Posts Tagged ‘flu season’

Staying Healthy During Flu Season

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

How to Stay Healthy During Flu SeasonTo be perfectly frank, I never worried much about flu season until I was pregnant for the first time. We were told by both my OB/Gyn and our pediatrician that households with pregnant women and children under age two were in a higher risk category for the flu. Hearing that, I started looking into how to keep my little family healthy through flu season. Here are some things that I’ve found helpful in staving off the flu. Could be dumb luck, but our track record so far is perfect–no flu for us (knock on wood).

Of course I did this one before, but hand washing is huge. It is the single most important thing in my opinion in avoiding the flu. You don’t need antibacterial soap, just regular old soap and water will do. You need to wash for 20 seconds to kill all of the germs (which is the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, times two). Frequent washing up, especially after you have been to a public place, is an easy way to avoid getting sick. This is a great habit to start early and often with your kids. I’m personally not a huge hand sanitizer fan, but it’s good to have around in a pinch (especially with kids).

I’m sure you’ve heard the advice to carry your own pen to limit germ exposure, but what about your kids and publicly-pawed surfaces? Babies and toddlers put everything in their mouth, so avoiding germs altogether is going to be near impossible. This is the time of year, though, that you may want to avoid places like the play area at your pediatrician’s office or even large indoor playgrounds, which can be a godsend during inclement winter weather, but can also harbor a lot of germs.

You may have heard about babies in Scandinavian countries napping outdoors in the winter; for me an important way to stay healthy during the winter is to get some fresh air on a regular basis. I know it’s a pain to get babies and toddlers all bundled up, but indoor air quality in the winter is often poor due to houses being shut up tight for energy efficiency. Getting outside for some fresh air, exercise and vitamin D (your body gets most of its vitamin D from the sun; during the winter this can be difficult) can make a huge difference in your day, both physically and mentally, especially during the darkest days of winter.

Whenever I fly, my family and I always drink a product called Emergen-C before leaving for the airport. It’s a high dosage vitamin C powder you mix with water to make a fizzy drink. There are other products out there that have similar properties, and of course you can get your vitamin C from whole foods instead, but this is one that I like and I feel it helps beef up our immune systems before being exposed to tons of people’s germs in super dry, stale cabin air. If you have a very young child, you can check with your pediatrician about vitamin C and your youngster; it’s a water soluble vitamin but still could potentially cause discomfort if you administer too much. Probiotics are also a useful tool in keeping your family’s immune system strong this winter. You can find them in yogurt (look for live cultures labeled on the package) or kefir, fermented foods like kimchee and also as a supplement.

Meaghan Howard is mom to two little boys, who are still always putting everything into their mouths, even during flu season. 

Staying Healthy During Flu Season

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Staying Healthy During Flu SeasonWith flu season coming up, it’s time to start talking to the kids about being healthy! We try to explain to our oldest (3) what germs are and how they can get you sick. We use very simple terms, of course, but that doesn’t stop him from touching dog poop at the park. No, really. He picked up dog poop and asked, “Mama, is this dog poop?”

With that basic lack of understanding about germs, we really rely on other methods of staying healthy.

We place a heavy emphasis on washing hands in our household. Not only because of things like the dog poop incident, but because the kids instantly touch their eyes, nose, or mouth after handling germy things. It’s almost instant. In an attempt to instill some sort of good hygienic practice, we wash our hands when we come in from outside, after play time is over, before helping put dishes away, etc. This, of course, on top of all the times you would fully expect hand washing (after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, blowing your nose, etc.).

Other things are a bit more “behind the scenes.” We can only do so much to get our kids to follow hygienic practices at young ages, but we can help them boost their immune system. Offering foods like garlic or barley can help lessen the likelihood of getting sick. Many foods can offer antimicrobial properties, so it’s a great idea to read up on different foods and try to incorporate them into your family’s diet. Heck, oats and barley not only boost immunity, but they can help antibiotics work better if you do get sick.

There are also lots of herbal supplements that people take to help with their immune system. I’m not big on trying to push things like this on my children, but I am a big believer in Sambucus (elderberry) in helping the immune system. Not only has my (asthmatic) son had less episodes that require him to use a breathing nebulizer since taking elderberry syrup, but when he does have to start nebulizer treatments, they don’t last as long. Instead of a week, we see a day or two. He also really enjoys the taste of elderberry syrup, and we mix it in with some almond milk and sometimes keifer, too.

If you’re not too keen on store bought supplements like Sambucus, you can always make your own syrup using fresh, frozen, or dried elderberries. Our local health food store has dried elderberries in the bulk herb section. There are a plethora of recipes available online with a simple search, so you can find a recipe that would suit your family’s needs (taste and dietary) best. Just a little elderberry a day helps, and a few times a day if you happen to get sick.

Also, if we happen to get sick, we keep coconut water on hand. Not only does it have electrolytes and no artificial sweeteners or dyes, but it has extra calories in it which you could really use if you’re sick and quickly losing whatever you eat (regardless of the method).

Finally, laughter! Yes, really. Laughter can help boost your immune system, improve your blood flow, regulate blood sugar levels, and is simply contagious. Who doesn’t love laughing? With colder days around the bend, we like to get some good shows or movies queued up to watch. Some for the kids, some for us when we have child-free time. Everyone enjoys smiles and laughter, and hey! It just might help you beat the flu.

Christine Kangas is a mom of two trying to lead a greener life. She lives in the mid-western U.S. with her family and three cats.