Lucinda Miller is the founder of NatureDoc and runs a team of UK-wide nutritional therapists specialising in pregnancy, baby, toddler and child nutrition. The NatureDoc London clinics are in Sloane Square, Fulham, Wimbledon and Camberwell.
She also runs an online www.naturedoc.shop stocking a hand-picked collection of child-friendly food supplements and natural skin care. She has been practising as a naturopath for over 20 years, qualified in Functional Medicine and is author of the bestselling cookbook The Good Stuff. She is a mum of three and lives in Wiltshire. www.naturedoc.co.uk
We asked Lucinda how we can help our little ones keep coughs and sniffles at bay this winter:
After 6 months of lockdown and the summer holidays, getting back into the swing of our ‘new normal’ this autumn is doing to be difficult for us all. Not least for our little ones who have been used to spending a lot more time at home and will most likely be going back to school or playgroups very soon.
What comes alongside the fun of being more social is the higher chance of picking up a sniffle, cough or tummy bug. Even though we are all now being very covid-aware and there is hand sanitiser at the ready, this does not mean that your child is protected from all the bugs that are lingering out there. And there is a school of thought that over-vigilance of using hand sanitisers means that we may lose some of our natural immunity that stops us from getting winter bugs and that we may suffer a little worse if we do pick up something as a consequence.
So, what can we give our little one’s to keep their immune systems strong for the autumn and winter ahead?
Firstly, we need to ensure that our kids are getting enough vitamin D. We have had a lucky run of good weather recently, which should have given us all a boost of this sunshine vitamin that is the cornerstone to a healthy immune system. However, kids who have either worn lots of sun cream over the summer or have been inside more than normal would benefit from a boost of vitamin D.
The government are now actually advising that we all top up with a daily vitamin D supplement (except for babies who are consuming 500ml or more daily of milk formula). Vitamin D rich foods include eggs and oily fish, so we suggest you start giving your kids eggs for breakfast and smoked fish pate in their sandwiches at lunch time. Did you know organic whole milk contains more vitamin D than conventional or semi-skimmed? So this could be a good reason to go for the blue-top organic versions.
This zingy citrus flavour in fruit is the vitamin C which is so important for immunity. The minimum a child needs to have every day is the equivalent of one satsuma, but more is needed to keep the immune system in good shape. Vitamin C is also high in other food items such as kiwi fruit, parsley, red peppers and even potatoes. Fresh pineapple is one of our go-to’s if anyone has a sniffle or a cough!
Other seasonal foods containing a good punch of vitamin C include blackberries, apples and pears as well as raspberries.
Honey is now recommended over and above antibiotics for coughs and colds in the UK, and it is the only thing that a GP can now recommend for a short-term cough or cold for a 12 month – 12 year-old child. We always choose toffee flavoured Jarrah honey or more antiseptic flavoured Manuka honey as these have more antimicrobial properties than normal honey. Never give honey to a baby under 12 months.
I always have fresh ginger root in my fridge as it has always been thought of as Mother Nature’s antibiotic! I love to add it to fresh juices such as orange juice or simply grate it into stir fries as it tastes lovely with sesame seed oil, honey and tamari soya sauce. So simple but so good.
Garlic is naturally antibacterial and anti-viral, and most kids love to eat garlicky pesto or tomato sauce. Step up the garlic as soon as they start going back to nursery or play groups to keep the bugs at bay.
This is a “cousin” of yoghurt and is very similar in taste and texture. It contains a diverse range of probiotic strains that help to boost up natural immunity from within the gut. This friendly tummy bacteria can help prevent tummy upsets and also bolster the immune system to help protect your little one from viral infections. You can now buy child-friendly kefir in most supermarkets and health food shops.
I hope that these healthy tips keep your little ones happy and healthy over the coming autumn winter months. As with most matters of health, there is no one quick fix but there are lots of simple winter health tips and small changes that we can make to help ourselves and our children and give us a welcome winter boost to everyone’s immune systems.
If you’d like to visit us, we run a clinic just around the corner to Pepa & Co, just off Eaton Terrace. So do book in with our paediatric clinical nutrition team if you have any specific health concerns about your little one. Please visit our website to find out more!