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Keeping kids’ sick days to a minimum

Erika Kneeland

Part of going to school is sharing, be it lunches, crayons – or germs. While a few days on the couch watching cartoons may have its own merit, there are a few things you can do to keep your kids’ sick days to a minimum.

Cold and flu season runs from October to April, and those symptoms you see are your child’s immune system at work. Along with making sure your children are washing their hands regularly, exercising and getting enough sleep, ensuring their immune system is operating efficiently is key to keeping germs at bay. Naturopathic medicine offers a number of preventative measures, including herbs, vitamins, probiotics and healthful foods, which boost immunity and thereby reduce the frequency, severity and duration of illness.

Rule number one is to steer clear of sugar. It weakens the immune system and feeds bacterial and viral infections. High-fructose corn syrup, prevalent in many kids’ snacks and cereals, should also be avoided – not only is it a sugar, but it also contains mercury. Focus instead on boosting protein intake. For fussy eaters who don’t like lean meats, try cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs or bean dips. Probiotics, in the form of yogurt or supplements, are also very good for strengthening immunity. In terms of other supplements, zinc is good because it inhibits viral replication and can actually stop a virus in its tracks, and elderberry is a great immunity booster. Many children I see use a liquid supplement that combines elderberry, blueberry, selenium, zinc and vitamins A, C and E. I also give each child a poster about how to pack a healthy lunch.

Dr. Erika Kneeland is a Naturopathic physician and owner of Braidwood Naturopathic Clinic Courtenay: www.braidwoodnaturopathic.com.

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