10 Easy Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy During Cold and Flu Season
Written by: Sarah Remmer, RD
Cold and flu season is in full force. Illness is inevitable, especially for your school-aged littles! Between pre-school drop offs, playdates, and parties’ kids are exposed to so many germs. And guess what – they bring those germs home with them! Lucky us! There’s nothing worse than “waiting your turn” for the bug to eventually make its way to you. But there are a few things you can do to help boost your immunity and build a good defence system for those little invaders.
Here are my 10 simple ways to boost immunity so you can stay healthy (and happy) this winter!
1. Start your day with oatmeal. Sounds easy, right? Oats are packed full of a soluble fibre called beta-glucan. The great thing about beta-glucan is that is works to enhance immunity by stimulating white blood cell (phagocyte) production which in turn helps protect and enhance your immune system. The soluble fibre found in oats is said to have both anti-microbial and antioxidant qualities. And not only will oats help your immune system, but they will also help keep your cholesterol levels in check AND keep you (and your kids) fuller longer, and more energized throughout the morning. Win-win-win! Psst…Made with Local’s “Loaded Oats” are an easy, nutritious way to start your family’s day! AND theirReal Food Bars andReal Food Bar Mixes contain lots of oats as well!
3. Don’t forget about probiotics. I’m sensing a great breakfast theme here! Probiotics are the "good" bacteria (live cultures), similar to those naturally found in your gut. These active cultures help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance your gut flora. This functional component may boost immunity (and healthy in general), especially your gut health. To get more probiotics, include fermented dairy foods such as yogurt, kefir and aged cheeses, which contain live bacteria such as (some examples are bifidobacteria and lactobacilli). Some non-dairy probiotic-containing foods are kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and cultured non-dairy yogurts.
In our house we eat yogurt every day, and try to include some of those other probiotic foods year-round, but when winter hits, I will often turn to probiotic supplement to boost our immunity. Probiotics can be effective at varying strengths. Studies have found health benefits anywhere from 50 million to more than 1 trillion CFUs per day depending on strain. A probiotic with higher CFUs doesn't necessarily equal better quality or effectiveness. I suggest aiming for at least 10 billion cells for healthy adults and around 5 billion for healthy kids (make sure it’s a regulated kid-specific probiotic supplement).
(Note from the MwL team: we love Halifax-based Cultured Coconut for our daily dose of high-quality probiotics!)