When it comes to keeping our kids healthy, nutrition goes without saying all throughout the year, but it’s especially important during cold and flu season.
Today, I want to talk a bit about the foods and supplements that I think should be added into our children’s diet (if not already) in order to nourish the body and help boost the immune system, getting it ready for battle, but first, I wanna tell you why these things are important beyond their simple immune-boosting benefits.
It All Comes Down To A Healthy Terrain
Have you ever heard of the “terrain theory?” Well, if you haven’t, the terrain theory was fathered by Claud Bernard and is basically the idea that each person has an internal scale that needs to stay balanced in order for the person to maintain in a healthy state. If the scale is unbalanced, there’s room for illness. If the scale is balanced, health abounds (Corrin, 2009).
This theory is an opposite theory to Louise Pasteur’s germ theory which gives credit to the germ causing illness and disease, but we know that that theory is only partially true. How many times are we exposed to germs and don’t become ill from it? Many times! Why is that? It’s because our terrain is balanced, and we remain healthy.
Lots of things can disrupt one’s terrain, such as inadequate sleep, stress, poor nutrition, and bad habits, but thankfully, those are all things in our control. This brings us to what I want to share with you today. One part of keeping our kid’s terrains healthy is adequate nutrition.
Below you’ll find some food and supplements I think should be added into a child’s diet in order to prepare children for cold and flu season. Ideally, these things would be a part of their diet year-round, but if not, now is the time to bring them in. These are listed in order of importance, so first things first!
6 Supplements To Prepare Children For Cold & Flu Season
1. Herbal Bitters
If you’re into using herbs for nutrition on a daily basis, you’ve probably heard of herbal bitters. These are herbs that have a very bitter taste to them, and they’re used to stimulate digestion. This is important and something that is seriously missing from Western diets these days.
Most foods are sweet, salty, sour, or pungent. Not many foods are eaten that are bitter. I’m not talking about the taste of lemons, which is sour. I’m talking about bitter flavors—like sucks-all-the-water-out-of-your-mouth, can’t-stop-making-a-nasty-face, bitter.
Now you’re probably wondering why on earth someone would eat something like that. First of all, I’m over-exaggerating. Not all bitter foods are that bad. Sure, they don’t taste all that great, but the purpose of taking them is so that they prepare the body to digest the food about to be eaten and, therefore, help the body get more nutrients from the food.
You see, when you eat something bitter, the taste buds on the tongue send a message to the nerves in the gut. Digestive secretions are then released (bile from the liver, insulin from the pancreas, digestive enzymes from the stomach) which helps break food down.
Bitter foods should be eaten 15-20 minutes before you eat a meal. You can either chew on some bitter-tasting herbs, such as dandelion leaf, artichoke leaf, or orange peel, to name a few, or you can take the easy way and take a dropper of some herbal bitters extract on your tongue.
Make your own bitters or buy pre-made bitters. It makes no difference, but if your little one’s body isn’t ready to digest their food fully, they’re going to be missing out on some important nutrients that their body could use.
2. Building Foods
This is the time of the year when most diets switch over from more raw, light meals to more cooked, heavy meals. It’s a part of the seasonal changes that happen every year.
I love eating along with the seasons mainly because it’s so healthy, and it puts our bodies through a routine cleansing and building cycle—not to mention it’s easier on the wallet.
In the warmer months, more raw, cooling foods and drinks are consumed, which tend to be slightly cleansing to the body, but during the cooler months, warmer, cooked foods are more often consumed, which tend to be building to the body.
This is the time of the year for building the body, which means vitamin- and mineral-rich bone broths are used more, cooked veggies accompany more meals, and warm herbal teas should be enjoyed on a daily basis.
3. Herbal Infusions
Speaking of warm herbal teas, herbs are a great way to get extra nutrients into your kid’s body in real food fashion.
Herbal infusions that are made using nutritional, tonic herbs like alfalfa, nettle, and oatstraw provide concentrated forms of vitamins and minerals in a highly absorbable form, and they’re easy to sip on throughout the day (Herbal Academy of New England, 2013).
