This time of year it seems like everyone around is fighting some kind of illness- colds, flus, stomach bugs... One of the few things I dislike about a large family (and there aren't many!) is all being sick at the same time. Or, when sickness lingers for weeks at a time, going from one family member to another. We tend to blame germs around us and avoid them at all costs. Hand sanitizer is replacing good old fashioned soap and water, with the goal of wiping out any and all germs (including the good germs our bodies need to stay healthy!) We use disinfectants and spray lysol all with the hopes of killing anything that might harm us. But, what we really need to be focusing on is strengthening our immune systems- this is our first line of defense.
For a long time I spent money on elderberry syrup, enchinacea and other herbs to give to my family during cold and flu season. I found it cheaper to buy these online, but with a large family this can be very expensive (especially when you go through a bottle a day just to give everyone a single dose!)
This led me to explore what I could buy at my local foodstore (or most likely had in the house already) to build my family's immune system. Garlic, lemons, raw honey, ginger root and fresh fruits and vegetables can do much to help our bodies fight illness naturally. Here are some things I've learned over the years to help my family, and it's great to see how my kids have caught on and are implementing these things on their own, because they work!
- Cut out all sugar at the first sign of illness. Even 1 teaspoon of sugar is known to deplete the immune system for several hours. Raw honey (not the processed kinds) is antimicrobial- use this instead.
- Limit or cut out all dairy, which increases mucus production in the body.
- Add raw garlic. Okay, you will have awful breath, but you want to feel better, right? Mix a small pressed clove of garlic with a little cream cheese and spread on a cracker (this is our favorite way to take it).You can also add it to raw honey or a spoonful of applesauce- whatever it takes to get it down! Do this a few times a day. Garlic is a natural antiviral and antimicrobial.
- Make lemon-honey "tea" - add the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon to boiling water along with a good dollop of raw honey. This works great for sore throats and colds.
- Ginger root "tea" is also great for sore throats and colds. Grate fresh ginger root in boiling water and steep for several minutes. Strain ginger, add raw honey and sip as needed. Ginger can also be added to a warm bath to help bring a fever down naturally.
- Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to a warm glass of water. Use this to gargle and help ease sore throats.
- Drink plenty of water and herbal teas to stay well hydrated.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. For years I juiced during times of sickness to give my family plenty of nutrients. Over the years this has been harder to do, both because it is time consuming (all that peeling and the mess to clean up) as well as just not feasible (all that produce to have on hand in large amounts). As a family we have incorporated Juice Plus into our diet giving us the benefit of whole foods in capsule or chewable form, backed by scientific research to prove that it is being assimilated by the body.
- Eat to keep the body alkaline. A body in the acidic state produces sickness. Approximately 80% of your diet should be of alkali-forming foods, with the remaining 20% consisting of acid-forming foods. Alkali forming foods include most fruits and vegetables, goat's milk, millet, buckwheat, kidney beans, soy beans, almonds, wheat germ, olive oil and honey. Acid forming foods include most grains and products made from flour, oatmeal, rice, fish, meats, eggs, peanuts, walnuts and all forms of sugar.
- If you get a fever, let it run its course. This is not what we are told by most doctors or the media. I'm always astonished at how much Tylenol and Advil mothers give their little children! We treat a fever as if it were a disease, instead of the body's natural way to deal with imbalances and pathogens in the body. Many times I have seen my children have a fever during the night and wake up feeling fine. If I give that child something to stop the fever, the body will not be able to fight whatever is going on and that child will get sick, often for days.