A topic we hear a lot about at time of year, is how to keep you and your families from getting sick. Since we spend so much time indoors, school is in session, and runny noses are everywhere it seems. There are so many things we can do to fight to stay healthy; however, sometimes our body just needs to build the immunity so we let the little bug run it’s course. In the days where everyone has hand sanitizer and cold medicine, are these really effective and should we be running to them at every waking moment? What about in kiddos? It’s miserable to see kids sick, but is it ok to be pumping them full of tylenol for fevers and cold medicine for a cold. First lets take a look at some basic things we should all be doing to stay healthy.
Of course we all know that exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet are vital in keeping our bodies in optimal shape to fight infections. An interesting article I was reading suggested that there are a few studies that suggest that diet deficiencies in mice led to changes in the immune system, same was true of mice not consuming a whole-food diet. (More on that later) (http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm) However, we are what we eat- therefore; if we aren’t getting the proper minerals and vitamins from our food we put our immune system- and therefore ourselves at risk for bacteria and viruses to attack. There really is no “magic pill” to keep you healthy- it’s a lifestyle. There are many things that we can and should do- however, since we are holistic we’ve got to keep the whole body in mind.
Back to our question about cold medicine and fever reducers. We need to specifically look at kiddos and young people as well. According the FDA no one under 5 years old should be able to take these things; but due to some pharmaceutical dollars some of the common cold and flu fighters say they are ok above 2 years. There are many studies questioning not only the efficacy of these drugs but also some serious side effects that can occur. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20001764) Just think about it; if you had a 2 year old liver- would you really want the processing center of the body to have to weed through the different drugs and chemicals found in that. The other question we need to be asking is- how have we survived for thousands of years. Our body can make two different kinds of immunity. Natural and artificial. Natural immunity is where we are exposed to a germ and then our body responds by making different cells to attack that specific virus. Artificial is where we are artificially exposed (think vaccine) and then our body makes cells to respond to that germ as well. Very simply put- natural immunity is lifetime immunity; artificial is not. While not convenient or fun it may be necessary for our bodies to be exposed to these germs and then build a defense for them for life. So instead of running to the next cold medicine or fever reducer think about a few natural things you can be doing to boost your immune response even more.
As mentioned above sleep, a good diet, exercise, decreasing stress, these are all important in maintaining a healthy immune system. But there are a lot of supplemental things we can be doing as well. In our house, I use the Thieves essential oil. It is a combination of cinnamon, lemon, clove, and eucalyptus radiata. This combination was developed during the Bubonic plague in Europe. Four thieves were going through graves and didn’t get the disease. (http://www.secretofthieves.com/four-thieves-vinegar.cfm) When asked what they covered themselves in, this was the combination (It has been perfected since then.) I diffuse this when we get sick, or when someone around us is sick, I clean with it, I use it in my toothpaste, and I have even gargled it when battling a sore throat. We also bump up our supplements. I still take a whole food prenatal supplement (through nursing) and fish oil, and you should be taking a whole food supplement if you’re not. I also use echinacea and vitamin C to increase of immunity (but only when sick- not every day). As far as hand sanitizers go- I stay away from ones with Triclosan (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/29/triclosan-in-personal-care-products.aspx) This has been linked to some cancers and therefore I don’t use any products that have that in it including hand soap. I use either the thieves hand saniters or an alcohol based one, although I don’t like using the alcohol one on kiddos.
There is a lot of information here- and honestly it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I hope that you have found this helpful. I would love to hear what you do to keep your families well during this time of year!