Infusions are stronger than a typical herbal tea due to the fact that more herbs are used and the infusion time is lengthier than with a simple tea. Most nutritional infusions have a good flavor. If your child doesn’t care for the taste, you can always add tastier herbs to it such as a mint plant or hibiscus flower. You can also use the infusion in a smoothie, a popsicle, or some herbal jello.
So what are some great herbs to use in an herbal infusion? Here’s a recipe that uses nourishing herbs high in vitamins and minerals that tastes great too.
Gelatin is one of those supplements that used to be included in the diet more than it is these days (unless you eat a lot of boxed jello mix that is but, hopefully, not)! Thankfully, you can include it in healthier ways than the before mentioned product thanks to more people realizing its health benefits and getting the information and recipes out there for us to try.
Speaking of health benefits, gelatin does a lot, which is why I’m including it here. Not only is it beneficial in building bones, rebuilding joints, repairing cavities, strengthening hair and nails, increasing skin elasticity, and reducing chronic inflammation, it’s also great for the gut. It acts as a digestive aid, helps reverse leaky gut, increases blood sugar control, and helps minimize sugar cravings (The Gelatin Secret).
Back to my second point on increasing building foods in the diet. Bone broths are a great way to get more gelatin into the diet because gelatin occurs naturally in the bones and other parts of fish, chicken, and beef used to make stocks. Have you ever noticed how a really good bone broth will gel up? I love it! It shows me that my broth is done correctly and full of great things for my family.
You can also buy gelatin and use it in all sorts of recipes as a means to get more into your kid’s diet. This is my favorite brand of gelatin. It’s grass-fed and tasteless, so it can be used in a lot of different ways. The Gelatin Secret ebook linked to above also has an entire recipe section that shows you how to use gelatin in many everyday foods.
5. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is one of those really great supplements to keep your kids well year-round. This is the brand of cod liver oil we use. My kids love it, and it’s easy to get them to take every day. We simply mix it with a little bit of orange juice, and they take it without complaining. In fact, they remind me to give it to them.
Cod liver oil is great because it’s high in vitamins and omega 3’s as well as other naturally occurring nutrients.
6. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an immune-stimulating vitamin. It’s used for a lot of different things in the body, but one of the specific things it does is to help kick the immune system into high gear. Vitamin C isn’t produced by the body. We have to get it through the foods we eat or the supplements we take. It’s also not stored in the body like fat-soluble vitamins are, so it needs to be replaced every day.
Vitamin C dosages are normally on the small scale in order for the body to function correctly, but if you want to boost the immune system, 1000 mg a day is recommended for an adult which means around 500 mg a day would help for a child—even less for a small child. Vitamin C reaches peak absorption within 2 hours and is totally excreted after 3-4 hours so dosages need to be spread out to 3 doses a day if possible to ensure adequate absorption (Rakoczy).
You can purchase vitamin C in supplement form. This is my favorite brand. I like this brand because it’s a pharmaceutical grade, non-GMO, and it’s buffered so it doesn’t cause tummy troubles. Simply add it to a bit of juice or applesauce, and the kids will take it no problem. I use this supplement mostly when my kids are sick because their bodies are using up a good bit of vitamin C to fight off whatever is ailing them during this time. I want to give them plenty of vitamin C so they have sufficient amounts of it in their system. And no, I don’t have to worry about toxicity. Vitamin C isn’t toxic. If you give your kid too much, they’ll have some diarrhea and you’ll know to back off the dosage a bit.
So there you go. 6 foods and supplements to add to your child’s diet before cold and flu season hit hard.
While there’s no guarantee that our kids won’t come down with something, by focusing on their nutrition from the ground up, we prepare their bodies to fight hard against whatever comes its way. This will hopefully decrease the severity and the duration of anything they do end up getting.
What else are you doing right now to boost your children’s immune systems or to prevent them from coming down with illnesses during cold and flu season? Nutritionally, herbally, around the house, it really doesn’t matter. I’d simply love to know what you’re doing!