We eat healthy to keep these three rugrats from getting the cold and flu!
No More Colds!
I originally wanted to write this post about how to stay healthy during cold and flu season…and when you have kids it seems like it is ALWAYS cold and flu season. At least, that’s how I felt last year. We have three kids; ages 5, 2, and 1. Last year it seemed like somebody in our family was always sick. It was never anything serious but it was enough to cancel play dates or to be feeling extra tired. Something as simple as a sore throat can interrupt sleep for the whole family. I was so discouraged because every time someone got a sniffle it felt like it just got passed to the whole family. Our quality of life was deteriorating because of the common cold and flu! My husband and I want to have more kids but I remember thinking “I can’t have more kids if somebody is always going to be sick!”.
THEN I came across Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I love all of his books and Super Immunity is one of my favorites. We always hear “you are what you eat” but I never really believed it. I thought that my body would be pretty much the same; whether I ate a salad or a Wendy’s hamburger for lunch. I know that is not the case now! Did you know you can actually eat foods that will boost your immune system and therefor you will avoid colds and viruses? Isn’t that amazing?! So when somebody is always sick; and those illnesses are lasting a long time, it is due to their nutrition. In this post I will be giving you a few highlights of the chapter, Colds and Flu-What we need to know- in Dr. Fuhrman’s book, Super Immunity. (quick note: he has a whole section on antibiotics and viruses. Basically, antibiotics do not work for viral infections, have many negative side effects, and can make the virus last longer. Also check out his blog post about cold and flu season.
Cold and Flu for Kids
My favorite advice from Dr. Fuhrman about cold and flu is to “reduce food intake and consume primarily vegetable juice, vegetable soup, water and raw salad vegetables.” Now when my kids are sick we follow these guidelines. They don’t get sick often; and when they do it is gone very quickly. I used to give my kids fruit juice, popsicles, crackers and high sodium soups. After reading his chapter on cold and flu I feel armed with what to do to help my kids get over the cold quickly. I no longer live in fear of somebody in my house getting sick. And I don’t have to jump through hoops to get them well; like trying sinus rinses, baths, humidifiers and medicines.
Eat for Immunity
Follow Dr. Fuhrman’s principles of eating a nutrient dense diet every day! This will boost your immune system; not only for colds and the flu, but will protect you long term from strokes, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Follow his nutritarian guidelines. Get lots of GBOMBS (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds).
What you eat has more to do with whether or not you will get sick and how long it will last than cold remedies. But here is a simple break down of his chapter with what is helpful and what is a waste of time.
Cough medications: NAY! They do not work; and studies show that kids actually sleep worse and the illness is prolonged. Coughing is good when you’re sick; it’s your bodies way of getting the crud out!
Antihistamines: Middle ground.They don’t encourage a faster recovery but can make you sleepy. He recommends using them only if you are “uncomfortably awake at night and unable to sleep”.
Ibuprofen and Aspirin: NAY! They ‘may relieve a small amount of discomfort from fever but do not enhance recovery’. They can even make the illness last longer! Again, the fever is one of the ways your body is fighting the virus and/or infection. He says you can take it at night, sparingly, if the discomfort is limiting sleep. This one is close to my heart because I use to take Ibuprofen regularly just to help with basic every day aches and pains (that was back when I was not following a Nutritarian diet-now that I eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts; I have no need for pain medication).
Tylenol: NAY! He says to not even have it in your house; it can cause liver function abnormalities, liver damage and digestive tract problems.
Chicken Soup: NAY. When you are sick “eat lightly and avoid animal products that are more demanding to digest…make it vegetable soup over chicken soup.”
Humidifiers: NAY. This one is shocking, isn’t it? I always thought that having a humidifier was supposed to help. But “studies have shown that it has no effect on wheezing or coughing in croup, or on resolution of symptoms or accelerating recovery in the common cold.” I was shocked to read this one; but so relieved! I no longer have to deal with trying to clean a humidifier; they always get so gross that we end up throwing them away. No more!
Increased intake of fluids: NAY. “Excess fluids (beyond replacement of losses) have no favorable benefits…there is no scientific evidence for increasing fluids in acute respiratory infections over and above the demands of thirst.” Awesome.
Nasal Saline Irrigation: NAY. This might help with people who have chronic sinus infections; but not for the common cold. “That means subjecting your child to the discomfort of squirting water in his nose will not lessen complications or speed resolution of symptoms.” I have always been a fan of the sinus rinse; but now that I am eating for health-I never need one.
Vitamin C: Nay. Once you are already sick, Vitamin C supplementation does not help symptoms or recovery. Eat a diet full of vitamin C with raw fruits and vegetables and you won’t have to worry about a supplement.
Echinacea: Middle ground. It does not help once you are already sick. Don’t overuse this or any other herbal remedy.
Potentially helpful Remedies
Zinc, Vitamin D, Elderberry and berry flavanoids, and caloric restriction are likely helpful in recovering from the cold or flu. The most important is to eat a nutrient rich diet every day. Then you will not only avoid the cold and flu; but you will no longer live in fear of illness for you, your family, and your schedules.