‘Tis the season. Flu season. To avoid the drag of a sick family, it’s important to get your kids’ immune systems strengthened up now. While experts maintain that the most effective way to ward off the flu is the flu shot, there are also a number of natural ways to boost immunity this season. Here are six:
Wash hands (very) frequently
Get hyper-vigilant about your kids’ hand washing habits. Runny noses will soon be running rampant, which means there are germs everywhere, especially at places like daycare and playgrounds. Carry disinfectant (pick a brand without tons of chemicals) and be a hand washing stickler.
Slurp some bone broth
Bone broth is the latest health craze—endorsed by big names like Dr. Oz (who recommended replacing your coffee with it) and Kobe Bryant (who uses it to support his aging body). And for good reason. It’s rich in minerals (from the bone marrow) that support the immune system. It’s best to make yours from scratch (using an actual bone) to get the full nutritional benefit. Adding noodles or pasta to the broth can help make it more appetizing for your kids.
Get into elderberry syrup
Elderberry syrup, which you can find at most health food stores (or make yourself), is packed with immunity-boosting compounds, antioxidants, and Vitamin C. And it’s even something you can drizzle it on your kids’ pancakes. Like any homeopathic remedy, be sure to check with your pediatrician first about the right dosage.
Get tons of rest, exercise, and fluids
These are the basic foundations for maintaining health—and it’s important your kids get a healthy dose of all of them this time of year. So take away that iPad and send them outside to play. If you live in colder climes, enroll your kids in a class like gymnastics or ice skating or encourage some indoor exercise (like a dance party, hula hoop-ing, or DIY Olympics). Avoid over-packing their days, baking in plenty of recharging down-time. Prioritize sleep (The National Sleep Foundation has some good guidelines to follow). And make sure they’re drinking plenty of water and fluids.
Say no to sugar
As a blanket statement, tons of sugar is never ideal for your kids’ health. Our bodies have trillions of the good kind of bacteria that help protect us from germs or disease. But when kids (or anyone, for that matter) consume sugar in excess, it can alter the balance between the good and bad bacteria—which takes a toll on the immune system. So limit those holiday cookies.
Introduce probiotics and fermented food
Speaking of healthy, immunity-boosting bacteria, a great way to for your kids to get more of it is to integrate probiotics into their diet. Kefirs and some types of yogurt (choose a low-sugar option) are a good options, as are fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickled vegetables.
While you can never completely safeguard your kids against the flu, these things may help your chances. And in the unfortunate event that your kid gets a doozy this season—you can quickly make an appointment with a local, reputable doctor on Solv.