Staying Well Through the Sick Season

Sick season has officially begun.  It seems like everywhere I turn, I hear about someone being sick with something that sounds dreadful.  Perhaps it’s that the world has gotten so small, what with the internet and all, but it seems like I’m surrounded.  It’s enough to give me a minor anxiety attack.  We generally stay pretty well in our household, but there is usually one dramatic episode at some point during the winter — usually right around the holidays.  Bah humbug.

This year, of course all the hype is about the swine flu.  I’m extremely conflicted on the swine flu vaccine, and the regular one, for that matter.  Some sites lead you to believe vaccines are virtually harmless, and conversely, that dying from the flu is a huge risk — a risk far greater than any risks the vaccine may pose.  Other sites suggest that the statistics about flu deaths are overblown, the swine flu is generally mild, and the vaccine is ineffective at best and harmful at its worst.  I’ve also read that vaccines lower your immune system.

Who’s a mom to trust??

I have never had a flu vaccine.  I’ve also never had the flu.  KNOCK ON WOOD.  My husband often gets the vaccine at work since it’s convenient and free.  My son has had the vaccine every year for several years due to his asthma.  My older daughter had an egg allergy in her first few years of life and has never had the vaccine.  My younger daughter has never had the vaccine simply because I never bothered to go out of my way to get it for her.  Her well checkups are always in the spring when flu season is almost over, so the topic has never come up with her doctor.

I’ve never been one to get hyped over the flu.  It always goes around, EVERY year they say it’s going to be the worst year for the flu EVER, we never seem to get it, which is not to say that we don’t get sick, but whenever we’ve been tested, it’s always come back as a virus.  I never did any research on the flu vaccine; I just went with my instincts.

This year there is no way around it.  Everyone’s talking about it, and as I research our food choices, I invariably come across articles about H1N1 and flu vaccines.

After reading everything I can get my hands on and talking to people in the medical profession, other moms, and polling my readers where I avidly read every single comment, I’ve decided to do what I do every other year — let my instincts make the decision for me.  There is so much conflicting information from reputable sources that I think I’ll just do what’s been working for the past few years.  There is, however, one thing I’ll be doing differently.  This year I am actively trying to prevent my family from getting sick.

Along with all of my food research, I have come across many suggestions for natural ways to boost the immune system, and I am implementing many.  Here’s what we’re doing.

First and foremost, I have purchased good quality mulit-vitamins and additional vitamin D and Omega-3 supplements for all of us.  I also take probiotics, mostly to help with my tummy troubles, but a healthy tummy supposedly contributes towards a healthy immune system.  I’ve been planning to buy vitamin C as well, but as you know, supplements can get expensive.

We have been limiting sugar and processed foods because sugar depletes the immune system.

We’re getting plenty of rest.  I’m trying to be better about getting the kids to bed on time, and also myself.

I cook with a ton of garlic — a natural antibiotic, or so I’ve heard.

I have been making chicken broth weekly, and trying to cook with it as much as possible.  My kids love chicken noodle soup, so I try to keep that around for lunches or quick dinners.  The nutrients from correctly prepared bone broths boost the immune system.

We eat lots of fruits and veggies.

And I have the kids wash their hands immediately after school to hopefully cut down on the germs being brought home.  I’ve also been told by all 3 of my children’s teachers that they are being very proactive about having the kids wash their hands before snacks and meals, for which I am thankful.

What about you?  How are you keeping your family healthy through the winter months?  I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions that I missed.