I have been asked a lot recently what we do to ward of colds and flu in the wintertime. We are really fortunate that we rarely get sick. In fact, we only very occasionally get colds and we never get the flu. I put a lot of this down to our wholefoods way of eating – which means we are getting lots of vitamins including natural vitamin C, minerals, antioxidants, and other immune-supporting nutrients every single day. But when we do feel a cold or virus coming on there are a few key remedies I use, and supplements I have on hand, which means any lurgies are very short-lived. Below I cover my Top 5 nutritional tips for keeping healthy in the winter and then I share my top 5 remedies and supplements for keeping healthy in the winter. These are remedies and supplements that I use to keep us free from nasty bugs and/or to reduce the time we spend feeling unwell.
Top 5 nutritional tips for keeping healthy in the winter:
- Load up on the good stuff – try to eat as many colours of fruits and vegetables every single day. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with natural vitamin C, antioxidants, and other immune-boosting nutrients. As things like berries go out of season, make sure you still grab some to keep in the freezer to add to smoothies or to have with breakfast in the mornings or to add into baked goods like these Grainfree Raspberry and Apple Muffins. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and also polyphenols which our good gut bacteria LOVE. ………………………………………………………………
- Add a daily dose of: spices and herbs, such as garlic, turmeric, ginger, oregano, and cinnamon to meals as these actually help to kill bad bacteria (1).
- Reduce your sugar intake as much as possible as sugar suppresses the immune system (1).
- Consider adding in a probiotic. Children who take a daily probiotic get sick less often compared to children who don’t take one (1). Consider food-based probiotics like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, or natural yoghurt or store-bought probiotics (see my recommendation below).
- Include lots of homemade stock or bone broth in your meals. Stocks and broth provide the building blocks for our gut lining, keeping it robust and intact which means we are more likely to absorb all of the goodness from our foods. A large proportion of our immune system lies within our gut – so by nourishing our gut we are also supporting our immune system. I make a big batch of broth every week and add it to many of the things I cook like soups, stews and bolognese. And if that’s not enough I also cook vegetables and things like pasta or rice in stock to boost the nutrient and gut-healing properties of these foods. Click HERE to find my basic chicken stock recipe. Click here for a delicious and nourishing Chicken Cacciatore Recipe also using my homemade stock.
Top 5 supplements and remedies for keeping healthy in the winter:
- Liposomal Vitamin C. Did you know that Vitamin C needs a little help getting into our cells. Studies show that only between 14-30% of regular vitamin C consumed in supplement form is actually absorbed by the body (2). Any unabsorbed Vitamin C passes through your digestive tract and gets excreted through your urine— precious immune support flushed right down the toilet. In addition, many Vitamin C supplements are highly acidic which can upset your stomach. Thankfully, there is a game-changer when it comes to Vitamin C supplementation…LIPOSOMAL VITAMIN C. Liposomes are spherical shells made up of a double layer of fatty acids similar to the natural layer that makes up the outer membrane of your body’s cells which means the vitamin C gets delivered more directly to your bloodstream and cells where it can get to work. This means the bioavailability of Liposomal Vitamin C is much higher than standard vitamin C supplements (3). Not only is Vitamin C helpful in strengthening our immunity it is also great for brain health, is involved in collagen production, provides cardiovascular protection, boosts energy production, provides adrenal support, and is a powerful antioxidant. We have tried a few different brands but THIS is my absolute favourite – because the vitamin C it contains comes not only from ascorbic acid but also from two natural sources; Organic Acerola Cherry and Organic Camu Camu. As soon as I feel even a hint of being unwell (tickle in the throat, runny nose….) I take between 6000-8000mg a day for a few days, and for me it never progresses beyond those initial symptoms. A good maintenance dose is around 1000-2000mg a day. For younger children who cannot swallow capsules yet, you can empty the capsule into a cup and mix it with something like honey (the taste can take a bit of getting used to).
- Probiotics – its interesting to note that children who take a daily probiotic get sick less often compared to children who don’t take one (1). But with so many probiotic options out there where do you start? GUTBIOME is a great place to start if you want a broad spectrum (with 18 beneficial microorganisms) powerful therapeutic probiotic that can be used for the whole family. Gutbiome is GAPS approved, contains highly researched strains & is free from any additives or excipients. Its comes in capsules and in powdered form which is great for little ones who can’t swallow capsules. If you make your own yoghurt or sour cream you can add this probiotic before fermentation which will boost the beneficial bacteria even further. Make sure you follow the instructions on the jar and introduce slowly to avoid die-off.
- BLIS K12 Throat Guard – I discovered these probiotic lozenges about 5 years ago and they have been a game-changer for us as a family. This is a lozenge that contains a specialised probiotic called Streptococcus salivarius that is effective in fighting against bad bacteria in the mouth and throat. If you or your little people struggle with recurrent throat or ear infections then these might just be a game-changer for you as well. At the first sign of a tickle in the throat or even things like mouth ulcer my kiddies go straight to the BLIS probiotic lozenge’s and we haven’t had a throat infection in our family since we started using them. These are only available ordering directly from the BLIS website which is a company based in New Zealand.
- Garlic oil for ear infections – If your kiddies struggle with ear infections or sore ears after things like swimming then this will become your best friend. I have been making this simple remedy and using it for over a decade and it has never once failed me. Garlic is known to contain compounds such as ‘allicin’ with powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic properties (4). You can make your own by removing the skin from 3-4 fresh garlic cloves and placing them in a small amount of olive oil (around 1/8 cup) in a small saucepan. Heat for a few minutes only to warm the oil which allows the garlic to start diffusing into the oil. Removed from the cooktop and place 1-2 drops of warm (not hot) oil in the affected ear. Have the child lay down on their side with the sore ear facing up. Repeat every few hours until the pain has subsided. You can store the oil in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Simply warm the oil before use. Or if you don’t want to make your own there are some great products you can buy like Mullein Herbal Garlic Oil.
- Essential oils. For upper respiratory issues and coughs the absolute best oil we have used is a Doterra blend called Easy Air. I have found that coughs and snuffles completely disappear after a night or two of diffusing this blend. For really congested sinuses I pop a few drops of Easy Air in a basin of boiling water with a drop of Oregano Oil and inhlale with a towel over my head. This works really quickly, and I’ve found I only need to repeat this process once or twice and our sinuses start to completely clear. It’s worth getting your oils from reputable companies like Doterra or Young Living. If you would like to try a blend like the Easy Air then get in touch and I can help to order some for you.
I hope some of these tips become as helpful for your family as they have been for mine xx
- Mason, L. (2015). The Essential Guide To A Healthy Child.
- Yung, S., Mayersohn, M., & Robinson, J. B. (1982). Ascorbic acid absorption in humans: a comparison among several dosage forms. Journal of pharmaceutical sciences, 71 (3), 282-285. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7069582
- Rivas, C. I., Zuniga, F. A., Salas-Burgos, A., Mardones, L., Ormazabal, V., & Vera, J. C. (2008). Vitamin C transporters. Journal of physiology and biochemistry, 64 (4), 357-375. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19391462
Ankri, S., & Mirelman, D. (1999). Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic. Microbes and infection, 1(2), 125–129. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1286-4579(99)80003-3