Things you can do to prevent colds in your family as the winter months continue
by Kate Ruma, MAOM, Lic. Ac.
Does your child seem to get sick more often than other kids? Do they have cold hands and feet? Complain of being cold? Have a chronic runny nose? Chronic earaches? Chronic postnasal drip? Changing your child’s diet may provide a big boost to their immune system. Some principles of Chinese medicine may help you to understand why that is.
In Chinese medicine, the immunity is viewed as being rooted in both the lungs and in the digestive system. The lungs protect the body from external pathogens or cold and flu viruses. This is because the lungs open into the nose, the entryway for cold and flu pathogens. Additionally, the lungs source their energy directly from the digestive system.Therefore the strength of the digestive system is very important to that of the immune system.
Therefore, the food we feed to our children is going to directly support the lungs in their defensive function against colds and flu pathogens, or hinder that. In order to strengthen the digestive system, certain foods are used; specifically, foods that are warm in temperature and energetic nature.
Think keeping food the same temperature or better yet, above the body temperature — 98.8 degrees. Children still have developing digestive systems. The goal is to the lessen the burden of the digestive system by warming up food BEFORE it enters the system – thus, lessening the burden on the body in its job of warming the food up, breaking the food to extract nutrients, and digesting it.
- Steam or cook your vegetables and fruits. Eat foods that are local to your region and in season. In New England, eat cooked apples, pears, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Avoid tropical foods, which are very cooling.
- Make soups and stews a staple
- Avoid ice cream, iced or cold drinks, popsicles — anything right out of the fridge or freezer
- Add teas (chamomile, green, ginger teas)
- Add spices (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom)
Keep exercising during the winter. The fresh air is great for kids and important to strengthen the lungs. It circulates blood flow to the surface of the body and keeps the body warm. This keeps the body protected from outside influences including cold and flu viruses.
Also, don’t forget the importance of keeping your child warm. Dress them with heavy socks, scarves, hats and mittens starting as soon as the fall hits to protect them from the elements and keep the lungs strong.
If your child does get a cold, use fresh ginger tea to remedy the cold or flu and shorten the duration.
If your child still is catching frequent colds, consult with an acupuncturist and herbalist for a more specific treatment plan to strengthen your child’s immune system.
Pediatric herbs and non-insertive techniques can be used to strengthen the lungs and digestive system and keep your child healthy.
Warming cinnamon apples
Peel and dice apples. Place in a skillet and add one teaspoon of cinnamon per apple. Toss apples so they are coated in the cinnamon. Add a tablespoon of water and warm the apple for a few minutes. It will be you and your kids new favorite snack!
Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) Tea
Take a fresh ginger, grate it into small pieces, and boil it for 10 minutes. Strain and give to your child. Give 2 cups to your child per day. Sheng Jiang (fresh ginger) has antiviral and anti bacterial properties. It warms the body up so that it can aid the lung in expelling pathogens. It also, dried mucous and it great for congestion or to break a fever.
Energetically warm foods
Energetically hot foods