Posts Tagged ‘flu’

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. 

How to Protect Against Winter Viruses

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

The winter is upon us, and what else creates a pit in my stomach besides the thought of sub-freezing temperatures keeping the kiddos stuck inside? The thought of all of the viruses that come with the season. You can’t change the weather, but you can change your child’s chances of avoiding some of the less desirable gifts of the season.

Probiotics are the “healthy” bacteria that exist in your gut. Most people associate with probiotics with gastrointestinal health. Although probiotics do have benefits to a healthy GI tract, what many do not recognize is the importance of probiotics in supporting your immune system. Over half of your body’s immunity is comprised of this healthy bacteria. If your body is lacking, you are lacking the ability to fight off viruses.

Every morning before school, my children receive 1 capsule of a probiotic. They don’t fight me on it, as I remind them every morning that it helps protect them from illnesses, and the repetition eventually sinks in. It has become part of our routine, just as breakfast is. I would never skip breakfast, so I would never skip this important step either. Standard Process makes a few variations of probiotics that I have come to love. I have purchased them through a clinical nutritionist, but they can also be found on Amazon.

A daily multivitamin seems very basic, but it is a good compliment to the probiotics. Even if your children are good eaters, they still are not getting the daily vitamins and minerals necessary to keep their immune system at it’s strongest. Make sure you are buying quality vitamins, and not ones filled with food dye and aspartame that do more harm than good. If you’re taking the time to work vitamins in, you want to make sure they are doing what you set out to intend to do—to improve their overall health. If your kids are picky, go to your local health food store and select ones that will be more appealing to them. There are a variety of textures and tastes for a reason. My personal favorite is Catalyn from the Standard Process line. They make a kid’s chewable which is small and tasty. But If your kids prefer chewy, I like Nordic Berries as well, which can be found in many health food stores.

Thieves Oil is an essential oil blend that is part of my daily preventive regimen. This particular blend is made by Young Living, but you can make your own with clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary. Its properties help your body’s ability to resist viruses and bacteria. Following morning vitamins, my children get one single drop rubbed on their hands. Even my one year old is protected with it, by rubbing it on the bottoms of her feet, so as to avoid the potential for contact with her eyes. Also after having company in our home, I diffuse the oil to eliminate airborne bacteria.

Sounds like a lot of extra steps for a mom to take on in our already busy schedule, but once it becomes part of your routine, it is quite simple. I am able to complete our morning supplements with three little kids in five minutes or less. I want to instill good habits in them, so when they are older and independent they will make good choices. Being repetitious with the basic principal that these are to help keep them healthy is something they are able to understand, and something they have come to value, even at their young age.

Will taking these steps ensure that your child will never get sick? Of course not. But you can rest assured knowing you are doing all you can to best prepare their little bodies for the season. If your child does come down with sniffles, or another sign of a virus coming on, I swear by introducing Echinacea at the first sign. It comes in a liquid dropper form, and given a few times a day has knocked a virus right down several times in my experience. I always have a bottle of it at home, as you never know when someone will start getting sick.

Michele Ogniewski is a part-time social worker and full-time mom of three who lives and writes in Saratoga Springs. She has a passion for healthy living and works for a wellness company.