Fall is here which makes for colorful trees, cozy cardigans and comfort food. Unfortunately, it also means flu and cold season is about to hit.
Every year without fail my daughter’s class gets overrun with the sneezing, coughing, running nose pandemonium. No parent wants to see their child miserable with the cold or flu. Add the necessary day taken off of work with your sick child to the mix and it becomes an even bigger dilemma.
And, if you didn’t know, it already is a big dilemma. The 2014-2015 flu season reached epidemic status. It was one of the worst on record and teachers can only do so much to keep the classrooms sanitized in a sea of runny noses. A University of Arizona Study showed that when someone is sick in an office it only takes four hours for it to spread on surfaces around the office. Transfer this same idea to a classroom with several little hands who are probably not as hygienically conscious as the typical adult and we have kids who don’t typically like sharing joining in.
Instead of waiting until the inevitable and working against the symptoms, and with all of the conflicting ideas about the flu vaccination, here is a great list of preventative measures you can take.
Most people know that their diet has a huge effect on their health, but paying extra attention to it during winter months is the key to beating cold and flu season. This is often a time when people start eating heavier meals and the holidays bring many tasty additions. During this time making sure both ourselves and our children are still getting all of the proper micro-nutrients necessary for a healthy immune system is very important, and guess what large orange vegetable has vitamins A, B, C, potassium, copper, magnesium and iron all in one? Pumpkins! Just in time for the holidays. You can add pumpkin to chili, soups, stews, and smoothies.
Another way to help the little ones’ bodies fight off the bad guys is by adding probiotics to your diet. Probiotics are a natural way to boost your immune system to help keep those pesky cold and flu bugs away. One great source is yogurt, most importantly Greek yogurt. Try adding yogurt to your chili and stews in place of sour cream. Other great probiotic choices are sourdough bread and miso soup. Yum.
While we’re talking comfort foods, adding something sweet to the list is a must. Honey is another food that has been proven to have natural microbial and antioxidant powers. Add a little to your kid’s cereal or oats in the morning or even some yogurt for an added sweetness.
Another large natural preventative vitamin that the family can get through a healthy diet is zinc. You can get large amount of zinc in pumpkin seeds! Another reason for all things pumpkin this season. You can also get large amounts of zinc in mushrooms, spinach, and chickpeas (great in chili).
During the fall and winter months it gets dark earlier so making bedtime a bit earlier for the little ones should not be too difficult. Moving bedtime up even one hour gives both you and your little ones more time to rest. A fatigued and burned out body will have to work harder to fight off a cold or flu. Lack of sleep contributes to an unhealthy immune system so making sure to stay well rested plays a key role in helping you stay healthy.
Easier said than done with most kids, but this is by far most important factor in keeping the germs from school from getting back into your home. Having to remind the kiddos to wash after using the restroom can get rather repetitive quickly. A great way to remedy this is with notes. In my home a simple sticky note next to the sink, “Don’t forget to wash your hands” works wonders.
Another great preventative measure is hand sanitizer. At school kids don’t have mom or dad there reminding them to wash their hands, cover their mouths when they sneeze and blow their nose properly. It is just the way of things, so I send my little one to school with hand sanitizer as well. There are some great tutorials for natural hand sanitizers you can make right at home.
Lastly, noses are like filters that trap debris. For very young kids this won’t do but once they are old enough to blow their own noses a simple neti pot is a great way to clear out all airborne organisms or bacteria as well as moisten the nasal passages during the dry months.
All in all it comes down to paying attention to the smaller details, the things that we overlook or simply are too busy to pay close attention to. This flu and cold season focus on these natural preventative measures. Making an extra initiative to eat healthier, sleep better and watch for germs could work for you. Chances are someone in the family will still catch a cold or flu but instead of counting on over the counter help when signs of illness start creeping up using preventative measures decrease the seriousness and length of the cold or flu if caught after all as well.