Natural Prevention for Cold and Flu

Mother and ill daughter

During a time of stress and disruption of usual, healthy eating habits, we see a lot of colds and flu. We allow our immunity to drop just a bit, and we give bacteria and viruses a way into our system.

The steps you can take to boost immunity in your family are very simple. Maybe not as simple as taking a pill labelled “Prevents colds and flu,” but you know that wouldn’t really work anyway.

Build and maintain health for your whole family through basic habits. You just need to understand what your body needs and provide that. You are more likely to get sick when you are bending your basic rules of healthy living.

Sleep. Your first and most important step to improved health is getting enough sleep. It really is that simple. Read more about sleeping for health.

Nutrition. What you eat matters. Eating whole, unprocessed foods in the right balance gives your body what it needs to function well and fight off seasonal invaders. Which foods? Read more about how to boost your immunity with foods.

Physical Activity. Your physical activity is a factor in your ability to fight off infection. You know you need to be active, but how active for how long? Read more about guidelines for physical activity for adults and children.

Manage Stress. All of us have stress, even very young children. Your choice is in how you manage the stress. We wrote about how you can avoid the immune-suppression of stress through the mind-body connection.

Have Fun. Does it seem odd to include fun in prevention of illness? Laughter does help. In part, it helps you manage stress, but your happiness is a bigger part of the fabric of health you are weaving. Read more about how to help your family stay healthy.

Quick List for Cold & Flu Prevention

Beyond the solutions above for general health, you can give your immunity a boost during these months when bacteria and viruses are being passed around so much.

Raw Garlic. Don’t just add garlic to your cooking (though do that for the taste); eat garlic raw. Chop up or crush 1-2 cloves and either drink in warm water or add to food just before you are ready to eat it. An antiviral compound in raw garlic, allicin, blocks infections.

Apple Cider Vinegar. Drink a tablespoon of organic, apple cider vinegar in water to create an alkaline environment in your body, an environment where bacteria and viruses have a more difficult time surviving.

Vitamin D. Canada’s Food Guide has recognized that vitamin D is the only nutrient for which adults over 50 cannot rely on diet alone to receive their recommended daily dose. We sell Ddrops because of their therapeutic benefits.

Ddrops vitamin D supplement

Warm Drinks. In my family, we start with a base of chicken broth, ginger tea, or some other basic tea. We add honey, lemon, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and other spices to create what we call immuni-tea. The warm liquid and the ingredients both help boost immunity. My mother’s version was always hot water with lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey. Create your own version as an easy way to take in some of the basic cold and flu fighting foods.

If you don’t manage to fight off cold or flu, you have natural choices to treat the symptoms. We love elderberry syrup, so we carry Sambucol black elderberry extract.

Sambucol for kids

 

Image ©  | Dreamstime.com

Snack-sized Reading to Improve Nutrition

Food Rules Illustrated Michael Pollan

 

You want to eat better and ensure that your children are healthy, but how do you figure out which information about food is reliable? One book summarizes all of the basic food rules you need to know.

Having children often brings on one of those shocking moments of realization that what you eat and what your children eat really matters. For a lot of us, babies are the trigger to clean up our eating habits. Unfortunately, this is also the time in your life when you have the least time to spend and when you are most tired. Fortunately, if you do manage to squeeze out some time to improve your family’s nutrition, you will improve how you feel overall.

Simple Rules for Eating

Start with simple rules and take simple steps.

“If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t”
~Michael Pollan

Did you notice when we posted the quotation above on Facebook last month? This is rule #19 from his book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (published 2010).

Michael Pollan is a science journalist who has written several books on food. You might have heard of The Omnivore’s Dilemma or In Defense of Food. His earlier books are more complex, and his more recent books are simpler. That makes sense to me. He isn’t engaging in an academic exercise. He genuinely wants to help people understand food and make better choices. People need the information delivered simply not because they can’t understand the complex but because, like most of us, they don’t have the time and energy to dive deeply into the subject.

Michael Pollan got the idea for food rules when a doctor told him, “What I would love is a pamphlet I could hand to my patients with some rules for eating wisely.” So, the next book summarized those rules in a way that anyone can understand

To gain some clarity about the general rules you should follow to improve your food choices, start with Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: Illustrated Edition. I suggest the illustrated edition because I assume you will want to share what you learn with your children, as I did. Also, this edition adds 19 more rules to the 64 in the original.

Find an indie bookstore selling Food Rules.

