By Nikki Temkin is a functional health and wellness coach in Johannesburg. She helps clients recover from anxiety, stress, burnout and other health conditions to achieve balance, joy, vitality and wellbeing. Follow Nikki on Instagram and Facebook.
Urgent! It’s more important than ever to protect and boost your kids’ immune systems.
We are surfing the Third Wave of Covid in SA right now…with no signs yet that it’s abating any time soon. Day by day we hear of someone we know who has tested positive —and this time, the strain seems to be affecting a lot of kids, who with the previous wave of infections may have been asymptomatic, and are now presenting with sore throats, headaches and other symptoms.
While schools have thankfully closed for now, there is a great possibility kids will still be exposed to the virus. Although it’s rare for children to be hospitalised with Corona, they can infect you as well as elders in the family who may suffer more complications.
Besides avoiding socializing, extra murals and going out, what else can you do? There is a lot within your control as parents:
Remember that the more optimal the diet, the better equipped anyone is fight off any illness. Making the body a hostile environment for invaders using diet and lifestyle needs to be a top priority. For children this might mean avoiding:
- dairy (60% of Caucasians or more are lactose intolerant)
- gluten (it doesn’t agree with a large proportion of people even if they seem asymptomatic)
- sugar – save it as a weekend treat instead (start reading food labels and you may be shocked at all the sugar in ready -made meals, snacks and cereals etc.) . Sugar is addictive and will deplete the immune system.
Since at least 70% of the immune system resides in the gut, it’s essential to make sure that a diet filled with fibre and fresh, nutritious, plant-rich produce becomes a habit in your family.
Top Tips to boost your kids immune system:
- Eat the rainbow. If your plate is filled with many colours, you know that you are getting a diversity of nutrients.
- Use garlic in your cooking at least 3-4 times per week. As a natural anti-biotic it will fortify the immune system.
- Other herbs, spices and ingredients to use include: onions, leeks, cruciferous vegetables, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon.
- Get the kids involved with cooking and they are more likely to eat what you have made.
- Cut out plastic in the home as much as possible and never ever heat it up. It disrupts the endocrine system.
- Drink filtered water, not tap water as much as possible—not from plastic bottles. Invest in the best filter that you can afford.
- Use natural sanitisers as most of them contain toxic ingredients (including the alcohol-based ones) that will affect the immune system and the endocrine system.
Mental health matters
There’s a lot to worry about at the moment- kids pick up on everything. Keeping them feeling safe and as happy as possible will strengthen their immune system:
- Talk to them about any fears or anxieties in an age-appropriate way.
- If they are struggling, consider play therapy or a social worker
- Routine and structure are important so try and keep to one.
- Get outside in the sunlight at least 2-30 mins per day
- Exercise or movement for at least 30 minutes per day
- Reduce screen time (outside of online school) to 1 1/2 hours or less per day depending on the age of the child. Have screen-free family time.
- Even if they can’t see their friends or grandparents physically right now, they can chat on the phone, Skype and What’s app. Keep them feeling connected
- Get into nature whenever possible.
- Sleep is crucial for immune system health and mood. Depending on age, kids need between 9-11 hours of sleep per night.
Is your kid battling to sleep?
Try these remedies. (I have tried them all!) Experiment individually and see which one works:
- Natural remedies: Valerian, Passiflora, Rescue Remedy, Magnesium
- Prescription: (in small doses, not for more than 2 weeks) GABA to calm the mind, Melatonin
- Healing activity: Epsom salt bath
IMMUNE BOOSTING PROTOCOL
This is what I give my kids at the moment while Covid-19 is raging: Dosages will depend on the age of the child. My kids of 9 and 12 receive the same dosage.
- Vitamin B complex: this is essential for all the biochemical pathways. Vitamin B is a co-factor for so many processes within the body and will also help with stress. Kids often don’t get enough. If your child does not like to take capsules or tablets, then source some good sub-lingual products. Make sure it includes B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 if possible. Food sources include whole grains (brown rice, barley), meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, dark leafy vegetables.
- Probiotic: To be taken on an empty stomach. Keep the gut healthy with the right kind of bacteria. Change brands often to get a variety of different bacteria.
- Multi-vitamin – buy the best you can afford that has a variety of minerals and vitamins including selenium and chromium
- Vitamin D–liquid form is the most bio-available. Many kids may become Vitamin D deficient if they do not get outside enough, especially in winter.
- Test your kid’s Vitamin D levels as too high can be toxic—this is rare.
- Test your kid’s iron levels to make sure that they are not deficient
- Omega 3—this can be taken in a capsule or in an oil. This can only be obtained from oily fish eg. wild salmon, anchovies, pilchards and sardines . If your kids are not having this, it’s essential for brain development and managing inflammation
- Zinc—excellent immune booster. Never take on an empty stomach.
- NAC -this is the pre-cursor of Glutathione which is essential for immine function.
- Calcium Ascorbate – buffered, non-acidic Vitamin C.
- Magnesium Glycinate – mostly everyone is deficient it. It will calm the immune system and relieve stress and promote a good night’s sleep.
- If your kids refuse to take tablets or capsules, you can open them up and add them to a bit of sugar-free (not artificially sweetened) Zinplex or Biostrath and mix it in. I also crush tablets and prick capsules to pour them out when necessary.
Recommended supplements for when they are ill
If they are ill, consider these supplements. Be careful not to overdose—herbs and supplements are powerful! Find out the correct dosage:
- Olive Leaf
- Vicks vapor rub
- Deep breathing exercises