Protect Your Family from the Coronavirus with These Immune-Boosting Practices

The definition of anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome which one cannot control.

This pandemic has triggered world-wide anxiety, and for good reason: it's scary, the outcome is uncertain and there are many things that are completely out of our control.

Focusing on the the things we can't control - how others are responding, whether or not others are taking the necessary precautions, what supplies are available, when this will end, how it will impact the economy - has the double whammy of fueling our anxiety and lowering our immune systems.

To counteract our feeings of worry and unease and protect our bodies, we can choose to focus on the things we can control like taking steps to ensure our immune systems are strong and robust.

Luckily for us, integrative pediatrician, Dr. Katiraei of Wholistic Kids and Families has made it his mission to help us do just that.

The following are his top 5 immune-boosting recommendations:

1. Dial In Your Diet. According to Dr. K, healing our bodies and shoring up our immune systems starts with the foods we eat. He explains, "if you don't change your diet, you can take all the supplements in the world and they will still be useless."

He recommends following the Wahls Protocol, a diet developed by brilliant physician and researcher, Dr. Terry Wahls, to optimize gluathione levels, keep inflammation down, boost mitochondrial function and create healthy gut function.

The protocol involves: 1. Cutting out sugar and simple carbs (toxic to our gut and brain) 2. Eating as many vegetables as possible 3. Cutting out, or at least limiting, alcohol (Bummer!) 4. Cutting out gluten and dairy (Dr. Wahls means business!) 5. Limiting animal protein, especially red meat 6. Reducing and/or cutting out corn and soy 7. Focusing on gluten-free grains 8. Eating lots of berries (bonus points for wild ones) 9. If you really want to be hardcore, avoiding eggs and nighshades.

Now, let's not be crazy here. No one is saying to go out and make all these changes in one fell swoop!

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Start small.

Pick ONE thing to focus on and take it from there. Maybe you go down to one glass of wine a night instead of, ahem, three (Lord, help us all!). Maybe you limit meat consumption to dinner only. Maybe you add a serving of vegetables to lunch.

Whatever is doable, start there. The takeaway here is that making healthy changes in your diet is the first place to start as far as strengthening your immune system.

2. Make Onions, Garlic, Tumeric and Ginger Your Friends. These spices offer wide-spectrum antimicrobial properties that strengthen your immune system and help ward off any unwanted visitors. Put them in your stirfry, add them to soups and vegetable dishes, drink tumeric and/or ginger tea, and add tumeric and ginger to your morning smoothie.

Here's an easy recipe for an immune-boosting broth that you can sip on throughout the day.

3. Supplement Wisely. Dr. K recommends the following supplements to help bolster your immune system (consult your own physician before adding anything new):

Vitamin D3- 0-3 years: 400-500 IU each day; 2-6 years: 1000 IU each day; 6-10 years: 1500 IU each day; 8+years: 2000 IU each day

This is the one my boys take.

Zinc- 1-3 years: 4mg each day; 4-8 years: 6mg each day; 9-13 years: 12mg each day; 13-18 years: 15mg each day; Adults: 15-25mg each day

My husband and I take this one. I take apart the capsule and mix the powder with elderberry syrup for my boys.

Multivitamin with B Vitamins, Magnesuium and Selenium- Try to find one with "methyl-folate."

My boys take this one.

Vitamin C- 1-3 years: 50mg each day; 4-8 years: 100mg each day; 9-13 years: 150mg each day; 13-18 years: 200mg each day; Adults: 250-500mg each day

My boys take this one and my husband and I take this.

Probiotics- Look for one with at least 10 billion CFU's. This is a good one for adults and kids. For my boys, I put 1/2 a scoop in their smoothie.

Prebiotics- Take 1-2 grams of inulin each day.

We mix this one into our morning smoothie (1/2 a scoop for kids).

4. Get Very Serious About Sleep. Sleep restores and heals the body, plain and simple! Now is not the time to stay up until midnight binging your favorite Netflix shows (but, if you need a good show, I highly recommend Sex Education, it's SO good!). Aim for 8 solid hours of sleep a night. Click here for more sleep tips.

5. Stay Connected. The quality of our relationships has more influence on our health and well-being than anything else. And that's a fact! In the spirit of "we are alone together," make it a priority to stay connected with your friends and family. We need each other now, more than ever.

Get on the Zoom bandwagon, do some Google hangouts, plan some virtual playdates, make use of Facetime, join Marco Polo and/or House Party, plan a virtual date night with some friends, and teach your kids the lost art of being a "pen pal." Thanks to technology we have so many ways to ensure that social distancing doesn't equate to feeling isolated.

For more of Dr. K's immune-boosting recommendations, including herbal supplements and essential oils, click here.

For additional resources and support, click here.

I'm here to support you in any way I can - homeschooling ideas for sensory kids, ideas for sensory activities at home, help with behavioral issues and anxiety (your child's or yours!), coaching with dietary changes - so please don't hesitate to reach out. I'm offering free sessions through April. You can schedule one here.

We are all in this together and we ARE going to get through this! Though there are many things that are out of our control, focusing on getting our family's immune systems robust and strong is something we can proactively do to slow the spread of this virus and to ensure that we stay safe and healthy.

As always, leave your questions or comments below. And, hang in there, Sensory Moms, you are doing an amazing job.


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Hi! I'm Cameron, mom of two incredible, "differently-wired" boys who have sensory processing challenges, wife of a nerdy surfer, mindfulness practitioner and Parenting Coach with master's degrees in education and psychology.