Back to school! And with this, we’re also back to catching colds, tummy bugs and battling with energy levels! Our Naturopathic Doctor, Sairupa Krishmanurti gives you 4 healthy natural alternatives to improving your kids’ health.
Kid’s Are Supposed to Get Colds!
I always tell the parents I work with that our kid’s main job is education! That is, immune system education! From 6 months onwards infants and kids are building and educating their immune system. Oftentimes this involves a few (or more) illnesses. But how much is too much? Illnesses can be incredibly stressful for parents- though, getting colds approximately 4 times/ year is completely normal for kids and possibly even more frequently for kids under 5 years old. We all want to do our best to give our kids a super healthy immune system and to minimize the frequency and duration of illnesses as much as possible. The following are a few tips and tricks to consider to help your child have optimal health!
Here’s the thing: nobody likes dirty hands or booger noses! However, if we are over-sanitising our homes, and our kids’ hands with antibacterial wipes/ hand soaps, we are actually doing more harm than good. The good bugs that are housed in our guts play a huge role for immunity and for preventing chronic illness. And, we shouldn’t be wiping everything away. While antibiotics are incredibly necessary for certain bacterial infections, the overuse could be causing more imbalance for your child by wiping out good and bad bugs. Besides, digestive issues, if your child deals with allergies, eczema, asthma, auto-immune disease, mood concerns and/ or autism spectrum disorders- it’s time to start promoting their gut health. Having a holistic doctor as your guide can be so helpful for appropriate testing, dietary advice and clinical supplements such as strain-specific probiotics. What we do in the early years of a child’s life really matters. 1 out of every 2 kids deals with chronic illnesses and when we establish health in the early years, it’s possible we can up-level our kids’ immunity and prevent childhood chronic diseases.
Nutritional deficiencies can have a huge impact on the child’s overall wellness and immunity. For some of the children I work with- I may consider blood work to identify if there are deficiencies in zinc, vitamin D and/ or iron which all play an important role in immune health and development. I always guide my patients on optimizing their family’s diet to obtain these important nutrients, and sometimes it may be required to use clinical vitamin supplementation. A nutrient-rich diet will include colourful fruits and veg; healthy fats such as ghee, fatty fish, avocado and coconut oil; gluten-free whole grains; plant-based proteins such as legumes and grass-fed meats (if you’re not plant-based). Aiming for 1 cup/ day of colourful berries is a wonderful way to ensure great antioxidants for immune health! If a child deals with food intolerances or allergies- it’s encouraged to follow a doctor-led gut healing protocol to calm inflammation and promote your child’s best health.
Natural Remedies for Colds
Many of the parents I work with bring in their family’s when a cold or cough strikes the house. I offer wonderful natural remedies that are safe to use during pregnancy, breastfeeding and for kids of all ages. You should always check with your health care provider on safety, dosing and duration of natural remedies. Here’s one of my favourite herbal teas that can shorten the duration of colds and help to break up congestion. Please note that honey should never be used for babies under 1 year of age.
Ginger, Cumin, Garlic and Lemon tea:
- Finely mince 2 cloves of fresh garlic (place them in a 1-quart mason jar).
- Finely mince 1 inch of peeled fresh ginger (place in the mason jar).
- ¼ tsp cumin powder (place in the mason jar).
- Fill the jar with boiling water and cover for 30 minutes.
- Strain out the garlic and ginger and to the water add the juice of 1/2 of a lemon.
- Sweeten to taste with raw honey (for a child over 2). Alternatively, add coconut sugar.
- Give warm, and offer as much as the toddler/ child can drink.
So what else can we do while our kids are busy building and educating their immune system? Nurturing routines help to provide a foundation for a healthy child. The 3 top routines I encourage for kids are daily playtime outdoors, massage before bed to help with sleep, and deep belly breathing. Deep breathing will help to regulate the most important nerve in our bodies- the vagus nerve. This can help to balance the nervous system, digestion and immunity. Try to set a timer for 1 minute and take some deep belly breaths with your child before bedtime. The best thing about teaching these important tools is that you are empowering your child with healthy self-care routines that they can lean on as they become independent. The next best thing about these routines is that parents and caregivers receive the benefits as well! Because we all need a little more outdoor and breathing time.