Strengthen Your Kids’ Immune Systems The Natural Way

It’s cold and flu season, and harmful germs lurk everywhere. Before you disinfect the neighborhood kids and quarantine your own children, consider the natural way to boost children’s immune systems.



Get your kids to eat their veggies! (Corn and potatoes do not count. Nutritionally, these are starches more than vegetables). Vegetables are loaded with the nutrients essential to the functioning of a healthy immune system.  

If your child won’t eat veggies or is a picky eater, I recommend the following reads: The Sneaky Chef cookbooks by Missy Chase Lapine and Picky Eating Solutions by Betsy Hicks.  Avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar, especially soda. These foods provide only empty calories, and consumption of high amounts of sugar is thought to suppress immune function.  



They are the natural source of probiotics (good bacteria), which help to strengthen the immune system. Examples of fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, kim chee, miso, natto, tempeh, sour poi and sauerkraut.  

I generally recommend plain yogurt, then adding fresh fruit or a natural sweetener like stevia.  Flavored and sweetened yogurts are very high in sugar. If your child is sensitive to dairy, he or she can eat coconut or almond yogurt or coconut kefir available at health food stores. Try making your own water kefir. You can give your child supplemental refrigerated probiotics at a dose of 10 billion to 20 billion organisms daily.



This is important in the function of the immune system. Have your children’s vitamin D levels tested by their pediatrician, and request a copy of the lab results.

This is a blood test that is usually covered by insurance. Research shows that optimal levels of vitamin D are more than 50 Ng/ml (nanograms per milliletre). Children whose levels are less than that can get more vitamin D from increased sun exposure or through supplemental vitamin D. I recommend emulsified forms of vitamin D, (1,000 to 2,000 IU) once daily until their levels are at least 50 ng/ml.



There has been an alarming increase in C-sections that are scheduled for non-medical reasons, such as the convenience of the physician or mother. When babies go through the vaginal canal, their skin is exposed to the good bacteria in the mother’s vaginal tract, which helps in the development of their normal gut flora.

Studies have shown that babies born by C-section have different gut flora than babies born vaginally. Babies born by C-section should take probiotics or eat fermented foods.



Ensure that your child gets plenty of sleep and gets regular exercise. Babies need 14 to 15 hours of sleep; toddlers, 12 to 14; preschoolers, 11 to 13; school-aged kids, 10 to 11; and teens, 8.5 to 9.

If someone in your home smokes, encourage him or her to quit. Exposure to second-hand smoke can significantly weaken your child’s immune system.



If your child gets sick, you can give herbs, such as elderberry, which strengthen the immune system.  For children who are always getting sick, I have found the use of red alae from the laau lapaau (a Hawaiian herbal medicine) tradition to be very helpful.


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