Supporting the immune system is at the forefront of everyone’s mind during cold and flu season, but what about the rest of the year? Spring colds and summer throw-up bugs are just as inconvenient, which is why I have an arsenal of protocols, foods, and supplements to boost my family’s immune system and keep us feeling our best all year long. Obviously, we do get sick from time to time. However, our illnesses are kept to a minimum and we recover quickly, which motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing!
Here are my best year-round tips for immune system health and wellness:
- Change our clothes after school or indoor play places once we get home. No need to carry around any extra dirt and germs we picked up for the rest of the day!
- Wash our hands before meals and when coming in from another house/store, etc. We suds up for roughly 30 seconds (I turn the faucet off during this time to save water and to keep my kids from prematurely rinsing off).
- Take probiotics. My babies get them literally from day one, and my older kids think their chewable probiotics are the biggest treat! My husband and I take them as well.
- Drink tons of water. In fact, water and kombucha are the only drinks my kids get. We skip all juices, soft drinks, and milk (even plant-based, unless it’s going in a smoothie or other recipe).
- Drink kombucha! Did you know that kids love this probiotic-rich drink? It’s such a wonderful everyday kind of treat around here. We make our own, and I always enlist my kids’ help with the process. I firmly believe that having children help prepare food and drink makes them more likely to try and enjoy it.
- Skip sugary food and drink. Sure, we have occasional treats, but I think that sugary drinks are unnecessary and sweets are best in moderation. Now that my son is in school, I feel especially good about our decision to make sweets a rarity at home. I can’t always control what he consumes at school (think classroom birthday celebrations), but I don’t sweat it as much because I know he’s eating wholesome foods 98% of the time. I know I sound like a killjoy, but once you experience less sugar, you no longer crave it as much. Try cutting out added sugar for a month and you’ll feel better overall – see for yourself!
- Take fermented cod liver oil. It’s chock full of beneficial vitamins, omegas, and minerals, and is surprisingly non-fishy (my husband hates seafood and fishy burps/aftertaste, and he never complains about this)! We take an orange flavored Fermented Cod Liver Oil every evening, adding a splash of sugar-free orange juice to it. My kids think that “special orange drink” is a huge treat.
- Eat fermented foods, like sauerkraut and pickles. You probably think of sauerkraut as the nasty stuff from a can, but trust me, real sauerkraut is nothing like that. Trader Joe’s makes a delicious version with pickles that my kids love, and you can easily procure Bubbie’s brand sauerkraut at Whole Foods or other natural food stores. I serve it with savory dinners and scrambled eggs at breakfast. Even a small serving will help boost your gut health. You can also make your own, and it’s another wonderful kid-friendly cooking experience. Real fermented pickles made without vinegar are also a wonderful source of probiotics. Bubbie’s brand also makes them!
- Get outside (and supplement with vitamin D). I get my kiddos moving and breathing in some fresh air and rays every day, even if it’s just down our block and back on foot or scooter in the winter.
- See a chiropractor regularly. My entire family sees one who is certified to treat babies and children, pregnant women, and adults! We go every month or two (plus sick visits/after injuries, in conjunction with our pediatrician/general practitioner, of course). Having our bodies in proper alignment keeps us free of pain and tension, helps my son’s motion sickness, and keeps us sleeping well. And of course, keeps our immune systems functioning to the best of their abilities!
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