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Boosting our immune systems through diet

I may be a mom, but I still like to party. And by party, I mean spending my Friday night Googling natural ways to boost your immune system through your diet.

I've posted before about our son's reactive airways. Because he is so young, his reactive airways are constantly changing. There is the hope that he will grow out of having such a hard time. However, due to family history, his pediatricians proceed as if he has an asthma diagnosis.

Each year, we try to wean him off of his daily regulator, Pulmicort. Last year, he was doing great through the first half of the cold and flu season so we started weaning him off of Pulmicort, from twice a day to once a day. Then--bam!-- he caught a cold and he ended up on Orapred twice in a row. He stayed on Pulmicort until May/June, when we had weaned him down again to one dose before stopping all together. He spent most of June, all of July, and all of August off Pulmicort. Then this past week he caught his first cold of the season and we ended up at the pediatrician where she decided against oral steroids, but put him back on Pulmicort twice a day and he spent 3 days on Albuterol every 3-4 hours. He is doing better, but is still needing Albuterol in the morning.

As an asthmatic myself, I know what my triggers are. For our son O, his main trigger is getting sick. And then once he gets sick, his lungs have a hard time recovering, making him susceptible to other colds and dragging colds on for long periods of time. I also notice, like myself, that he tends to start having more issues during the time when the seasons start changing. I haven't noticed him to have any allergies, though he tends to get rashes and dry skin.

One of the big ways to help manage your asthma is avoid your triggers. When I think about O's major trigger-- getting sick-- I'm not quite sure how to avoid it. He is one 3-year old in a family of six. His dad is in the Navy, meaning the sailors don't get sick days and he is often working with people who are under the weather, putting him in contact with lots of germs. On top of that, our boys are all very active and enjoy playing outside, going to the park, and meeting up with friends. How do I keep a 3-year old from getting sick?

When he was a baby and a beginning walker, it was much easier to control what he came into contact with and where. I loved Touchy Tags and hung them everywhere. I had hand sanitizer sitting all over our house and insisted everyone used it all the time. We washed hands like it was our job. Now that he's older, my husband and I wash our hands all the time and we are always washing our boys' hands and instructing them to go wash their hands, but it is harder, different, then when they were babies. I also cannot hang a Touchy Tag around O's neck and stick him in a bubble, as much as I would like to at times.

This is when I started thinking of other ways to help him out. I've posted several times regarding our family diet as well. I cook most of our foods. We really try to avoid processed foods and artificial ingredients. We make the best choices that we can (and can afford; read "Organics vs family budget"). We follow the 80/20 approach when it comes to eating healthy. So I started Googling: how can I boost his immune system through our diet? I came across several blogs that helped me put together our list on how to do this.

The first blog post that really helped direct my focus was MindBodyGreen's post, "6 Ways to Boost Your Child's Immune System." From there I did a little reading on elderberry and decided against that. While on WebMD, I read about "Immunity Boosting Snacks for Kids." And then somehow I ended up on Dr. Sear's website. I read his articles on "8 Foods that Boost Immunity," "Boost Your Child's Immune System," and "4 Habits that Weaken the Immune System." I also looked up "26 Foods High in Zinc for Overall Good Heath" and "Top 7 Vitamin C containing fruits."

I read a whole bunch of other articles on boosting the immune system through your diet, but those are the articles that I printed off and used to compile my list of foods to boost our children's immune systems.

There are a few obvious things that I have not presented our children-- like oysters, watermelon seeds, and beef liver. However, when looking over the list, the biggest change in our diet is going to be adding a fish dinner once a week (read, "Should your kids eat fish? How they can avoid mercury and still get their omega-3" posted by BabyCenter). Since I do most of our shopping at Costco, I like to stock up in bulk, thus buying fresh fish tends to slip off our menu. I'm also going to focus a lot on serving foods high in Vitamin C for their afternoon snack and really try to make the shift from store-bought wheat sandwich bread to homemade whole-wheat bread. The complete plan is to boost all of our immune systems through our diet, hopefully cut down on the amount of colds O catches this year, helping keep his asthma under control. I'd like to cut back on his Albuterol usage and keep him on his current dose of Pulmicort or lower it.

Here is the list that I've put together:

Boosting our children's immune systems
Immunity boosting snacks
1.       Yogurt
2.      Kefir
3.      Walnuts
4.      Fruits and veggies
5.      Lean meats
1.       Spinach
2.      Beef
3.      Shrimp
4.      Kidney beans
5.      Flax seeds
6.      Pumpkin seeds
7.      Oysters
8.      Watermelon seeds
9.      Garlic
10.   Lima beans
11.    Peanuts
12.   Egg yolks
13.   Turkey
14.   Salmon
15.   Lobster
16.   Pork
17.   Dark chocolate
18.   Chickpeas
19.   Beef liver
20.  Brown rice
21.   Peas
22.  Sesame seeds
23.  Lamb
24.  Cashews
25.  Crab
26.  Mushrooms
Omega-3 fatty acids
1.       Salmon
2.      Tuna
3.      Mackerel


Vitamin C fruits
1.       Guava, 1 medium
2.      Papaya, 1 cup
3.      Strawberries, 1 cup
4.      Kiwi, 1 medium
5.      Cantaloupe, 1 cup
6.      Orange, 1 medium
7.      Grapefruit, half
1.       Tuna
2.      Red snapper
3.      Lobster
4.      Shrimp
5.      Whole grains
6.      Vegetables
7.      Brown rice
8.      Egg yolks
9.      Cottage cheese
10.   Chicken (white meat)
11.    Sunflower seeds
12.   Garlic
13.   Brazil nuts
14.   Lamb chops
1.       Vitamin C
2.      Probiotic
3.       Multi-vitamin

What do you do this time of year to keep your children healthy?


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