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Natural Ways to Strengthen your Child's Immunity
by Melanie Waxman

I have raised seven unvaccinated children. I gave them a strong foundation through breastfeeding, great nutrition, a lively, healthy family life, and a mostly non-toxic environment. My children have very strong immune systems. I don't believe in coddling them or trying to keep them away from other kids who are sick. Instead, I believe that their immunity strengthens and develops when they are naturally exposed to germs. Of course they get colds, fevers, stomach bugs and other mild problems but they recover quickly too.

These are good signs that their immune systems are at work dispelling toxins, viruses or bacteria from the body. My eldest daughter contracted Lymes disease a number of years ago and took one course of antibiotics. My youngest son put his finger in a fan and had to take antibiotics to prevent bone infection. Apart from that my children have relied on simple dietary home remedies and occasionally a homeopathic solution to alleviate any discomfort.

Today more and more parents are realizing that the key to a healthy child is a strong immune system. All children are constantly exposed to disease producing organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites but this doesn't mean they will get sick. A strong immune system provides a child with the natural defenses to fight off disease.

If a child has a weakened immune system they are more susceptible to colds, flu and other problems. Germs are everywhere and being exposed to them is a natural part of life. It is not natural, however, to try and 'germ proof' your child. In fact exposure to different viruses and bacteria can actually strengthen your child's immune system. Some childhood diseases such as mumps, measles, chickenpox and rubella can help to build immunity and protect against these diseases.


There are a number of things you can do to help boost your child natural immunity:-

Breastfeed
Breastfed babies experience fewer infections than bottle fed babies. Breast milk is vital in building your baby's immunity and protecting against disease. It also provides a complete nutritional balance including essential fatty acids. It is very important to try to breastfeed your baby even if it is only for a few months. If you are unable to give your baby breast milk, home made brown rice milk is a healthy alternative. Use this as part of your baby's diet to help develop a strong constitution and immune system.


Offer an Organic Wholesome Diet


It is essential to give your child excellent daily nutrition to keep their immune system healthy and strong. Nutritional deficiencies make it easier for your child to be susceptible to viruses and bacteria. Make sure your child has a variety of organic whole-foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. It is vital to offer a balanced macrobiotic diet with a variety of ingredients.

All children are attracted to eating snacks. Today many foods are highly processed and loaded with sugar such as cookies, boxed cereals and sodas. These additive rich foods will actually weaken the immune system. Snacking can become problematic if children fill up on these 'nutritionally empty foods' and don't want to eat the lovely healthy meals you have provided. Make sure to offer good quality snacks such as fruit and vegetable sticks, steamed bread with spreads, sushi, amasake, home made fruit smoothies or roasted nuts and seeds.

Include some fish, good quality olive and sesame oil and natural home made desserts in your meals.

Cold foods, excessive amounts of raw fruits and juices have a weakening effect on the immune system and should be eaten in moderation. In some colder climates, it might be necessary to include cold liver oil as a supplement for your children.

Kukicha tea has a strengthening effect on immunity. Offer it warm with rice syrup or barley malt added. Hot apple juice is relaxing for the body and can be diluted with kukicha as a healthy alternative to cold drinks.

Look at your own daily diet too. Remember children follow their parents. Make sure you are preparing balanced meals with enough variety. It is important not to be too strict or one sided with children. Stay in contact with other families who eat whole foods/macrobiotics and keep up to date with new trends in macrobiotic cooking and nutrition.

Allergies

If your child has a history of ear infections, oral thrush, digestive trouble, colic, food allergies or other on-going problems you need to look at their present diet. Dairy food, sugar, cold foods, sodas, chicken, baked foods and excessive fruits can make these problems worse. Again a varied macrobiotic diet is recommended, although in some cases, certain foods may need to be restricted such as baked foods, oily foods, wheat products, raw fruits and salad, vinegars and some soy products until their system is strengthened. Restricted foods can be slowly re-introduced back into the diet at a later date.

Make sure your child is getting plenty of sweet tasting vegetables such as squash, carrots, cabbage, parsnips and onions. Lightly cooked leafy greens like watercress are also extremely beneficial.
Sea vegetables provide important minerals and help to strengthen the immune system. Nori sea vegetable is very good for children and can be used on a regular basis.

