One of the gifts our family received several years ago, after several ER visits, was almost no cold and flu bugs. Yep. While we haven’t gone a whole year yet without a visit from the bugs, we tend to have on average one cold virus a year. I can’t think of when we actually had a flu bug, and no, we do not get flu shots.
My special needs son was born and whisked away to NICU during his first two weeks of life. After this, he spent his infancy attached to an apnea monitor and a feeding tube. I still have his oxygen tanks in the closet from those harrowingly close nights when came down with yet another case of pneumonia. Illness struck frequently until he was about 4 years old.
I gave him the RSV shot until age 3 (when insurance stopped covering it). However, historically, our family had more flu bugs with a flu shot. While I believe that every parent should choose to make the best decisions they can about their child’s healthcare, I do think that we should reconsider using mercury in our children’s vaccinations. I also do not believe that flu shots, which are targeted on the “latest” flu bug, are really worth the effort.
We were told to get the flu shot and other vaccinations, because my little boy was so fragile when he was born. However, on the other hand, I don’t regret giving him the RSV shot. The first year after our insurance stopped covering it and he no longer had it, he ended up with RSV and in intermediate care. I came to the conclusion then, that prevention is key, even in special needs children.
So, how do we do we stay healthy? You be the judge for your own family, but these changes have really worked for us.
How to prevent cold and flu
Get off wheat
This was the first thing we did. Some people just don’t digest wheat well, and if you have a child on the autism spectrum, then this probably fits your family. Choose a nice gluten-free flour and take a vitamin B complex. Or, even better, go Paleo, and get more nutrition for your calories. Just make sure you get enough carbs with sweet potatoes and other high carb veggies. Then, take 1 tablespoon of beef gelatin powder (adult dose) to heal your gut.
Eat antioxidant fruits and veggies.
Make shakes and smoothies with berries, kale, spinach and even sweet potatoes. Add some squash or pumpkin to them to mix it up a bit, then a dash of pumpkin spice. We drink smoothies twice a day in our household and it really boosts your immune system. My favorite night time drink is raw tomato, cucumber, parsely and kale, with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and 1/4 tsp of sea salt. I blend it with about a cup of water and drink. Talk about pure health!
Take your daily vitamin C and D
Both of these vitamins have been known to fight against illness. Taking large doses of both will keep you well, and increasing them when you feel a virus coming on will help stop it all together. On average, my special needs son takes 2,000 mg of vitamin C and 1,000 IUs of vitamin D a day. If he seems like he’s coming down with something, I may double that dose. I don’t give it to him all at once, but break it up to twice a day.
Adults can take as much as 8,000-10,000 mg of vitamin C a day. I can only tolerate 4,000-6,000 mg a day, spaced out. I can also take as much as 8,000 IUs of vitamin D a day.
Either make yogurt or take a store-bought probiotic to boost your gut with good bacteria. You can even make your own kombucha or probiotic lemonade or other fruit drink to boost your health. Eating fermented veggies can also help your gut health and keep you from getting sick excessively. If you have a yeast overgrowth, take care of it when you aren’t sick, so that your body’s immune system is not weighed down.
Drink bone broth
We have seasons where we do this more than others, but drinking bone broth, particularly before you go to bed, will improve your health. This goes hand in hand with adding dry beef gelatin to your shakes and smoothies. The bones and joints of animals contains 7 amino acids, which help heal your gut. Plus, bone broth (and gelatin) is the best anti-aging thing you can take. It is better than all those expensive jars of collagen cream women use for youthful skin.
Drink lots of water.
Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Get a water record app on your phone if you have to, but drink tons of water to flush out all of the toxins you daily put into your body.
Take a detox bath at least once a week.
Take a detox bath in Dead Sea salts or epsom salts. Add some essential oils to your bath to help you relax. Lavender is the essential oils most used.
Many people tend to think that if you exercise, it will wear your body out. Yet, that actually isn’t true. Moderate exercise is actually beneficial for your body, building muscle tone, agility and releasing toxins through sweat. Even if you catch a mild cold virus, it is beneficial for your body to at least lightly work out.
Take omega-3 fatty acids
Taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements boosts your immune system and provides serotonin for your brain. It is an easy fix if you just cannot get enough of them from your diet. I have even found them at Dollar Tree (and yes, they work). You can take as many as 4,000 mg a day—just drop a capsule if you begin to have gastric upset.