Supporting your Immune System Naturally
SUPPORTING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM NATURALLY
With the flu hitting epidemic proportions, I wanted to give ya’ll some food as medicine tips to get through without getting struck by illness! And I am kicking off the immune boosting information as a new mom with information on Ear Infections as it is quite a plight for many mommas and kiddos and can lead to chronic illness with antibiotic use driving systemic imbalance!
EAR INFECTION EPIDEMIC AND HOW TO PREVENT AND TREAT NATURALLY
There are over 1 million treated cases of ear infections annually and this is the number 1 reason for visits to the pediatrician. When antibiotics are prescribed, this can drive immune disruption especially when given before the age of 18 months! I recommend avoiding use of antibiotics when possible, however be sure to monitor your child for fever, pain, redness, loss of appetite, and irritability and reach out to your pediatrician if demonstrating these and out of character behaviors. With that being said, often children are overprescribed antibiotics and often during teething many of these symptoms coincide, so be sure to watch your child and be proactive with safe natural remedies!
Antibiotics taken by a child before 18 months of age:
Increases risk of Allergies x3
Increases risk of Asthma x4
Increases risk of Eczema x6
Preventing ear infections in the first place is one of the best ways to prevent early antibiotic exposure!
Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, and Probiotics are key!
Avoiding dairy and grains in the first 1.5 years of your child’s diet can be key in reducing gut lining distress, mucus and phlegm in their under developed systems. This study found that a “higher proportion of children with CMS (Cows Milk Allergy) had had ROM (Recurrent Ottis Media) defined as at least 15 acute otitis media episodes by the age of 10 years”. In fact food irritants and allergies in general have a correlation with ear infections, so if your little one is suffering from chronic ear infections consider running the MRT inflammatory food test to work as a GPS for their body navigating what to remove from their diet to support a rebound in their immune system and reduction of inflammation.
Breastmilk is not included in dairy which should be avoided, breastmilk is one of the best ways to support your little one’s immune system and prevent ear infection. Both the sucking movement with a breast latch in addition to active immunoglobulins, HMOs, and probiotics in breastmilk work to defend and protect.
Supporting the immune system with a quality probiotic such as UltraFlora Baby. This product aids in supporting immune and digestive health and is appropriate from birth through age 2, then at 24+ months the child may advance to a quality chewable probiotic such as UltraFlora Children’s. These are my two preferred formulas due to their potency and purity. I recommend probiotics be administered daily in the evening prior to bed.
Managing the Fluid and a start of an ear infection!
Once an ear infection is of concern, focus on warm fluids and jaw, neck, shoulder massage to aid with circulation. Try to get your child to drink bone broth or use it as a vehicle to puree soups such as our tomato soup here!
Steamy showers and baths are helpful as well especially if paired with essential oils in the vapor. Please note: essential oils in youth is controversial and can have significant influence on hormones, as well as potentially interfere with nutrient absorption, so use caution, only use in dilution and do not encourage consumption. But a couple drops of lavender and thieves oil can be great add to the shower walls or in a vaporizer.
Apply mullein garlic oil to treat an early or moderate ear infection. This product can be used twice daily 1-2 drops in the ears to aid with pain, swelling, and as an antibacterial formula. We have used it twice with Stella and preemptively use pre/post flying for a couple days a long with Elderberry syrup. During an active time of moderate or small ear infection, you may use for 7-12 days twice daily. Warm olive oil in additional amounts can be used to aid in fluid retention and inflammation as well as pain reduction and doesn’t have the delightful “pizza” smell of the mullein garlic, haha! But never add a solution in the ear with water as a dilution agent or ingredient which can shift pH and cause more bacterial activity!
Boost the Immune System with Elderberry!
