How to Boost Your Kids’ Immunity and Keep Them Healthy Year Round (Especially Now)


I’ve had this article sitting in my drafts for a while, and figured now is the perfect time to finish it up. Obviously, these recommendations are useful for the whole year, but I think focusing on them right now during the COVID-19 pandemic is especially important.

Have you noticed that kids tend to be little mucous making machines?  Runny noses seem to be just par for the course in childhood, and once they start school, they seem to jump from one illness to another the whole year round.

With the current lockdown many of us have been under for the last 6 months, you may have noticed that your kids are the healthiest they’ve ever been. But come the fall/winter season that’s right around the corner, you may find that your kids start getting those telltale sniffles, even in isolation!

There are a few simple reasons for this: 

  1. Babies and little kids are still building their immune systems, and their bodies can’t always keep up with the loads of germs they are exposed to every day.  Between putting everything in their mouths as babies, to sub-par personal hygiene as toddlers and kids, their bodies are being barraged by germs all day long.  This is actually a good thing, as it helps their bodies build strong immunities, but often poor sleep or diet catch up with them, and their little systems just can’t keep up.
  2. Childhood is the Kapha type of life.  In Ayurveda, Kapha dosha is characterized by growth, building, and mucous.  Regardless of what your kiddo’s innate body type (or dosha) is, the first third of life is the time of Kapha, which means their little bodies naturally carry more fat, create more mucous, and grow, grow, grow.  If we don’t feed them the right diet for their body types and the Kapha time of their lives, they will inherently be more prone to mucous, runny noses, and colds.

Thankfully, there is a lot we can do to support their systems, balance their Kapha, and strengthen their immune systems year round, and if they do get sick, there are plenty of healthy, natural cold remedies for babies and kids to get them healthy faster.

Below I’m sharing my favorite tools, both Western and Ayurvedic, for helping kids stay healthy.

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Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

This time of year, and especially with the COVID-19 craziness going on, elderberry is one of my top supplements for the whole family to boost immunity and stave off illness.

Elderberries are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that can decrease inflammation, boost immunity, decrease stress, and have heart benefits to boot!

If you have access to dried elderberries in bulk, making your own syrup can be an easy and economical way to stay stocked up with elderberries for the whole season.

I have my whole family on elderberries (either in syrup or supplement form) through the entire cold season — November through April.

This recipe is easy to make and delicious. Kids love it!

Dosage: Kids can take 1/2-1 tsp a day // Adults can take 1/2-1 tbsp a day.
When sick, you can take 3 times a day.

SEE THE RECIPE

Cooking with Bone Broth.. and why you should use it!

SPONSORED POST: I’ve partnered with Milk & Eggs, an amazing farm direct grocery delivery service, to bring you guys some delicious, super seasonal, and always healthy recipes a few times a month.  I’m so excited to share some of my favorite dishes with you!

Cooking with Bone Broth | The Organic Beauty Blog

After years of maintaining a mostly vegetarian (or at most, pescatarian) diet, I struggled with the concept of incorporating bone broth into my eating.  But after tons of research, discussions with my colleagues in holistic healthcare, and seeing the benefits in my own body, I’m sold.

I started adding Brothee Organic Bone Broths, made locally here in Southern California, to my weekly Milk & Eggs grocery delivery orders a few months ago, and I’ve never looked back.  Here are just some of the many health benefits of using organic bone broth:

  • It promotes and supports strong immunity
  • It helps to treat and overcome digestive issues like leaky gut and IBS
  • It supports the body in overcoming food intolerances and allergies
  • It improves joint health and mobility
  • It supports healthy skin, hair, and nails
  • It fights inflammation in the body

Crazy, right?! So basically, this humble broth, made simply by simmering beef or chicken bones (though duck or fish bone broth is a thing too) with some vinegar and spices, is pretty much the world’s most perfect health and beauty food.

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This healthier coffee is actually good for you.

Four Sigmatic Mushrooms Elixirs | The Organic Beauty Blog

I was never a big coffee drinker.  Not out of any high minded health reasons, necessarily — I just didn’t like the way it made me feel.  Jittery, anxious, higher strung… Pretty much like your average New Yorker.  Seeing as I was doing everything I could to counteract the energy of my former city, coffee just wasn’t for me.

