May 2020

Kid-Friendly Immune Boosters: Keeping Them (and Yourself!) Strong in the Face of Health Threats

Author: Michele Roldán-Shaw

Mommies, this is a call-to-arms. You are your family’s first line of defense—and by extension, our nation’s—in the fight against disease! For many people, the scariest part of outbreaks is feeling like doctors do not have a cure. But in the case of viruses, our own immune system is an incredible defense! Never underestimate the ability it has to rid the body of pathogens.

Supporting immunity is a great way to feel empowered rather than fearful and helpless against the threat of contagion. These all-natural, kid-friendly, DIY tactics will help keep your children strong in the face of constant exposure at school and daycare. Plus, they are equally effective for adults, so make sure that when you administer love and support to your family, you’re giving it to yourself as well:

Serve smoothies and juices. Fruit smoothies are one of the best ways to sneak in healthy ingredients your kids might otherwise refuse, such as leafy greens and health powders. (Spirulina and barley grass juice powders are recommended for their power-packed nutrients and ability to cleanse the body of toxins.) Buying big bags of frozen fruit is a convenient, affordable way to stay stocked up for smoothies, while adding ripe bananas (fresh or frozen) makes them instantly sweet and creamy. If you have a juicer and your kids are the adventurous types, you can hit them with blasts of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that bypass the digestive system and go straight into the bloodstream. Carrots, apples, pears, celery, beets, cucumber, ginger, turmeric, lemon, detoxifying herbs such as parsley and cilantro, and leafy greens like kale, collards and spinach are all fair game in juices.

Replace sugar with fruit. All children have a sweet tooth. Swapping in fruit for junky packaged treats not only helps curb refined sugar cravings, it doses kids up with abundant vitamins, minerals, nutrients, antioxidants and healing powers of fruit. Don’t be alarmed by the claims that sugar in fruit is bad for you—nothing could be further from the truth! Instant glucose delivered by fruit is the basic fuel for the human brain and body. Moreover, if you were to try to eat the fruit equivalent of the average American’s processed sugar intake, it would mean devouring more bananas than a troop of elephants. So, don’t hold back on giving your kids (and yourself) the sweet joys of grapes, apples, bananas, dates, berries, figs, oranges and so many more delights from the garden of life.

Add a spoonful of elderberry syrup. The antibacterial, antiviral properties of elderberry make it very effective against colds and flus, both preventatively and as a treatment to shorten any bug that’s already started. But what makes it so wonderful for children is that it is naturally a sweet syrup! Give them a spoonful a day—or three for active recovery. Just make sure you choose one that is formulated without alcohol, such as Gaia Herbs, or our local offering from The Herb Room Organic Apothecary on Hilton Head Island, which has a spicy taste reminiscent of the holidays.

Offer healthy frozen treats. What kid doesn’t love a popsicle? But when it’s the same color as radiator coolant, that’s a bad sign. Try brewing lemon balm tea (a gentle, stress-reducing, antiviral herb) then mixing it with honey (not appropriate for infants under 12 months) and fruit juice before freezing into molds. Make sure you buy pure juice without any harmful additives, preferably cold-pressed organic. For a delicious, healthy “ice cream,” slice soft ripe bananas into rounds, freeze solid, then blend until creamy in a food processor. It’s perfect just like that, or you can experiment with adding secondary flavors like cinnamon, coconut and frozen mango chunks. Not only do all these foods have healing properties of their own, they stop kids from eating the sugar, preservatives and hormone-laced dairy in conventional ice cream.

Make your own lemonade and orange juice. Have fun juicing a bag of lemons and/or limes with your kids. Then, instead of sweetening it with sugar, dissolve some raw honey in a little bit of hot water (not boiling, as it will kill the healing powers) and top off with cold water. A big pitcher of this in the fridge will invite kids to quench their thirst with something that’s actually good for them. You can even add a pinch of pink sea salt, which is loaded with trace minerals, to create a homemade sports drink. Honey is an incredibly healing substance, so antimicrobial that a jar of it from Jesus’s time would still be good today. But make sure you invest in raw, unfiltered honey, not a cooked industrial product that won’t have the same benefits. If you don’t want to use honey, pure maple syrup can be substituted. Oranges are loaded with Vitamin C, but if you lack the time or resources to juice entire bags of them, try this handy trick: add the juice of one orange to a cup of store-bought orange juice. You will be amazed how the whole glass tastes fresh-squeezed.

Brew some ginger honey lemon tea. Much like the lemonade recipe above, only fortified with germ-fighting ginger, this is an incredible all-around health tonic that can be enjoyed hot or cold. Ginger is anti-inflammatory, soothing to the digestive tract, and simultaneously calming and energizing. Wash the fresh root well (and peel if it’s not organic) then slice it up and boil as many times as you like. Dissolve honey in while still hot, then add fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice. If you want an extra kick, add a dash of cayenne powder.

Add fresh air, sunshine and exercise. This is one of those basics you can’t afford to get away from. Nothing will dull a child—and their immune system—like sitting indoors staring at a screen all the time. They need to get out and move! Take them to the park, or into wild habitats that have a soothing, grounding effect on the nervous system while stimulating children’s minds and sense of wonder. A little garden at home does double duty by getting everyone outdoors and providing fresh organic vegetables that are so beneficial to health. Even just five minutes of sunshine in the backyard is a great source of vitamin D and plain old happiness!

Consider foundational supplements. Protecting your child’s health boils down to two things: boosting immunity and correcting deficiency. Unfortunately, the modern diet has become so nutritionally poor that most of us suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies we aren’t even aware of. When not corrected in childhood, they become the health problems of later life. Feeding your kids mineral-rich fruits and veggies—especially potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and celery—is a great place to start. But supplementing is still a good idea. One of the most foundational, yet often overlooked, is zinc. Adding a few drops of liquid zinc sulfate to your child’s juice—and a dropperful to your own cup—is a super immune booster and will help prevent zinc deficiencies that wreak havoc on overall health. Vitamin C is another essential for immune function that can be taken in tandem with natural vitamin C, such as found in an orange, to create a synergistic supercharge. Always make sure you pick the highest quality supplements free from toxic additives like chemical dyes and “natural flavors,” a corrupt term that often hides MSG. A very pure multivitamin for children is made by MaryRuth Organics, which also offers a nighttime multimineral.

Switch to green household products. While the connection between household chemicals and getting sick with a virus may not seem obvious, the idea here is to not overburden the immune system. The less your body has to handle in terms of toxic load, the more it can protect you from pathogens. Switching from conventional household products to “green” ones can be overwhelming, especially in terms of budget, but just start one at a time. Buy a new shampoo today and better laundry detergent next month, gradually moving to more health-conscious choices on all your cleaners, dish soaps, and even glass instead of plastic food containers. Every little change is a positive step that empowers you to do more!

Health threats will never completely go away despite the best efforts of doctors and science, so it’s up to all of us to keep ourselves as strong as possible. Let us leave the fear realm and move toward the confidence of knowing we’re doing all we can to support the long-term wellbeing of ourselves and our loved ones.

This information is intended as inspiration and a jumping-off point for your own research, not as a substitute for medical advice. Be sure to consult your health care provider about any concerns.

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