Keeping Your Child Well During Cold and Flu Season

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Food Matters

2 servings of veggies (and fruit) at each meal; Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables which contain phytonutrients, vitamins & minerals that support the immune system.

Focus on:

  • Green leafy veggies
  • Berries

Avoid sugar, processed foods, sodas, juice, etc. If child frequently ill, consider elimination diet, especially dairy and wheat.

Healthy Fats – include whole food and oils of olive, walnut, coconut, avocado; fatty fish, fish oil

Healthy proteins at each meal – lean meats, poultry, beans, seafood – grass fed, wild caught

A Large Portion of your immune system is in your gut

70-80% – “good” bacteria help identify “intruders”, they help digest food so that nutrients can be absorbed. Lots of things in our modern environment (foods, house hold chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics in food and prescribed) affect the balance of bacteria, yeast and viruses in the gut. When this balance is disrupted viruses, harmful bacteria, parasites can overgrow causing illness and disease.

Probiotics & Prebiotics for gut health

Eating probiotic and prebiotic containing foods help maintain a healthy gut. Your gut is a large portion of your defense against illness. Lactobaccilus and bifidobacter supplements have been shown to reduce daycare absences – fewer colds, reduce need for antibiotics.

Probiotics are good bacteria that help maintain a healthy gut, which is one of your first lines of defense. Prebiotics are the foods that feed the good bacteria in your gut.


Probiotics can be found in foods, especially fermented foods, and in supplement form.

  • Yogurt (dairy, coconut)
  • Kefir (water and milk)
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Raw sauerkraut
  • Raw pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Natto
  • Tempeh

Prebiotic Foods

Feed your gut bacteria with these prebiotic foods.

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Chicory root
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Jersualem artichoke
  • Fermentable fiber
  • Resistant starch

Stress Management

When your child’s body is under stress, cortisol is released. Cortisol reduces the body’s immune function. There are many simple activities that you can do with your child (and yourself) to manage stress. We will be talking about stress management in the next WW.


Sleep is when the body heals and detoxifies. If your child is not getting enough sleep or good QUALITY sleep, then he/she will have trouble fighting off germs.

Clean & Dirty

Wash your hands frequently, especially after being in public area. Minimize your use of antibacterial soap/hand sanitizer. These products also kill the good bacteria in and on your body, which help you prevent infection.

Do normal saline nasal rinses/sprays daily. They rinse out the viruses before they can replicate enough to cause illness. Using ones that contain xylitol (Xclear) have been shown to be even more effective.

Bone Broth

You have been told to eat soup when you are sick and here is why. Old fashioned soup used to be made with bone broth, which has lots of healthy ingredients that keep the gut healthy. Make your own soup using bone broth and mix in the prebiotic foods above for a great soup your kids will love. Bone broth can be made at home ( ) or purchased at a local healthy food market.

Nutrients & Supplements

  • Probiotics – infant up to 2 year, child same as adult
  • Elderberry Syrup can be used all winter long.
  • Echinacea –
    • 2-5 y – ¾ teaspoon (4ml) twice daily
    • 6y to adult – 1 teaspoon (5 ml) twice daily (10 ml daily)
  • Zinc – in diet – red meat, shellfish (oysters, crab, mussels, shrimp), legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans – not as bioavailable as some other sources), seeds (hemp, pumpkin, squash & sesame), nuts (pine, peanuts, cashews, almonds), dairy, eggs, whole grains (wheat, quinoa, rice, oats – not as bioavailable as other sources)
    • 6 months to 3 years old 2-3 mg per day
    • 4-8 years old 5 mg per day
    • 9-13 years 8-10 mg per day
    • 14-18 years 10-15 mg per day
  • Vitamin C– in diet – citrus fruits, bell peppers, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, winter squash, thyme, strawberries
    • Up to 1000 mg – try to get buffered
  • Vitamin D – consider supplementing this vitamin during winter. Our bodies do not produce enough because of less sun exposure.
    • Babies up to 1 yr: 400 units/day
    • 1-5 yrs: 500-1000 units/day
    • 5-10 yrs: 1000 units/day
    • over 10 yrs: 1000-2000 units/day
  • Tulsi (Holy Basil) has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal qualities. Try it in foods, as a garnish for soup, or as tea (hot or iced).
  • Nutritional Yeast – This product is flavorful and packed with immune supporting minerals, vitamins, and proteins. It can be sprinkled on popcorn or used as a cheese substitute (ex. Use in place of parmesan cheese for spaghetti).

And they get sick anyway…

Fever – helps the immune system respond better to the virus/bacteria to build immunity against future infection, but also to shorten the duration of the symptoms. Treat your child’s discomfort more than the temperature on the thermometer. Try cool bath, cool fluids, cool compress to neck, ankles, wrists to help cool the body. Reserve Ibuprofen (motrin, advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) for when your child feels really bad with fever.

Thyme Tea can help with drying up runny nose or wet cough

Garlic Lemonade – Aviva Romm, MD – Finely mince 2 cloves of fresh garlic and place them in a 1-quart mason jar. Fill the jar with boiling water and cover for 30 minutes. Strain out the garlic, and to the liquid add the juice of 1 whole lemon. Sweeten to taste with honey. (Do NOT give honey to babies under 1 year old — it can cause infant botulism.) Give warm, and offer as much as the child can drink.

Ginger Tea – Aviva Romm, MD – Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger root. Steep for 20 minutes, strain, sweeten, and drink hot. Repeat as often as desired. Add lemon for taste if the child likes it.

Thank You.


General and Medical Disclaimer

The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are informational only, based on the current data at the time of writing, accurate to the knowledge of the author, and not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for your child’s pediatric provider. Please seek medical attention from the appropriate medical professionals if you have any health concerns about yourself or your child. The publisher and author(s) of this site are not responsible for any errors or omissions in any content herein nor to be held liable for the ideas and opinions expressed. Information provided in this website DOES NOT create a provider-patient relationship between you and any provider affiliated. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.