Cold and flu season is here and it can wreck havoc on our lives. In fact, nearly 22 million school days are lost each year due to colds alone and 40% of children aged 5–17 years missed three or more school days in the past year because of illness or injury.
To stay healthy, we chatted with nationally renowned pediatrician and wellness advisor, Dr. Bill Sears, to learn more about how to help families strengthen their immune systems this winter with simple, whole food nutrition from fruits and vegetables.
One of his favorite ways to do so is with Juice Plus+, a convenient, inexpensive way to ensure that you and your family receive the benefits from adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet by bridging the gap between what you should eat and what you do eat every day. Check out some of his tips on how to stay healthy with a focus on eating more fruits and vegetables and other whole food based nutrition in our diets every day.
Momtrends: How can families protect themselves from the flu this season?
Dr. Bill Sears: Most flu germs are spread in two ways: touching (such as hand-to-hand contact) or what is called droplet spread (meaning the germs ride along on tiny water bubbles that are sneezed or coughed into the air and inhaled by another unsuspecting person). To avoid person-to-person spread:
- Avoid shaking hands. Instead, bow or give a head nod.
- Avoid nose-picking. The nose is a breeding ground for germs and often the first place germs camp out. Children often pick their noses, rub their eyes, and then touch someone else.
- Sneeze into a disposable handkerchief and teach children to sneeze inside their elbow by covering their mouth and nose.
- Avoid coughers and sneezers as much as possible.
- Avoid crowded rooms and frequent outdoors as much as possible.
Momtrends: What are your favorite flu-fighting foods for kids?
Dr. Bill Sears: Eat immune boosting foods and take supplements that have been proven to support immune system function. The nutrients in plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are called phytonutrients. I call them “phytos” for short. Phytos are what give fruits and vegetables their rich color. Kids like the term “phytos” – as in “fighting” germs. The deeper the color and stronger the flavor of fruits and vegetables, the greater the germ-fighting benefits of the phytos. Tomatoes, red grapes, blueberries, brussels sprouts, chili peppers, onions, and curry are all good sources of phytos.
Knowing your kids don’t always want to eat these phyto foods, I also advise patients to take two supplements: 1) omega-3 fish oil: at least 600 mg. (DHA plus EPA combined) daily; and 2) A fruits and vegetable supplement. One of the fruit and vegetable supplements I recommend to my patients is Juice Plus+ because there is more science behind Juice Plus+ than any other fruit and vegetable supplement. One of the key findings of the Children’s Health Study by Juice Plus+ shows that both children and adults who take Juice Plus+ report visiting the doctor less, and missing less school and work. Another great thing about Juice Plus+ is that it is available in great-tasting chewables perfect for a child’s serving.
It is also important to drink lots of fluids and avoid too many sweets. Also, relax. Fascinating new studies show your immune system actually gets stronger, especially to flu viruses, during meditation.
Momtrends: What are some ways to practice flu-prevention in the home?
Dr. Bill Sears: In general, to lessen the spread of all germs, keep your hands clean. Wash and wipe your hands frequently, especially after sneezing, coughing, going to the bathroom and before handling food. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze with the inside of your elbow, not your hands. Most flu germs are transmitted on tiny droplets through the air following a cough or sneeze.
Momtrends: What are some of the signs of the flu to look out for?
Dr. Bill Sears: The flu will usually cause three or more (or all) of the following symptoms: High fever, chills, sore throat, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, body and muscle aches, stuffy nose, clear or green runny nose, cough – dry or productive, irritated/ red eyes.
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