Prepared for Flu Season?
Flu season is just about here. Are you ready? You have control over the cleanliness of your household, but the germs our kiddos are exposed to at school, daycare and other public places are unavoidable.Did you know the average American child has 6 to 10 colds per year? In fact, these colds are the number one reason for doctor visits and missed days of school compared to any other illness. (1) The good news, most childhood infections happen only once. Once the cold is gone, the kiddo has much longer lasting immunity than any potential protection stimulated by a vaccine. Did you know that a mother can pass along antibodies through her breastmilk to protect her baby from an infection she had 30 plus years ago? However, if mom avoided certain childhood infections, no antibodies were produced. As a result, the protection cannot be passed on to her baby.
Immune System You’re Born with
Our immune system is a highly adaptable system due to our white blood cells being able to differentiate into cells that provide us with an immune response towards certain germs (pathogens) and can provide lasting immunity. For example, if you were exposed to measles as a child, you now have lifetime protection. Did you know that about 70% of the cells that make up your immune system are located in your gut? (2) It’s becoming more common knowledge that most diseases result from gut problems. Having a healthy gut is incredibly important for overall health and wellbeing. Your gastrointestinal (GI) system is your first line of defense. It keeps anything from entering into your bloodstream that should not be there when it’s functioning properly. Frequent use of antibiotics and medications, high sugar diets, toxins exposure and stress all negatively impact the gut by affecting the good bacteria, which leads to an imbalance or your GI “microbiome”. Antibiotics are NOT effective for treating viral infections. These viral infections include:
- Most coughs and bronchitis
- Sore throats (except those stemming from the bacteria strep)
Colds can often mimic the flu. In fact, there are more than 200 cold viruses, which mutate often and virtually impact everyone at one time or another. Only about 20% of all influenza-like illness that occurs every year is actually associated with an influenza virus. The flu vaccine does not always protect against the virus. There is no single virus that causes the flu; there is no one flu vaccine that protects against all of them either. In February of each year, the FDA decides which viruses the vaccine will consist of. The selection varies from year to year depending on the timing the viruses appear, growth and reproducibility in labs, along with other requirements set forth by the FDA. The CDC is not recommending the spray flu vaccine. (3) The spray vaccine has been used by pediatricians more commonly because of being more “kid friendly”. However, this year a study by researchers in May showed evidence that nasal spray flu vaccine is ineffective and offers the least protection in 2016. (3)
Should you vaccinate? Do these vaccines offer the protection for your kiddos from the diseases and potential outbreaks as much as you’re told? Do you believe your child is protected after being vaccinated? Nothing is 100% effective. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated up to 15% of kids vaccinated with MMR failed to develop immunity with the first does, which is why they recommend a booster dose. (4) The viruses in the MMR vaccine do not begin to give protection until 5 days after administration and the mumps component does not begin to give protection until three weeks later. Immunity from these vaccines may not last as long as you think in some cases. For example, for the measles “outbreak” in 2011, more than 50% of the 98 infected individuals had received two doses of the measles vaccine. (5) There is so much information out there in regards to vaccinations. Some of the material may be misleading or incomplete. For example, unless you read the insert of the Influenza Vaccine, you wouldn’t know about the effectiveness in pregnant women or some of the other contraindications. Examples of a few of these include:
“Saftey and effectiveness have not been established in pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under four. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. This vaccine should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed. It is not known whether fluvarin is excreted in human milk.”
People with egg alergies are contraindicated.
“In some studies, fluvarin protected up to 50% of subjects.”
