Building Immunity in Kids
Erin Budd is a self-taught practitioner of natural wellness and building immunity, especially in children. This 44-year-old mom of two was diagnosed with Colitis when her first son was born, and she began her journey into healthy eating and fighting disease with nutrient-dense, real food.
We spoke with this busy mom about how we can make changes to our everyday diet and build our immune system in a way that will help fight off viruses:
- Why is it important, especially for children, to have a healthy immune system?
The world is changing, and is very toxic. Our children’s immune systems are still developing and they are exposed to so many toxins on a daily basis, which are a stress to the body. It’s important to do what we can to reduce the toxic load and also to keep the immune system strong so that it can fight what comes at it.
2. What tips do you give parents to boost immunity in children, and how do those methods work?
It can be boiled down to: sleep well, stress less, spend time playing outside in the dirt, get exposure to a few minutes of midday sun, use essential oils and eat real food.
Sleep well: Lack of sleep can make it easier for us to get sick and make it harder for our immune systems to get us well. In addition, not getting proper sleep can disrupt eating and exercise regimens. Soon the whole immune system becomes more susceptible to viruses and other germs.
Stress less: A limited amount of stress is normal, and even healthy. However, continuous or severe stress can be very harmful to your physical and mental health; it will adversely affect the immune system, making one more susceptible to illness. When you are stressed, your adrenal glands work overtime, which have a detrimental effect on other systems that keep destructive microorganisms at bay. Someone who is battling stress and is beginning to show physical symptoms may need to learn ways to manage the stress levels in a healthy way.
Playing in dirt: When children play in dirt, not only are they having fun and getting fresh air, they are exposed to several specific types of bacteria that can build the immune system and therefore build resistance to some colds and viruses.
Sun exposure: Optimizing safe sun exposure and therefore levels of vitamin D is another important physical step. Those who are slathering on sunscreen are not only slathering on chemicals that are being absorbed into the skin (unless you are using a non-toxic sunscreen), but are preventing themselves from getting vitamin D from the sun. Ideally, at the beginning of the season, limit your exposure 5 to 10 minutes at midday. As the season progresses, you can slowly increase your time in the midday sun to up to 20 minutes.
Essential oils: Essential oils are very effective in supporting the immune system. Many of them have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties in varying degrees – they will help keep most infections to a minimum. Because of their antibacterial and antiviral properties, essential oils can directly attack and destroy harmful microorganisms in your body. One of the most beneficial ways to get the most from essential oils is by diffusing them daily. This way, the molecules of essential oils will easily enter the body and be transported throughout and into every cell.
3. Could you list the top ways to incorporate real food into the daily diets of children?
Eat quality food. This means organic, pastured, wild, grass-fed, chemical free (where applicable). There is a difference. Poor quality food sources are lacking in vital nutrients.
Get the right nutrients, ideally from food. Some essential nutrients are: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin K2, calcium, magnesium, essential fatty acids, B12. If/when you do supplement, it’s generally best to use whole food vitamins. The chemicals and additives in most synthetic vitamins probably do more harm than good. Whole food-based vitamin supplements are derived directly from foods and are much healthier than synthetic ones; they are better absorbed by the body and they are more likely to provide necessary nutrients, as the body can better recognize whole foods.
Eat fermented foods, ideally with every meal. Eighty per cent of your immune system lies in your gut. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live in our intestines that keep the “bad” bacteria from taking over. When you have poor gut flora, there is more opportunity for illnesses to take hold. This is where fermented foods come in. Fermented foods are full of vitamins, enzymes and good bacteria (probiotics) that keep your gut bacteria happy.
Some fermented foods are home-made yogurt, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut. Making your own fermented foods at home is easy and is usually best for optimal preservation of nutrients and beneficial bacteria.
Be certain to take a good probiotic each day, especially if you are lacking fermented foods in your diet.