General Health

Preparing Your Immune System For The Winter Battle

After a mild autumn, the winter is now creeping up on us very quickly! And with the cold, wet days, and more time in heated environments, comes the increased risk of getting sick with a winter lurgie!

And they seem to spread amongst children at a rapid rate! Once you have children, you too will be exposed to more ‘bugs’ than you ever thought possible. I recently heard a medical practitioner speaking and saying to parents that it is now deemed normal for children to experience colds etc up to 12 times a year! I thought it sounded quite excessive to think it normal for your child to be sick every month. Admittedly, over the years, viruses and bacterial infections do seem to be getting nastier, but we must focus on the fact that we only get sick if we are susceptible. And for the criteria to be stretched up to 12 episodes a year, that would lead me to wonder what is changing about our health & wellbeing, diet and environment that is not keeping us well enough to protect us against them.

Is this starting to sound like you or your kids?

Don’t know what to do?

A great place to start is to remember that antibiotics do NOT do anything to fix a virus. In this case, by taking antibiotics, you are only further placing yourself at risk by killing off all of the protective ‘good’ bacteria, leaving you prone to more illness. Diseases are becoming more resistant to antibiotics due to the over use, so if you don’t need it, don’t take it. If you have a confirmed bacterial infection, antibiotics will help destroy the bad bugs. At any time you take antibiotics, you will need to replace the good bacteria by taking a probiotic. Eating yoghurt and some fermented foods can assist with this too. Younger children benefit from taking neonatal forms of the good bacteria, whilst adults can take any of the normal probiotics.

Next, it would be important to take a look at what protective nutrients may be missing in your biochemistry that is making you more prone to recurrent illness. The primary deficiencies that are linked with your immune system are in Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin D and Vitamin C. Children are more prone to some deficiencies because of a fussy, small or predictable diet and large nutrient requirements for growth. Zinc and Selenium are not in a wide variety of kid friendly foods and we are viewed as a low selenium country. Vitamin C doesn’t stay in the body long, but it is vital to assist the uptake of every other nutrient. It is however, more readily available to children from foods. Vitamin D deficiency is becoming an increasingly large problem. Seems crazy that in a warm, sunny country like ours, that we should experience deficiency. But even with sun exposure, we tend to cover up more these days and apply sunscreen, preventing the uptake. And in winter, there is not much sun anyway.

So if you or your children have been suffering from recurrent colds and lurgies, it’s time to get help.

How do you know which deficiencies are present? Certain nutrients will present specific signs and symptoms when lacking. Get the appropriate advice and get it right. Do not self prescribe. Minerals like selenium can be toxic if given in large does for prolonged periods of time.. Vitamin C is a great thing to take for both adults and children if you are worried that dietary intake is adequate.

There are also some great immune herbs that can be used by both adults and children as young as two. There are immune stimulants such as Olive Leaf, Echinacea and andrographis. These are used when you feel you are coming down with something. Then there are immune restoratives such as astragalus, which are beneficial to break the cycle of recurrence, assist with post viral syndrome and to prevent illness.

Always get the right advice to suit your individual needs. Dosages also need to be age appropriate for children. Most immune herbs are not safe in pregnancy, but nutrients can be used if deficiencies exist. Most of the herbs can be taken if breastfeeding and not only can be used for mum, but provide a dose specific level to treat babies in a much safer manner by mum taking the supplement (s).

If you or your families immune systems are struggling – get onto it now, so you can survive the rest of winter, hopefully ‘lurgie’ free.


Avatar of Tracey Yeend

Tracey Yeend is a Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife and Natural Medicine Practitioner who specializes in Hormonal, Nutritional and Environmental Health. She also has qualifications in Pharmacology and Teaching and has been working in many facets of Women’s and Children’s Health for 27 years. She is a well known seminar presenter in the field of Natural Health, educating the public and many of her peers in her areas of specialty. She runs two busy private practices in South Australia at Stirling and Eden Hills and works as a consultant with The Green Dispensary Pharmacy Group (Blackwood) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can hear her on 5aa Michael Keelan’s Weekend the third Saturday each month at 7am, discussing relevant health issues and answering questions. She is also a Mum! Tracey can be found at The Green Dispensary Blackwood, South Australia on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or can be contacted on 0403430970

1 Comment

  1. Avatar of Stephanie Cole
    Stephanie Cole Reply

    Interesting! I heard probiotics benefits our immune system by boosting it. I’m not sure how really but I believe it’s true because as a probiotic for the immune system user, my Doctor said, my health improved a lot since she recommended me to take probiotics supplement. Thanks to qiara’s probiotics for the immune system, I used to be a sickly one and now…I’m all well.

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