive vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and zinc. Avoid sugar as sugar slows down the immune systems ability to fight infections. It also gives bad bugs more energy to replicate and take over!

7. Drink plenty of water. It is essential to keep kids hydrated! When you are unwell, fluids are rapidly lost through having a runny nose, coughing, and sweating.

8. Use antibiotics sparingly. It’s true that antibiotics serve an essential purpose in eliminating bacterial infections to help little ones feel well again. However, they are commonly overprescribed for viral infections (such as colds, flu, and URTIs), even though they do not have any effect against viruses. This overuse of antibiotics can not only reduce their efficacy but also unbalance the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut, further compromising your immunity. Try Natural remedies from your Naturopath first to fight infection and use anti-antibiotics when needed.

9. Immune Boosting Super Heroes! Another way that you can ward off infection is by ensuring you have sufficient stores of some key vitamins and minerals that support and improve immune health, such as:

• Zinc - Like Robin is to Batman, zinc can be mushrooms’ very useful sidekick. This key mineral assists kid’s immune systems in functioning optimally and helps to reduce the severity and duration of an infection. Optimal levels of zinc in the body have been found to inhibit the common cold and influenza viruses. Food sources of zinc include seafood, meat, wheat germ, spinach, seeds (e.g. pumpkin, sesame), nuts (especially cashews), and beans (e.g. chickpeas, adzuki).

• Vitamin C - We all know of Vitamin C - a potent antioxidant that plays a key role in the mobilisation of your immune system defences. Vitamin C supports healthy immune function by enhancing the activity of your immune defence army of white blood cells; also reducing the severity and duration of symptoms. Sources include red and yellow capsicum, citrus fruits (especially oranges), kiwi fruit, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and even the humble tomato.

• Andrographis - This heroic herb can reduce the duration of cold symptoms thanks to its immune-stimulating actions. This powerful herb stimulates the body’s natural immune response, and significantly reduces the duration of colds. You or your loved ones can take this herb as a preventative to keep your immunity strong; it can also be used acutely as soon as you get cold symptoms. Speak to your Naturopath.

• Probiotics - These friendly bacteria live in your tummy and enhance health, and even immunity. Probiotic strains, Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCFM), Bifidobacterium lactis (HN019) and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (HN001), have been scientifically proven to enhance immune responses. By providing healthy gut immunity, you are providing the best defence against inhaled and ingested pathogens. Speak to your Naturopath.

• Vitamin D - also plays an important role in the overall function of your immune system, working behind the scenes to help ‘marshal’ your immune cells to the site of an infection.

• Astragalus - used for prevention to boost immunity, before you get sick!

10. Keep Physical. Keeping active not only makes you feel good; it also reduces the frequency of contracting a cold by up to 46%.

If recurrent infections are an issue for your family, come in and speak with Kate or Bonnie today about boosting your little ones immune function to get them well and stay well. Kick sickness to the curb, break the antibiotic cycle and enjoy a life of health, happiness and vitality (with less sick days!)

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