With Winter weather well and truly upon us, It's got me thinking about how I intend to keep those snotty noses & coughs at bay! Like all moms, right?! Over the past number of years I've been educating myself about natural immunity. I blame the kids, they have turned me into a crazy woman at the best of times, always looking for new ways to keep their little bodies safe and happy.
We had a bad run of viral illnesses last year, with Nathan catching bronchiolitis at only two weeks old and I'm really hoping for a healthier winter. So, I thought I'd share some of my favourite natural immune boosters. This is just one mama, sharing what I have discovered helpful. So before we start there's a few basic things that can help keep us in tip top winter mode!
- Good food = good medicine for the body. This is where I start, always. I try to buy organic and local where I can. They say we are what we eat, so I like knowing where my food came from!
- Fresh air is something we can starve ourselves of in the winter months. The heat gets cranked up and we miss out on that natural high that can be achieved from just stepping outside. Apparently, there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes!
- Finally, sleep is essential to replenish and heal the body. In this fast paced world we often loose sight of this. I for one, am not getting enough restful sleep! (source)
Ok, so these babies are a potent antiviral cold & flu remedy as well as an amazing natural immune booster. They contain vitamin A, B and C as well as high levels of flavonoids which researchers have found that if taken prior to infection it prevents infection, but don't worry if you're too late for prevention, it also speeds up recovery and can prevent virus' spreading down the respiratory tract. Studies have also shown that this ancient berry can 'rapidly relieve influenza symptoms' (source)
I've tried two brands of this. The first my kids completely hated. The second they love!!! YAY! Little mom dance over here! You can buy it here. Otherwise why not make your own??
Raw Local Honey
First up, I want to say I am not into mass produced honey. It's damaging the bee population, unnatural and it removes the benefits that raw local honey boasts. When bees are left in their natural environment, magic happens on so many levels.
Raw local honey is best, and if you can go straight to the bee keeper even better. I have found one in Wicklow and the honey is available from the farm shop in Wicklow.
High in antioxidants, it boosts the immune system and has been proven to increase disease fighting polyphenols in the blood. It also is far more effective at treating coughs than cough bottle and you can find my favourite homemade recipe here.
I like to give my kids half a spoon in the morning to line their throats with the good stuff. As a side note, I'm pretty sure no kid will EVER turn their nose up at this one. Note honey is not suitable for children under 12 months of age.
It's fairly mainstream thinking now that gut health and a healthy microbiome is essential for good overall health. There's plenty of references to support this, and I don't want to get overly scientific on you all!
Kombucha is my current go to probiotic. Other great sources are Kefir (dairy based) and it's also not a bad idea to throw in some fermented foods. They all help to alkalize the body and keep dis-ease away.
Known as the 'immortal health elexir' by the Chinese, this healing drink goes back thousands of years. The first time I tasted this in my teens I almost spat it out! Luckily, the flavours have come a long way! Now, I love sipping on a glass of kombucha and even the kids love it!! It's going mainstream too which is awesome. SynerChi an irish owned brand have created a yummy organic range that reminiscent of a soda drink and can be bought in supermarkets as well as health food stores. Handy, that I can pick it up if I am on the run! But I personally love the home brewed stuff, and after trying April Danann's amazing brew, (she is based in west Cork but sells at the People's Park in Dun Laoighaire on Sundays) I am now attempting to brew my own! I'll keep you posted!!
So, why kombucha? Well it's a probiotic first off. So, it is full of good bacteria that's been fermented. It strengthens the immune system (source) and aids digestion and even heal stomach problems (source). I can totally vouch for this, my tummy feels much happier after a glass of the good stuff. It also boosts your energy, detoxifies the body and even claims to reduce joint pain.
Finally, get some happy!
We all know when we manage our stress and achieve more balance in our lives doing things we love, our overall health and outlook improves. That's a good enough reason for me to take that yoga class once per week! I am by no means a pro at this but I'm striving for balance. So, take this as a little reminder to prioritise doing something you love, just for you at least once per week!!!