Now that I’m a mom, and one living on the fairer (calmer) coast, there have definitely been days when I craved a good cup of joe. I would source some great organic coffee from the cafe down the street, add coconut oil (or sometimes even some grass-fed butter… more on why that’s a must here), and still, an hour later, I would find myself a little more testy or jittery or wired.

Why does this happen? Coffee does a number on your adrenals, stimulating a fight-or-flight response that can leave you feeling wired, and then depleted.  People who drink coffee on the regular pretty much live in this state, so it’s a little less noticeable.  But that fatigue you feel before you’ve had your first cup? Or at 3pm? Or in the evening? Or pretty much anytime between your cups of coffee?  Yeah… that’s adrenal fatigue.  And it is no bueno.  In addition to messing with your body and mind, this caffeinated adrenal overexertion also stimulates the release of cortisol, which leads to higher stress levels, poor sleep, premature aging, and even weight gain.

Ok, ok, so we get why coffee isn’t the best thing in the world.  Well there’s got to be a better option out there, right? One that isn’t a pseudo-coffee hippie drink (though I definitely love me some chicory)?

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5 Tips to Stave Off Colds This Season

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

5 Tips to Stave Off Colds This Season | The Organic Beauty Blog

Lately, it seems like everyone is getting the sick, and for some of you, that might mean a whole month of chronic sniffles as the weather cools.  We may just assume that this is a normal seasonal side effect, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not!

Seasonal sniffles do not need to happen, and if you find that you’re falling victim to them like clockwork, it may be a sign of some greater imbalances in your system.

Compromised immunity can come from a lot of unexpected places — food sensitivities, stress, not eating for your body type, not staying warm enough, and of course, nutritional deficiencies.

With a few key upgrades to your eating and lifestyle, you can stay totally healthy and cold-free this season, and save those sick days for playing hooky and going to the spa or taking an impromptu day trip.

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A Better Option than Airborne or Emergen-C?

A Better Option than Airborne or Emergen-C? | The Organic Beauty BlogI’ll admit, a big part of my flu season regimen is loading up on some extra vitamins (for the rest of my regimen, see How To Naturally Prevent the Flu).  When I get home, particularly after having been on the subway or another crowded germ-fest, the number two thing I do (after washing my hands with hot, soapy water) is to pop an effervescent immune-boosting vitamin.  It definitely does the trick (I rarely get sick), but this precaution comes with a fair amount of guilt on my end.  The drugstore standbys, Airborne and Emergen-C, come with their fair share of sub-par ingredients that I usually avoid.  So I’ve decided to take on a side by side comparison of these guys, as well as few other readily available and slightly harder to come by brands.  I was actually surprised to find that those drugstore standbys are the weaker of the 5 brands I found!  So without further ado, behold…

The Effervescent Immunity-Boost Showdown!

Scoring based on the following factors, which are each worth a maximum of 5 points:  
  1. Comprehensive vitamin and mineral content (CVM)

  2. Immune-boosting herbal additions (H)

  3. Quality of ingredients (Q)

  4. Calorie and sugar content (CS)

  5. Value (V)

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How to Naturally Prevent the Flu… (Plus, Should You Get a Flu Shot?)

How to Naturally Prevent the Flu… (Plus, Should You Get a Flu Shot?) | The Organic Beauty Blog

Seeing as we live in what CNN recently dubbed “Flu York,” where almost everyone we know is currently coming down with the flu virus, I thought I would share some natural flu prevention methods that will lower your risk of contracting this year’s rather severe flu bug.

But first, a word on flu shots…  Are you considering getting a flu shot? Read on to make sure it’s the right decision for you!

There is currently a 35 minute wait at all our neighborhood pharmacies to get the flu shot, obviously due to the pretty severe outbreak we are experiencing.  Now I know this is a bit controversial, but I am typically not a huge proponent of flu shots.  Due to the natural mutation of the virus, each year’s flu shot gives you only partial, if any, protection.  A review of 51 research studies involving 260,000 children ages 6 to 23 months found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, the flu vaccine is chock full of harmful toxins like mercury, formaldehyde, and detergent.  These toxins lower immunity (ironically making you more susceptible to illness), and have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. One report showed that people who received the flu vaccine each year for 3 to 5 years had a 10 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s than people who never received any flu shots.

