People often express surprise when I tell them my kids have never really been sick. Neither of them has ever taken antibiotics and aside from an early sensitivity to lactose in my oldest, they are both very strong and have excellent immune systems. Neither has ever had any type of ear infection, high temps or any virus that lasted longer then a day or two.
Sure they get snotty noses throughout the year, a cough here and there, and have had mild gastro a couple of times, but nothing has been bad enough to stop them from running around for even a minute. They have also picked up staph from kids at preschool, which is probably the worst illness they have had just because it looks yucky, but I was able to treat it without antibiotics. I’m not advising against using antibiotics, they definately have their place, but I think due to all the issues from mass overuse they should be the last option.
Even a few weeks in Bali staying in basic village accommodation didn’t affect their health in any negative way, not even a hint of bali belly. They have also played in close contact with kids who soon after had chickenpox and measles, and been around a sick adult who we later found out had whooping cough (who had been vaccinated) and had no signs of either illness.
I attribute their great health to several factors, these being mainly lifestyle and nutrition.
Here I will share with you my top 5 simple practices that I incorporate into our daily lives.
By now you probably have heard of kombucha, though you may not be fully aware of its truly amazing properties. Kombucha is made from fermenting tea and sugar and once through the fermentation process contains an array of vinegar, b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid. These combine to create colony of good bacteria in the gut thereby assisting immune function. Aside from the probiotic benefits there are numerous others, but I definately believe that the fact my boys drink kombucha nearly every day greatly aid their strong immune systems. The bonus is that they actually love to drink it, and they just think its a fizzy soft drink!
Although now they are older they know there is soft drink, which we have always called beer because the only soft drink they are allowed to have is ginger beer (which I also make full of probiotics) and the kombucha which we call medicine beer!
Its very easy to make at home and will cost you less then a dollar for a litre or so. If you aren’t so keen on making it or want to try it out first, it’s also readily available at health stores and I’ve even seen one brand at woolworths recently, though it is a lot more expensive store bought. If you live in Australia and are interested in making your own, send me a message if you need a scoby, which is what you need to get started making your own batch and are being given away to new homes all the time.
In our home we alternate between coconut kefir and dairy kefir, here I will just focus on the benefits of the dairy kefir.
Kefir is similar to yogurt in many ways, yet provides vastly different and superior health benefits.
It originated in Turkey thousands of years ago, and is basically a fermented milk drink/yoghurt.
The fermentation of the sugars and lactic acid result in a liquid full of probiotic enzymes. When the boys were younger I had a supply of raw goats milk that i used to make my kefir, but recently I use fresh pasteurised cows or buffalo milk.
Whatever milk you use, the Kefir grains that will be your starter will contain about 30 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making it a very rich and diverse probiotic source. Lactobacillus kefiri is a strain only found in kefir and has been proven to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria, such as Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori and E. coli. Kefir also has been found to have antibacterial properties, as it contains kefiran.
Although kefir is super easy to make, it is also quite easy to kill, but definitely worth the effort of keeping it alive! You can also buy kefir in health food stores and supermarkets, though store bought is a little bit more expensive then making your own, depending on where you source your milk.
We aren’t vegan, although if I lived in a city I would be more likely to be one. I am totally against animals suffering and dying to be a commodity for humans. However I believe that all of life has positive and negative, yin and yang, give and receive. For me, if I know the animal has been raised to its full potential and has enjoyed life and is killed as painlessly as possible and that the receivers acknowledge and give thanks for the animals life and its role in sustaining them, then I am not averse to the consuming of them in small quantites. I also believe that every part of the animal should be consumed, nothing left to waste. For this reason when we do get an animal, I use the bones to make bone broth and make gelatine, or acquire some from a trusted source.
Gelatine protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and aids in digestion of nutrients, which has been demonstrated to assist in immune function.
Gelatine is amazing because you can make yummy treats that kids will love to eat.
I make gummy lollies and the kids don’t even taste a difference from sugar laden processed store bought ones, and you can also add it to other foods, like porridge and soups.
It is a bit complicated and time consuming to make at home, and it is readily available these days in powder form at most health food stores.
Exposure to germs
Playing outside in the healthy dirt in excellent for building immune systems. The exposure to a variety of microbes help develop a healthy microbiome for children. There is nothing wrong and everything right with a bit of sand eating, licking rocks and generally getting their mouth into anything they can find.
The germ hypothesis has been used to explain how children growing up in modern sterile environments are more prone to allergies and asthma. Inside the house I don’t use bleach or any abrasive cleaning products. I use Enjo products to wash the floor and surfaces and occasionally baking soda, vinegar and eucalyptus oil. Also I don’t believe in showering or bathing kids every day, unless they are exceptionally grubby. You would be surprised at how clean you can get with a flannel and a sink of hotwater! I also use tea tree products for washing them in the bath and shower as its one of the best ways to keep staph at bay.
Great news is germs are totally free, sick kids cost a lot more then healthy ones!
Following on from above, playing outside in the yard can also enable Vitamin D absorption. This essential nutrient is particularly vital to growing children, and there is also evidence that its provide immune support and assists immune function. Ideally I get my kids running around in the nude every sunny day for at least 20 minutes. I guess I’m lucky that we live on a big property, I can imagine that would be harder to achieve if you live in an apartment. We also spend about 8 months of the year at the beach every other day and always have some sun exposure with out sun protection during the mornings or later afternoons. If its not a possibility for your lifestyle, there are Vitamin D supplements specifically formulated for children, but regardless of where you live, getting the kids outdoors as much as possible has numerous other benefits as well!
Sunshine is for the moment free to us mere mortals, but if you need to supplement the benefits will well outweigh the costs n the long run.
So there you have it!
Next time I will discuss what we do at the start of any symptoms of illness to aid in healing and recovery.