Kombu powder with crushed sesame seeds can be used sparingly as a strengthening remedy. This condiment can be also be prepared with small dried fish and is extremely beneficial for building strong teeth and bones. Shiso powder and umeboshi are condiments that help to create a healthy immune system. VERY SMALL amounts can be given to your child to strengthen the system. Remember that these condiments are salty and too much are harmful and can cause, among other things, stunted growth, behavioral problems and fussy eating habits.

A Note on Herbs

Herbs have been used safely all around the world since ancient times to prevent and treat disease. Although I don't give my children any herbal supplements as a rule, they have been known to strengthen a child's constitution and make them more resistant to illness. Certain herbs, including Echinacea, have been found to have remarkable immunological effects. These herbs support the body's own process to stay at the peak of vitality and prevent development of disease.

Create a Non-toxic Environment

Exposure to chemicals can damage the immune system and make it more difficult to fight off common infections and even more serious diseases such as cancer. Our environments have become increasingly toxic. Even though these toxins are everywhere you can take the steps to create a healthy home environment and therefore reduce the amount of chemicals your children are exposed to.

Today, there are affordable, nontoxic alternatives to all lawn and garden pesticides and wonderful natural household cleaners and personal care products. Use natural fibers in your bedding, furniture and carpets to create a cleaner, fresher environment with less static electricity. Buy organic foods. This will greatly decrease your child's overall exposure to pesticides and help to create a healthier environment for everyone.


Avoid Unnecessary Antibiotics and Vaccines


Today, children are prescribed excessive amounts of antibiotics. Antibiotics can seriously weaken a child's immune system and also build up a resistance to the medicine itself. Vaccines may provide immunity for a specific disease but they do not increase overall immunity or create healthier children.

Many young children are injected with nearly three-dozen doses of 10 different viral and bacterial vaccines before the age of five, and this is while the immune system is still developing, Such a huge stress to the system is a major cause of chronic immune dysfunction amongst children today. On the other hand, the parents of unvaccinated children have observed how strong the immune systems of their children appear to be.

A Healthy Home Life

"All you need is Love!!" Love and attention are a wonderful way to boost immunity. Children that grow up in a loving environment feel more secure and happy.

Make sure you hold, hug, rock, massage, nurse, touch and kiss your children regularly. Studies show that laughter and positive thinking help to strengthen immunity too. The more children laugh and enjoy life, the better their immune function.

Stressful situations and unhappiness deplete the immune system and lower a child's resistance to disease. Breastfeeding, daily baths and massage can help to reduce stress and promote positive feelings in your baby.

Daily Routine

Create a stable home environment with daily routines. These include regular meals, baths, naps and bed times. Eating meals together is extremely important and will help your child to feel secure, safe and part of the family.

Sleep

Make sure your child has enough sleep and goes to bed at a reasonable hour. Your child's body regenerates, repairs and renews itself while sleeping. In addition, it is important to include "quiet time" as part of your child's day when they can unwind and learn the value of being calm. Let your child listen to peaceful music, which is stress relieving and further helps him to feel relaxed and happy.

Enjoy Nature

Give your child plenty of fresh air. Go for walks in the woods, country or parks. Let your child run, jump, dance and climb. Don't coddle your child. If they want to run without a hat or gloves, let them do so. Allow them to run barefoot on the grass and climb trees. Nature is an excellent immune stimulator and being exposed in a happy, healthy way does wonders to all aspects of your child's life.

At a Glance Ways to Strengthen your Child's Immunity

Breastfeed your baby
Offer a wide variety of organic, natural foods
Create a non-toxic home environment
Avoid un-necessary vaccines and anti-biotics
Give your child lots of love and affection
Create routines in daily life
Eat together as a family
Make sure your child has enough sleep
Spend time outdoors in nature

Melanie Waxman began studying Oriental medicine in 1980 and went on to specialize in macrobiotic cooking. She has lived in Portugal, England and America and has trained cooks from all over the world. Melanie is the mother of seven children. She has cooked for international recording stars, fashion designers, doctors, and business professionals and has helped thousands of others to change their lifestyle and way of eating. She has written a children's cook book; Mr. Hoppity's Color Me Cook book for Kids, a series of self-published12 Cooklets and has recently published Bless the Baby, a beautifully illustrated book on the natural and traditional ways a mother can bond with her newborn. Melanie is also a massage therapist and Feng Shui consultant.

 

 
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