Lets be honest, no one likes going to the doctor. If you are going to the doctor, you are A) probably sick and B) going to spend money. Even if you aren’t sick, you will be walking into a room full of sick people. So what is your first line of defense to avoiding it all? Build up the immune system! This installment of “The Mommy Doctor” will show you ways to strengthen your immune system so it can start working for you, not against you!
This isn’t new knowledge; I will not be getting a Nobel Peace Prize for telling you that. However, some of the information I am about to share may be new…like how your entire life you have probably been telling your immune system not to work. Say what? Your usual routine may be: get sick, take medicine, fight off germs (both bad and good), feel better. Unfortunately, this process leaves you with a weakened immune system. Unless you do something to build your system back up, you will get sick again and the cycle will continue. Here are my tips for boosting the entire family’s immune system to avoid sickness and STAY healthy!
1. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
We live in the south, and I am pretty sure eating good food is our favorite pastime! But choose healthy options that are good for you. Cutting out as much processed foods as possible is a great place to begin. The trick here is to only walk around the outside aisles of the grocery store (such as the produce and meat.) Wow, when I started shopping this way, I struggled those first few shopping trips! I started looking on Pinterest for “real food” recipes. Soon, I was making easy, healthy, and yummy foods! And it is not just about getting good foods in, you have to keep the bad food out. Sugar will actually suppress your immune system! I know I am the bearer of bad news during king cake season! You can have your cake and eat it, too! Just eat responsibly and in moderation!
2. Drink the recommended amount of water
Here is another shocking statement; most of us are chronically dehydrated. You might be thinking “but I drink lots of water” and that is great. The trouble is, we are dehydrated from years of not drinking enough water. One day or one week of drinking the correct amount will not be enough to fix years of dehydration. Also, take into account that coffee, sodas, and teas will actually pull fluids from your body rather then replenishing them. Bottom line: drink more water!
3. Get plenty of sleep
Rest! Ha! I am a mother of 2 young children! I cannot remember the last time I had a solid full 8 hours of sleep! That being said, I treat sleep like a rare commodity. When I can sleep, I do! This is also so important for our children with their growing bodies. They need the recommended amount of sleep to keep their immune systems strong and ready for battle. Make bedtime and/or naps a priority! Being well-rested will give them a huge advantage when they are up against life’s daily germs.
4. Try natural immune boosters
One thing I have done on a daily basis for 2 years now is take Elderberry syrup. When Ava was having her chronic colds that led to ear infections, I was constantly told she had seasonal allergies. She was too young for allergy testing so my only options were antihistamines like Zyrtec or Allegra. They worked intermittently but were costly and not solving the problem. She seemed to keep getting colds, even though we were consistently giving her the antihistamine. That is when a friend gave me a jar of locally made Elderberry syrup. Elderberry is a tiny little berry with amazing immune boosting properties. The syrup I was given also contained herbs and local, raw honey. (Remember that! It comes up later in this series!) I was skeptical but really what could it hurt. I began giving Ava the recommended 1-teaspoon a day. I continued with the antihistamines because honestly I was scared to stop. Finally, I ran out of antihistamines and decided I would just not buy anymore. And then I waited for the first cold…and waited…and waited some more. Funny thing, she never got one! Not only had it solved her seasonal allergies, but it had boosted her immune system! Now I always have at least 2 jars of Elderberry in my fridge, one for us and one to pass on to someone else, just like a friend did for me!
5. Increase Vitamin C
When I was at LSU, I read and article in the Reveille about how our mothers had lied to us. The author had gotten sick, so she went to store and purchased orange juice to boost her immune system (as her mother had always told her.) Needless to say, she didn’t get better and ended up at the infirmary getting a cortisone shot. Here is where the author was wrong…you can’t decide to start drinking O.J. after you get sick and magically think you will be healed. Yes, vitamin C is amazing for your immune system; but if it is already compromised, you are working against the current. The key is to take vitamin C even when you are not sick and then increase vitamin C when you are sick! For the best vitamin C intake, get a supplement at the local pharmacy. They have it in children’s gummies, too!
6. Increase Vitamin D
Get that immune system up with vitamin D. Yes, the sun vitamin. For various reasons, most of us are deficient. The easiest thing to do is get the kids outside with shorts and a t-shirt (weather permitting) and play for 10-15 minutes a day. In most cases, this is enough time for your skin to produce an adequate amount of Vitamin D and for you to avoid sunburn.
7. Start taking a probiotic
It is a simple concept that even my 3 year old understands. You have good germs and bad germs that are racing in your body. You want the good germs to win! If the bad germs win, you may get sick. A probiotic is full of lots of good bacteria, a.k.a. the good germs! The good bacteria will then be used to help with several different functions of the body. There are lots of options for probiotics to cover every age group in your house (just visit your local health food or grocery store!)
If you feel like you do most or all of these and your immune system is still down, talk to your doctor. You may need to get a little blood work to see if all of your vitamin and mineral levels are good. One visit to the doctor for bloodwork could save you from dozens of sick visits in the future! Also, if you have any specific questions you want to ask Lisa, she’d love to chat with you about all things health! Email her at [email protected]
Have you tried any of these methods? Have they worked for your family?
Disclaimer: This post is 100% my personal opinion based on my personal research. I am not a medical doctor. However, I confidently stand by my beliefs and opinions, and I hope that this post will encourage you to do your own research on the topic. When in doubt, please always consult a pediatrician.