Today I’m going to tell you!
When my kids start acting funny and I know they are fighting off a virus, I try to work as many immune boosting foods, drinks and supplements into their diets as possible. Often this is enough to ward off the virus altogether. If they do end up getting sick, the virus is usually mild as a result of this immune support.
So the next time your little one is feeling ill, try these natural immune boosters for kids.
Probiotic Food and Drink
Probiotic flora (good bacteria) in the gut is the key to our immune function. Lowered immune function is often a sign that the balance of bacteria is off in our digestive tract. To boost immune function, try giving your child a probiotic-rich beverage like kombucha, kefir water, or another cultured beverage like Kevita . Or probiotic-rich foods like fermented carrot sticks, sauerkraut, kimchi. If you don’t have food or drink—try a probiotic supplement in the morning and before bed on an empty stomach.
Homemade broths made from the bones of organic/grass fed animals are full of trace minerals and gelatin to heal the gut lining. Broth is highly absorbable and is almost like giving your immune system an IV drip of liquid gold. We make a big batch of broth weekly and freeze the extra for days when one of my kids needs an immune boost. Learn more about the health benefits of gelatin here.
Known as nature’s antibiotic, garlic is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-viral. An immune boosting (and very cheap) powerhouse! But kids may not want to eat raw garlic. I have had success chopping garlic up finely and my son swallows it like pills. I do this if he is in the middle of an acute illness and I make sure we do it with a meal so the garlic isn’t hard on his tummy. Another option is to make chicken and vegetable soup and add lots and lots of garlic, or chop up fresh garlic and sprinkle into a bowl of soup. Raw garlic has more healing benefits but if cooked garlic is all your kids will eat…it’s still all good.
Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and immune booster. Raw ginger is easy to sneak into a fresh green vegetable juice. You can also grate 1 teaspoon of ginger and put it in a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 5 minutes, strain the ginger and drink it like tea.
Fresh Green Vegetable Juice
Live enzymes, vitamins and minerals help the immune system perform at its best. When your little one is feeling down, an immune boosting green juice of: apple, leafy greens, lemon, ginger, cucumber and carrot will help to boost immune function. Your kids will think they are drinking a treat, and you will know they are drinking an immune boosting multi-vitamin.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin to increase immune function during healing. Vitamin D is a good supplement to take year round, however, in times of acute illness you may increase your child’s Vitamin D intake to support immune function.
Our immune systems depend on essential fatty acids to stay in optimal shape. We call these fatty acids “essential” because the body cannot make them for itself and must obtain these fatty acids from food. Wild caught seafood like salmon or sardines are good sources. As well as nuts and seeds like walnuts and chia seeds. Fermented cod liver oil is my favorite omega-3 supplement. It contains vitamin D and vitamin A, two vitamins that work together to lower systemic inflammation and support immune function. We use Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw apple cider vinegar (or AVC) introduces enzymes, probiotics and amino acids to the body. These components help digestion, stimulate the lymphatic system and boost immune function. It is important to choose raw, organic apple cider vinegar. Raw vinegar will include cobweb like substances called “the mother” that are part of the natural fermentation process. If your ACV does not contain “the mother” it won’t have the health benefits you need. Try a kid-friendly ACV tonic: 2 teaspoons of RAW apple cider vinegar and ½ fresh pressed organic apple juice.
Vitamin C is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-viral nutrient. Buffered vitamin C is a great choice as it is easy on the tummy. We use a powdered supplement and add it to smoothies and fresh green juices. You can also introduce foods containing vitamin C like oranges and pomegranates.
Modern farming practices have depleted our soils (and hence our food supply) of many important trace minerals that are vital to immune function. When my kids are under the weather I add a few drops of this to their water. If you make a batch of bone broth and include extra kombu, the broth will also contain extra trace minerals too.
Elderberry syrup is best to take when symptoms first come on. High in antioxidants and full of anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, elderberry is a powerful natural medicine. I add this to water or juice for my kids.
Echinacea and Goldenseal
These herbs support the immune system and help to fight infection. Echinacea in particular has been shown to increase white blood cell activity, the body’s natural immune defense system. You can buy them in tincture form and add them to a bit of water or juice.
When your little one is feeling ill, let them rest as much as possible. Sleep is how the body repairs and heals. Also try a kid-friendly detox bath to help aid your child’s immune system.
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