Maintaining good family health over the winter season can be challenging. Winter brings with it cold, flus and winter sniffles. You need to make sure they’re going into winter as healthy as possible so you may want to take them to a pediatrician who can assess your child’s health. You can even do this online nowadays so take a look at this article about understanding pediatric telemedicine to learn more. So how can you protect your family from feeling under the weather during the cooler months? Here are Dr Libby’s top tips for keeping children healthy this winter.
supercharge your food
As Hippocrates said, let food by thy medicine and medicine thy food. Keeping your child’s nutritional status preserved is an essential component in mounting your best defence against winter ailments. In today’s time-poor world, incorporating easy ways of increasing the nutrient density of your family’s diet is a must. An easy way to boost your family’s nutritional intake is by making smoothies, soups and juices as an amazing amount of vitamins and minerals can be packed into these.
Vitamin C is essential for winter health, its helps our cells to fight infection and rejuvenate after infections. Boosting the amount of citrus fruits, capsicums, kiwifruit, berries and green vegetables in your child’s diet will increase their vitamin C intake, helping to protect them and boost their immunity over winter.
Our body uses Vitamin D to stimulate the blood cells to fight infection, so it is important that we get enough over the winter months. While we would normally get most of our Vitamin D from the sun through our skin in the warmer months; in winter, we can get Vitamin D from oily fish, eggs and mushrooms.
Iron deficiency weakens the immune system and means we are less effective at fighting infections. Try to include iron-rich foods in your child’s diet each day to ensure that their iron levels are maintained. Iron can be found in all lean meats, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains and beans. Combining foods containing iron with foods rich in Vitamin C will increase the amount of iron that is absorbed.
Antioxidants have the ability to help our bodies fight infection. When we get sick, our cells go into an inflammatory state; antioxidants help to reduce this inflammation so that our immune cells can function better to fight infections. These wonderful nutrients are found in all fruit and vegetables, but are especially concentrated in berries, tomatoes, kale, carrots, pineapple and capsicums. When your child presents with green mucus, this is a sign of a bacterial infection, so pack their diet full of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to enable them to fight the infection more effectively.
make every bite count
When your child is sick and lacking an appetite, it is especially important to make every bite count. One of the obvious ways to do this is with a warming soup. Green soups, fragrant Asian-style broths, classic vegetable soup and of course chicken soup are all great options, but one way to supercharge them is to use a bone broth as the base. Almost every traditional culture has used bone broths throughout history. Traditional Chinese Medicine Practioners often use bone broths to promote the kidneys, the digestive system and help strengthen blood. Making bone broths is a particularly nourishing option for people with food sensitivities or gastrointestinal disorders because they are usually very well tolerated and a very easy way of supplying essential nutrients. Bone broths are a good source of calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and many other trace minerals. They also contain elements of the broken down material from cartilage and tendons (for example, chondroitin sulphates and glycosamines (GAGs) which are often taken in a supplement form to promote joint health).
Use leftover bones and simmer with herbs and water and vegetable scraps to produce a delicious bone broth ? use as a base for any soup or broth. Or alternatively, keep green vegetable soups on hand and in the freezer to use as a powerful nutrition kick. I add broccoli to all of my soups ? not only because it is one of nature’s true superfoods but because, rather surprisingly, it adds a creamy texture to the soup.
Even the healthiest of families will experience times when they don’t have access to enough greens, can’t eat enough fresh food, or just feel a little rundown. It can be of huge benefit to use herbs or vitamins to support your immune system, particularly over winter. Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc and Selenium are a just a few of the vitamins and minerals that are utilised by our immune system. There are also many herbs that are of benefit. Thyme is an antiseptic and a digestive aid, and is great to use in winter cooking or teas. It also makes a wonderful remedy for coughs.
Eucalyptus or tea tree oil can be used to help with blocked sinuses and can be inhaled via a steam bath. Liquid herbs such as Licorice, Astragalus and Echinacea can be used
in both the prevention and treatment of winter ailments such as sore throats, runny noses or blocked sinuses. Licorice has been indicated to be of benefit, particularly to those with respiratory infections, sore throats and persistent coughing, as well as providing support to the adrenal glands.
Echinacea is a wonderful herb that is safe to use for the whole family and should be taken at the beginning of winter, as it is most effective used in the prevention of infection. You may find it beneficial to visit a medical herbalist, so you can find a suitable herbal liquid formula to support your immune system during the winter months.
“Making bone broths is a particularly nourishing option for people with food sensitivities or gastrointestinal disorders because they are usually very well tolerated and a very easy way of supplying essential nutrients”
Dr Libby Weaver (BHSc (N&D) (Hons) PhD) is Australasia’s superstar of all things health and nutrition, combining many years of experience, learning and clinical practise to her holistic approach to health. For more information and Real Food ideas, visit www.drlibby.com