The 6 Things I’m Stocking up on for Cold & Flu Season
Disclaimer: The following is not meant to be medical advice and is only my personal experience and opinion. Always consult with a doctor for your own health needs.
As I write this, I am sitting in a hospital parking lot, outside of where my tiny, days-old niece is in the NICU fighting against a virus that has left her unable to eat or regulate her body temperature, and where she is separated from her parents, who can't even hold her. And the culprit for what has felt like a nightmare for her family?
The same virus as the common cold.
We so often think of the cold as “just” a cold, a small and minor inconvenience in our busy days, but for immunocompromised people, such as babies, the elderly, and individuals with medical conditions, even the cold virus can be very, very serious. As parents, it can be so scary and overwhelming to think about all of the hundreds of ways our children are exposed to harmful bacteria and viruses every single day, from even just going to school or the grocery store, but it is important to be aware and do our best to not only protect ourselves but try to prevent the spread of viruses like the cold for the sake of little babies like my niece.
In addition to good hand-washing practices, keeping a clean home, and regularly cleaning and changing pillowcases, bedspreads, blankets, and hats and gloves, here are six ways I'm doing my best to protect my family this cold and flu season.
I know a great many people who swear by the ol' grape juice trick, which goes something like this: Drink a crap ton of grape juice and you won't get the stomach bug. The thought is that the specific acidity of the grape juice somehow prevents the viruses that lead to stomach bugs from living. And while there has been a lot of scoffing about this particular old wives' tale, I did find one study that showed that grape seed extract did have some anti-viral properties, so it may be a worth a shot. I mean, it can't hurt and kids like juice, right?
Listen, I don't know how I ever survived stomach bugs without peppermint oil. Seriously. I'm not an essential oils fanatic but any means, but let me tell you what: nothing helps a stomach bug more than slathering yourself with some peppermint oil right across the abdomen. You know that awful feeling of stomach pain that comes with a stomach bug, when you're just rolling and you wish you had never eaten anything and you want to puke but you don't want to puke and nothing helps? That's when peppermint oil helps.
It's a lifesaver, especially for kids, because most times, there's literally nothing you can do to help a stomach bug but let it run its course. I just bought peppermint oil from my local health store and have used it without any problems, but it's always recommended to dilute it, especially when using with kids, so check with a doctor or certified naturopath doctor before administering to yourself or kids.
Although we like to think that we're all getting plenty of sunshine and Vitamin D from our healthy diets (eye roll), many adults are still deficient in Vitamin D. In fact, it's estimated that, worldwide, 50% of the population is deficient in Vitamin D. That's a huge number and all that deficiency adds up, because Vitamin D plays a large role in our immune system's function. I don't trust that my screen-loving kids are getting enough Vitamin D, so I definitely stocked up on some delicious gummy Vitamin D vitamins and they are doing the trick for my kids this winter.
I am 100% a believer in probiotics and I think the field of microbiome science is only going to continue to grow; instead of just fighting illness by killing off the bad stuff, I think more doctors and experts are going to try to instead to pump our bodies full of the good bacteria. There are a lot of different kinds of probiotics on the market and some are definitely not worth the money, so do your research before you buy, but overall, you can't go wrong with a good basic probiotic; in one study, it was even protective against some viruses.
This one is simple: Buy toothbrushes whenever you're at the store, subscribe on Amazon, or just ask your mother-in-law to buy them for Christmas gifts. However you do it, replace your family's toothbrushes as often as you can.
This topic is not easy, I know this. I am a nurse and a mother of four and I personally know people who have had adverse reactions to vaccines, so I am fully aware that there isn't always an easy answer to the question of vaccination. But I do believe that in some situations, vaccines are protective and this year, we made the decision to fully vaccinate our family. I took all four of my kids to a free clinic at a local Walgreens, and we were in-and-out in 10 minutes, reward suckers in hands. I've heard too many horror stories and we know too many immune-compromised people to feel like it wasn't the right move to make.
What will you do to help your family this cold and flu season?