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6 Ways to Strengthen Your Child's Immune System

health_1011cYour child returns to school or begins daycare and is suddenly exposed to a soup pot of germs, bacteria and viruses. You can protect your children at home, but with other potentially toxic environments you need to create a health protocol that strengthens your child's immune system. A healthy immune system is what keeps the body strong and disease free. According to the National Institutes of Health, children get 6 to 10 colds a year on average. That is a lot of sickness for you as a parent and for a child's body to have to handle. You can significantly reduce the number of childhood colds and flu by following a few simple lifestyle and dietary changes.

1. Breastfeed your child

It is essential for a new born baby to receive the colostrum and essential fatty acids from the mother's breast milk following birth. This is vital for building the baby's immunity and developing his digestive system. Medical research shows that babyies who are breastfed have fewer infections than babies who have been bottle fed. According to Macrobiotic dietary principals home made brown rice milk can be substituted if breast feeding is not possible.

2. Feed your Child a Whole Foods, Organic Diet

According to Dr. Bob Sears, co-author of the Sears Parenting Library, "a baby's brain is very susceptible to the negative effects of chemicals, heavy metals and pesticides during the first three years of life, as well as the first nine months in the womb. Eating organic foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and giving a baby and young child organic foods in the early years, helps grow healthier nervous, immune and hormonal systems."

When planning your child's diet choose a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains. Minimize the snacks that are high in sugar and nutritionally empty. For example each commercial juice box contains 6 teaspoons of sugar. Opt instead to create delicious smoothies from quality organic ingredients and make fresh juice at home with a juice extractor. Too many cold foods can, however, have a weakening effect on the immune system so serve sparingly and balance with warming soups, whole grains, quality oils and whole grain breads.

If your child suffers from allergies such as ear infections, colic, food sensitivities, oral thrush and digestive issues, these issues can be diet related. By removing dairy products, refined and processed foods, sugar treats, fried foods, and soda pop from your child's diet many of these health problems will clear up.

3. Use Antibiotics only When Absolutely Necessary

It is so easy for a doctor to prescribe antibiotics for just about anything that ails a child. Antibiotics are made to work with bacterial infections and are often unnecessarily prescribed for viral conditions. This weakens the immune system, ravages the good digestive flora and sets the child up for developing an overgrowth of intestinal yeast and thrush.

During the school year, chiropractor, Dr. Sandy Giacobbe and his wife Maria, keep their three boys off antibiotics with a daily smoothie consisting of Dr. Shultz Echinacea and his Superfood powder, Life Force Colloidal Silver and Body Balance, a liquid vitamin C, plus a liquid multi-vitamin combined in a blender with fresh carrot, beet, celery and apple juice. Regular chiropractic adjustments work wonders for active and athletic kids as well.

4. Detox your Home Environment

The air your child breathes in the home and school environment can have a profound effect on his/her health. Warning labels on your household cleaners should be one indication that they are extremely dangerous. Your standard all-purpose cleaners contain toxic substances like chlorinated phosphates, complex phosphates, dry bleach, kerosene, petroleum-based surfactants, sodium bromide, glycol ether, Stoddard solvent, EDTA, and naphtha. They can cause irritation to eyes, skin, and the lungs and damage a child's immune system making it difficult to fight off colds, flu and more common infections.

Nontoxic cleaners are available from reputable companies committed to keeping the planet healthy or you can make your own using simple kitchen ingredients such as, baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, borax and liquid soap made from natural sources.

5. Wash Hands to Keep Germs Away

One of the first lines of defense against the spread of germs, virus and bacteria is to teach a child to wash their hands. In school and daycare children are touching hands, sharing food, sneezing, wiping a runny nose and coming in contact with contaminated objects. They then touch their own mouth, nose or eyes and become infected. It is that simple. Approximately, 51% of cold and flu viruses can be prevented by washing hands with soap and water three times a day. It also helps cut down the spread of more serious illness such as infectious diarrhea, meningitis and bronchiolitis.

Take a moment to explain to your child:

  • how cold and flu germs spread from contact with people and contaminated objects.
  • to keep hands and fingers out of their mouth and nose.
  • the importance of washing their hands before eating, after playing, handling pets and going to the bathroom.

When applied, these suggestions can go a long way in keeping your child free of illness and supporting their immune strength.

6. Rejuvenate with Plenty of Exercise & Sleep

A healthy child has a lot of energy and sitting in front of the television and computer is not going to burn it adequately. Children need to be outdoors in nature, running, playing, swimming, and socializing with other children. This burns calories, strengthens the nervous system and prepares them for a good nights sleep. Jan O'Reilly, mother of two grown children recommends that you do not overprotect the child's environment. Instead create social play dates so they can be exposed to people and especially the outdoor elements. She found that doing so kept her children strong and healthy and they rarely got a cold or the flu.

With a day of activity a good nights sleep is the time a child's body internally repairs and rejuvenates. It is imperative that children have enough time to rest, even including an afternoon nap to revive them mentally as well as physically. Early to bed insures a full night's sleep and an alert and happy child in the morning.

Delia Quigley is a holistic health practitioner, author of seven health books and an experienced yoga instructor. She also teaches the exquisite science of preparing whole, organic foods to support and strengthen the mind, body and spirit.

Photo credit Santi LLobet

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