It will take you about a minute and a half to read each rule. You could read it in one sitting, but you might find it easier to integrate the lessons if you read one every morning and think about it as you go about your busy day. Give yourself permission to go slowly if you need to.

If you get into the illustrated edition and want to share more with your children, you will find Michael Pollan reading the rules and the artist talking about her illustrations on Michael Pollan’s website.

Over the years, I have written about my children, the food activists, and how we have integrated learning about food into our homeschool curriculum. We read together Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition, and we watched quite a few food documentaries (which I list for you). With every step we take, we find more to learn. That’s OK! The journey isn’t about arriving but about improvising your beautiful life along the way.

Take your own eco baby steps. You don’t have to (and you CAN’T) do everything at once. Just start where you feel the strongest itch, and make your own changes.

How I Learned to Cook Whole Foods

Undiet Book

It’s my favourite time of year! I love these months filled warm weather, swimming, biking, soaking up the sunshine, farmers markets, backyard vegetable gardens, camping, cottaging, and more. With the energy of the summer and the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables galore, I wanted to share with you something I’ve been very excited about.

Confession time – I did NOT know how to cook whole, real foods before taking a handful of live and in person cooking classes from Meghan Telpner, a Toronto-based nutritionist, a few years ago. Brought up on Chef Boyardee and Kraft Dinner, my family had a challenging few years when we learned of our children’s allergies from diary, gluten, soy, eggs, corn and more. We know many families are struggling with similar stories, and Meghan came along right when I needed her most. If you’re unable to join her in the kitchen for a live class, her online courses and now her recently released book, are the next best thing!

In her new book UnDiet, Meghan proves it’s possible to look and feel your absolute best while eating the most delicious food, and avoiding the trap of diet deprivation and calorie counting. Infused with her signature humor, enthusiasm, and accessibility, Meghan inspires readers to question paradigms and take ownership of their health, one small change at a time. Best of all, these are recommendations that fit your life. Nothing in here is too over the top. These are easy changes for any family to incorporate into their already hectic and busy lifestyles.

I strongly encourage you to add UnDiet: Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health to your summer reading list. You won’t regret it! As an added treat - order your copy of UnDiet from bynature.ca before the end of July and we’ll include a FREE Anointment Natural lip balm with your purchase! This is our favourtie handmade lip balm, and we’ve just received a new shipment of samples to share. Happy Summer!


Tamara Champion, Founder
Parenting By Nature

Boost Immunity with Foods

Elderberry juice boosts immunity

You may have heard that this is a particularly tough flu season. Simple actions like choosing healthy foods can boost the immunity of yourself and your family to give all of you the best chance of fighting off flu and colds.


Your Immune System

Your immune system defends your body against disease by ridding your body of foreign invaders. Your immune system is not a constant, though. Your actions can boost or inhibit your immunity. If your body is already struggling because you are tired, for example, you will have more difficulty fighting off a cold.

The simplest way to boost your immunity this winter is to understand which foods provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function well.


Basic Immunity-building Pantry

Foods help your immune system through the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that help the system function. The most important immunity building vitamins are: Beta carotene (increases number of cells fighting infection), Vitamin C (increases white blood cells and antibodies), and Vitamin E (increases B-cells that destroy bacteria). Immunity building minerals are zinc (helps white blood cells reproduce quickly) and selenium (increases fighting cells). Don’t run out and buy a supplement pill, though. You can get all of these vitamins and minerals in food.

Stock your pantry with colorful fruits and vegetables. Carrots and sweet potatoes have beta carotene. Citrus has vitamin C. Blueberries, cranberries, pomegranate seeds, cherries, and other dark blue, purple, and red fruits are high in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation. Elderberries are particularly good for helping you fight colds and flu as an antiviral an antioxidant. Mushrooms have selenium and many other minerals an vitamins. Garlic is a great flu fighter with antioxidants and other immune-building properties.

Choose a variety of proteins. Beans, nuts, fish, and lean meats can all contribute toward your immune-boosting diet. Almonds provide vitamin E. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Sunflower seeds have selenium, as do many nuts, whole grains, and seeds.

Add herbs and spices to your foods. Medicinal herbs, like echinacea, goldenseal, and astragalus, are all immune boosters that fight viruses or increase the efficiency of white blood cells. You don’t want to add these to your foods, though. Culinary spices, like cayenne, oregano, and ginger, are also bacteria fighters. Use them fresh if you can, but use them in any form. Even black pepper can give you a little immune boost.