Finally Elderberry syrup can be used in concentration during an ear infection to naturally work in resolution, but this also can be added to a healthy routine during cold and flu season to prevent. I also give Stella 1.5 mL in a syringe 1-2 times also pre and post flying or at any sign of something funky. Then during cold and flu season I also try to give her 1.5 mL a couple times per week. I have tried mixing it in her water and she got mad, like I was poisoning her…so I now just tell her “let’s take your elderberry” and she is way better with that! This is my fav product out there for Elderberry syrup and Brady and I do the same but at 1.5 tsp each! You guys…Elderberry is LEGIT! In fact this study found that when taken within 48 hours of exposure or symptoms of flu, that duration was shortened or the individual did not get impacted by the virus. Beyond immune supporting properties, Elderberry has beneficial influence on blood sugars, antioxidant status, and can reduce swelling and fluid retention.
Food-As-Medicine for Immune support:
Over 80% of our immune system is regulated by the gut, so incorporating probiotic food sources into your daily plan is a great way to ensure the bacteria in your body is working to protect and regulate vs. wreak havok. Studies have shown eating foods rich in probiotics can lead to an improved immune response by increasing the body’s white blood cell count. Check out some of my favorite products: Nancy’s Organic Plain yogurt, Wallaby Organic yogurt, Lifeway Organic Keifer Super Greens. If you can’t do dairy or prior to age 2, try raw fermented sauerkraut or fermented vegetables or try kombucha probiotic tea.
Much of the immune-boosting properties of garlic come from its sulfur-containing compounds, which also give the bulb its aroma, particularly one called allicin. These compounds are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and protect against parasitic infections. They enhance the immune system and provide anti-tumor and antioxidant features, which help guard our cells. Most recipes start with garlic or onions so make sure to get your benefits by bumping up the intake through soup, stew, stir-fry, and salad dressing. Be sure to let garlic sit for about 10 minutes after being chopped as the oxygen activates its compounds! Try this recipe for roasted garlic to use in spreads or dips.
Roasted Garlic Recipe:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the tops off your garlic heat to expose the tops of the cloves, the root should still be in tact. Cut a thin slice of butter (I recommend Organic Valley Pasture-raised as it has higher omega-3 fatty acids) and place on exposed garlic tops. Wrap in foil and place up-right in oven to roast for 15-20 minutes until soft and aromatic. Use in spreads, pastas, whole grains, dressings, or just eat 1 tsp/day for an immune system boost!
Chicken soup long been promoted as a “cure” for the common cold and University of Nebraska researchers validate that claim. They tested 13 brands, they found that all but one (chicken-flavored ramen noodles) blocked the migration of inflammatory white blood cells. Cold symptoms result from an accumulation of these cells in the bronchial tubes, so the ability to block the build up with block symptoms or advancement of illness. The amino acid cysteine, released from chicken during cooking, chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine. Chicken broth has another amino acid glutamine, which aids in rebuilding the gut where most of the immune system is regulated. Use sea salt to create a nice salty broth which keeps mucus thin the same way cough medicines do. Give your soup a boost with garlic, onions, carrots, and celery which can increase your soup’s immune-boosting power.
Did you know? The collagen released from the bone of chicken can work like an internal face-lift too! Check out my recipe for a quick bone broth here!
Rich in plant antioxidants and polyphenols, these powerful beverages can help protect the body against cold or flu. Some of the more convincing studies highlight a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, a powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer agent. EGCGs have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells without harming healthy tissues; studies have shown that EGCGs can inhibit a virus’ ability to replicate, which may offer an offensive strategy for preventing a cold, as well as improving the body’s overall immune response.
A Harvard study discovered that people who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink. L-theanine, is an amino acid that’s responsible for this immune boost found in green and black teas, and decaf versions have it also so you don’t have to miss out on your zzzzzs.
If all else fails….try the Master Tonic!
No NOT the Master Cleanse….this tonic has been said to ward off the plague! Check it out here.
***Note: This blog contains affiliate links to products that when you click on and purchase I make a small percentage from. With that being said, I will ALWAYS only link products that I actually use on myself and my family and believe in. By purchasing through these links you are supporting a small business, family, and helping encourage me to take the time to put content like this out here for you! Thank you in advance for supporting my Food-as-Medicine mission!