As far as I’m concerned, this is reason enough to avoid the flu vaccine… the benefits just don’t outweigh the risks!  My husband, my family, and I have rarely gotten a flu shot, and have only come down with the flu a handful of times in our lives.  That said, the flu virus, especially particularly rough strains like 2013’s, can be really hazardous to people with already compromised immune systems.  Pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with an immunity-compromising illness should consider the flu shot.  But again, make sure to weigh the risks for yourself and your family!  As I stated above, the flu shot can actually lower your immune response, and could potentially be harmful to a developing fetus.  Think carefully…

How to naturally prevent the flu!

There are many ways to naturally decrease your risk of getting the flu, and whether or not you get the flu shot this year, I strongly recommend making the tips below a part of your everyday routine for the remainder of the flu season!

  • Wash your hands.  When you get to the office, when you come home, and throughout the day, especially after coming in contact with particularly germy areas like the subway, schools, communal office supplies, and (duh!) people showing signs of illness, wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Moisturize.  With all this hand washing, your hands will naturally be inclined to dryness and cracking, which gives germs a direct pathway into your body.  Keep a travel-size bottle of natural moisturizer in your bag (I love Burt’s Bees Farmer’s Friend Hand Salve, which comes in a cute and portable little tin!), and lube up after every hand-washing, or throughout the day as needed.
  • Clear out your nose.  Yes, yes, you’ve heard me tout all the benefits of the Neti Pot a million times before, but I’m telling you, it is a vital part of flu prevention!  Your nasal passages are full of mucous and tiny little hairs that are designed to trap germs and bugs to keep you from getting sick.  But they can only do so much!  You need to help your nose out by cleaning and lubricating it, and getting all those trapped bugs out of there!  There is no better way to do this than regularly using a neti pot.  It’s safe to use everyday, but if you feel like your nose is easily irritated, every other day will do the trick as well.  Make sure to follow each neti session with some sesame oil or olive oil in your nose, to moisturize and soothe everything!
  • Get plenty of sleep!  Flu season is no time to start partying and staying up until all hours of the night. Your body naturally needs more rest in the winter months, and when the flu bug is running rampant, getting at least 7-8 hours up’s your body’s first defense against illness.  You need to do whatever you can to boost your natural immunity!  If getting to bed early is hard for you, check out How to Sleep Better, Naturally!
  • Supplement smartly.  Even if you’re not big on supplementation, flu season is definitely a time to fortify your system with some strategic vitamins.  Vitamin C is of course a big one (opt for 500-1000 mg 2-3 times a day, and make sure to get a formula with rose hips for maximum absorption!).  Another immunity powerhouse is vitamin D, which we all need to be taking year-round, but especially in the winter months.  Opt for 2000-4000 IU of a liquid, sublingual vitamin D (like this one) every day.  Lastly, North American Ginseng (panax ginseng) has been shown to reduce incidence of the flu, as well as duration if you do become ill.
  • Stay warm.  Although being cold doesn’t actually make you sick, it can definitely lower your immune response, making you more susceptible to contracting the flu virus.  So bundle up, and make sure to drink lots of warm liquids throughout the day… Green or ginger tea with raw, organic honey actually does a lot to boost your body’s natural defenses against the flu, due to the honey’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties!
  • Eat for health.  Flu season is definitely the ideal time to get serious about healthy eating.  Shoot for having as much of your diet as possible being made up of dark leafy greens, brightly colored veggies, sea vegetables, mushrooms, plant proteins, and fish to boost your immunity and not give your body any other toxins to contend with!  Keep alcohol, which compromises your immunity, to a minimum, and drink tons of water!

If you do get sick, STAY HOME!!!  The biggest cause of the flue epidemic spreading so rapidly is sick people walking around infecting everyone!  Don’t take the risk, and stay home to rest, which will also help you to recover as quickly as possible!  Make sure to read my article, 5 Tips to Beat a Cold in Two Days Flat for some great self-care tips to help you get healthy fast!

Do you have any other natural flu prevention tactics or remedies that work for you? Share them in the comments below!