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Given that we will have a brand new baby joining us during the cold and flu season, I am turning into a germaphobe. I will be breastfeeding the baby, which will prevent the baby from getting sick for the most part, but with a toddler in daycare, it’s inevitable that she will bring home some microscopic bugs in the coming months.
There was a long living theory that the reason that some people got sick more often or suffered from asthma, allergies, or chronic inflammatory illnesses was because they lived in “too clean” of an environment, weren’t exposed to enough germs as a child, or were exposed to too many cleaning solvents. Recent research finds this to be untrue. It is true that our bodies are not being as bombarded with serious bugs like they used to, which is the reason for this uptick in inflammatory illnesses. However that’s simply because those bad bugs aren’t around anymore! We’re not drinking dirty water, eating unwashed food items, or walking through manure and trash covered streets. The above linked article actually claims that we should not intentionally expose ourselves to germs for the sake of immunity, but should be even cleaner due to the rise in super bugs (antibiotic-resistant bacteria).
There are a couple of things that I do during this time of the year (and all year long, period) to minimize the bug exposure and try to support our family members immune systems.
We have a Carbon- and HEPA-filtered air purifier that we run whenever the windows and doors are shut. Living in Southern California, we have the luxury of being able to leave our windows open for 75% of the year to air out the house. For the times when it is too cold or hot and the windows are shut, I run the air purifier to keep our indoor air clean. Our particular air purifier has a sensor to increase air turnover when it detects fragrances, smoke, particulates (dust) or chemicals in the air. It also has an ionizer to offset those EMFs and bind to dust
Elderberry has antiviral properties that inhibit the growth of the viral infection. The researchers of this study were surprised to find that Elderberry continually impedes the infection at all stages! I try to take a small, daily dose of elderberry and amp it up if I feel something coming on. I like to get a syrup with Vitamin C, Zinc, and an Echinacea complex like this one. My daughter does not like the taste of the syrup but does enjoy certain gummies, though there is not nearly as much elderberry content in the gummies as the syrup.
I love my essential oils and now that my daughter is older, I can use them around her or on her–properly diluted, of course. I have several antimicrobial and immune boosting blends from Plant Therapy that are similar to Thieves-blend but are safe for use with children (find out why you shouldn’t use Thieves-blends on children here). I like to use them in either a roller bottle for topical application or to diffuse them. As mentioned above, superbugs are on the rise due to antibiotics but thankfully essential oils have been found to be effective against superbugs and biofilms!
Vitamin D is important towards overall health and immunity. According to Dr. Courtney Kahla, cold and flu season is more like “lack of Vitamin D season” due to the shorter days, less outside time, and less skin exposure. Research has found that Vitamin D is essential for the immune system to be able to fight off infections: T cells need Vitamin D in order to activate themselves and fight invaders. Supplementation in the winter months can be considered, though Vitamin D is fat soluble, so don’t take it just because. This one is in dropper form and has great reviews.
It’s no secret that Vitamin C is an excellent immune booster. Naturally, the most bioavailable form of Vitamin C is from plant sources but food sources are best for maintenance after a healthy range has been reached. If you are already deficient, insufficient, or sick, a supplement will be the quickest way to boost the vitamin content in your body. Most supplemental forms are synthetic and not very bioavailable, though liposomal Vitamin C is probably the most bioavailable supplemental form and can be found in a megadose version, which is very effective at decreasing the length of sickness. Otherwise, bell peppers, kale, kiwi, broccoli, brussel sprouts, strawberries, and papayas are all great sources of Vitamin C (more so than oranges!).
Humans are hosts to bacteria on the inside and out and we need these bacteria to balance our health! A double-blind study found that taking a probiotic can lessen the duration and severity of the common cold as well as increase the general quality of life!
Reishi Mushroom Powder
Mushroom powders are very popular right now, which is great because they are a wonderful addition to any diet. Reishi mushroom is specifically known for its immune boosting qualities and is also well known for it’s calming effects. Reishi (and most mushroom powders) are considered adaptogenic. This means that they will work on your body in the way that your body needs it. For example, Reishi is an immunomodulator, meaning that it can be an immune system stimulant or depressant, depending on what your body needs. Kids don’t like mushrooms? Not a problem! Malama Mushrooms has a Reishi mushroom powder that is blended with organic Cacao and cinnamon that would be the perfect addition to a cup of hot chocolate.
Note: The mushrooms from Malama Mushrooms are log-grown, which is what you want for maximal therapeutic benefits. Most mainstream mushroom powders are grown on oats which are ground together with the mushrooms. Check the label for “mycelial biomass” and “cultured on oats.”
Keep Your Hands (and Nose!) Clean
Everyone knows to wash their hands more frequently, but did you know that you should be cleaning the inside of your nose? The bacteria that are living in your nose have been linked to prolonging or increase the severity of your cold (that does not mean that having bacteria in your nose will cause you to get a cold, just make it worse). I like to have a Silver nasal spray on hand, which is good for keeping your sinuses clean or as a follow-up therapy to a nasal rinse. For young children, just lining the inside of their nose with coconut oil will help to “decontaminate” the nasal passage.
A positive outlook on life can do so much for your health and well being. It really is true that those that are happier, don’t get sick as often!
What are some things that you or your family do to keep healthy during the winter?