The influenza vaccine package inserts can be found online at:
Washing Your Hands
One of the body’s most effective defenses is the largest organ in the body, the skin. It is in constant contact with germs. Kiddos are great at spreading these germs by touching toys, playground equipment, classroom supplies, holding hands and rubbing their eyes, nose, and mouth after being infected. Washing your hands is, by far, the simplest way to avoid exposure to germs and viruses. Kids do not wash their hands often enough or well enough while at daycare/school. A study looking at middle school and high school students found only about half washed their hands after using the restroom – of those, only 33% of females and 8% of boys used soap. (1) Kiddos aren’t the only ones not washing their hands. In July 2016, a study was published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine that reported observations of medical students, who observed hand hygiene of teaching physicians across multiple different clinical services during weekly rotations. When covertly observed, hand-hygiene compliance was 50% for physicians, 45% for nurses and was noted that 81% of trainees did not wash their hands if their attending physicians didn’t. (6)
Strong Immune System
Children’s immune systems build as they grow. Your child should eat a well-balanced diet to get all the proper nutrients they need on a daily basis. It’s nearly impossible to get every nutrient in one’s diet anymore, especially because no one is consuming a perfect diet of 100% organic, clean, non-GMO, unadulterated foods. This is where supplements can help keep your and your kid’s immune system strong and will give you a head start on preventing sick days from school and work.
For kids 40-100lbs:
- High potency multivitamin for kids.
- Lauricidin: take 1/2 scoop per day.
- Vitamin C: take 500-1000mg per day.
- Vitamin D: take 1000IU of D3 (cholecalciferol) per day. Get your vitamin D level tested via bloodwork!
- Omega 3/Fish Oil for kids: take 500 mg per day.
- Probiotic for kids: find at the health food store and take per package instructions.
Spread these dosages throughout the day with meals. DO not take the full dose in one sitting.
Other factors that influence the strength of your immune system include getting enough QUALITY sleep, exercise, staying properly hydrated and limiting dairy intake. Dairy products (including milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and whey protein) make us more susceptible to infections because they create congestion by generating a lot of mucous. It is best to eliminate dairy entirely through the cold and flu season.
Be mindful of sugar consumption, especially with the holidays that occur during this time. The effects of too much sugar cause excess inflammation and the sugar actually ends up feeding the bad bacterias, viruses, yeast, fungus/mold, etc. Sugars and processed foods actually create imbalances in your gut microbiome by propagating the bad guys, which makes you more prone to infection. Limit the amount of fruit juices your children drink. Also, watch what they’re eating for their afternoon snacks. Many of the “go-to” snacks kiddos crave after a long day at school are full of sugars and other refined carbohydrates. Opt for a more healthy snack that’s balanced with protein and good fats.
- Celery and nut butter
- Trail mix with nuts and seeds
- Lara Bars
- Vegetables with hummus
- Mashed avocado with veggies
- Kid Smoothie: UNSWEETENED coconut milk or almond milk, ice, almond butter/cashew butter, 1/2 banana, 1 tsp raw honey. Blend and enjoy!
Does your kiddo get sick all of the time? Does he/she recover quickly or does the infection seem to linger? Right now, before they get sick, is the best time to act and learn what your child might be missing. Getting a comprehensive blood panel done allows you to see any deficiencies and toxicities they may have, and with proper guidance from your experienced nutritionist, you will know exactly what to do to fix the problem and prevent future illness. Teaching your child proper nutrition at an early age will set the tone for them to make better choices as they get older and into adult years. These choices lead to better quality of life and lasting wellness. Let us help your kiddos build a strong immune system and learn healthy habits that will positively affect their wellbeing.
- Peri, Camille. Germs in the school room. WebMD. December 19, 2011.
- Dr. Hyman, Mark. how good gut health can boost your immune system. EcoWatch. Feb. 2015.
- Anita Valencia, Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine is Overrated; CDC Recommneds Not to Use It in 2016 and 2017 Seasons. University Herald Report. September 11, 2016.
- http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/. Accessed 9/14/16
- The re-emergence of measles in developed countries: Time to develop the next-generation measles vaccines? 2011 http://www.edwardjennersociety.org/wp-content/uploads/The-re-emergence-of-measles1.pdf
- George D. Lundberg, MD. Doctors and Nurses: Wash Your Hands (Even if No One Is Looking). August 17, 2016.