So, it is (nearly) fall. Here in Colorado, the weather is starting to turn cooler (some days! It might snow Friday morning but we could have temps in the 70s again on Saturday. That is Colorado!). Kids are back in school in many families, participating in extracurricular activities, and germs are flying. You have probably heard the news about the virus going around several states, which is hospitalizing hundreds of children. It’s time to meet the needs of our families and keep their immune systems working at top-notch!
I already have a few easy things we do in our home to help keep our immune systems strong. We like to take elderberry syrup, use thieves’ oil, drink enough water, eat nourishing foods, sleep enough, and make sure we have plenty of vitamin D.
Elderberry Syrup: Elderberries have a high vitamin C content and help regulate and enhance immune function. You can buy elderberry syrup, or you can buy dried elderberries and make your own. I started making my own last year and it is SO MUCH CHEAPER. For about $13/pound of elderberries plus the cost of cinnamon sticks, ginger, and raw honey, I can make several batches of syrup. For $13 at the store, I was buying 1 or 2 bottles of premade syrup.
Thieves’ Oil: This is an essential oil blend which helps to boost the immune system and fight against infection, particularly respiratory. I have used a homemade blend in the past, which a trusted friend made for me. You can also buy a blend from essential oil companies, or find recipes to make your own. Since I haven’t made it myself, I’m not going to share a link to a recipe I haven’t yet tried. However, I do like using Thieves’ oil in a carrier oil, like coconut oil, rubbed on everyone’s feet at bedtime when the sniffles are starting to come around, or someone has a cough. I definitely think we have avoided long, major colds and flu during peak sick seasons by adding this to our self-care at home.
Drink Enough Water: Should be a no-brainer, right? But at the high altitude at which we live, it is hard to remember how much more we need to be drinking. When we did GAPS for a few months, Fence and I were drinking a glass or warm mug full of water with lemon and sometimes honey every morning. This is a great way to start the morning, because we rehydrated after sleeping, and also started a detox process in our bodies. Pretty sure it is time to get back to this, and encourage the kids to drink more water upon waking!
Eat Nourishing Foods: Also a no-brainer, right? And yet it is fall. All the delicious pumpkin and apple treats are filling the shelves at the store, our recipe boards on Pinterest, and tempting our taste-buds from nearly every direction. Starbucks has their ever-popular fall drinks out, the bakeries are creating yummy goodies, restaurants are promoting limited-edition fall desserts, local farms and orchards have fresh apple cider donuts…Not to mention the holidays which are right around the corner. We do our best, following what some call the “80-20” rule. Eat well for 80% of the time, and don’t worry about the other 20%. When we did GAPS, it was hard, because it was so strict. It helped, for sure, but it is hard. I now do my best to buy lots of fresh veggies and fruits, quality meats, and we only use good healthy fats (like real butter and coconut oil).
One of the best things I’ve found for health from our food, especially when sick, is chicken broth. I make it often and freeze it to have on hand. When someone is getting sick, I make them soup with the broth. Even when we’re not getting sick, I use broth quite regularly in our fall and winter cooking: as a base in all my soups, chili, and sauces, for chicken soup, and as cooking liquid in nearly all the dishes that need extra liquid. It is super simple to make, and it helps to make full use of the whole chicken.
Sleep Enough: Our bodies need sleep to heal when sick and injured, and they need enough sleep to be strong enough to fight the germy invaders right away to keep us from getting sick. For the last several months, I’ve been working on my own sleep habits, getting to bed no later than 10:30 pm. I’m pretty sure that if I move up my bedtime to 10pm, I’ll do even better with my energy levels, stamina, and overall immune health. We also make sure our kids have a reasonable bedtime so their bodies can rest and stay strong and healthy.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D plays a crucial role in our health. It helps our bodies absorb calcium and more recent research is finding that it also helps our immune system. We get sunshine exposure for the natural vitamin D, and also take supplements. I suggest doing some research about which vitamin D you would like to take if you choose to use a supplement. I’m not a doctor, yo, so I’m not going to give advice on brands/amounts.
Oh, and don’t forget proper hand-washing. Clean hands do wonders for fighting the battle against germs! 😉
Any other can’t-miss-them tips for staying healthy? Please share! The more the better!