Four years ago, I wrote this post on "how we're staying healthy during cold & flu season." Looking back on it now, it's obviously written pre-kids because, with little kids in the house, staying perpetually healthy often feels impossible. Liam is in some form of childcare with other toddlers at least 3 times a week and it's almost inevitable that he brings home a cold or virus every couple months and generously shares it with us. When we moved to Raleigh last year, it felt like one of us was sick every few weeks. So this year, we're taking action! Or at least trying. (I write this as Liam and I are, ironically, on the tail end of a cold.)
I've updated and expanded the info in my original post to include what we're doing with Liam, as well as what I hope to do in the future.
2. Moisturize your hands. Your skin is your number one protection against disease. So we have to be careful when we have wounds or openings to the skin that allow bacteria or viruses direct access to our bodies. In the winter, when your hands get really dry and sometimes crack, those little cracks are a weak spot for your immune system because they allow microbes in. No wonder it's so much easier to get sick in the dry winter, right? So keeping them moisturized protects them (and you) from disease.
3. Elderberry syrup. It's our secret weapon. I learned about it several years ago on Passionate Homemaking and Shawn and I have used it with a lot of success. This Fall and Winter, we'll be taking one to two teaspoons of it every morning as an immunity booster. Also, if you're at the beginning of a cold or infection, you can take 1 teaspoon every 2-3 hours and you'll get over it much quicker. It's powerful stuff! We had been buying bottles of it from Whole Foods, but just recently started making our own (which is much cheaper) with this tutorial from Mountain Rose Herbs, which is where I buy our elder berries. You can also purchase elderberries on Amazon. It's all natural, works amazingly well to fight cold and flu, and actually tastes really good. I think kids would really love it! Try it out! I just made this year's batch of elderberry syrup and made sure to use raw, local honey this time around - which has added health benefits for seasonal allergy sufferers. And from the research I did, raw honey has no more risks than processed honey for children or pregnant women. I also put 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup into Liam's sippy cup in the morning and he doesn't mind the taste at all. When we were both recently sick, we took a teaspoon every few hours and got over our colds very quickly (in less than 3 days).
4. Flu shots. I know this is such a controversial topic, but because I'm pregnant and because of my background as a registered nurse (and the complications I often saw of people having the flu), we're all getting flu shots this year. I've personally never gotten the flu after getting a flu shot, and because the flu can be pretty dangerous in pregnancy, it's what my midwife strongly recommends. We do always opt for the preservative-free shot which can usually be found at Walgreens (just call ahead to check). This means that it does not contain mercury as some flu shots do. It is refrigerated, and I think it stings a little more, but it feels well worth it to me.
What are some tips you have on staying healthy during the cold/flu season?
P.S. I'm tempted to jump onto the essential oils bandwagon. I've read so many positive things about them, just haven't made the leap. Worth it? Any specific brands you'd recommend?