Thursday I received an email from one of my son's teachers warning me that 6 kids were gone from his class with the stomach flu. I immediately got out our immune system stimulating oils, the vitamin c, zinc and elderberry, and implemented a zero-sugar-allowed policy. By noon Friday, 8 kids were home sick from my son's class and I found out that kids throughout the entire elementary were dropping like flies with the bug. But for us, Friday came and went and we were all still healthy. I continued our regimen throughout that evening. Saturday arrived and we were all still good. I was so thankful because Shea was out of state for the weekend and it was our daughter's birthday party day. In light of the festivities, I put a temporary pause on the zero-sugar policy and the party went on. The birthday menu was focused on gluten free deli sandwiches, veggies and dip, and fruit. But a birthday isn't complete without something sweet, right? Unfortunately even gluten, dairy, and food dye-free cupcakes and caramel corn do have sugar. And, [in my opinion] sugar is the worst offender comprising immune system health. But what was a mom to do? It was a birthday party after all.
Shortly after our little friends arrived we found out a couple of them had been down with the stomach bug earlier in the week, but everyone appeared healthy at the party. I got so distracted by the party action that I forgot to give my kids their vitamin regimen and rub them down with oils. Despite my forgetfulness, Saturday night everyone still seemed fine. The girls and I had a sleepover on the couch and we all slept through the night. Sunday came and went. Shea got home around 7p.m., we all appeared to be well and went to bed early.
"Mom, I think I'm going to puke."
It had begun. Our oldest was the first to go down. And it lasted the entire night. Literally. All. Night.
Coughing and...[use your imagination] noises coming from our son's room. Two down.
Out came the ice cream buckets. At our house we use gallon ice cream buckets as "puke buckets" so you know when the buckets are out it isn't because we've recently had an ice cream social. By 7:00a.m. our youngest was running a fever too. Thankfully, unlike her older brother and sister, she never had to use the bucket. The oldest two, on the other hand, have had their fill of ice cream bucket experiences for awhile. Since I've been trying to focus on the positives lately, I can't fail to mention that I am grateful that it was short-lived [only lasting about 12 hours]. I am grateful Shea got home from Arizona before the wrath began. And, I am grateful that so far Shea and I are still symptom free.
Today we're all back on the vitamin regimen, drinking lots of water and fresh ginger tea, washing our hands like crazy, running the oil diffuser, and a much needed Fall deep clean is in motion. If you want to see what 20 loads of laundry needing to be folded on a floor looks like, I might know someone who could show you.
Not sure how many of you have been visited by this bug. I hope none of you. For those interested in supporting immune health and warding off bugs like the one that is going around Clear Lake, I am going to share my top 10 list for staying healthy this cold and flu season. Now I just have to listen to my own advice, right?!
10. Wash your hands. Every time you enter your house, before touching anything inside, wash. Every time before you eat, wash. Every time you come in contact with saliva, wash. Every time you use a tissue or the bathroom [should be common sense, but sometimes it isn't], wash.
9. Drink water. Every day drink half your body's weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150lbs, drink 75oz of water daily. Water helps all of your body's systems function at optimum levels and flushes toxins.
8. Sleep. Studies consistently show that getting 7-9 hours of sleep [for adults] each night supports the immune system. During sleep your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you're under stress. Sleep deprivation can decrease production of these protective cytokines. Infection-fighting antibodies and cells are also reduced during periods when you are not getting enough sleep. So, your body truly does need sleep to fight infectious diseases.
7. Cut the sugar. Sugar suppresses our immune system. It has been estimated that a blood sugar level of 120 reduces your immune system by up to 75%, and a blood sugar level of 120 is not uncommon. Even worse, it takes the body a long time to get rid of sugar in the immune system. Your body usually absorbs the glucose into your muscles within a few hours, but it takes longer to flush glucose from the phagocytes [Phagocytes are white blood cells that envelop what is causing an infection, stopping it from spreading and effectively killing it.]. For as long as 4 to 6 hours after eating sugar, your immune system will still be recovering.
6. Improve Vitamin C Levels. Several cells of the immune system accumulate vitamin C and need the vitamin to perform their task, especially phagocytes and t-cells. As a result, a vitamin C deficiency results in a reduced resistance against certain pathogens while adequate supply enhances several immune system parameters. Food sources high in vitamin c include peppers, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel's sprouts, strawberries, papaya, mangoes, pineapple and oranges. For the cold and flu season, however, an additional vitamin c supplement can be quite beneficial.
5. Get Your Daily Zinc. Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Most adult women need 8mg daily and men need 11mg. Pregnant and lactating women have a greater need and children need between 2mg and 11mg depending on age and size. Oysters and seafood, red meat and poultry, and beans and nuts are food sources. Additionally, nearly all multivitamin and mineral supplements contain zinc.
4. Supplement Vitamin D3. Vitamin D isn’t like most other vitamins. Your body can make its own vitamin D when you expose your skin to sunlight. Unfortunately, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, your body doesn't get exposed to sunlight nearly often enough to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D, and vitamin D deficiency is directly correlated with low immune function. Curious if you might be deficient? Check out this resource to determine if it is something you might want to look into. And for information on how to increase your vitamin D levels, here is an additional resource.
3. Add Elderberry to Your Medicine Cabinet. Elderberries are the fruit of the flowering plant known as Sambucus, more commonly referred to as elder or elderflower. As a potent antioxidant source, elderberries have been shown to boost the immune system and protect against bacteria and infection.
2. Sip Some Tea. There are many herbal teas that can help support the immune system, promote detoxification and soothe symptoms of the flu. One herb, in particular, that can be especially helpful in stimulating the immune system to fight off germs is echinacea. However, echinacea is not recommended for use by people with multiple sclerosis, white blood cell disorders, collagen disorders, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune disorders, or tuberculosis. Before taking echinacea, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you have allergies (especially to plants), have any medical condition, or if you take other medicines or other herbal/health supplements. Echinacea may not be recommended in some situations.
1. Give Yourself Bad Breath. Eat as much garlic, turmeric and ginger as you can tolerate. Turmeric, ginger and garlic have anti-inflammatory properties as well as antibacterial and antiviral benefits. They can easily be incorporated into most meals. They can also be steeped into tea or taken in supplement form. Keep in mind, however, you may stain your fingers on the turmeric and your breath [and house] will be fragrant.
And now I must face the 20 piles of laundry that might be sitting on my bedroom floor. As always, it has been an honor and privilege to share our BE WELLness family life with you. Hopefully our sharing will continue to bring wellness within reach here in North Iowa.