Kimberley’s 6 Tips to Boost Immunity & Prevent Winter Colds for You & Your Family

by kimberley Taylor

It’s that time again, the leaves are falling, the morning air has a chill to it and the runny noses and scratchy throats may have begun. Although the average child is said to have 6-12 colds/viruses per year, we can all take measures in the home and school or workplace to reduce this number.

So what can we do to help support immunity and prevent the spread of infection in our children and ourselves?

1. Wash Your Hands! – I know simple right? But how many times do you see children (and adults!) leaving public toilets without washing their hands? It is particularly important to make sure you do it after blowing your nose, before eating and after coughing, and teaching your kids to sneeze and cough into their elbow not their hands will help also.

2. Don’t Send Your Children to School – There’s nothing worse than turning up to school and seeing that one child coughing and spluttering that you just know shouldn’t be there. Missing work is difficult sometimes and determining whether your child is really sick can be tricky also, but generally if they are coughing and sneezing or have a temperature, a day or two at home can make a big difference totheir recovery and to prevent a class full of sick children. (Note to adults – this goes for you too!)

3. Stress Less – When we are stressed for prolonged periods, a hormone called cortisol can interfere with the body’s inflammatory and immune processes, decreasing its ability to fight infection. So how do we stress less? Daily exercise, talking to a friend, yoga and meditation are just a few ways to start. I also recommend daily mindfulness to my patients through apps such as ‘Headspace’ and the ‘Smiling Mind’.

4. Eat the Rainbow – Did somebody say Antioxidants?! Yes! Eating a variety of coloured fruits and vegetables makes us more likely to be exposed to a range of nutrients, many of which improve the body’s ability to fight infection and improve immunity

5. SupplementationVitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc are my favourite supplements to improve immune function in children. Vitamin C has been scientifically proven to reduce the severity of upper respiratory tract infection, whilst Zinc deficiency can cause immune impairment and make you more susceptible to infection. Vitamin D plays a very important role in immune regulation, improving the response of the immune system to both bacteria and virus. It is also important to note that a 2012 Australian study of 24,000 adults showed that up to 58% were vitamin D deficient. Probiotics – supplementing with certain strains of Lactobacillus have also shown to be effective in improving the immune system and reducing the duration and severity of colds.

6. Water – We all know hydration is so important for everyone, but did you know that it is also very important for the function of the immune system? If your children are coming home with full water bottles they may need a little encouragement to drink more especially during the cooler months. Try adding a little lemon or lime juice, fresh mint or berries to their water if they are struggling to drink it. 5-8 year olds require around 1 litre a day with 9-12 year olds needing about 1.5 litres.

When to get help – Most viruses/colds will resolve over a few days however if your child is experiencing more serious symptoms such as pallor, excessive drowsiness, refusing water, vomiting profusely or has a high temperature for a prolonged period, it is recommended to see your health care practitioner.

For more advice on staying healthy this Winter and supporting immunity you can book an appointment with our Naturopath Kimberley Taylor by calling (03) 5977 0117 or by clicking the ‘book now’ button on the webpage.