It’s the middle of September already and fall is fast approaching. With it, unfortunately, comes winter illness for many. I had more than my fill of illness over the last couple of years, what with Ben’s detox and various other minor issues. I’d love to escape this winter with a couple of colds and nothing more.
It’s also true that certain illnesses, like pertussis, are circulating quite frequently this year. The vaccine has been failing, as many cases have been found in fully vaccinated individuals. Whether you’re vaccinated or not, you cannot rely on this for protection against illness. It’s important to protect your family’s health in many ways, and I fully intend to protect mine!
What Protects Your Health?
What best protects your family’s health is staving off any nutrient deficiencies and keeping them eating healthy food. That means that you should be eating:
- No sugar (or minimal natural sugars like honey and maple syrup)
- Avoid refined flour
- No artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners
- Lots of chicken or beef stock
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables (consider juicing)
- Soaked whole grains
- Whole eggs and extra egg yolks
- Coconut oil
- Pastured meats
- Pastured butter
- Raw dairy (except in times of respiratory illness; take a short break then)
This is not an exhaustive list but it is a good start. Avoiding processed foods is key to remaining healthy in the winter! Processed foods pull nutrients from the body and lower our defenses against illness. Most people are deficient in some nutrients anyway, and any stresses on our bodies (illness, poor diet, etc.) requires even more nutrients!
The following nutrients are important in immune function:
This is also not an exhaustive list but these are key nutrients. Vitamin A must come from animal sources so it is the pre-formed source rather than a carotene source (which comes from plants). The best source is cod liver oil.
Working to keep your family’s nutrition high will help to ward off illness. In times of illness, extra of the vitamins listed above will help shorten the duration of illness. So will juicing fresh fruits and vegetables (parsley, greens, carrots, beets, apples, pineapple, lemon, lime, ginger, and more — choose a mix). Juice provides a concentrated nutrient source, and fresh coconut milk can be added to the juice to prevent blood sugar spikes in those prone to them. We have been juicing for a few weeks though and have not experienced any blood sugar issues with a mix of vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
What Else Can I Do?
Nutrition is excellent and necessary, but there’s more that you can do to boost your family’s health when illness looms. The following supplements may provide a bit of extra nutrients when a boost is needed:
- Cod liver oil (provides vit A, D, EPA, DHA, and omega-3s)
- Liquid herbal multivitamin
- Elderberry syrup
- Natural Vitamin C
I strongly prefer to use liquid herbal multivitamins rather than any other brand or type. Even the “good” brands may be out of balance in key nutrients and may be difficult to absorb, depending on how they are created. I do not trust any of these brands in particular. However, liquid herbal multivitamins are simply herbal tinctures where all of the nutrients are in the same proportion found in nature and they come with all their synergistic elements to help absorption. The liquid form is also absorbed very rapidly and fully. I’ve been taking mine for months now and I can literally feel it minutes after I take it.
When it comes to vitamin C, it’s important to find a natural source. Vitamin C has been shown to combat serious infections in many cases, which is why it may be helpful when facing colds and flu. It is not something that you need daily (mega-doses of any vitamin on a regular basis may easily lead to deficiency in other areas and may cause more harm than good), but if you have been exposed to illness or feel that you may be coming down with something, then extra vitamin C may be wise.
Probiotics help to boost gut health so that the body can fight off any bad bacteria that gets in. It is very important that gut health be strong. My preference is for food-based probiotics like kombucha, yogurt, kefir, fermented veggies, and so on. These are more effective in general than probiotic supplements. Choosing multiple options is the best idea so that you get multiple strains, to best improve your gut health and fight off foreign invaders.
And if none of this works and illness happens anyway? What then?
I have a number of remedies in my medicine cabinet that I will use at the first sign of illness. First of all, I’d look to excellent nutrition — bone broth, coconut oil, no sugar at all and no dairy. Second, I’d give extra doses of cod liver oil and the herbal multivitamin. These may completely knock out illnesses before they get a foot hold.
Additionally, I will have the following remedies on hand:
- Anti-nausea honey
- Elderberry syrup
- Cold and cough syrup
- Cold and cough lozenges
- Sore muscle and headache salve
- Homemade “Vapo rub”
- Pain relief tincture
- Anti-nausea tincture (coming soon)
These remedies will allow me to help my family get over their illnesses quickly and naturally. Using these, I was able to shorten Jacob’s cold to barely a week and it seemed to mostly prevent the older kids from having symptoms at all recently. Not too bad!
I like to have a variety of remedies on hand so that I can “attack” illness from a variety of angles. Another good remedy is mixing fresh crushed garlic with melted, lightly warm coconut oil. Spread this on feet before bed.
Essential oils like rosemary, eucalyptus and others may help with breathing. Peppermint may help alleviate nausea.
There are as many different remedies and ways to use them as there are people. Each person’s body and circumstances are different and so will their remedies and solutions be.