How has back-to-school gone for your babes? Henry is in the ‘grand section’ at the ecole maternelle and is doing brilliantly. He has a school trip to some local caves tomorrow (the school has a heritage theme this year) and is very excited. As he said, ‘I’ll try to be brave now mama, I’m not four, I’m five – I’m a big boy’! My heart.
This time last year Henry had already been hospitalised with bronchitis and had a chesty cough he couldn’t shake off, which eventually developed into a pulmonary infection. And, with a new baby in the house, anything Henry brought home from school was basically passed around the four of us. This year, I’ve been working to actively strengthen our immune systems so we’re better able to fight off infections as the weather turns cooler. One thing I’ve learned is that you need to start working on boosting immunity before you think you need to. Or, in other words, before the weather drops too much and everyone has the sniffles.
Here’s what we’ve been doing.
Focus on Probiotics
Immunity starts in your gut, and consuming food rich in probiotics builds beneficial gut flora and keeps the microbiome healthy. This is especially important if your child has recently taken antibiotics, which can deplete ‘good’ bacteria (side note: while antiobiotics absolutely have their place, it has been suggested that up to 30% of antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily). I’m a big believer in getting nutrients from food first, using supplements to ‘top up’, so I try to work in probiotic-rich foods into our diets.
Henry will, at a push, drink a small glass of kombucha (I make my own, and find he’s happier to drink versions flavoured with raspberry or strawberry) and I’m yet to convince him to eat sauerkraut. Both my children will, however, happily gobble down tempeh and lacto-fermented tofu, olives, dressings made with miso and apple cider vinegar, pickles and capers in this chickpea salad. Natural yoghurt is also a good option if you’re not dairy-free.
In addition we all take a probiotic supplement at breakfast. Henry and Noah have this one.
We stick to unrefined sugar at home, using maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar sparingly in porridge, chia jams, snacks and healthy desserts, but found that Henry did consume more of the sweet stuff during the summer holidays. Sugar has been proven to deplete the gut microbiome of bad bacteria, creating an imbalance that allows bad bacteria to thrive. Replace sugar with fruit and minimally naturally sweetened desserts and snacks.
Add Essential Oils to your Arsenal
Immunity boosting essential oils include eucalyptus, lemon, lavender, tea tree, ravensara, rosemary, thyme and niaouli, all of which are safe for children over one if well diluted. This year, I’ve made an immunity-boosting blend by combining four drops each of lavender, niaouli and rosemary with 50ml grapeseed oil. For adults and children over six you can massage a small amount onto the chest before dressing. I massage some into Henry’s back when getting ready for school, rosemary oilcan be an irritant so if using on young children it is better kept away from their nose/face.
We also diffuse lemon, thyme and tea tree oils at home to cleanse the room and ward off infection. Neal’s Yard Remedies’ essential oils are amazing, and I like Tisserand too.
How do you keep coughs, colds and sniffles to a minimum in the colder months?
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