Every Day Foods

The range of immunity building foods is broad. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to tell you that only 5 or 10 or 50 of them are best for you because there is enough variety for you to choose your favorites. Still, I am going to suggest a few foods that will help you build immunity every day.

Smoothies. Start your morning with smoothies. Add dark fruits and vegetables, almond milk or yoghurt as a base, a few ice cubes to make it cool and reduce the intensity. That’s it! Just choose a colorful collection every morning.

Soup. With lunch, have a cup of soup every day. Chicken or vegetable broth both make a good base, but make sure you add garlic, perhaps ginger, lots of herbs and spices, and a few colorful vegetables.

Salad. With dinner every night, have leafy greens. Spinach and romaine lettuce are both very nutritious. Choose your dressing carefully. Better yet, make your own from olive oil, vinegar, and herbs. Each of these gives you a little boost. Maybe sometimes you have cooked kale with cider vinegar instead, but make sure you eat leafy greens every day.

Whole Grains. If you are going to eat cereal or bread, make them rich and nutty. The variety of grains, nuts, and seeds will help you over time.

Doesn’t that seem simple? It is. Boosting your immunity really isn’t difficult to understand or to do. These choices are easy to make every day, and the benefits build over time.


Keep in Mind

Avoid processed ingredients like white sugar and bleached wheat flour. Just avoiding those two will help you avoid many processed foods that have been drained of most nutritional value.

Get enough sleep. Yes, that isn’t a food, but rest is important enough to the healthy functioning of your immune system that you can undermine all of the good work you do with nutritious food by not getting enough sleep. Sleep for your health.

Image © Photooasis | Dreamstime.com

Nutritious Herbal Teas for Pregnancy

Woman drinking tea
There is no more important time to be vigilant about your nutrition than during pregnancy, when your eating choices have lasting consequences for the health and development of your child. Does that sound intense? It should, but good nutrition is within your reach.

During pregnancy, you need more vitamins and minerals, more protein, more omega-3 fatty acids, more amino acids. You need more than just extra calories; you need nutrient-dense extra calories.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I met a midwife in my town who was over 90 years old. She had attended births for even some of my older friends and acquaintances. She was the grandmother protector of all midwives in town. Her only hard rule for eating during pregnancy was her requirement that a pregnant woman have at least one leaf of romaine lettuce every day. That made me laugh, but I ate the lettuce every day. It turns out that romaine is nutrient-, protein-, vitamin-, and mineral-dense. My midwife, considerably younger, asked all of her patients to drink tea every day, and she started every office visit with stinging nettle tea. So, I also drank a lot of nettle tea, raspberry leaf tea, and oat straw tea, all of which both science and tradition tell us are very good for a pregnant woman.

To boost your nutrition during pregnancy, in addition to eating home-cooked whole foods, drink tea. You can switch teas depending on your needs in the moment, and you will help yourself and your baby.


Feeling Queasy?

Ginger and mint. If you are experiencing morning sickness or mild nausea, during pregnancy or any other time, both ginger and mint can help settle your stomach. When I was a child, at the first hint of me having a stomach ache, my mother went outside to pick mint from around our house and made tea. She continued to do this for me then for my children.

Organic Morning Wellness Tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby includes ginger and spearmint along with a hint of peppermint, chamomile and lemon balm.

Herbal Tea for Pregnant Women


Feeling Anxious?

Lemon balm and chamomile. Lemon balm, especially with other herbs, can help reduce the feeling of stress and anxiety, and chamomile is so gently calming that many mothers use it with their babies and children as well.

Organic Peaceful Mama Tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby includes tension easing lemon balm, calcium rich oat straw, calming chamomile, and a whiff of red raspberry leaf and orange peel.

Calming Herbal Tea for Pregnancy


Getting Ready for the Birth?

Red Raspberry Leaf. The nutritious properties of red raspberry leaf are great for all women, but it is particularly good as a tonic for muscles of the pelvic area.

Third Trimester Tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby includes 100% organic herbs, including red raspberry leaf (an all-around great pregnancy herb), iron-rich stinging nettle, calming chamomile and rosehips (both full of vitamins and bioflavonoids), and calcium filled oat straw.

Herbal Tea for Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Drinking herbal teas is a gentle, easy way to ensure that you are getting more of the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy from natural foods. Better nutrition is good for you and for your baby. Drink up!

Image © Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime.com