Eat your way to healthy this cold and flu season

It is that time of year again. Temperatures are in single digits and and noses are sniffling everywhere around us. Most of us are out of the house earning our living and our kids spend their days at school. Germs are abundant for us to bring home and share. Not a pleasant picture,is it?
Well,put the sanitizing wipes and the can of Lysol spray down, and read on as I share some true and tested tips on how we keep our family healthy and happy without a flu shot and over the counter medication.
You have heard me say it many times before: food is your best medicine. It is the only medicine that prevents you from getting sick and can help you heal faster. It is even more true for little growing bodies. We all know how sugar affects our children and we avoid giving them candy before bed or a meal. So, why then, are we blind to the fact that every food affects our kids,some in a harmful and some in a beneficial way? Food can build up our immune system, it can keep our bodies strong and healthy, it can nourish our minds, and control our behavior. The effects of food are very noticeable in children and small changes reflect tremendously on their health.

  • Rethink milk - Are you drinking raw milk, or maybe low temperature pasteurized grass-fed milk? Good for you! Keep doing what you are doing. If those two are not an option for you, then you might have to rethink milk. Ultra-pasteurized, homogenized milk, often from cows treated with antibiotics and growth hormone,is less than ideal food for you and your kids. If your little one is suffering from chronic ear infections, milk should be the first thing to go. Store bought milk ,of the kind mentioned above, is very mucus forming,which means that you are looking at constipation, ear infections, sinus infections, chronic coughs, eczema, and behavior issues in the long run. Your best option is raw milk, but it can be hard to find, depending on where you live. That is why, in our house, we opt out for nut milks , like almond, cashew , or coconut. Make sure it is unsweetened and not flavored, so it can work in any recipe. Our son has been drinking primarily plant milk since age 2. We mix it up every once in a while by purchasing high quality whole milk from grass-fed cows that has been pasteurized at low temperature and has not been homogenized.
  • Add Healthy Fats - Our kids need fats to develop. They need good sources of saturated fat in order to feed their constantly developing brains and nervous systems. The best choices are coconut oil, cod liver oil, flax seed oil, avocados, grass- fed butter. Cook with butter and coconut oil; put flax oil in smoothies; spread avocado on toast; and give cod liver oil by the spoonfuls. These are easy ways to get good fats into your kids. Fats have an important role in helping the body to absorb nutrients and vitamins. Calcium, vitamins A, D, and E , can not be absorbed without the help of fats. Fats keep us full longer. and help us regulate blood sugar better. Fats like coconut oil have added anti-bacterial properties. Flax seed oil contains beneficial omega 3 and 6.  And, believe me, just when you think that your five year old will spit out that spoonful of cod liver oil, they surprise you by asking for seconds.
  • Add fermented veggies  - This is my favorite way to get probiotics into our bodies. Probiotics are very important for the health of our immune system. Good gut health is the surest way to good overall health. And fermented foods are the best way to supplement your gut flora and eat delicious creations in the process. The most popular fermented food in our family are saurkraut, fermented veggies ( carrots and cauliflower) , fermented garlic, fermented pickles, and kombucha. When I say fermented , I mean the process of lacto-fermentation. The Weston A Price website describes the benefits of this process: "... the fermentation of dairy products, preservation of vegetables and fruits by the process of lacto-fermentation has numerous advantages beyond those of simple preservation. The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine. "
  • Use meat on the side  - Buy high quality grass-fed and pasture raised meat and eggs, and use them as a side dish. That's right. I said a side dish. Good quality meat is expensive and that is often an excuse for people to buy factory raised meat full of antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals used in the processing of the animals. Well, it is no excuse at all. We solve the money issue by purchasing and consuming less meat and eggs. Build your main dishes around plants and add meat as a flavor, to enhance the dish. Even better, eat completely meat free a few times a week. It is good for the budget and your health. I personally had some issues with meat and animal fats , which I was able to cure with a few months of plant- based diet after which I slowly added pasture meats in small quantities. I stick to vegan and vegetarian food outside our home.
  • Use herbs daily - Drink hot tea once a day and take a spoonful of Elderberry syrup to keep your immune system strong. We drink tea in the morning and at night before bed. We often enjoy black and green teas in the morning , but our night routine includes a blend similar to this Get-Well-Soon Herbal Infusion. Our five year old boy loves this with a spoonful of local raw honey. In the winter months, I make a big batch of Elderberry Syrup, and we each get a spoonful every day. I also make sure that we stock up on Echinacea tincture and Elderflower tincture or tea. Echinacea is great for preventing a cold , when you take it with the first symptoms . Elderflower works magic when you have a fever. It will lower a fever by one degree or more in a matter of minutes. It is a very safe herb for kids and it makes a delicious infusion. 
  • Cook at home - This is maybe the best tip anyone can give you about staying healthy. Make things from scratch. Muffins, pancakes, waffles, bread, cream soups, broth, sandwich spreads, salad dressing, etc. It is a lot less complicated than it sounds and a lot more satisfying than someone who hates cooking wants you to believe it is. If you have time to put make up and do your hair in the morning, you have time to make breakfast and bag lunches. Or maybe you just need to think about your priorities. Making everything from scratch takes time , but it doesn't require "slaving in the kitchen all day". Whoever came up with that expression just needed an excuse. I work outside the home five days a week, take my little boy to sports after school four days a week, and I still have a home cooked meal on the table every night. I am not exhausted. I am simply prepared with a meal plan and a list of real food ingredients. 

Food is the best medicine. It is the best prevention and the best treatment. We are what we put in our bodies. If we put neglect and disease , we will be sick, tired and depressed. Good, real, healthy food takes away the meaning of cold and flu season. Follow these few tips and you will have a season of memories and cheer.
 Wishing you lots of health and happiness, from my family to yours!