Unless you’ve been hibernating with your tortoise it won’t have escaped you that we’ve gone from Brexit this and Brexit that to coronavirus 24/7 on the news!
I hadn’t intending on writing about it but then a friend’s kids ski trip got cancelled and another friend’s child has been sent home from school after being in Italy and even my kids have been talking about it!
So, given my thirst for stats (I do love maths) and my passion for health (especially the kids) I decided to give you some facts and help around protecting your kids from this virus!!
In fact, ANY virus, seasonal or not can benefit from the advice here because we are going to be looking at supporting the immune system.
This is not a blog about washing hands etc. You KNOW this and you know all the general advice for stopping the spread of disease etc. This is all about how to boost your little one’s natural defences.
What is the coronavirus?
This term actually covers a wide range of very common viruses ranging from a typical cold to severe illnesses such as SARS. This new coronavirus (code named COVID-19) is particularly nasty and is the one that everyone is talking about! First reported in China in December it is currently spreading like wildfire across the world!
The reason it is spreading so quickly is because, as you know, colds where people are coughing, and sneezing leave their germs and are easy to pick up. Then we have the movement of people and the movement in confined spaces i.e. aeroplanes!
At the time of writing over 82400 cases have been reported with over 2800 deaths. When you look at how many people are in the world the numbers really are a drop in the ocean!
If we compare these figures to the number of people who get flu every year it really does put things into perspective. Millions of people get flu every year and around 0.1% of people die from the virus. The current percentage of deaths from the coronavirus is 2-3%. SARS killed 10% of people.
Those over 70 and many with underlying health conditions account for 23% of the deaths. There have been no reported deaths in child under 10 years and in those age 10-19 years the figure is very low (0.2%).
I think it’s important to know these facts because the way this virus is being reported makes it sound as though anyone contracting the virus has a death sentence over their head!
What can you do?
The body is actually extremely resilient. Children are very resilient! Children also respond extremely well to natural help when it comes to their health.
Being healthy is the best way to protect yourself and your kids from life threatening illnesses.
At this time of year, I generally give my kids an immune boost by doing the things I am setting out for you below.
The immune system relies on a number of key nutrients. There are ways to support and boost immunity just as there are ways to deplete the immune system.
The largest part of the immune system is in the gut! From the stomach acid that provides an effective barrier to incoming germs to the bacteria that help to neutralise any invaders. We then have a very good filter that lets in the nutrients and keeps out the waste in the small intestine.
We also have our mucous membranes, fine hairs, inflammatory response, body temperature and certain blood cells that all help keep us well. And let us not forget our liver, kidney, breath, urine and stools for clearing out anything we don’t need!
The Key Players
To support the immune system, we need to have the correct levels of vitamins A, C, E and D plus the minerals iron, zinc and selenium providing antioxidants as well as omega 3 and the friendly bacteria.
The best way to do this is by using supplements and eating a diet rich in those nutrients.
At the same time, we want to minimise the lifestyle factors that reduce our immunity or put additional pressure on our bodies.
Immune suppressors will include things such as insufficient sleep, stress and anxiety, dehydration, poor diet, lack of sunlight, nutrient deficiencies etc. I am not going to focus on these today but instead the things you can do to boost the immune system.
Having said that, you can support your child’s health by making sure they are getting enough sleep, fresh air and exercise, enough water and help with stress management issues.
Using Food and Supplements
1. Eat the rainbow! This is SO IMPORTANT! Colourful foods (obviously talking fruits and veggies here not M&M’s!!!) are packed full of immune boosting nutrients. Make a game of it. Get your child to tick all the colours they eat and encourage them to try new foods. You should aim to eat one from each colour EVERY day!
2. Include Bacteria! There is now so much research into the importance of the gut microbes and the benefits of including foods such as live yoghurt, fermented foods and drinks and prebiotic foods in our diets. Making fermented foods is fun and you can now buy so many options from the supermarket. My children LOVE kefir! This is packed full of friendly bacteria.
3. Mineral Check! I will often run a test to make sure children have the correct levels of key nutrients (click here for more info about testing). In particular check that your child is eating foods containing iron, zinc and selenium. Protein is important for repair too, so be aware of the quality of the protein. Good sources include fish, eggs, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds, organic meats and diary. As you can imagine ham, chicken nuggets, cheese strings are not at the top of the quality list! Iron is found in meat but also in green leafy vegetables, dried fruits and beans. Zinc is found in fish, seeds, nuts and beans. Selenium is found in nuts, fish and meat.
4. Up the fat! I’m not talking about saturated fats here but the essential kind; the omega 3 fats support the anti-inflammatory pathways. This is rather important when looking at the coronavirus. We need to be able to calm inflammation especially in the lungs! Omega 3 fats are found in oily fish, nuts, seeds and some eggs.
5. Spice things up! Include turmeric, garlic and ginger in your cooking. They all support the immune system. A warming glass of turmeric milk is extremely nice. See if your kids will take to it!
6. Extra help! Manuka honey, aloe vera, elderberry and echinacea are all brilliant for supporting and boosting the immune system.
7. Supplement Advice! Include a good multi, vitamin D in D3 form, Omega 3 and probiotic. I’ve also included an extra immune support for my children which include elderberry (see below). You can find out more about supplements for your kids here. The picture below shows you the supplement my children are taking at the moment. These are suitable for children over 4 yrs. You can get all of these supplements HERE.
Live natural yoghurt
Beans and Pulses
The best way to get these foods in a child’s diet!
Smoothies – adding leafy greens such as Pak choy, spinach, kale will really boost the nutrients.
Soups – you can get all sorts in a soup!
Pasta sauce – another one when you can blend in so many veggies.
Burgers – add grated carrots, courgettes etc to make your own burgers.
Tacos – a great place to include some beans and pulses.
Fish cakes – ideal for those fish adverse kids, try making with salmon and sweet potato.
Nut butters – just like peanut butter but even better for you! Try banana mashed with cashew nut butter in a wholemeal wrap. Yummy!
Raw veg – so many kids prefer crunchy foods. Give them raw veg to eat instead of cooking it! Have you even tried raw butternut squash? It’s delicious!
With all the negative news it can be a worry to children to hear about this virus and people dying. I advocate the use of positive talk in my home. I use tapping with my kids (more about this to come) but also self-talk.
For example I will tell my children that they are healthy, their immune system is strong and the foods and supplements they have are keeping their immune soldiers strong. I will affirm that they rarely get ill. They say this to themselves and they stay healthy. My daughter will often say to me at bedtime that her immune soldiers are waking up while she sleeps to keep her healthy.
I also say to myself as soon as I wake up “I am healthy and happy and full of energy”. I’ve done this for a very long time. The body achieves what the mind believes so be careful what words you use and what you say to your kids.
This may seems really weird to some but your spoken word and the chatter in your brain creates your reality so why not make it a good one, one where you and your kids are healthy, strong and full of energy!?
The current risk of you and your kids catching the coronavirus is low. Chances are, if you did catch it you would feel like you had a bad cold for a few days.
Having said that, it is always a good idea to support your health with the recommendations above. Especially at this time of year.
Teaching children about how their body works and how they can support their health is incredibly important.
If you need any help you can schedule a free call with me HERE.