How to Keep Young Children Healthy in Winter

We have all been through the angst of catching a cold, or being knocked down by the flu – having countless staff calling in sick, children unwell and still attending before being sent home, frustrated parents and community due to being overtired and rundown and fighting ailments themselves– and really your just trying to get through the winter months as best you can! It is never an easy task!

And unless you have a SUPER immune system, or have SUPERPOWERS to ward off bugs – some of the natural alternatives below may assist! We have done some investigating and compiled a list of ten remedies that may assist in keeping a healthy working environment and team!

1. Zinc

Studies suggest that zinc supplementation may help shorten the length of a cold and lessen symptoms. Experts believe that this is because zinc prevents rhinovirus, the virus that causes the common cold, from replicating in the body. People can take zinc as a tablet, lozenge, or syrup, but should always follow the dosage advice on the packaging. Too much zinc can cause nausea and stomach aches – and you don’t want that!!

2. Honey

Honey has antimicrobial properties, which may allow it to fight some bacteria and viruses. One study found that honey was effective in relieving coughing as a symptom of a cold in children over the age of 1 year. Children younger than 1 year should not have honey due to the risk of allergies. People can try stirring some honey into hot water to soothe a sore throat or cough. Adding lemon provides extra flavor and vitamin C.

3. Echinacea

Some people use herbal extracts from the Echinacea plant to help prevent colds and relieve nasal symptoms. Research has shown that components of Echinacea may support the immune system. Some have antiviral properties and may fight against flu viruses.

4. Garlic

Garlic may help fight off a common cold because it has antibacterial and antiviral properties. One study found that people who took a daily garlic supplement for 3 months had fewer colds than those in a placebo group. Garlic has long been a home remedy for colds and the flu. People can eat raw garlic, incorporate cooked garlic into meals, or take a supplement. Unless a person has a garlic allergy, it is usually safe to use.

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D- this may be a useful supplement to prevent or reduce the chances of getting a cold. Research has found a link between vitamin D supplementation and a reduced frequency of colds in university students. People living in colder climates may also find that a supplement boosts their vitamin D levels during the winter months, when their skin may not get much exposure to sunlight.

6. Reducing stress and sleeping well

Easier said than done – But stress or poor sleep may increase the risk of getting a cold or the flu. One study suggests that lowering stress levels through mindfulness meditation practices or exercise reduces the risk of getting one of these illnesses. People who participated in a mindfulness meditation or exercise program lost fewer work days due to illness than people in the control group. Be sure to check out the TEG content on meditation for Directors!

7. Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that support gut health and may help prevent people from getting colds or the flu. Research has shown that probiotics can help protect the immune system against flu viruses. In a controlled trial, there were fewer instances of colds in people who were taking probiotics than in those who were not. Whether or not you can hang your hat on this one – there is a lot of this product on the market – even in drinks, soup, yoghurts!

8. Berries

Who doesn’t love a berry!! Berries contain polyphenols, which have antiviral properties and may help fight flu viruses. Research has shown that elderberries can reduce symptoms of the flu and that a cranberry beverage could help support immune function. In some in vitro studies, berry extracts demonstrated the potential to help fight off influenza.

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are also good sources of vitamin C, which can help support the immune system, and not to mention delicious!!

9. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is vital for keeping the immune system healthy – we have heard this one for years! Many people believe that it may help reduce the frequency of colds. Although there is no scientific evidence to show that taking vitamin C prevents colds or reduces symptoms during a cold, researchers have suggested that a regular intake of vitamin C could benefit some people in these ways. Citrus fruits and avocados contain high levels of vitamin C- and if it is an old wives tale about Vitamin C – it’s still best to err on the side of best to take!

10. Salt Water

This one may have been passed down from generations of Nana’s – but gargling with salt water may help prevent upper respiratory infections. It may also decrease the severity of cold symptoms. For example, it may ease sore throat pain and nasal congestion. Gargling with salt water reduces and loosens mucus, which contains bacteria and allergens. To try this remedy at home, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water. Swish it around your mouth and throat, then spit – don’t swallow it!

The above list may not be conclusive and there may be some others that you feel should be included – be sure to let us know if you do! But above all – stay as healthy as you can, take care of yourself – prevention is better than cure – and know the warmer days will come again!